MAPLEWOOD/SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Organizers of the Achieve Foundation’s “Nights of 100 Dinners” fundraiser, now in its 16th year, are looking for people to host events for their friends in March 2020. Sound like fun? It is! If you can throw a party, you can get involved and make a difference.
The Achieve Foundation raises critical funds for students and educators in the South Orange and Maplewood public school system. “Nights of 100 Dinners” began as a small fundraising project: 10 hosts invited 10 guests to their homes for dinner on one designated night in March. Each guest bought a ticket to attend the dinner with all proceeds benefiting the Achieve Foundation.
Today the concept remains the same — friends and neighbors gathering to socialize for a cause — but how they do it has completely changed. Over the years, this exciting initiative has morphed into a monthlong celebration with every imaginable style and size of dinner or party, held at any time of day or evening. Past themes have included: a funky hat party; a pizza fest with the kids; a dessert tasting; a knitting and wine-sipping class; a college throwback, including keg beer and food truck; an Achieveapalooza featuring local bands; and even a pajama party for grown-ups complete with games, breakfast foods and a Bloody Mary bar.
“We are so grateful that ‘Nights of 100 Dinners’ raised over $80,000 last year,” Achieve Foundation Executive Director Eileen Collins Neri said. “More than 900 local residents gathered at more than 38 parties, large and small, across the two towns. It is always incredibly exciting to see our community come together every year in such a strong show of support for our schools.”
Also, for the second year in a row, the Achieve Foundation is kicking off “Nights of 100 Dinners” with Mardi Gras in SOMA! Open to the public, this ticketed event will be Friday, Feb. 28, at The Woodland, 60 Woodland Road in Maplewood, from 7 to 11 p.m. Local restaurants will supply the food and drink, while Big Mamou will entertain partygoers with their unique Cajun-country fusion sound. The Achieve Foundation team will be on hand to talk about the foundation’s impactful programs and many success stories in the community.