• COVID-19 UPDATE: All Summit Area YMCA facilities are closed and all memberships/programming/events are temporarily suspended until further notice. We appreciate your understanding during this time. Stay tuned for facility updates at www.thesay.org/news. Please stay healthy and well. We can't wait to welcome you back soon!

Celebrating the Lunar New Year | Blog Post by Francesca Garrard

On Saturday, February 10th the Summit Area YMCA hosted a Lunar New Year Festival in partnership with the Berkeley Heights Diversity Council, a community volunteer organization. We gathered Y staff (led by our superbly creative Marketing Manager, Jenny Hui and our Executive Director, Tiffany Escott) along with community members and formed a planning committee. What started as a meeting to choose the date for the event ended in a huge list of activities, performers and food that we could potentially have for the festival. Everyone immediately got to work sending emails, making phone calls, sending texts, making Google Docs and having conference calls.

When the day arrived, everyone was ready to hit the ground running. We knew this was going to be a special day. Decorations filled every wall, corner and ceiling tile of the building. Lanterns, lights and dragons filled the rooms. Our Executive Director, Tiffany Escott said “It was wonderful to see people from the community walking into our facility to come together and celebrate!"

Throughout the afternoon, more and more people arrived, some in traditional dress. They ate authentic food from local restaurants, watched performances of Tai Chi, Tae Kwon Do, Wushu, Lion Dances, Korean Drum and even danced in a Dragon Parade! Children made their own Korean drums to take home, colored pictures of traditional outfits, put a wish in the wishing tree and learned some Chinese calligraphy (with the help of a very cute dog, to help celebrate the Year of the Dog!) It was an afternoon to remember.

Every day at the Summit Area Y we strive to incorporate our Inclusion Resolutions in everything that we do. Bringing together the community to celebrate is one we love most. Seeing your facility filled with people smiling, talking, listening, watching and creating together is a feeling that makes all the hard work worth it. Our two-hour festival flew by, but knowing we are spreading culture and community values to everyone that attended is a feeling that will go far past those two hours.

Jenny Hui, our Festival leader and Marketing and Creative Services Manager told me “The event was meant to share all of these cultural experiences, and to bring together the idea that anyone can celebrate the holiday and enjoy it in their own way, regardless of who you are or where you or your family comes from. It’s exactly what the Y mission is about and how we conduct ourselves on a daily basis to serve the community. I hope that people enjoyed the festival and learned a little bit about how the holiday is observed in other cultures, and that it encourages them to engage in more welcoming, inclusive activities and practices in their daily lives.”


Francesca garrard
berkeley heights ymca program director

"I started working at a YMCA when I was in High School helping out with childcare and volunteering at weekend events. Years later after moving back to NJ, I am so proud to be a team member once again. The sense of community you find at the Y is unlike anywhere else, and it keeps me motivated to be a better person and to create programs that better our youth. Since so much is learned in the early years, I believe it is important that we help and nurture the creative, intelligent, independent and healthy children of the future!"

Connect with me

Email: francesca.garrard@thesay.org

Phone: (908) 464-8373 ext. 2020

To learn more about various upcoming events at the Summit Area YMCA, please visit www.thesay.org/calendar

The Summit Area YMCA is proud to be one of New Jersey's first Diversity and Inclusion Global Innovation Networks. As a member of the network, the Summit Area YMCA is dedicated to engaging in practices to advance social equity and inclusion, and foster community cohesion. The DIG Innovation Network is leading the Movement’s efforts in outreach to diverse and underserved communities, community bridge-building, and driving program innovation so that everyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from, has an opportunity to reach their full potential.




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