On October 20, 2016 more than 250 guests gathered at The Westmount Country Club in Woodland Park to celebrate NJCDC's 22nd Anniversary. At this year's Anniversary Dinner, NJCDC honored Charlie Venti, Executive Director of The Nicholson Foundation and Dr. Steven M. Rose, President of Passaic County Community College (PCCC) for their commitment to Paterson and creating opportunities that enable others to transform their own lives.
After a cocktail hour featuring food from all over the world, the Drumline from NJCDC's Compete for Life Program at Paterson's John F. Kennedy Educational Complex opened the ceremony with a rousing performance that received a standing ovation.
Bob Daleo, Chairman of NJCDC's Board of Trustees then welcomed those in attendance and offered his gratitude to all of NJCDC's supporters and staff. Bob exuded pride serving as Chairman of NJCDC's Board.
Bob Guarasci, NJCDC's founder and CEO, also welcomed the crowd. Bob remarked on the organization's start, saying "Back in 1994, I wanted to start an organization to make a difference in urban centers like the city of Paterson. And once we began, I quickly knew that my life's work would be dedicated to helping children and families succeed, to helping those with disabilities win their independence, to helping those who are homeless get a home of their own, and to helping revitalize a city founded by Alexander Hamilton so that it could once again become a vibrant place with opportunity for all."
Leroy Wiggins, who was formerly homeless, expressed his gratitude for the assistance provided to him through NJCDC's affordable housing program. Leroy was instantly comfortable on stage and spoke to the audience about being homeless and taking buses from NYC to Atlantic City to keep warm in the winter. With his daughter in attendance, he thanked NJCDC and was proud that because of NJCDC, he now has a place he calls home.
Shabbir Khan, a 17 year-old student at Passaic County Technical Institute and member of NJCDC's Paterson Youth Council reflected on his experience with NJCDC. Shabbir told the crowd that NJCDC has given him—and all 30 members of Paterson Youth Council—the platform to show that Paterson youth are doing amazing things—not just the negative stories you read in the papers. Shabbir's goal is to attend Rutgers University and earn a degree in engineering.
After the heartfelt remarks by Leroy and Shabbir, The Nicholson Foundation and its Executive Director Charlie Venti were honored for their remarkable commitment to NJCDC and supporting Paterson's children and families. Bob Guarasci expressed his gratitude, saying, "Thank you to Charlie Venti and everyone at The Nicholson Foundation for your belief in our work and, more importantly, your belief in the children of Paterson. Your organization has made a measureable impact in our city." Since 2013, The Nicholson Foundation has supported NJCDC's work to develop and strengthen a pipeline of programs and services for children living or going to school in the Great Falls Promise Neighborhood with more than $1 million in funding.
Next, Dr. Steven M. Rose, President of Passaic County Community College, was honored for his work providing educational opportunities for the people of Passaic County. Under Dr. Rose's leadership, PCCC became one of the fastest-growing colleges in the State of New Jersey, more than doubling in size. In addition, the College opened three new campuses in Wanaque, Wayne, and Passaic and renovated and expanded its main Paterson Campus. "Dr. Steven M. Rose has created a community anchor in the heart of downtown Paterson," said Bob Guarasci. "The opportunity PCCCC affords Paterson youth to achieve a better life is nothing short of inspirational."
The Dinner raised crucial funds to support NJCDC's work in the city of Paterson, and will help the 14,000 children and families in the neighborhood we serve lift themselves out of poverty and change their lives for the better.
NJCDC would like to thank the following sponsors for their generous support of this year's Dinner and for making our 22nd Anniversary celebration a success:
Alma Realty Corp.
Valley National Bank
Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP
Passaic County Community College,
Railroad Construction Company
St. Joseph's Healthcare System
View 22nd Anniversary Photos on Fllckr.com.