East Region Spotlight
Greetings from the East Region.
Hi there everyone: Alex Tomei ‘79, East Region Director, reporting in from the Jersey Shore! Hope everyone and your families are staying healthy and in the process of getting access to the vaccine when your turn arrives.
For some background, I began my term on July 1, 2018 and live in Brielle, NJ (“Down the Shore”) with my wife Sondra. My two daughters; Erika ’09 and Julia are both married, and we are blessed with two grandchildren; aged 3 and 1 month! Over the years I have been active in the Central Jersey Club (having more recently moved to the Jersey Shore) Among other initiatives at the Central Jersey Club, we successfully broadened the Club by establishing a Women’s Connect program, further developed our community service efforts and focused on many initiatives for our students (our area being big feeder to ND) during my time in Club leadership.
The East Region has 17 clubs across the states of Connecticut, Downstate New York (including New York City), New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania (including Philadelphia) and Delaware. We are blessed to have a very high percentage of the ND student body (and alumni) from our region! The engagement in our region is tremendous as highlighted below!
I am honored to serve along with our East Regional Director Network, comprised of Andre Crompton ‘02 (Diversity Council), Michael Staub ‘78 (NDSA), Theresa Davey ‘06 (NDWC), and Ayden Syal ‘17 (Young ND). Our Regional Directors are a great resource for all clubs in our region.
2020 has been a year like no other presenting tremendous challenges to everyone; nonetheless our clubs made great strides implementing many new technology solutions; engaging and educating our alumni and friends. From the Dial-a-Domer program, to hosting many varied virtual events, to migrating to the MyNotreDame platform; we in the East have successfully embraced and leveraged technology.
Here is a snapshot of some highlights providing a glimpse of what some of our dynamic clubs have accomplished during the year:
Our clubs are committed to keeping diversity and inclusion at the forefront of club activities. In the East, we see continued collaboration between affinity groups as essential; designing events which have broad appeal promoting numerous 6C's continue to be the objective throughout our region:
The ND Club of Philadelphia’s Women’s Connect and Diversity leaders collaborated to run excellent programs which were well received by their members - from game watches, happy hours, and dinners pre Covid to many virtual events during the pandemic.
The Notre Dame Club of New York City’s "Beyond the Comfort Zone" speaker series on Zoom, was inspired by the desire to communicate and educate within our alumni communities.
The South Jersey Club co-sponsored a two-part workshop focused on “Issues of Racism and Anti-Racism” along with a local parish, St Thomas More in Cherry Hill NJ. The interactive discussions were broadcast via Zoom.
In a year unlike any other, while in person events were constrained by social distancing rules, we nonetheless were successful running various virtual events. Some examples include:
Jersey Shore Club hosted a Pandemic Communion Breakfast, Coastal Habitat for Humanity and Spring Shared Read Student Send off.
Notre Dame Club of New York City ran a very interesting NYC First Time Home Buyers camaraderie event. This event, run with a panel of real estate experts, is particularly important topic with the market in flux during the pandemic. New York city also hosted virtual workout classes via Zoom, with the workout playlist …. (wait for it) ……. all Notre Dame-themed!!!
Virtual movie watches were held by several clubs including the Mid-Hudson Valley and NYC clubs.
In January, the Central New Jersey Club kicked off the New Year with another successful joint career day event (along with the local Villanova and Georgetown alumni clubs). This annual event was focused on providing career information for our students and alumni, with a panel discussion on resume building, job hunting, relationship building and many other career tips.
In January, the Long Island Club hosted a career and networking event with guest alumni speakers and students speaking to job opportunities in various fields including law, medicine, and finance.
During the pandemic the Central New Jersey Club held a tremendous event for our graduating seniors entering the workforce during the pandemic. This event was focused on understanding the new workplace environment working virtually. Their guest speaker was Bhushan Sethi, who leads PwC's global people and organizational practice.
For the 18th consecutive year, the Staten Island club held a 9/11 Eve of Solemn Remembrance service. This event serves as the “Catholic Signature Event” on Staten Island commemorating the tragic events of 9/11. Bishop John B O’Hara was the main celebrant of the 9/11 mass.
ND Club of Philadelphia hosted a Catholic / Christian Spirituality event - their inaugural Lenten Retreat held on Saturday, February 29. This was an in-person event attended by 26 of their alumni and members. The format of the event was a full Saturday retreat capped with a Mass celebrated by Fr. Charlie O'Hara the club chaplain.
One of the hallmarks of our region remains Community Service. Some highlights include:
The Staten Island Club held their Bread of Life Drive (“BOLD”) via online requests to fund the purchase of food for 26 recipient local agencies. During May, they collected $106,000 online from their efforts and held “Drive by Drop off” food drives in local parking lots / shopping malls. 35,000 items of food were collected from the seven events! Staten Island also collected 70,000 items of food during the month of September for “Meals for Muffet”; serving as leading alumni club in the NDAA in collection of food and received recognition from Coach Muffet McGraw for their outstanding efforts!
Some service highlights from the Mid-Hudson Valley club include donating 6,118 food items for Meals for Muffet and raising $166,000 at their 12th annual ALS walk! Their ALS walks have now raised a cumulative total of over $2 million! An amazing accomplishment, resulting from their ongoing efforts!
The Central New Jersey Club’s work with Holtz' Heroes and Meals for Muffet was highlighted during the virtual UND Celebration! They were able to launch and participate in several big food drives during the year Examples of their efforts during the year include their work with Meals for Muffet and partnership with the Center for Great Expectations, which does tremendous work with moms and moms-to-be facing enormous challenges.
Several service highlights from the Fairfield County Club include virtual food drives for BOLD and Amazon shopping lists for Christmas presents delivered to local food shelters.
Our region also has a strong history of running “joint” events - whereby 2 or more clubs in our region join forces in hosting events.
A great example was the partnership of the Southeastern Connecticut and New Haven Clubs hosting a Hesburgh Lecture at Yale in February. ND Professor Jason Ruiz presented on “Narco-Media: Latinidad, Popular Culture and America’s War on Drugs.” Yet another tremendous example of 2 neighboring clubs working together to successfully bring an educational event to their constituents.
In January, Staten Island hosted their annual “Home for the Holidays” student reception. During the summer break, ND students from Staten Island participated in their virtual “drive by drop off” food drive.
The Greater Hartford Club’s summer send-off picnic was virtual and included some great video contributions from the likes of Mike Golic Jr and Mike Brown!
The ND Club of Delaware held a virtual student send-off and sent t-shirts to the students.
South Jersey worked with a current student from their area to develop a club fundraising event for the Advent/Christmas season, The student developed marketing materials, including a video, and the club surpassed their goal of $1,333 to support one guest for a month at the South Bend Center for the Homeless.
The ND Club of Lehigh Valley celebrated the successes of 5 graduating seniors with a caravan of 4-5 vehicles that travelled from Macungie, PA to Bloomsbury, NJ!
We’ve had a tremendous year here in the East with many great accomplishments and innovations as highlighted above. We look forward to continuing many of these new traditions (e.g. virtual events) mixed in with more in person events (as appropriate and in accordance with local guidelines) as we continue to more to the other side of the pandemic!
Please stay healthy and safe and as always Go Irish!