Supporters of Project Self-Sufficiency recently gathered at the Hudson Farm Club to raise funds for the agency by celebrating “Open That Bottle Night,” an international event created for wine-lovers by professional wine critics, which occurs each year on the last Saturday evening in February.  The occasion included rare wines, sumptuous food catered by Kirk Avondoglio of Perona Farms, a display of artwork available for purchase from local artist Suzanne Clothier, as well as a silent auction.  In addition to the wines offered at the affair, participants also brought along their own bottles of wine and shared stories about those wines with the other guests.  Music was provided by the “Meant to be Jazz” trio.


“Open That Bottle Night” was created by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, former authors of the Wall Street Journal’s “Tastings” column.  The concept encouraged those who had been saving a special bottle of wine to gather together with other wine-enthusiasts to share their own bottles and create a memorable wine-tasting experience.  The bottles of wine brought along to the event did not have to be particularly expensive.  Since then, the popular event has been celebrated around the world, in countries from Canada to Russia to Japan.

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“The intimate nature of Open That Bottle Night sets it apart from more traditional fundraising events, and allows us to celebrate the stories that brought all of us together,” noted Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency.  “We are grateful to all of our sponsors, and to the members of the Hudson Farm Club who have opened their doors to assist Project Self-Sufficiency with raising the funds necessary to continue to provide services to the low-income families in our area.”


Sponsors of the evening’s festivities included Bruce and Beverly Gordon; Susan and Gregory Murphy; Janney, Trusted Advisors for Generations; A Friend of Project Self-Sufficiency; Rhoda and Norman Seider; Kathy and Lou Esposito; Hilary Kruce and Vincent Signorile; J.P. Perry, Henry O. Baker Insurance; Mr. and Mrs. R.G. Huber; and Dr. Tom Peterson.


Items available for auction were donated by Jill and Damian Del Gaizo, Andover Flight Academy; Pam Alberto and Greg Wroclawski; and Kristin Muller, Peters Valley School of Craft.


The Hudson Farm Club is a 3,000 acre private hunting preserve originally owned by railroad magnate John P. McRoy who previously operated a dairy farm on the property.  The farm features a twenty-room estate house designed by New York architect Clarence Curter.  In 1920 the property was donated to The Hudson Guild, a charitable organization located in New York City.  The property was purchased by a private owner in 1997 and the home has been carefully restored to reflect the original design.


The evening was catered by Kirk Avondoglio, Executive Chef of Perona Farms, a family-owned restaurant located in Andover.   Kirk has been recognized by Art Culinare, the James Beard Society, The New York Times, New York Newsday, Asbury Park Press and the Chicago Tribune as one of America's top contemporary chefs.  Kirk has hosted and worked as a featured chef at several James Beard Award dinners.  Additionally, Kirk has appeared on a number of television programs including “Ready, Set, Cook,” “Dining Around,” “Extreme Cuisine,” and “Dinner: Impossible” on TV's Food Network, Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, NBC's Today New York, and News 12 New Jersey.  “Perona Farms is heavily invested in helping out people in our community who need assistance, and Project Self-Sufficiency does a great job of helping out people in need,” Avondoglio commented on his desire to be involved with Open that Bottle Night.


In addition to the fine cuisine at Open that Bottle Night, patrons were also treated to an array of artwork created by several local artists, photographers and crafters.  The proceeds from the dinner and the sale of the artwork benefitted Project Self-Sufficiency’s services for low-income children and families residing in Sussex County.  All sponsors received preferential seating at the event, along with the opportunity to receive several extravagant prizes.


Project Self-Sufficiency is the only organization in Sussex County whose mission is to provide the services necessary for single parents, teen parents, displaced homemakers and two-parent families to improve the quality of their lives and those of their children by attaining economic self-sufficiency and family stability.  Since 1986, over 19,500 low-income individuals have participated in one or more of the programs offered by the organization, including more than 30,000 children.


Project Self-Sufficiency offers a supportive family-centered environment where life issues are addressed through a combination of individual counseling, peer support groups, case management services, parenting skills training, life skills management training, home visits, childcare and early childhood education, family activities and health education. To make a donation, or to find out more information about the programs and services available at Project Self-Sufficiency, call 973-940-3500, or visit