RED BANK, NJThe YMCA of Greater Monmouth County,  celebrated the merging of the Community YMCA and the YMCA of Western Monmouth County at the Stronger Together Gala this past Friday night at  The Addison Park,  in Aberdeen.

Laurie Goganzer, President and CEO of The YMCA of Greater Monmouth County said, "We are here to celebrate two YMCA's coming together and so excited and proud to serve the greater Monmouth County area, as well as celebrating 145 years of service.”

The gala was a hit all around with cocktails and delicious apps, followed by dinner and dancing that set the stage for recognition of those who gave what is their most valuable asset – time.

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Five community volunteers were recognized and acknowledged for their years of tireless dedication and advancing the mission of the Y:  Co-chairs Irene Hall and Lauren Berke presented the Legacy Award to Marti and Bruce Huber, Red Bank, for over twenty-six years of dedication and involvement with the Y.  Bruce Huber helpedestablish The Community YMCA Foundation and served as a trustee for many years. He also served on the Y Board of Directors. Together, the Hubers have made a significant impact on the greater Monmouth County community through their tremendous support of the Y. 

Jennifer Lakefield, Colts Neck, received the Visionary Award for her ongoing commitment to strengthening communities and planning for the future of the Y.  As Chief Volunteer Officer for The Community YMCA – and now the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County - Lakefield helped guide the successful merger of the two Y’s.  She learned to swim at the Y and participated in many youth development programs.  Lakefield has served as a Y board member since 2012.

The Distinguished Citizen Service Award was presented to David Hernandez, Old Bridge, for his outstanding community service.  Hernandez is the owner of Old Bridge Funeral Home, incoming president of the Old Bridge, Sayreville & South Amboy Chamber of Commerce, and a board member of Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge. 

The 2019 Volunteer of the Year Award for outstanding service was bestowed upon Stacey DeAlmeida, of Marlboro.  DeAlmedia has served for six years on the board of the YMCA of Western Monmouth County, and as board chairperson since 2017.  A tireless worker, she also served on the executive, finance, governance, fundraising and gala committees for the YMCA. She now serves as vice chairperson of the board for the newly-merged Y. 

Guests opened their hearts to support the Y’s wide array of terrific silent auction items.

Then it got exciting.  YMCA Board member Chris Mosley, auctioneer extraordinaire, really got the patrons to open up their wallets asking to pledge sums for $10k, $5k, $2k, $500 all the way to $100.  And they did!

Next the party kicked into high gear with The Infernos Band.  Fabulous music, full orchestra band with swingin’ horns and great vocals got get people up and dancing. To get a feel for what the enthusiastic crowd heard, take a look at these must-see videos by clicking HERE and HERE.

There was an extensive array of donated auction items from community members and businesses who support the Y's mission. 

The success of the event was made through the tremendous labors of Gala co-chairs Hall and Berke and their team of volunteers whose attention to detail made it a very special and memorable evening.

Proceeds from the gala will support the Y’s financial assistance scholarship program that gives kids, teens and families in need access to affordable childcare, swim lessons, summer camp, therapeutic counseling, college readiness and other life-changing programs.