Ramona’s Gift to Music Carries Out Legacy of Young Long Island Woman

ramona's gift to music
Michael Cuellar and John Mangione, founders of Ramona’s Gift to Music

Kids on Long Island are gaining access to musical opportunities thanks to a local foundation, Ramona’s Gift to Music, which funds music education and learning experiences for children in the area.

The nonprofit organization was officially founded as a 501(c)(3) in 2016, but the work started more than 30 years ago when John Mangione began giving $500 scholarships to music student graduates at Copiague High School in honor of his late wife, Ramona Cuellar Mangione, an alumna of the school.

“However we can put music and children together and offer a gift in Ramona’s name, we will continue to do that,” Mangione says. “So I ask you to follow us as we continue to move forward with our mission and vision to give the gift of music to children.”

In 2015, Mangione reached out to Ramona’s brother, Michael Cuellar, with the idea of turning the annual scholarships into a larger endeavor. Now, with Mangione as president and Cuellar as vice president, the organization funds more than students’ studies; it works with several music programs to fund lessons, trips, and performing opportunities for children who can’t afford them.

Each year since its inception, the nonprofit has held a fundraiser at Lily Flanagan’s Pub in Babylon to raise money for the cause. They invite past scholarship recipients to the event and have performers as well.

Recently the charity hosted its first concert with students from a partnering organization, the Music Academy for Special Learners in Hauppauge, as well as professional performers. The event at 89 North in Patchogue showcased children’s musical abilities while raising money for Ramona’s Gift to Music.

“The kids got the opportunity to be on a big stage with a professional sound and lighting crew,” Cuellar says. “And we had the opportunity to show what Ramona’s Gift to Music is all about and how we’re supporting these programs.”

To learn more, visit ramonasgifttomusic.com.