24th Annual Menus for the Mind
By Erin Martin, Development Coordinator
Support from our community impacts the children at P.G. Chambers School every day and we could not be more grateful. Program fees and tuition do not cover the total cost of implementing innovative education, advanced assistive technology, related services, and renovations that the school needs to continue to be a leader in special education in New Jersey. Dedicated board members, donors, families and staff, give generously to help bridge the gap between revenue and expenses, allowing P.G. Chambers School to provide each child the tools they need to succeed. Our signature fundraising event, the Menus for the Mind series, began in November 1995 as a small fundraiser earning just a few thousand dollars, and today it has transformed into a two part series raising a record-breaking $300,000 this year for children with multiple disabilities. The popular series includes a luncheon event at P.G. Chambers School in the fall and an evening event in the spring, both featuring intriguing guests, including trending actors, singers, and artists.
On Thursday, November 1, 2018, we welcomed Breaking Bad actor, RJ Mitte to the school. RJ shared how he overcame many challenges growing up, including managing his cerebral palsy. Without his occupational, speech, and physical therapists, RJ would not have been able to achieve all that he has today. RJ enjoyed meeting all of the students, staff, families, and guests. While he spoke at the luncheon, RJ reflected on his time at the school and said, “I truly respect the work you are doing here, you should be very proud.” The money raised during the fall event went directly to purchasing iPads and Promethean Boards for the classrooms. The fall luncheon was incredibly successful thanks to our guests and sponsors.
On May 2, we welcomed actor and singer, Matthew Morrison to the Park Avenue Club for our spring evening event. The program began with parent speaker, Beth Skolnick, who shared her story of learning and living with a child with disabilities. In the short year that Beth’s daughter, Rebekah, has attended PGCS, she has made astounding progress. Beth shared her heart-felt gratitude and expressed her joy that Rebekah is now walking with assistance, communicating in her own way, and developing a true sense of self! P.G. Chambers School gives Rebekah and her family the support and tools to succeed, and Beth could not be happier.
Menus guests were thrilled to watch Glee actor, Matthew Morrison perform, but little did they know, there would be a surprise performance from our students as well. Morrison asked our students to join him on stage to preform “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” The moment was truly remarkable, watching the students joyfully belt out the tune with a Menus celebrity guest!
Following the performance guests were asked to raise their hands in support of a very special project to renovate the bathrooms in the classrooms. The excitement was palpable as our guests continued to raise their hands in support of our students. We are delighted to report that these new bathrooms will become a reality due to the record-breaking $100,000 raised that evening to put towards this important and much needed renovation. Our renovated restrooms will include new flooring, accessible sinks and toilets, privacy curtains, functional cabinetry, lighting and fans.
Menus series guests continue to be some of our most devoted supporters, and we are grateful for their partnership in all that we do to help every student shine at P.G. Chambers School and beyond. Thank you for your generosity and dedication.