Celebrate Mardi Gras in SOMA to kick off Achieve’s annual fundraiser

SOUTH ORANGE / MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Kick off the Achieve Foundation’s month-long Nights of 100 Dinners communitywide fundraiser with a Mardi Gras party on Friday, March 1, from 7 to 11 p.m. at The Woodland, 60 Woodland Road in Maplewood. This event includes yummy food, live music by Big Mamou, alcoholic beverages and dancing. This event is for adults only. To purchase tickets, visit goo.gl/bhBsmL.

Last year, “The Nights of 100 Dinners” brought more than 1,000 friends and neighbors together all across SOMA in more than 40 private gatherings, large and small, allowing guests to enjoy themselves while making a contribution to the local community. The concept is simple: Private hosts open up their homes to friends and neighbors for a party or event. The theme can be anything — karaoke, a dinner party with wine pairings, pizza and a movie with the children, game night, a private performance by a local band, March Madness Game party — it’s up to the host! Guests buy tickets to attend and all proceeds benefit Achieve.

There are several events for the Nights of 100 Dinners throughout the month of March that are open to the public. For more information and to register, visit www.achievefoundation.org.

  • On Saturday, March 2, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., learn to knit at the Local Yarn Store, 15 Village Plaza in South Orange. Have fun learning a creative and soothing craft from veteran knitters. For beginners, materials you’ll need for learning the basics will be provided. More experienced knitters are welcome to bring projects they have questions about or get help on new techniques they want to learn. Limited to 10 participants, for optimal personal service. An evening session will also be available on March 16 at the home of veteran knitter Tina Kelley.
  • On Sunday, March 10, at 10 a.m., enjoy Sadie’s brunch and shopping at 65 Valley St. in South Orange. Join Cat Fisher of Sadie’s for a cocktail style brunch and shopping event where you can browse brands that have ethical and philanthropic goals in mind. Enjoy baked goods and a mimosa or a bloody Mary.
  • On Friday, March 15, from 7 to 10:30 p.m., attend a “sweat and sip” with D&I Fitness, 9 W. South Orange Ave. in South Orange. Celebrate the Nights of a Hundred Dinners with D&I Fitness; workout attire is all you need. There will be trainers, a DJ and cocktails! Enjoy an invigorating workout from 7 to 8 p.m., at which point health coach Deanna Fournier will conduct a short seminar, followed by light fare, drinks and dancing with DJ Willy.
  • On Sunday, March 24, from 6 to 8 p.m., learn some self defense with New Jersey Tae Kwon Do, 154 Valley St. in South Orange. Participants will be taught a set of awareness, assertiveness and verbal confrontation skills, as well as physical techniques to enable them to successfully prevent, escape and resist attacks. The goal of offering this course is not to scare students, but to empower young women to remain as safe as possible after graduation so that they may continue to “learn, create, contribute and grow” in all of their future endeavors. Achieve encourages mothers or female guardians to take this course with their daughters as an opportunity to engage in conversation and open or continue dialogue about safety. Enjoy snacks and beverages after the class.

These collective events raise funds for the Achieve Foundation, which supports innovation and equal educational opportunities for students across the South Orange-Maplewood School District. During the past two decades, Achieve has raised more than $4 million for local schools, awarded more than a thousand teacher and administrator grants, facilitated tutoring for more than 3,000 students, supported STEAM education through a free community fair called Maker Madness, piloted enrichment programs like Beyond the Bell and the Robotics Club, fostered music education through the Vanessa Pollock Music Initiative and the Ted Cole Clarinet Project, and spearheaded a restoration of the Columbia High School auditorium.

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