NEW ROCHELLE, NY — A dedication of “Gabrielle’s Corner” was held on Thursday, August 16th at the Huguenot Children’s Library, located in front of New Rochelle High School. The lovely reading nook and specialized collection of books is a gift made in memory of Gabrielle White, who was suddenly granted her “angel wings” in June of 2017.
In her honor, Gabrielle’s a fund called “Gabrielle’s Wings” was created within the Hord Foundation, which was founded by her maternal grandparents. During her short life, Gabrielle was blessed with educational and cultural exposure opportunities that many children do not have access to or cannot afford. The mission of the fund is to encourage children of underserved communities by providing scholarships and offering educational support and cultural exposure. Gabrielle’s mother, Michelle Hord-White, hopes that her daughter’s legacy will enable children to aspire to dreams beyond their immediate horizons and that her “wings” will help them to soar.
“Gabrielle’s Corner” at the Huguenot Children’s Library was created to give children a peaceful, welcoming space to read and dream. A section of that first floor was transformed with fine millwork that features a cushioned window seat, desk and bookshelves housing a collection of new books, In addition to the physical and aesthetic enhancements, the $10,000 donation the family made to celebrate Gabrielle’s love of reading, allowed the library to purchase the collection of 160 books that focus on inclusion, diversity, and kindness—all meaningful themes for Gabrielle and her family.
At the dedication, Tom Geoffino, New Rochelle Public Library Director, thanked Michelle Hord-White and her family and friends for making this significant and inspiring gift a reality. Mayor Noam Bramson also gave remarks, addressing the extreme love between mother and daughter that this endeavor exemplifies. The Mayor paid tribute to Ms. Horde-White’s strength, generous spirit and resilience. After giving her thanks to the team of friends and library staff members who worked to create “Gabrielle’s Corner,” Ms. Hord-White spoke about her daughter’s love of reading and the library, and how this is central to her legacy. “Books are an important way for children of all different races, religions, family backgrounds and physical abilities to see reflections of themselves and understand how little our differences actually separate us. Even at her young age, it was important to Gabrielle that all children felt welcome. I have often heard stories in the past year of how she ensured no child was left alone on the playground. To Gabrielle, everyone deserved to belong. So, it was important to me that this be a space devoted to inclusiveness, belonging, and kindness.” Ms. Hord-White continued, “My hope is that ‘Gabrielle‘s Corner’ can nurture and inspire the next generation of little hands and eyes for years to come. So they can look through the windows of storytelling to find lessons, to find inspiration….to find understanding….and to find their dreams.”
Gabrielle’s legacy is far-reaching, as Ms. Hord-White explained while describing the projects that have come to fruition in the year since her daughter’s tragic death. “Gabrielle’s Wings” has:
•Provided college scholarships to African-American students in her maternal grandmother and maternal great grandparents names through the Hord Foundation
•Provided a significant contribution to the Girl Scouts of the Greater Hudson Valley for a rehabilitation of the New Rochelle Girl Scout house.
•Partnered with an U.S.-based missionary nonprofit to launch “Gabrielle’s Corner” in a local poor township in Cape Town, South Africa. The space offers Internet access, laptops, iPads, and a Christian-based curriculum library for students.
•Started construction for “Gabrielle’s Playground” at New Rochelle’s Ward Elementary School. The playground will be fully accessible to children of all abilities and is expected to open at the beginning of the school year in September.
•Conducted two backpack drives with family services of Westchester.
•Provided need-based scholarships to students for the Grace Freedom Summer STEM Camp operated by Grave Baptist Church and the Ujamaa CDC.
Information about “Gabrielle’s Wings” is available at http://gabrielleswings.org/