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Annual Auction Boosts Quality of Life For Individuals Living With AIDS
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By SUZETTE F. STALKER
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
WESTFIELD — Members of the community will come together in support of those afflicted with the AIDS virus on Saturday, February 26, when the AIDS Benefit Committee of New Jersey (ABCNJ) holds its 12th annual benefit auction.
The event, to be held once again at Temple EmanuEl on East Broad Street in Westfield, will kick off at 6 p. m. with an open bar, buffet dinner and silent auction. A live auction accompanied by coffee and dessert will follow at 8 p. m.
Westfield attorney Jon Bramnick, nicknamed the “Funniest Lawyer in New Jersey,” will return as auctioneer for the upcoming benefit. Mr. Bramnick has been lending his talents to the event for many years, according to ABCNJ President and longtime Westfield resident Mike Kenny.
Among the auction prizes, donated by people throughout the state, are a weekend in New York or sailing from Newport, R. I., a catered dinner party, Yankees tickets, jewelry, clothing and antiques. Minimum bids go upward from $50.
The ABCNJ was founded in 1986 by John DeMarco, a realtor with Coldwell Banker’s Westfield office, who held the first auction at his home in the Sleepy Hollow section of Plainfield. Three hundredandfifty people attended the debut event.
Event Coordinator Alan Zakin revealed that last year’s auction raised approximately $60,000 – a total which the NJABC hopes to surpass this year. He revealed that about 300 people turn out for the benefit each year.
Mr. Kenny told The Westfield Leader and The Times this week that the auction benefits at least half a dozen organizations that provide muchneeded support to individuals and families coping with the myriad effects of HIV and AIDS.
Among them are Life Ties, an umbrella group serving young mothers, children and families, as well as Rainbow House in Trenton, a division of Life Ties designed specifically for young women between the ages of 12 and 21 who have the virus and need a place to live.
Described by Mr. Kenny as the first of its kind in the country, Rainbow House is a longterm care facility
where adolescents and young adults receive proper nutrition and other services in a secure environment.
Mary Inzana, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Life Ties, will be presented at this year’s auction with the second annual “John DeMarco Humanitarian Award.” The award recognizes those who have made significant contributions to individuals living with AIDS.
Other programs supported by the ABCNJ auction are the New Brunswickbased Hyacinth Foundation, which coordinates services and information for families and individuals living with AIDS, and the Healing Community, a weeklong camp program in Newton for children with the virus and their families.
Mr. Kenny said the Healing Community affords youngsters with AIDS an opportunity to enjoy traditional camp activities with peers who share the same illness. The program, he noted, often marks the “first time (the youngsters) feel free” to talk about their condition without fear of being rejected.
Like others on the 12member committee, Mr. Kenny has personal knowledge of the challenges facing those who are living with the AIDS virus. Two of his nephews, both hemophiliacs, are HIV positive after having contracted the virus through blood transfusions.
Committee members, many of whom have lost relatives and friends to the disease, reside in Union and Essex Counties, according to Mr. Kenny, who has been involved with the organization himself for more than eight years.
In addition to financial support, Mr. Kenny said he believes the annual auction has also “made people more aware” that AIDS is a disease which affects everyone.
Once believed to afflict only homosexuals and intravenous drug users, the disease is now recognized as the number one killer of women between the ages of 20 and 34, according to the ABCNJ.
Despite the strides made in the past decade toward educating the public about AIDS and erasing the stigma long associated with the disease, Mr. Kenny acknowledged that there “is still a lot of work to do.”
“People (used to be) closed up about it,” he remarked. “You still see it today, but not as much.”
He praised Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff and members of Temple EmanuEl for their continued support of the ABCNJ’s efforts. In addition to providing a prominent location for the annual auction, the congregation has also donated items for the benefit.
Besides the auction, the ABCNJ periodically sponsors holiday house tours and theater parties to raise funds to support programs for people with AIDS.
Tickets for the event, including cocktails, dinner and the auction, cost $100 per person. Individual sponsorships are $150 each, while corporate sponsorships are $1,000. Corporate sponsorships include 10 tickets and a listing in the program journal.
