Good things are worth waiting for.
Hurricane Sandy forced the Morristown Neighborhood House to reschedule its annual gala from Nov. 3 t0 last Thursday. The result was the nonprofit’s largest turnout ever–more than 240 people packed a Hyatt Morristown ballroom–and nearly $100,000 in proceeds, said David Walker, executive director of the Nabe.
“All proceeds will support our after-school programs,” he said, adding that the turnout was “a reflection of our honorees, and the cause.”
The cause: Serving 1,500 children and families, many of them underprivileged, in Morristown, Denville, Dover and at the Frelinghuysen Middle School in Morris Township.
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Honorees included the Chubb Group, the Morris County chapter of The Links Inc., NJ Architects and the Drew University Center for Civic Engagement. Sixth-grader Nick Sinchi and 5th-grader Luna Aguilar read their contest-winning essays about the Nabe’s impact on them.
Entertainment was provided by the Neighborhood House Dancers, pianist Nick Sainato and the Midnight Street Shakers band.
Another highlight was a documentary about the Nabe produced by Morristown High School seniors Sean Mowry and Sam Casadevall, with guidance from broadcasting teacher Michael Butler.
The 12-minute documentary took about a month to create, with editing continuing almost until showtime, said Sean, who pulled this off while rehearsing and starring in the school play, Heaven Can Wait.
Somehow, the Neighborhood House, which has been helping immigrants and working families since 1898, inspires that kind of extra effort.
“It feels great to give back to this organization,” said gala Chairwoman Bette Simmons, who participated in programs at the Nabe as a child.
Her family was not poor, she said. But the Neighborhood House gave her an appreciation for those who were less fortunate. Today, Bette is vice president for student services at the County College of Morris.
The Nabe “helped me develop the skills I have, in terms of teamwork, and appreciation for education,” she said.
How many lives has the Neighborhood House touched?
“Tens of thousands, I would guess,” Bette said. Morristown without the Nabe “would be a very different place.”