Gifford Youth Orchestra

More violins - Better Tomorrows

Meet Our Board of Directors and Staff

The Gifford Florida Youth Orchestra is a 501(c)(3) Non Profit Corporation.
Your donations and gifts are tax-deductible.

Chairperson – John Young

 Indian River County native. 10 years as a partner and the business manager of Young Appraisal and Consulting, a real estate appraisal office.   Sales professional with Mark Walters & Company real estate brokers & auctioneers, a real estate company specializing in rural properties in Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee Counties. Active member for 12 years of Beachsiders Toast Masters Club, serving in a verity of leadership roles within the club. Active member of the School Advisory Committee for both Osceola Magnet School and Storm Grove Middle School.  Leader of the YMCA Adventure Guides program of the Treasure Coast. I oversee and lead the “Chiefs” of the boy tribes within the Indian Guides program for Indian River, Saint Lucie and Martin Counties. A BS degree in Elementary Education and a Master degree in Varying Exceptionalities from Florida State University. Taught a self-contained class of students with a verity of exceptionalities grades 3-5.  

Vice Chairperson – Dr. Elaine Word

Alameda County California Resident.  Adjunct Professor, Patten University, Department of Education, Oakland, California.   Beginning Teacher Support and Administration Provider (BTSA).  Elementary School Teacher completing 42 years in June 2016, currently employed part time for the Oakland Unified School District. Owner- ‘Word Tutoring,’ Oakland/Berkeley, CA from 1985 – 1992. Owner- ‘Aunt Bead Jewelry Designs’ 2012 – present.

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Contact Us

By US Mail:

P O Box 691166
Vero Beach, FL  32969


By Telephone:



Rehearsals and Classes at:

Gifford Community Center
4855 43rd Avenue
Vero Beach, FL 32967   

Secretary and Treasurer - James Parks 

Indian River County Resident.  President Roof Repairs Only, Inc. from 1989 to present.  1983 State Licensed General Contractor.  1989 State Licensed Roofing Contractor. President of Treasure Coast Rotary of Vero Beach, past Treasurer, 1995, 2009 and 2010.


Recording Secretary - Margaret S. Thornton

Indian River County Resident from 1973.  Retired Middle School teacher for 36 years.  Sunday School Superintendent of Northside Agape Ministries, Inc. COG.2013 to present  Vice President of the Women’s Ministries  of Northside 2010 to present.  Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. since 1970.  Recipient of the Soror of the Year Award of AKA. Member and Former treasurer of Pink Rose Foundation, Inc. Board member of Our Father’s Table Soup Kitchen.  Coordinator of the SMILE Dental Program at the Soup Kitchen.  Publisher and editor of Northside Agape Newsletter.  Volunteer at Our Father’s Soup Kitchen and The Humane Society. 


Member – George Blythe

Resident of Vero since 1980.  Built my home in West County Indian River County in 1990. Twice president of the Exchange Club of Indian River, Chairman of Youth Manor, mentor to three Youth Guidance preteens and am currently a member of both the Exchange Club and Oceanside Rotary. Involved with youth oriented organizations since coming to town. Santa for Vero Beach Christmas Parade since 1981.  Served as Celebrity Auctioneer for non-profit groups in Vero, such as: Art Museum, Youth Guidance, St. Edwards School, Cancer Society, and Healthy Start.  Currently writing poetry, acrylic painting and simple silver jewelry.

Member - Leonard Kaczynski

Own and manage several credible commercial service corporations 25+ years, Project manager for industrial construction 5+ years, Personalized service for ultra-high net worth individuals 15+ years, Develop and implement accounting systems for non-standardized industries, Conduct macro-economic research for developing business strategies, Direct and coordinate financial income and budget activities.  Bachelor of Applied Science-Organizational Management/Public Safety Administration. Florida Licensed Community Association Manager 2003-Present, Florida Licensed Real Estate Broker 2005-Present. Youth Educator 2010-Present.

Member – Warren Obluck - Communications Committee

Indian River County Resident.  34 years with U.S. Information Agency (now part of State Department).  Overseas assignments in cultural work: Venezuela, Japan, Philippines, Mexico, Italy.  From Washington, managed worldwide Fulbright program, American libraries, English Teacher, etc., as Deputy Assistant Director of Educational and Cultural Affairs for USIA.  After retirement, coordinated film activities and taught film studies at Vero Beach Museum of Art, 1998-2017.  Granted Laurel Award by Cultural Council of Indian River County, 2010.  Degrees in journalism from Los Angeles City College, University of Southern California, Pulitzer School of Columbia University.  Post-graduate work in American Studies at Georgetown, George Washington and American Universities.  Born in Milwaukee and resided at various times in Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

Member - helen perry

Indian River County Resident since 1964.  Retired Kindergarten Teacher. Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education with focus on Early Childhood Education.  Employed by IRC School District from 1964 to 2003.  Opened the J. A. Thompson Elementary and retired from there.  Taught kindergarten students at the Gifford Youth Achievement Center for 12 years.  Currently serving as Clerk for Supervisor of Elections, Indian River County; musician for my church, member of the Martin Luther Birthday Committee, Indian River County Retired Educator's Association, Gifford’s Sr. Citizens Community Special K Aerobics Class, Concerned Citizens of Gifford, and Oslo Middle School's School Improvement Committee.