For further information about ABCNJ auction tickets, sponsorships or donations, please call Mr. Kenny at (908) 9281600. Donations may be sent to ABCNJ, P. O. Box 847, Westfield, 07090.
Westfield Old Guard Posts Programs for February
WESTFIELD — The Westfield Old Guard, an organization for retired and semiretired men, has announced its programs for Thursdays in February.
·February 3 – “Cable Cars,” featuring Dr. Arthur Bilenker.
·February 10 – “House Plants,” featuring Wesley Philo.
·February 17 – “Westfield Police Activities,” featuring Westfield Police Chief Anthony J. Scutti.
·February 24 – “N. J. Ghost Hunters Society,” featuring Laura Muller. The Westfield Old Guard, organized in 1933, meets every Thursday at 10 a. m. at the Westfield Y, 220 Clark Street in Westfield.
One of 22 chapters in New Jersey, it also serves Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside, Cranford, Clark, Roselle, Roselle Park, Kenilworth, Springfield, Garwood and Rahway.
Weekly meetings provide guest speakers, films and other programs, in addition to committee updates.
There are also regular group activities such as golf, bowling, bridge, day trips, luncheons, ladies’ events, the Merrymen (a chorus group which performs regularly at charity functions, public gatherings and formal concerts) and shuffleboard.
For more information, please call Robert Broadwell at (908) 2325150.
Recreation Office Offers Discount Ski Tickets
SCOTCH PLAINS — The Scotch Plains Department of Parks and Recreation is again offering discount ski tickets in conjunction with the New Jersey Recreation and Parks Association (NJRPA).
Ski areas for which tickets are being sold include Montage Mountain, Scranton, Pa.; Shawnee Mountain, ShawneeontheDelaware, Pa.; Jack Frost/ Big Boulder, Blakeslee, Pa.; Blue Mountain, Palmerton, Pa., and Camelback, Tannersville, Pa. Prices are lower than when tickets are purchased on site.
Prices vary for weekend/ holidays, weekdays, all day or all night, as well as for individuals who prefer snowboarding. Some of the areas also offer beginners’ packages which include lessons.
Tickets may be purchased in the Recreation Office at 430 Park Avenue in Scotch Plains. All payments must be made by check made out to the NJRPA. For further information, please call (908) 3226700.
Former Foundation Trustees Form ‘Cornerstone Society’
WESTFIELD — Former Trustees have joined together to form the “Cornerstone Society” of the Westfield Foundation.
This volunteer group will provide an opportunity for the former Trustees to contribute to the Foundation by sustaining the efforts and direction of the organization.
Seventeen former trustees attended an initial meeting recently along with current Trustees. Barbara Ball, a newly “graduated” Trustee, is Chairwoman of the Cornerstone Society.
Board President Frank A. MacPherson said he was pleased with the positive response of former Trustees to establishing the Cornerstone Society.
“It is always with regret that we watch our Trustees ‘graduate’ after
fulfilling their terms of office,” he stated.
“We are sorry to lose colleagues and their talents, perspective and experience,” he continued. “Now, we are delighted to be able to tap into this rich resource.”
Mr. MacPherson asked the former Trustees to bring to the Society “needs they are aware of where the Foundation could make a difference.”
The Foundation’s purpose is to promote the betterment of the Westfield community and enhance the quality of life for its citizens.
Since its founding with $2,000 in seed money nearly 25 years ago, the Foundation has grown to over $8 million in assets, held in 75 individual funds. The Foundation has awarded over $2 million in grants to nonprofit organizations in the community. In 1999 alone, the Foundation awarded $264,577 in grants.
Information about the Westfield Foundation is available from the Executive Director, Betsy Chance. The Foundation’s office is located in the former northside train station building at 300 North Avenue.
Information about the Foundation is also available at www. westfieldnj. com/ wf.
African Violet Society To Meet February 17
SCOTCH PLAINS — The Union County Chapter of the African Violet Society will meet at 1 p. m. next Thursday, February 17, in the Scotch Plains Public Library, 1927 Bartle Avenue in Scotch Plains.
The program will be entitled “Discussion on Show Preparations.” All are invited to attend.
Covering Fanwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield, Union County, New Jersey (NJ)