Guests dine and laugh for a cause at Sid Jacobson JCC fundraiser

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Guests dine and laugh for a cause at Sid Jacobson JCC fundraiser
Comedian William Gardell, who performed at the Sid Jacobson JCC fundraiser on Thursday.

A ticket package for the Broadway musical “Hamilton” that included meeting the cast and going backstage after the show. The opportunity to have a child fill in as ball boy for a Yankees game. Fur coats worth $70,000.

Those were among the items on auction at Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center’s annual fundraiser in Lake Success on Thursday attended by 550 people.

While the items promised leisure, the funds raised were for anything but.

“All of the money raised tonight goes to social service programs,” said David Levy, a vice president of the board of directors at Sid Jacobson.

Approximately 40 such programs include a cancer wellness center, vocational training for adults with autism, a social group for individuals with early onset dementia and a summer camp for children with special needs.

The fundraiser on Thursday marked the 22nd year the annual event had been held.

“Had it not been for this night, these programs would have never begun,” said Connie Wasserman, an associate executive director at Sid Jacobson.

Funds raised at the event, which totaled almost $1.2 million dollars last year, are placed in Sid Jacobson’s Sheldon A. Sinett BASICS Fund, which gives grants to staff members seeking to expand the center’s social service programming, Wasserman added.

“If we as staff can dream it, we can apply and get funding for it,” she said.

Thursday’s event, held at Fresh Meadow Country Club, highlighted Camp Kehilla, a year-round program that allows special needs children to swim and participate in other activities like able campers.

Children with special needs “can feel successful and not less than,” Wasserman said. “They can thrive.”

Levy estimated that 40 or 50 additional children would be able to attend the camp on scholarship due to the fundraiser.

Wasserman said staff members will apply for grants from the BASICS fund over the next two months.

She plans to present the fund with a music and art therapy program for individuals with autism or Alzheimer’s disease.

“Art therapy works for both populations,” she said.

The event included food from restaurants like Trattoria di Meo, Nisen Sushi and 388 Restaurant & Lounge.

After guests spent a couple hours eating and placing bids in the silent auction, they sat in a ballroom where Sid Jacobson staff described the programs funded by the event.

The event’s final activity consisted of two stand-up comedy performances, including one by actor and comedian William Gardell, who played Mike Biggs on the show “Mike & Molly.”

“The comedians go on, everyone laughs their head off and they go home,” Levy said.

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