NORTH CALDWELL, NJ – The Bridge Center for Wellbeing hosted its 18th annual golf outing fundraiser at the Green Brook Country Club in North Caldwell, brining in a crowd of community activists and golfers to help raise funds for the organization, on Thursday.

The fundraiser brought in between $20,000 and $25,000 for the organization and drew between 50 and 60 participants to the event, according to Bob Masella, the president of The Bridge.

“We’re a community organization and we provide services to the community,” said The Bridge’s clinical director, Joel Levine. “We are dependent upon different fundraisers to be able to provide services to the community directly. We provide counseling services. We also work within the school system in terms of crisis intervention.”

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West Caldwell Mayor Joe Tempesta was at the event, and said that he has attended each of the 18 years that The Bridge has hosted the golf outing.

He spoke highly of The Bridge, of which he is a long time supporter, and cited that they do tremendous work for the community.

“They are an important part of the community because they provide a lot of counseling services for some families in the West Essex area and particularly for young people,” Tempesta said. “It’s a family counseling and an individual counseling; so troubled teenagers or families having issues. It’s a valuable service that they provide.”

The Provident Bank and the Astorino Financial Group were named as gold sponsors for the event and donated at least $5,000 each to The Bridge.

North Caldwell Councilman Frank Astorino, of the Astorino Financial Group, who is also a board member of The Bridge and a former president of the organization played the Green Brook course and said that the event drew a crowd for all of the right reasons.

“I’ve had a soft spot for the value of the mind and wellness of the human being and how it connects with community and our children and our seniors,” Astorino said. “We’ve done a good job the last 40 years helping out some of the underprivileged parts of New Jersey with grants and so forth. Now we're trying to build wellness centers and special programs for some of our own community.”

The Bridge has been a part of the Caldwell community since the early 1970s and has offered many services including youth and family counseling and providing counseling coordinators in Caldwell’s schools.

In 1974, The Bridge established the Essex Valley School, an alternative school that was created at the request of local West Essex schools for children who needed additional support.

The golf outing was an all day event. The festivities began at 10:30 a.m. at the driving range. At 12:30 p.m. the golfers took to the greens to play on what was described by participants as a beautiful, well kept golf course.

A cocktail hour began at 5:30 p.m. leading into an awards presentation that awarded some of the golfers at the event, including the longest drive and best score at 6:30 p.m., before dinner was served to the participants at 7 p.m.