Proud to Celebrate PRIDE with the Y

Here at the Summit Area YMCA we are very excited for our upcoming Celebrate Pride event, where we have an open invitation to anyone in our community to come and show their support for the LGBTQ community. We are encouraging everyone to bring food and picnic blankets, and spend the evening with us playing games, dancing, and having a beautiful summer evening in celebration of Pride month! This is the first Pride event that the Summit Area YMCA is holding.

This past month the national Y-USA office announced a new LGBTQ initiative in partnership with the Biden Foundation. It was an initiative to help YMCA’s around the USA promote and create more LGBTQ inclusive programming to help with the growing number of mental health issues there are within the LGBTQ population. We felt that we could not stand idly by without showing our support, and without being a small part of a bigger national initiative. In the past, I have seen many friends, and community members get discouraged by negativity, prejudice, abandonment and loss. They felt like they had no one to turn to. This local event is one small way to show local people young or old that the Y and many, many people are there for them, love them, and support them; and we hope to continue with even more LGBTQ focused programming in the future. If by holding this event, we help 1 person see that there is support out there, we have done our jobs and we have made a difference, and that is what the Y constantly strives to do.

For the Celebrate PRIDE event, we have local students helping us with planning it. They are part of a school club that lends themselves as a safe space—a space to talk and discuss current topics and they are also a club that helps raise money for LGBTQ foundations and groups. We had talked with them numerous times over the last few months about what they would like to see in our community, and their answer was always the same—a community event for people to come, have fun and celebrate pride! I also spoke with local town members, town council members and members of the town Diversity Council to get their support for this event. They were all immediately on board and excited that we were taking this step forward for the community.

For the evening of the event, the students are setting up fun field day games, face painting and arts and crafts. To have them involved is something we are very proud of. We are proud of them for wanting to show their support, and for also taking time out of their busy lives to help the Y and drive the mission of the Y to help make the community stronger, more welcoming and inclusive. As a Y leader, I think events like this (among the many other events we do!) are so important to show the community, and the surrounding area that the Y is a safe place to come, no matter who you are, who you love, where you come from or what you earn.


We have this sign hanging in our lobby:

We want to make sure that all of our staff, members, and all community members know that we are here for them, no matter what.
After months of excitement, the event is on the horizon and at the Y we cannot wait to bring the community and the Y together for an evening of fun, celebration, camaraderie, and friendship. Come and join us on Friday June 15th from 4-7pm. Bring your picnic blankets, your dinner, and enjoy a summer evening with us to Celebrate PRIDE!


Francesca Garrard

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!



Phone: (908) 464-8373 ext. 2020

To learn more about various upcoming events at the Summit Area YMCA, please visit 


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