The Summit Area YMCA hosted its 5th and largest community celebration of Diwali on Saturday, November 5, 2022, at the Berkeley Heights YMCA in collaboration with the Berkeley Heights Diversity Council, Diversity Committee of New Providence, Springfield Unity Project, GLHS Understanding Asian Cultures Club, and made possible in part by a 2021 HEART (History, Education, Arts Reaching Thousands) Grant from the Union County Board of County Commissioners. As one of the world's largest and most auspicious festivals, Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, signifies peace and joy, the triumph of good over evil, and the victory of light over darkness.
To kick off the event, Paul Kieltyka, Summit Area YMCA President & CEO welcomed guests and spoke about what diversity and community means to the Y. "The YMCA has respect for all, our doors are open wide, and all people in the community are welcome here. What gets me excited about this event is that it is not one Y, not one town, it is truly a collaborative community effort." -Paul Kieltyka
A lighting ceremony held as part of Diwali's celebration of the triumph of light over darkness was led by Berkeley Heights Mayor Angie Devanney and New Providence Mayor Allen Morgan. Our gracious emcees from the GLHS Understanding Asian Cultures club presented an informative presentation about the significance of Diwali, and how different regions around the world celebrate this beautiful festival.
Over 375 guests attended this wonderful smile-filled ceremony, enthralled by the creativity, talent, and love our community displayed both on and off stage! All senses were on blast and community filled the air in the Berkeley Heights YMCA. We were captivated by the expression, storytelling and talent of the dancers, mesmerized by the joy and vibrancy that surrounded the children's activities and artwork such as henna, temporary tattoos, coloring and diya making, and intoxicated by the delicious food provided by Neelam Fine Indian Kitchen and Rinkus Kitchen. The event ended with a group Bollywood dance and lots of picture taking.
Meera Rao, Berkeley Heights resident and event planning committee member said, "We can always rely on the Y for their support and commitment and for their energies and their welcome always of all the communities of Berkeley Heights."
The Summit Area YMCA is overwhelmed with the support, love, & kindness of a community dedicated to the same values that inspire us. A community dedicated to inclusivity, diversity, and acceptance of all. Thank you to the Union County Board of County Commissioners, Berkeley Heights Diversity Council, Diversity Committee of New Providence, Springfield Unity Project, GLHS Understanding Asian Cultures Club, planning committee members Meera Rao, Ritu Lalan, Natalie Chin, Jagadish Annepu, The Sanchari School of Dance, Vaani Varma, from Mudhra Natyalaya of Short Hills, Richa Jindaland, Mrudula Divekar, Hemaderi Saxena, Mayor Angie Devanney, Mayor Allen Morgan, Neelam Fine Indian Kitchen, Rinku's Kitchen, and all who helped organize and participated in this special community Celebration of Diwali.
We're so happy to serve as a bridge that connects our communities to more culture and inclusion, in and out of the Y. This celebration was one to remember, thank you to everyone who participated! To see all the event photos, be sure to check out the Summit Area YMCA's Facebook page.
The Summit Area YMCA is New Jersey's first Diversity, Inclusion & Global Innovation Network, working to encourage a culture of diversity and inclusion in and out of the Y. As an organization with welcoming, inclusive practices and environments, the Y welcomes and engages people of all diverse groups to help create lasting, meaningful change within our communities and the world around us. Want to partner with the Y on your next community event? Contact Tiffany Escott, Summit Area YMCA Mission Advancement & Development Director, at email@example.com.
In 1886, we were founded as the Young Men's Christian Association, but today, we are The Y. An association that values, and is made stronger by, its diverse people. We stand for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility — For a better us. We are committed to creating equal opportunity for all regardless of gender, age, disability, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religious affiliation. We strive to create a welcoming and inclusive culture in which our four core values — responsibility, honesty, caring and respect — are integral to everyday operations.
Each year, as one of the area’s leading 501(c)(3) charitable organizations, the Summit Area YMCA serves more than 15,000 individuals with our free and fee-based programs and services in an area spanning the New Jersey communities of Berkeley Heights, Gillette, Millburn, New Providence, Short Hills, Springfield, Stirling and Summit. Our history is rooted in working side-by-side with our neighbors to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. Through the generosity of our members, donors, and partners, we are able to offer financial assistance for our programs and services to those in need.