As a fourth-generation owner of the renowned Perona Farms venue for weddings and other events, Mark Avondoglio is one of Sussex County’s movers and shakers.

When Sussex County YMCA embarked on expanding the Y’s size and services, Avondoglio took a lead role, donating $25,000 and introducing the Y to business and philanthropic leaders who could help make the ambitious project a reality.

“Mark’s impact to the Y in 2016 will have lasting effects for years to come,” Sussex County YMCA Executive Director Jennifer Gardner said.

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Avondoglio received the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges’ W. Daniel McCain Award for Youth Development last night at its 40th annual recognition dinner, held at the Hanover Manor in East Hanover. Sussex County YMCA is one of six branches of the Metro YMCA, the largest association of YMCAs in New Jersey.

“He believes in the Y’s programs and services, and has been willing to share with others that the Y makes a difference and is an organization worth supporting,” Metro Y President and CEO Richard K. Gorab said.

“The Y is important for the community, and the people I know are very philanthropic,” said Avondoglio, co-chair of the Sussex County Y’s Capital Campaign Steering Committee and a member of its golf committee.

The Perona Farms vice president said the Y spends money wisely and sets a good example, making it easy for him to encourage friends and associates to invest in its future. “I associate myself with organizations that spend their money well. The Y works well; they know what they’re doing.”

The $3.8 million expansion, set to begin in May with completion in January, will add 9,000 square feet to the YMCA in Hardyston Township. The project includes a full-size high school gymnasium, an expanded wellness center, a cycle room for spin classes, and renovations to the lobby, locker rooms,  and bathrooms. It also will allow the Y to offer league sports and expand community wellness programs and free middle school memberships.

“Perona Farms has been here a long time, and we want to show the community we’re willing to give back,” Avondoglio said. Perona Farms is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and will hold a centennial celebration on July 18, drawing celebrated chefs from across the nation to the Andover Township property, he said.  

Avondoglio was the honoree of the Y’s golf tournament last May. He secured major sponsorships and recruited new golfers, making it the Y’s most successful outing to date, Gardner said.

“Mark’s passion to help the community for the youth and families we serve has been outstanding,” she said.

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ABOUT THE Y

Established in 1885, the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges is the largest association of YMCAs in New Jersey, serving more than 35,000 individuals and providing nearly $1.3 million in direct financial assistance. Its six YMCAs, located in East Orange, Livingston, Maplewood, Hardyston, Stillwater and Wayne, are committed to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living, and fostering a sense of social responsibility. They offer an array of programs that build spirit, mind and body for people of all ages and all circumstances.