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The Community Chest Celebrates 85 Years of Neighbors Helping Neighbors; Public Invited to Attend Spring Anniversary Special Events

March 31, 2018 , Luhrs & Associates

Joan Van Alstyne Johnson 800

Joan Van Alstyne Johnson. Photo Credit: Sam Lee

(Eastern Bergen County, New Jersey; March 29, 2018) — For 85 years, The Community Chest has carried out its mission to lead initiatives and support nonprofits that make communities stronger and benefit people in need in eastern Bergen County.  Throughout 2018, The Chest reflects upon its history and impact helping people in need in the community and celebrates its 85th anniversary with several special events open to the public.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

            During the Great Depression in 1933, when unemployment, homelessness, and hunger were at all time highs, caring members of the community came together in eastern Bergen County and started The Community Chest.  “The Community Chest is a miracle only in the sense that the human spirit rising above difficulties is always a miracle,” said humanitarian and philanthropist Elizabeth Cutter Morrow, the organization’s founding board chair, at a board meeting on November 9, 1933.

            In the first year, 3,350 donors responded and contributed $116,686, the equivalent of over $2,000,000 today.  “These individuals were worried about their neighbors and the organizations providing social services for the neediest.  The basic idea was to allow these institutions to focus their efforts on their work and not to worry about funding, said Richard Kennedy, president, The Community Chest’s board of managers.

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Elizabeth Cutter Morrow. Photo Credit: The Community Chest

“While many Community Chests evolved into different organizations or dissolved, caring people in the area worked to develop The Chest as an even better partner to the community.  During this time, The Community Chest has remained true to the original mission — ‘Neighbors Helping Neighbors’ — laid out by its founders 85 years ago.”

            Among the first agencies to receive funds were Englewood Hospital and Social Service Federation (now Bergen Family Center).  Since 1933, from its headquarters in Englewood, New Jersey, The Chest has raised $11 million, equaling $62 million when adjusted for inflation.  These funds have supported over 100 agencies with grant awards that make communities stronger and benefit people in eastern Bergen County.

            The nonprofit, tax-exempt organization continues the vision to fill a chest with individuals and businesses’ generous contributions and to empty its contents by awarding grants to support worthy projects led by area nonprofits.  In 2017, grants totaling $200,000 were awarded to 23 nonprofits serving eastern Bergen County.  Over 50,000 residents in the area benefit annually from services supported by The Community Chest.

            The Chest’s motto, ‘Neighbors helping Neighbors’, has been passed from one generation to the next.  “Beginning in the late 1800’s, my whole family, starting with my grandparents and followed by my mother and father, were great supporters of Englewood’s community institutions.  I grew up with this strong sense of commitment to Englewood and joined my parents in devoting my time to many local causes,” said past president Joan Van Alstyne Johnson, whose father, David Van Alstyne, served on The Chest’s board of managers and as president in the 1960’s.

85th Anniversary Spring Events

            This spring, The Chest celebrates this momentous year with these special events:

·      Celebrating 85 Years of Service to the Community. April 18, 6:30 p.m.  Annual spring gala. Montammy Golf Club, 7 Montammy Drive in Alpine, New Jersey.  The gala includes cocktails, a buffet dinner, and a benefit auction.  These individuals and organizations will be recognized for their contributions to the community:  Richard Engel and Swati Rao Engel, Connect One Bank, and The Rotary Club of Englewood.  The net proceeds will provide competitive grants to nonprofit agencies to meet the pressing issues of people in need in the area.  Tickets: $185 per person, $250 per patron, and $1,500 for a table of 10.  Registration, tickets, sponsorship levels, and advertising information are available at www.501auctions.com/communitychestgala.

Richard Kennedy

Richard Kennedy. Photo Credit: The Community Chest

·      The Complex Business of Health Care: Issues and Areas of Agreement and Disagreement.  A special lecture by Linda Rosenberg, CEO, National Council on Behavioral Health, observes Mental Health Month.  May 14, 7:00 p.m.  Free.  Englewood Hospital and Medical Center’s Auditorium.  To RSVP, call 201-568-7474.

·      Women’s Leadership Luncheon and Scholarship Ceremony.  “Celebrating the Elizabeths: A Tribute to Historical and Future Women Leaders in Eastern Bergen County.”  May 17.  12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.  The Elisabeth Morrow School, 480 Next Hill Drive, Englewood, New Jersey.  The luncheon honors these leaders: Elizabeth Cutter Morrow, founding board chair, The Community Chest; Elisabeth Morrow Morgan, founder, Elisabeth Morrow School; and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, suffragette and a Tenafly resident.  The event is sponsored in partnership with The Elisabeth Morrow School.  Tickets: $65 per person or $85 per patron.  To RSVP, call 201-568-7474.  Checks may be made out to The Community Chest and sent to 122 South Van Brunt Street, Englewood, New Jersey 07631.

            Visit The Chest’s web site, www.thecommunitychestofenglewood.org, or call 201-568-7474 for more information about these events or to learn about new ones added to the calendar.

 About The Community Chest

            Founded in 1933, The Community Chest, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, has supported local not-for-profit agencies for 85 years.  The Chest leads initiatives and supports nonprofits that make our communities stronger and benefit people in need in eastern Bergen County.  Each year, The Chest raises funds and allocates them to agencies demonstrating the capacity to provide services to local citizens.  The organization also provides coordinating and planning services in its communities, serving as a bridge between agencies and organizations and         investing in the stability and quality of the service network.

            For further information about The Chest, visit www.communitychestofenglewood.org or contact (201) 568-7474.  Stay updated about the organization’s activities on Facebook and Twitter.

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