Coastal Star: Gulf Stream School parent casts wide net as community volunteer

Chiara Clark, president of the Parents Auxiliary at Gulf Stream School, has three children at the school: Finley, 10, Fletcher, 5, and Francesca, 8. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

By Rick Pollack

Chiara Clark had just moved to Florida from Manhattan after she and her financier husband, Tom, had found the home of their dreams in tiny Gulf Stream.
Knowing that her two daughters at the time would soon be going to Gulf Stream School, but not knowing where it was, Clark put the address into a GPS hoping to get an idea of how long it would take to get the kids from the kitchen to the classroom.
She was shocked when it came back “too close to calculate” and discovered that the school was just a stone’s throw away.
Before long, Clark as well as her children were making the short walk to campus often. The kids went to class and their mom became part of the school’s Parents Auxiliary — Gulf Stream’s version of a PTA.
In fact, Clark went to her first auxiliary meeting just three days after moving to the area — with purple streaks of color in her hair — and was pleasantly surprised by what she saw.
“It was my first sense that I was part of something that could benefit my children and my community as a whole,” said Clark, 41. “Everyone here reaches out. We don’t wait for you to come to us, we reach out for all kinds of things from play dates, dinners and volunteer opportunities — sometimes all three.”
Clark became deeply involved in the Parents Auxiliary, working her way up the ladder and currently serving a second year as auxiliary president.
While the school is her main focus, Clark is also active in the community as a whole, serving on several boards and taking the reins as chairwoman of several fundraising events, including the Laugh at the Library event in February. That event benefits the Delray Beach Public Library, where she is on the board.
She is on the board of the Delray Beach Historical Society and chaired the recent Fall Festival.
Clark was on the committee for the recent Women of Grace luncheon benefiting the Bethesda Hospital Foundation, is involved with Impact 100 Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach County Literacy Coalition and the Magnolia Society, which benefits Bethesda’s Center for Women and Children.
On Dec. 2, she planned to serve as a celebrity chef at Empty Bowls Delray Beach, benefiting the Palm Beach County Food Bank.
Clark has a background as an event planner, having worked in that arena and as a publicist before moving to Florida.
In whatever time she has left, she volunteers as a soccer coach for her children’s teams.
“I love to be busy with things that make me happy,” she said. “I make time to do all of this because it’s important to show my children the value of being community oriented.”
The mother of three kids at Gulf Stream School — 10-year-old Finley, 8-year-old Francesca and Fletcher, 5 — Clark is frequently on campus helping to organize fundraising events and other activities.
As auxiliary president she’s involved with more than 30 events throughout the year that support the school. She makes sure that all new parents are welcomed. The auxiliary also hosts Grandparents and Special Friends Day, as well as the Golf and Tennis Classic and the school’s annual auction, a major fundraiser.
“We’re the social backbone of the school,” she said. “We give this school a feeling of family.”
One of Clark’s most visible accomplishments at Gulf Stream School is a new playground for lower school kids. With input from Head of School Joe Zaluski as well as students, Clark led the team that raised $350,000 for the community-built playground.
“I will walk away most proud of that,” she said.
With three energetic children, a busy husband and a hectic volunteer schedule, you might think that Clark would look forward to taking a little break from community service once her term as auxiliary president is over at the end of the school year.
That, however, would be a wrong assumption.
“I can’t wait to do more,” she said.

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