During a casual meeting last Halloween, as members of the Harrison Public Library Foundation (HPLF) discussed ways to build donations to renovate the downtown library, opportunity literally knocked on the door.
As committee member Ross Halperin welcomed a group of trick-or-treaters, he spotted none other than New York Yankees Manager Joe Girardi.
"We were standing there, and (Ross) said 'I think that's Joe Girardi standing in my driveway'," said Nancy Rieger, who is also on the HPLF committee. "It was so funny, we were just talking about him."
Girardi, who lives in Purchase, was out trick-or-treating with his kids. The group had thought about asking the Yankees manager for help because a member of the committee had met him before at his son's recreation basketball games and knew he was one of several celebrities who live in the community.
They didn't bother him that night, but the group later got in contact with Girardi and asked him to sign autographs and meet with donors to help their fundraising efforts. Fast-forward three months, and HPLF is about to receive a shot in the arm from the skipper of the most recognized baseball team in the world.
"He was really great," said Rieger. "He is so busy and it's hard to track him down, but he was so gracious and happy to do it."
Girardi will be at the on Jan. 29 from 12 to 1 p.m. Two guest passes to the "MVP Reception" will cost $225 and include a photo-op with Girardi and an autograph for each guest. Those tickets must be reserved in advance online.
The Yankee manager will also sign baseball cards, bats and jerseys for prices ranging from $35 to $100 depending on the item. All proceeds will go toward improving the library.
The event will not only serve as a fundraiser, but another opportunity to get the word out about HPLF's mission. The group was founded in 2010 with the goal of raising funds for major improvements to Harrison's library system. The non-profit group is using community-based fundraising to improve both of the town's libraries, starting with the downtown location.
"We're trying to penetrate all different areas," said Rieger. "We are going to do a whole bunch of different events and that way everyone is aware of what we are doing."
At the beginning of the project, the Richard E. Halpern Memorial Fund pledged to match all donations up to $1 million to help get renovations for the downtown library off the ground.
The group's seven-member volunteer board is focused on fundraising and spreading the word about their efforts through local events and word-of-mouth recruiting.
"We're making traction," said Rieger. "It's not easy, it's a hard economy, but we're hearing positive feedback so hopefully we are making some strides."
For information on how to order tickets to meet Joe Girardi,