This summer Nat Conti, Founder of Conti Construction, has undertaken the tremendous task of transforming Bernardsville’s old Audi Dealership into an estate sale offering furniture for a cause. The event, named “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” is to benefit The Children’s Institute (TCI), a non-profit organization serving children, adolescents and adults with autism.
This is no ordinary business and it’s certainly no ordinary fundraiser! Local residents have generously donated upscale furniture, unique home décor, antiques, artwork and more; transforming the former car dealership into an absolute treasure trove.
Conti, who has a grandson with autism, is working to raise money and awareness for this important cause. Had it not been for his grandson, Conti says, “I would probably have never heard of autism. That’s why I got involved as much as I have.” Conti has been a passionate advocate for autism awareness and The Children’s Institute for many years.
The idea of raising funds by selling donated furniture came about without any particular location in mind. Conti said he did not know until mid-May that the former Audi site, which was vacated last October, was still available. “This worked out well,” he said. “The location, I think, is prime.”
Conti has the lease through early fall and plans to continue the sale for at least a few months, saying it could go further depending on how successful it is. Many of the donated items are from Conti himself and his daughter, Kecia Price of Watchung, an interior designer. Donations from other community members are being accepted as well.
“I don’t want this to be a flea market-type promotion,” Conti explains. “It’s more designer type…It has nice items.”
For those interested in learning more, the store features literature and videos providing information about the programs at TCI. Conti has been pleased with the results so far. “It’s amazing to see people from the community making donations, purchasing items and asking what more they can do.”
“By making people aware, my hope is that people will feel the need to do something and write out a check to the school,” he said. “I think this is a very important issue.”
About The Children's Institute:
TCI’s mission is to provide the highest quality educational and therapeutic programs for individuals with learning, language and social/emotional challenges to achieve their maximum potential as responsible adults in society; recognize and value the students’ unique abilities, learning styles and differences; and serve as a leader in promoting innovative educational programs.
Originating as an orphanage in 1883, TCI evolved into a school for students with disabilities in 1963 and has been a pioneer in serving individuals with special learning needs for more than fifty years. Since its transformation, TCI has remained ahead of the curve and has been hailed as a national model.
Today, TCI serves children and adults from more than 88 communities throughout Northern and Central New Jersey. It includes two non-profit special education schools approved by the New Jersey State Board of Education, serving children ranging in age from 3-21, and The Center for Independence, serving adults on the autism spectrum age 21 and over. Individuals served represent diverse ethnic, racial and socio-economic backgrounds.
For information: contact Jennifer Miller, The Children’s Institute Public Information Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.