The Summit Area YMCA is a proud member of the Diversity, Inclusion and Global Innovation Network (DIG Innovation Network), a leading network within the YMCA’s efforts in outreach to diverse communities and encouraging community bridge-building. The network and its members endeavor to welcome, connect, advocate for and serve diverse and underserved communities on local, national, and global platforms. The Y is made up of people from all walks of life who are joined together by a shared commitment to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. We at the Y strive every day to serve our community with understanding, respect and appreciation for all dimensions of diversity.
This past Saturday, a partnership between the Berkeley Heights YMCA (a branch of the Summit Area YMCA) and the Berkeley Heights Diversity Committee brought the Diwali festival to the Berkeley Heights community. The popularly celebrated Hindu festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair.
The event hosted over 250 festival goers and 34 performers from the Aatma Performing Arts of Morganville and Sanchari School of Dance of New Providence. The event kicked off with an educational slideshow and telling of the Diwali Holiday, and was then followed by a number of dance performances featuring women and children of varying age groups.
The festival also featured henna artists, food sold by Bombay Bistro of Summit and Neelam of Berkeley Heights. Arts and crafts activities were also available for children and families to make Diwali lanterns.
“It was so nice that the Y was involved with this,” said Urvashi Patel, Business administrator and Human Resources associate for the Summit Area YMCA. “The Diwali event truly made me feel at home back in India. It was such a warm gesture by the Y and the Berkeley Heights Diversity Committee to hold this event. The music, the food, the amazing performances, everything was authentic—The sheer grandeur of everything was a very accurate representation of what I knew about my own background. I saw people of all ethnicities attend, and everyone was so respectful. People asked questions and were genuinely interested in the festivities and learning about the Indian culture. They did a great job showcasing the Diwali festival and it made me feel very proud of my culture.”
As a charitable organization, the Y is focused on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Supporting families and the community in their efforts to spread cultural awareness and appreciation for diversity is core to the Y’s mission to help all people learn, grow, and thrive.
Previous cultural events included henna parties, international nights at the Berkeley Heights YMCA and The Learning Circle YMCA childcare centers, Holi Color Festival, Hispanic Heritage Day, Welcoming Week and much more.
“The Diwali event had a huge turnout and we’re incredibly pleased with how the community really came together to celebrate this holiday,” said Tiffany Escott, Executive Director of the Berkeley Heights YMCA. “We’re always trying to share experiences with others, especially when it helps us all become more welcoming and inclusive as a community. It’s so important to us to make sure everyone feels at home. It’s just what we do.”
To learn more about the Diversity, Inclusion & Global Innovation Network, please visit www.theSAY.org/dig
To learn more about the Berkeley Heights Diversity Committee, please visit https://www.facebook.com/Berkeley-Heights-Diversity-Committee-1017690804943911/
About the Summit Area YMCA
The Summit Area YMCA is one of the area’s leading 501(c)3 charitable organizations. Founded in 1886, the Summit Area YMCA has a history steeped in working side-by-side with our neighbors to ensure that everyone, regardless of age, income and background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. Each year, we serve more than 10,000 individuals with our free and fee-based programs and services in an area spanning the communities of Berkeley Heights, New Providence, Millburn, Springfield, Short Hills, Summit, Gillette, and Stirling. Through the generosity of our members, donors, and partners, we are able to offer financial assistance for our programs and services to those with demonstrated need. To strengthen your community and provide others with the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive, make your tax-deductible donation today at www.theSAY.org/give.