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Westfield Area YMCA Host Achievers 20th Anniversary Gala

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Tia Norfleet, John Stanisci, Luke Wright and Stephen Powell
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The Westfield Area YMCA in collaboration with the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA and Plainfield Area YMCA will host the Achievers 20th Anniversary Gala on Friday, June 15, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at The Embassy Suites Grand Ballroom located at 250 Connell Drive, Berkeley Heights, NJ. The evening will include a cocktail hour with live musical performances by students, dinner, dancing, art auction and tricky tray.  The tricky tray features over 40 items including offerings from Lord & Taylor, New York Jets, Plainfield Symphony, Disney, and Broadway Tours. At the Gala, 2018 Achiever high school graduates and Alumni Achievers Connell Company scholarship recipients will be recognized with certificates distributed by the Union County Freeholders. The Most Dedicated Mentors will be honored and the new Achievers Steering Committee will be inducted. 

This year’s milestone event features a variety of speakers and artists:

Keynote Speaker, Tia Norfleet, is the world's first female African-American NASCAR driver and the first to be licensed by both NASCAR and ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America). "What I stand for is something far bigger than me," she says. Tia welcomes more minorities to get involved and become drivers, pit crew members and engineers. Tia's goal is to teach young people that it can be done, and "it" is not limited to racing. To learn more about Tia, visit www.tianorfleet34.com.

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Gala Guest Artist, John Stanisci, is a Marvel/DC Comic illustrator who will auction his work to benefit the Achievers program.  John has been a professional illustrator for over 18 years working for all the major comic book publishers drawing characters such as Spider Man, Batman, Catwoman, Superman, and The Hulk. To view John’s online gallery, go to

www.johnstanisci.com.

Mentoring Speaker, Stephen Powell, is the Chief Program Officer of the National CARES Mentoring Movement and leads its program expansion, partnership development, training and technical assistance efforts across the country. He previously served as the Executive Director of Mentoring USA. Powell’s past commentaries on leadership, organizational strategy and mentoring can be found in the New York Times, Huffington Post, Black Enterprise, the Costco Connection and other leading national publications.

Leadership Speaker, Luke Wright: After 22 years of military service in the Marine Corps, Luke Wright chose to follow his passion--empowering, and developing youth to become the leaders oftomorrow. Luke takes his experience as a Marine Officer and department head in the Baltimore County School system and applies it to a message of perseverance, sacrifice, investing time versus spending it, and character building.  He encourages youth audiences to step out of their comfort zone into their success zone.

Proceeds of the 20th Anniversary Gala will benefit the Achievers Program. To attend or support, please visit https://www.westfieldynj.org/get-involved/events or the Main Y Facility Welcome Center at 220 Clark Street, Westfield, NJ 07090.  Ad Journal or vendor table submissions are due by June 1.  Individual or table tickets must be purchased by June 8.

The Westfield Area YMCA Achievers began 20 years ago as part of a national program focusing on college readiness, career development, leadership, life skills and mentoring for diverse high school students from Union County. The goal is to raise the academic standards of young people, expose students to diverse career options and inspire them to reach their goals. Achievers also participate in community service activities, celebrate their history, culture and traditions, receive college prep tutoring and essay assistance. This program is available at little or no cost to participants. Today, this program is a collaboration of the Westfield Area YMCA, Plainfield YMCA and the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA.

For inquiries about the Gala or how to otherwise support these leaders of tomorrow, please contact Janice A. Carthens at 908-301-YMCA (9622) x227, jcarthens@westfieldynj.org or Nadya Lawrence at 908-301-YMCA (9622) x280, nlawrence@westfieldynj.org.

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