MADISON, NJ - The 125-year-old marble halls of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Hennessy Hall Mansion will be filled with guests attending the Covenant House Auxiliary of Morris County’s 32nd Annual Fall Benefit, Shanghai Nights, on Friday, Oct. 2. 

"Over 250 guests attended last year’s fall event, raising funds and corporate sponsorships totaling $48,000, which directly benefited Covenant House New Jersey," said last year's co-president Cara DePaul of Madison.

The 100-room Georgian style masterpiece, originally the home of the Vanderbilt-Twombly Family, will be transformed into the glamorous Chinese metropolis using Asian-inspired décor themes and cuisine.

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"It is such a wonderful night serving the most worthy of causes," said Trish Wilson one of last year's attendees.

Each year, Covenant House New Jersey serves 2,000 homeless, runaway and at-risk youth between the ages of 18-21, by first responding to their immediate and basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and healthcare; and then, by giving them the support they need to become self-sufficient and independent young adults.

The non-profit organization has statewide residential programs that offer education, vocation, medical, and legal services to the young people who walk through their doors. For more information about the work the Covenant House accomplishes, please visit

In addition to the annual fall benefit, the auxiliary hosts a Baby Shower each May for the young, formerly homeless mothers and their babies, who now reside in the Covenant House “Raphael Life House” in Elizabeth. It is heart-warming to see the understanding and needs of motherhood binding these two groups together in friendship, love and laughter.

The auxiliary members also make several trips to the Covenant House Newark Crisis Center to share holiday fun and create happy memories for with the young people who benefit from their efforts. At Halloween, their families carve jack-o-lanterns with the Covenant House residents. At Christmas, the group visits in early December to deck their halls for Christmas.

The Covenant House Auxiliary of Morris County began in the early 1980s when a small group of Madison women, headed by the late Ethel Cunningham, decided to do something about the growing issue of youth homelessness in the greater New York City area.

When Newark’s Covenant House opened, the Madison group redirected their efforts more locally to the New Jersey location and then their contributions began to grow considerably.

Today, the auxiliary is made up of 25 people from Madison, Harding Township, Florham Park, and Chatham and continues the important work started by the auxiliary more than 30 years ago.

To purchase a $75 ticket to the upcoming Shanghai Nights or sponsor the event, please contact Nina Lagios at 973-670-9902 or Diane Masucci at 973-462-2274.