The Phoenix Center Hits the Jackpot With Casino Night Fundraiser

Pilar Kennedy Hits the Jackpot // Photo Courtesy of Marc Restaino
Pilar Kennedy Hits the Jackpot // Photo Courtesy of Marc Restaino

The Phoenix Center Both Works Hard and Plays Hard, Raising Money To Benefit Unique Programs Through a Casino Night

The Phoenix Center  is a school that was founded in 1991 in Nutley, New Jersey, with an official mission of working in partnership with families and community, to develop the potential of each student with significant developmental disabilities and those on the autism spectrum ages five through 21 and to provide customized, unique and individualized programs aligned with the New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS). Promoting the development of the whole student, The Phoenix Center cares for, educates, and empowers their students and graduates so that they may develop life-centered skills which will prepare them for life beyond the classroom. At the time of its founding, The Phoenix Center had about 16 students and only 12 staff members. Today, the school boasts 145 students and 200 staff members.

 

On April 27th, The Phoenix Center hosted a Casino Night fundraiser benefiting the school. Marc Restaino, an instructor at The Phoenix Center, spoke to The Montclair Dispatch about the event.

 

Winners All Around // Photo Courtesy of Marc Restaino
Winners All Around // Photo Courtesy of Marc Restaino

Casino Night is a fundraiser to benefit our school and its mission. We bring in a professional gaming/entertainment group to turn our gym into a casino. Our guests have hors-d’oeuvres and drinks, play at the tables for tickets, and then use those tickets for chances to win prize baskets. We also had a silent auction featuring Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, and Beyoncé concert tickets. The proceeds go to our programs — specifically those that we offer that can’t be paid for with district dollars. Those include (but are not limited to) community-based instruction, Therapeutic Horseback Riding, Robot-Human Interaction program, Horticulture… etc.” He continued to share, “Around 200 people attended — and the event was definitely a success.”

 

Scott and Pilar Kennedy attended the Casino Night fundraiser, and are supporters of the school through their printing company, Studio042. “We are extremely thankful for the work that Marc Restaino and The Phoenix Center does year in and year out, truly unsung heroes in our community. We encourage everyone to join us and donate and help enable The Phoenix Center to accomplish the miracles they do every day.”

Volunteers Make the Event Run // Photo Courtesy of Marc Restaino
Volunteers Make the Event Run // Photo Courtesy of Marc Restaino

 

 

 

The Phoenix Center is truly a unique place, providing these students with care and opportunities that are very difficult to find elsewhere. The Montclair Dispatch also spoke to Stacey Cermak, a Montclair resident whose son attends The Phoenix Center.

 

Phoenix Center by the Numbers // Graphics Courtesy of Marc Restaino
Phoenix Center by the Numbers // Graphics Courtesy of Marc Restaino

Our family can sense how much the staff members at Phoenix Center genuinely care about the students, really get to know the students, and believe in them. I believe my son is thriving because he feels loved and he is motivated to rise to the expectations they have for him. The teachers are so inspiring, energetic, and creative. I don’t know how they do it, but they do. Families are kept in the communication loop every day, and that makes families feel good about sending them off each day.”

 

The Phoenix Center is truly a one of a kind place. 34 percent of the current staff have been with the school for over ten years. The school provides 17 extracurricular activities for its students to participate in and serves as the academic home for students from over 60 districts across eight counties.

 

The Montclair Dispatch is a firm supporter of The Phoenix Center and the amazing work that they do. We encourage our readers to donate or contribute to the school’s mission in any way that they can here.

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The author of the article is a Montclair native class of 2017, currently a student at McGill University, studying history and communications within the Faculty of Arts.

 

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