Member - roger t. Sobkowiak

Retired corporate executive (GE, ITT, CitiGroup), former board member and chair of Hope for Families Center and Bridges Early Learning Center. Volunteer consultant with the National Executive Service Corps providing management and organization guidance to non-profits. Former resident of Vero Beach. Grandfather and photographer.


Member - larry staley

Resident of Gifford, Florida since age two.  BS degree from St. Augustine College, Raleigh, NC with a major in psychology, minor in recreation.  40 years’ experience working with youth as coach for baseball, track & field, and martial arts.  35 years’ experience as Park Director, Summer Camp Director, and Swim Coach.  First African American licensed as a lifeguard in Indian River County.  Director of the Gifford Aquatic Pool since 2003.  Trained, licensed, and hired young people as lifeguards.  Coached many of the parents, grandparents, and great grandparents of our GYO children.  Teaches Senior Citizen Exercise Class in Gifford from 2002 to present.  Served as a drummer at several Gifford churches from 1980 to present.  President, Dr. M. L. King Birthday Committee for 18 years.  Chairperson of the M.L.King Annual Parade in Gifford.  Member Gifford Progressive Civic League, Local NAACP, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.  1980 High Hurdler on Olympic Team when USA boycotted Olympic Games.  He uses this disappointment to teach young people how to “keep on keepin’ on!”

Member - Dr. Crystal Bujol

Indian River County Resident.  Past president of the Indian River Community Oriented Police Enforcement and Education Committee (COPE). Recipient of the 2007 Gifford, Florida’s Dreamer’s Ball Award.  “Good Neighbor Award” from State Farm in 2006, Vero Beach, Florida. Cultural Council’s 2009 Laurel Award for Volunteer Activist Leadership in Vero Beach. Gifford Progressive Civic League Award for Special Services to Gifford, 2013. Member Vero Beach Beachside Toastmasters 2009 – 2014.  1st Chairperson Black Lives Matter Committee, Vero Beach, Florida, 2016.  Retired Pastor 22 Years in the pulpit of 2 churches, simultaneously.  PhD in Spiritual Psychology from Inner Circle University, Los Angeles, CA. 


Crystal Bujol, Artistic Director and Music Teacher

Iva Powell-Perry, Executive Director of Programs

Mary Parks, Executive Secretary 

Joan Haar, Music Director - Strings Program

Sue Lorimier, Music Director - Piano Program

Safa El-Zein, Violin Music Teacher

Frank Wallace, Violin Music Teacher

Barbara Wallace, Violin Music Teacher

Linda Spiwak, Violin Music Teacher

Marissa Rollins, Violin Tutor

Sukesha Crosdale, Violin Tutor

 Iris Bloomfield and Noeme Joseph, Teacher's Aides 

Debbie Avery, Outreach and Development Director

Gerald Jackson, CPA, Auditor

Gifford Youth Orchestra Volunteers

Jim Parks, Volunteer Nutrition and Snacks

Hester Lillie, Volunteer Online Communications and Records

Margaret Thornton, Volunteer 2018 Project Administrator for 15th Annual Concert

Alexis Krasotkin, Secretary of Gratitude

Other Volunteers:

Annette Reason, Phyllis Parks, Debbie Avery, Sharon Morgan, Noeme Joseph, Patti Gibbons, Mike Lewis, Michael Anderson, Neferteria Bushell-Cue, Becky Anunziato, Frank Wallace, Barbara Wallace, Linda Spiwak, Mary Parks, Iris Broomfield, and the 10 Working Board Members!

Gifford Youth Orchestra Advisory Council 2018

Annie Powell, whose idea it was that Gifford children needed to learn to play the violin. 

Lawrence Trapp, who (during segregated schools) from 1958 – 1969, taught band to all of the black Jr. High and High school students.  From 1969 to 1990, he taught band classes to all the Indian River County 7th grade students, Vero Beach Jr. High students until 1990.  He later volunteered to teach music classes at the GYAC. He still teaches at Melody Music.

Jeryl Thompson, Professional Recording Artist and Businessman.  Charter Member Gifford Youth Orchestra Board of Directors, Charter Member Crystal Foundation Board of Directors.

Barbara Hoffman, Executive Director, Indian River Cultural Council.   

Cindi Jorgenson, Recently retired school counselor, teacher.   

Jennifer Idlette, Director of Transportation for the IRC School Board. 

Carol Norton, Attorney and Businesswoman.

Jacob Craig, Music Director, 1st Presbyterian Church in Vero Beach.

James Broxton, Indian River County Public School Teacher, Basketball and Football coach, 2017 Teacher of the Year, and a very well known, magnificent saxophonist in Florida.

Dr. Joan Ortega-Cowan, President and Executive Director, Vero Beach Opera.

Woody Woods, International musician, choir director for international choirs, and President of the Las Vegas Jazz Society.

Charlotte Terry Real Estate Group, Alex MacWilliam Real Estate, Inc.

Alma Lee Loy, "The Mayor of Indian River County!"