Remembering Tony Sparacino
When Tony Sparacino died five years ago, he left a void in the community. Not only was the fashionista perhaps best known for his stylish outpost for menswear – one of the early shops to truly change the frontier of 13th Street – now a bastion for gay shopping, eating and drinking – but he was a tireless advocate for the LGBT community ever since he moved to Philly from his native Pittsburgh to attend Temple.
As one of Sapphire Fund’s early board members, he also helped steer a course of philanthropy that supported the Philadelphia LGBT and HIV and AIDS communities, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to numerous community-based non-profits – funds that are still having an impact to this day.
He also left his mark in Philly by being honored with the Sapphire Fund’s annual Tony Sparacino Memorial Scholarship, awarded to an LGBT student studying the arts in an accredited Philadelphia university or college.
On April 11 (8:30 p.m.), Jenn Pascoe will receive the award this year. The MFA student studies bookarts and printmaking at the University of The Arts. And according to the fund, she truly celebrates Sparacino’s own passion for the arts with her dedication to the community and genuine eagerness to get involved and to share her rich background and experiences with others.
“Her application, entitled ‘Creating Queerness,’ spoke eloquently of her nonprofit work, her perspective on identity and society, and how artistic imagery is her common thread,” says Tyler Ernst, scholarship chair for the Sapphire Fund. “We are so honored and proud to have the opportunity to assist this amazing talent in her educational endeavors.”
As the scholarship reflects a creative spirit, so does it honor a leader in the community who embodied just that. “We’re hopeful that Jenn will shine as brightly,” says Ernst, “loving this city, loving her art, and being as generous and passionate with her time as Tony was with his.”
The Tony Sparacino Memorial Scholarship ceremony is free and open to the public.
Tony Sparacino Memorial Scholarship, April 11, 8:30 p.m., William Way Community Center, 1315 Spruce Street.