EAST ORANGE, NJ - EO based Jewish Vocational Service of MetroWest New Jersey (JVS) held its annual Taste and Toast fundraising gala on June 21 at the Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange. 

The event’s purpose was to personally thank those who continuously performed at the highest level to carry out the JVS mission of “Helping People to Help Themselves.” 

This year, the event raised over $300,000 to improve the life-enhancing services that the nonprofit, community-based health and human service organization provides to its diverse clientele.

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Taste and Toast Honorees and Co-Chairs included:

Ed Walsh – Honoree

Ed Walsh, Principal and Managing Director at Avison Young and one of the most accomplished/respected professionals in the construction and real estate industries, became involved with JVS when he was asked to help the organization find a new location. He was drawn to JVS particularly for the work that it does to assist individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in preparing and obtaining employment in the community. Aside from helping JVS find a new building, he hopes to raise funds for the organization moving forward.

Ray Blau – Honoree

After volunteering at orphanages, becoming President of the Charles Bierman Home for 20+ years (a nonprofit assisted living facility for the indigent elderly) and traveling to many Third World countries, Ray realized that his purpose in life was to assist others. He has served on JVS’ Board for four years and his company, Commercial Furniture Interiors (CFI), recently volunteered to help JVS with the design, planning and logistics of the move to its new location.

Sobel & Co. LLC – Corporate Partner    

Alan Sobel of Sobel & Co. in Livingston has made it his firm’s mission to equally serve business and pro bono clients with a set of core values that are the life of the firm. He and his employees have a passion for helping local nonprofit organizations achieve their missions of helping the world’s most vulnerable. JVS is one particular organization that Sobel & Co. has consistently believed in and assisted.

Nils Richardson – Community Partner 

Nils Richardson, President and CEO of ACCSES New Jersey, has worked to improve funding, regulations and programs with the NJ Dept. of Labor for vocational rehabilitation and general workforce development, both of which JVS offers. He and his team have marketed JVS, which resulted in hundreds of additional clients being served, advanced production revenues and training services, and several million dollars in additional revenue to the organization over the years. 

The United Nations Association at Seton Hall University – Young Leaders Award:

The United Nations Associations at Seton Hall University (UNA-SHU) has the purpose of engaging collegiate youth with the work that the United Nations does with and for civil society by hosting events and lobbying for further US-UN engagement. The campus chapter honored JVS at its “United in Solidarity” fundraising dinner last year and donated backpacks full of school supplies to JVS’ refugee clientele.

-         Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz (Congregation B’nai Jeshurun) – Honorary Chairman

-         Robert A. Francis – Event Co-Chair and JVS Board Member

-         Eric Witmondt - Event Co-Chair and JVS Board Member