The Aspiring Kindness Foundation, which has raised more than $250,000 for first responders, emergency service providers and fire prevention and education programs, has announced its Seventh Annual Charity Golf Outing at the Forest Hill Field Club in Bloomfield, NJ, on Monday, June 17, 2019.
Reflecting the origins of the charity that was formed in the aftermath of the Seton Hall University dormitory fire, the organization hopes to raise $25,000 to benefit the University, focusing on fire awareness and prevention. Master of Ceremonies for the dinner is Seton Hall alumnus Glenn Schuck '85, 1010 WINS news anchor, CBS New York.
Aspiring Kindness Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public corporation, was created by childhood friends of Aaron Karol, one of three freshmen who lost their lives in the Jan. 2000 Boland Hall fire. Borrowing his initials in giving their philanthropic effort a name, the AK Foundation raises money as a tribute to Karol and the other young men who perished, Frank Caltabilota and John Giunta. The charity golf outing is the foundation's biggest annual fundraiser.
During the past seven years, the event has raised more than $100,000, including scholarships to benefit first responders since 2016, enabling scholarships for Seton Hall students who are devoting their lives to careers as first responders.
One of those students, Zil Modi, served as president of the University's chapter of the American Red Cross club. Graduating magna cum laude with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry, she will be returning to Seton Hall in the fall for her Master's in Microbiology before going on to medical school to work in emergency medicine.
"It has truly been an honor to receive the Aspiring Kindness Scholarship for two years now, and it has assisted in my academic ventures more than I can place into words. It is humbling to know that the work of first responders is held in such high regards," Modi said.
Seton Hall has also received $20,000 to Seton Hall's Housing and Residence Life Department for the first ever Mock Fire Emergency Exercise that brought together student volunteers, the Department of Housing and Residence Life, Public Safety, the South Orange Fire and Police departments and Rescue Squad, The Burn Center at Saint Barnabas Medical Center and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) volunteers. Earlier proceeds of $12,000 supported the University's Health and Counseling Services (CAPS), enabling students to participate in the Send Silence Packing exhibit on suicide awareness and prevention to help young people struggling in the aftermath of a tragedy, and a donation provided new uniforms for the South Orange Rescue Squad in 2013.
"Collaborating with the dedicated members of the Aspiring Kindness Foundation has been a great joy for me both in my past role in Housing and continuing today in University Advancement. The passion which Jason, Mike, Jim and all the board bring to the philanthropic work of advancing Aaron's memory and the selfless dedication of first responders is amazing. Our student recipients, who offer themselves to protect and care for others, recognize and benefit from the generosity of the AK Foundation," said Tara Hart, Senior Director of Administration, Division of University Advancement.
Through grassroots campaigns, Aspiring Kindness Foundation has presented 20 grants totaling more than $160,000 in the seven years since it began and has made donations to Saint Barnabas Burn Center, the South Orange Fire Department, the Blood Center of New Jersey, the South Orange Rescue Squad and other organizations.
"At last year's event we surpassed $250,000 fundraised since we started the foundation. This event is an important part of our Foundation and with the community's ongoing support, we can make this year's event a continued success. The tremendous response from the public for the efforts made possible by our foundation and this golf outing mean so much to all of us and to our emergency first responders who risk their lives to make a difference," explained Jason Tarantino, Aspiring Kindness Foundation President, Foundation Vice President Mike Merizio, M.B.A. '11, and Foundation Secretary James Merizio.
The charity golf outing is a day-long event that includes a round of golf with cart, use of the practice facilities, breakfast, lunch and dinner including an open bar, beer and non-alcoholic drinks in coolers throughout the course in addition to a beverage cart, an Aspiring Kindness Foundation memorabilia gift and contests and prizes. Longest Drive and the Closest to the Pin contests are scheduled, and the awards include First Place Scramble and Second Place Scramble, among others.
The Forest Hill Field Club at 9 Belleville Avenue (Club Road), Bloomfield, NJ, is a classically designed par 71 challenge by the legendary A. W. Tillinghast, and is known as a golfer's golf course. The highly regarded architect has a portfolio of notable courses including Baltusrol, Winged Foot, Ridgewood, Alpine and Bethpage Black. As was Tillinghast's trademark, each of the 18 holes is unique, taking advantage of the natural topography and brining all elements of the game into play.
Entry fees are $230 for an individual golfer, $880 for four players, and $65 for those attending only the clubhouse dinner, which will include an open bar. There are also sponsorship opportunities that range from sponsoring a hole for $225 to sponsoring the dinner and awards for $1,000. Golfers at the event view it as an opportunity to honor those who died and were injured in the fire while helping to improve the lives of others.