SUMMIT, NJ - Transported through time and greeted by a 1937 Chevrolet Coupe parked immediately outside the entrance to Canoe Brook Country Club, friends of The Connection in Summit began the season of giving by emulating The Great Gatsby’s generous spirit and generously raising $120,000 to benefit the nonprofit’s Scholarship Fund. 

There was no worry about the ratification of the 18th Amendment on this evening, as the Summit House served speakeasy-worthy cocktails crafted especially for the occasion as poured by restaurant’s head bartender, Bobby Frascella.

The Gala Event Committee, led by co-chairs Annel Mitchell and Nev DiPetrillo, transformed venue under the experienced eye of Jen Counihan.The theme, décor, and silent auction provided an ideal atmosphere for Mitchell’s remarks, which began with a story from a century before. More than a story, her remarks offered a choice: that in the 1920’s The Connection paved the way for racial equality in the Summit area by making the then-radical decision to be integrated on the very first day the doors opened. 

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That choice was advanced in the 1940s with the creation of its ESL program to support displaced persons following WWII, followed by the establishment dedicated opportunities for women and young children, and the development of comprehensive programs for children and adults with special needs. Noting the reach of the programs enabled everyone in the room -- and in the area -- to “have a Connection story,” she introduced the video showcasing The Connection’s impact, which was donated and produced by Charlie Flax and his team at Propeller Communications.  

Mitchell then invited participants to leave their own legacy by adding their contribution to The Connection’s story. The heart, soul, and spirit of the organization was embodied by the participants that evening with an unprecedented $53,000+ donated outright to the Scholarship Fund. The dedicated group of people chose to 'Give Like Gatsby', and in turn, will change the lives of 5,000+ individuals this year.

Well-known for its renowned aquatics, fitness, child care and recreation programs, The Connection offers and gears this programming for all ages, and they are subsequently filled with girls and boys as young as six months to women and men in their nineties. Special community programs include English as a Second Language, Pathways, a program for women with cancer, special needs swimming and recreation for adults and children, after school enrichment and therapeutic fitness programs. For more information, or to support the organization, visit TheConnectionOnline.org or contact lauren.nisenson@theconnectiononline.org.