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Dressed to Thrill

Boys and Girls Club honors Ollie Jones at the anti-gala gala

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County (BGCM/Club) recently commemorated their 85-year legacy of strengthening local youth and recognized key partners at a benefit event held on Friday, October 13, at the Wave Resort in Long Branch.

Their "Dressed to Thrill" (Anti) Gala welcomed 175 attendees at the Wave Resort. The event successfully raised over $280,000, including a special appeal to support the organization's costs for 85 children in its afterschool program, amounting to $113,400. Corporate matching gifts are also expected to contribute further to these funds.

During the event, the city of Long Branch received acknowledgment for their crucial role in the opening of the newest BGCM site at the Bucky James Community Center last year. In addition, Monmouth Medical Center was recognized for their significant contribution to the Long Branch Club, providing essential funding for both the establishment and ongoing operational expenses.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County also honored the city of Asbury Park, New Jersey where the organization originated, as well as Oliver "Ollie" Jones, the longest-serving member of its board of directors and a BGCM alumnus.

"Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County is proud of our 85-year legacy of empowering young people to realize their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible adults," said Chief Executive Officer Douglas Eagles. "And we're grateful for our dedicated honorees that have championed our cause to build great futures for our youth."

The funds raised from the annual benefit, "A Most Unusual Evening," will directly contribute to advancing the Boys & Girls Club's mission of nurturing promising futures for local youth and teens. The organization has been a steadfast support for over eight decades, beginning in 1938 when they first opened in Asbury Park and continuing to operate there to this day. BGCM has since expanded its programs to reach youth in Long Branch, Neptune and Red Bank.

With a focus on providing a safe and caring space for children and teenagers during crucial out-of-school hours, the Club serves over 1,000 young people, primarily from low-income, single-parent households. BGCM offers nurturing youth development professionals and critical support systems that sharpen academics, build resilience, and develop life skills, enabling youth to grow and lead healthy lives.

BGCM also extended appreciation to the city of Asbury Park for their unwavering support over the years, as well as the various partners based in Asbury Park who have played a vital role in enhancing the organization's impact on youth.

Oliver "Ollie" Jones, who joined the Club in 1952, attributes his successful career at New Jersey Bell Telephone Company (NJ Bell) to the valuable lessons he learned at BGCM. After starting as a janitor, Jones became the first African-American lineman hired from Monmouth or Ocean counties and later progressed to management before retiring in 1994 as a division manager. Jones has served on the Club's board of directors for over 40 years and hopes that the current generation of youth benefits as much as he did.

Sharon Mattingly and Denise Colford, the co-chairs of the committee, came together to organize and execute a one-of-a-kind event titled "A Most Unusual Evening," which is often referred to as the "anti-gala gala." The event featured unique entertainment, food and drinks, and silent and chance auctions. According to Mattingly, this event is the most important fundraiser for their organization and it was a grand success. The theme for this year's event was "Dressed to Thrill," which encouraged guests to dress in exhilarating attire and added to the overall excitement of the evening.

For more information about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County and their ongoing work, please visit their website at bgcmonmouth.org.

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