Covenant House New Jersey will double up the money raised from its annual ‘Night of Broadway Stars’ at the Borgata thanks to an anonymous donor.
Like many charities, Covenant House New Jersey had a pretty bad year in 2009 in the face of the economic recession. The organization, which houses and assists homeless and runaway youth at its facilities in Atlantic City and Newark, had to layoff nearly 20 percent of its staff. But then came an amazing turn of events, courtesy of a mysterious benefactor who remains anonymous.
“We were struck pretty hard by the economy,” says Jennifer Williams, manager of development for Covenant House. “But then someone came forward and offered us an unbelievable contribution. They offered to match us dollar for dollar in the money we raised at our annual Night of Broadway Stars fundraiser. They matched ticket sales, ad sales, everything. We managed to raise, on our own, more than $500,000 and with the contribution it was $1.1 million. We ended up being able to restore all of those positions.”
That, of course was wonderful news for the more than 1,200 homeless youth served by the organization, which along with temporary housing provides employment training, home placement assistance and other programs to youth. And even better news: the anonymous donor is back this year.
That means anyone attending this year’s Night of Broadway Stars, on Thursday, May 6, at The Borgata’s Music Box, will get a double bang for their buck.
But as good as an incentive as that is, the show itself is a pretty good sell all by itself.
Renowned lyricist and composer Neil Berg, creator and co-producer of 100 Years of Broadway, now the No. 1 Broadway touring concert in the United States, hosts the evening.
Berg began collaborating with Covenant House in 2004, offering the first Night Of Broadway Stars at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark in 2004. (This year’s NJPAC performance is May 4.) In 2008, a second annual show was added at The Borgata in Atlantic City.
Headlining the Night of Broadway Stars is Stephanie Block, who originally starred as Elphaba in the Broadway hit Wicked. Also starring is Craig Schulman, the only man who ever played the Phantom, Jean Val Jean, in Les Miserables and the lead in Jekyll & Hyde on Broadway as well as Rita Harvey, performing music from The Phantom of the Opera.
Along with a number of other Broadway talents singing tunes from several Broadway hits, some of Covenant House’s youth clients will also be part of the evening.
The show traditionally closes with several of the youth taking the stage with the stars.
“Obviously, they get a little nervous,” says Williams. “But it’s just an amazing experience for our kids. They would never get the opportunity to be on stage with Broadway stars like this. It’s very exciting and for the kids who can sing and dream of performing, it’s the chance of a lifetime.”
Music is the main theme of the evening, and tickets for the performance only are $40. But in reality, the evening is about hobnobbing with the stars. The evening begins at 6pm with a pre-show reception featuring cocktails and hearty hors d’oeuvres and concludes with a memorable VIP “Meet the Stars” post-show dessert reception. VIP packages are $175 (the purchase of two tickets includes two more for free).
This event will also honor Reverend Dave Delaney, associate pastor of Central United Methodist Church in Linwood, and William Southrey, president and CEO of the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, for the support they have given to Covenant House and the surrounding community.
Covenant House began operating in New Jersey in 1989 and at first, with volunteers working from vans, provided services to runaway youths in Newark and Atlantic City. The organization opened its first transitional living program — providing education, job training and placement — in Atlantic City in 1993.
As we sat stunned by some of the statistics presented to us, we asked time and time again, “Why is our city such a magnet for homeless people?”
This is a message that the American artist, Seth Camm, has taken to heart, but for him he’s found his start at the easel. This wasn’t an easy journey for Camm; it took him a nervous breakdown to achieve the compassion he now has for the plight of the homeless.
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