MONTCLAIR, NJ — The YMCA of Montclair announced in June of 2019 a fundraising campaign to build an imaginative and inclusive neighborhood playground behind the Y’s Geyer Family Branch at 159 Glenridge Ave in Montclair. Scheduled to break ground in the summer of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic put the project on hold. But the pandemic has made it more clear than ever how important it is for kids to be able to play and learn in the fresh air.  

Today, the playground project is scheduled to break ground this summer with 75% of the fundraising goal met.  

“The playground was designed in partnership with Montclair State University to provide a safe, fun, outdoor environment for all children, regardless of their abilities,” said Buddy Evans, YMCA of Montclair President and CEO. “We are excited to start but we need help reaching that financial finish line.” 

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With $50,000 left to raise, two passionate supporters of the Y have stepped up to close that gap and have set forth a community challenge to reach the playground’s fundraising goal.  

David and Bridget Placek are active supporters of the arts and education in the Montclair community, serve on the Y’s 1891 Gala Committee, and support the Y’s scholarship fund for children and families. Their family has participated in numerous YMCA of Montclair programs for over seven years, and they have long been advocates for the Y in the community. When they heard about the planned playground at the Geyer Family Y, they said “count us in.” The Placek Family has generously pledged $25,000.  

“Equity and inclusivity is our passion in all of the work we do so we are honored to support the Y in building this playground that thoughtfully serves all of our community’s children,” said Bridget Placek. “The Y has been a big part of our family’s life here in Montclair, and we look forward to seeing the joy this playground will bring to all the kids of the YMCA!” 

Rao’s Homemade is no stranger to the Y’s Playground Fund, having donated $20,000 in November of 2020. Hearing that there was still a need, they suggested the community match to their additional $15,000 to help close the gap. 

“We are committed to seeing this playground break ground,” said Risa Cretella, Executive Vice President, Group General Manager at Sovos Brands/Rao’s Homemade. “Supporting children and families in our community is important to Rao’s and we can’t wait to see the playground open and watch the children have fun outdoors after this difficult year.”  

Rao's and the Placek Family have challenged the community to raise $15,000 by May 31st. Each dollar contributed will be matched by Rao’s and by the Placeks. By meeting this community challenge, Rao’s, the Placeks, and members of our community will come together to finish the Playground Campaign. 

The tax-deductible contribution will secure a playground that will benefit children who attend programs and camp at the Y and children who live in the area, where there is no walkable playground nearby. 

If you are interested in donating, please visit https://www.montclairymca.org/giving/playground-appeal/ or call 973-559-9285. 

“This entire playground project has been funded by generous donors, both big and small, said Evans. “The Y is grateful to all who have made this playground a reality, helping our Y better serve families and our community.”  

The Y plans to open the playground in the fall. 

ABOUT THE YMCA OF MONTCLAIR 
Established in 1891, the YMCA of Montclair welcomes all. We are a nonprofit that strengthens individuals, families, and community by developing spirit, mind, and body. We focus on healthy living, social responsibility, and youth development. Serving Bloomfield, Bloomingdale, Clifton, Cedar Grove, Glen Ridge, Haskell, Montclair, Verona, and West Milford. For more information, please visit montclairymca.org

ABOUT SOVOS BRANDS 
Sovos Brands is a food company with a mission to acquire and build one-of-a-kind brands that bring today’s consumers delicious food for joyful living. Sovos Brands invests in brands that have exciting growth potential, combining industry expertise with fresh thinking to bring its products into more homes across America. 

The brands in its portfolio include Rao’s, a line of premium pasta sauces, soups, frozen entrées and dry pasta; noosa, a producer of thick, velvety whole milk yoghurt; and Michael Angelo’s, a leading producer of authentic frozen Italian entrées.  

SOVOS™, RAO’S®, RAO’S HOMEMADE®, NOOSA® and MICHAEL ANGELO’S® are trademarks of Sovos Brands. Find out more about Sovos Brands at www.sovosbrands.com, Rao’s Homemade  at www.raos.com, noosa at www.noosayoghurt.com, and Michael Angelo’s at www.michaelangelos.com.