SUMMIT, NJ - A significant corporate contribution from Summit-based Celgene Corporation has allowed the Summit Community Center Renovation and Expansion Project to meets its $1.2 million private financing goal.

Prior to Celgene's commitment, the fundraising campaign had raised an estimated $900,000 of the $1.2 million goal it was charged with when the Summit Common Council -- budgeting $4.5 million -- approved the project's $5.7 million total cost. A $250,000 pledge from Investors Bank began the effort.

At completion, improvements to the Community Center will include an 11,600-square-foot addition to the existing 8,000-square-foot facility, featuring a new full-sized gym, a lounge for seniors, additional restrooms, enhanced meeting spaces, a teens area, kitchen space, improved parking and accessibility improvements.

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Celgene's commitment will see the onset of the 'Celgene Senior Lounge', an area where senior citizens can congregate and relax in a "living-room setting."

The 'Celgene Senior Lounge' will encompass 1,000 square feet and include a gas fireplace, television, coffee bar, sitting area, card tables and program space. It will also include an office space for the senior program coordinator, senior social worker and senior nurse.  

Summit seniors Grace Poli and Miles MacMahon championed the project.

Located at 100 Morris Avenue, the Summit Community Center has served generations of Summit residents since 1954. When the project was unanimously approved by the Common Council in April of 2014, the state of the well-worn, 60+ year-old facility was articulated by elected officials, City staff, and many members of the community, who cumulatively noted the Community Center's poor condition of its physical plant, lack of energy efficiency, space constraints, and safety issues.

At the announcement celebrating Celgene's commitment and the private fundraising goal being reached, Summit Mayor Nora Radest said, "Our community center serves Summit residents at every stage of life. Now, with this renovated and expanded community center, our seniors will have a vital hub for programs and events, offering innovative services that will help to prolong their independence, enhance their quality of life and promote overall health and well-being."

Radest thanked Celgene for "making this vision a reality for Summit’s seniors," adding, "Celgene is an outstanding neighbor and friend of Summit. We are thankful for this interest and important support. Your very generous contribution will enable us to commence with the community center building project and create a gathering place that best meets the needs of our growing, vibrant city, particularly the needs of our senior citizens."

Celgene Executive Chairman, and longtime Summit Resident, Robert J. Hugin, said that -- given Celgene's expanded corporate footprint in the Hilltop City -- getting involved in the Community Center and, specifically, providing a much-needed resource for Summit's senior citizens was clear fit with Celgene's community partnership goals.

“Celgene is happy to support Summit and specifically the seniors in our community through this project,” said Hugin. “We hope the Celgene Senior Lounge at the new community center provides our vibrant seniors an opportunity to live healthier and more active lives.”

Celgene, a global biopharmaceutical company, has as its stated mission the goal "to deliver truly innovative and life-changing drugs for their patients, while focusing on the discovery, the development, and the commercialization of products for the treatment of cancer and other severe, immune, inflammatory conditions."

Celgene's U.S. headquarters are located immediately adjacent to the Community Center, at 86 Morris Avenue, and the company -- in July of 2015 -- acquired the former Merck & Co., Inc. location at 556 Morris Avenue. Three-thousand of the company's 7,000 employees worldwide are based in Summit.

Also at the event, which included lunch served to local seniors, the team that led the fundraising effort -- Drew Maldonado, Jude Avelino, Regina Feeney and Jamie Colucci -- were thanked, along with Summit Department of Community Programs Director, Judith L. Josephs and her staff, who collaborated on the successful campaign through what Radest described as 'tireless efforts."

While the major piece of fundraising is now in place, the effort will continue in the weeks to come via several special events -- designed to generating funding to cover tables, chairs and other furnishings that will be need in the new building. The first such event is a 'dueling pianos' event set for November 17 at The Grand Summit Hotel.

For more information about the community center project, how to donate or get involved, go to www.summitcommunityprograms.com