Saturday’s A Tree Grows in Pleasantville party was an absolute blast. We smashed our previous fundraising record and had a great time doing it. After a few years without a Tree, the room was buzzing with energy as nearly 300 guests reconnected with each other and with the special place that is the Pleasantville Cottage Campus. And the campus has never felt or looked more magical: gorgeous party tent glowing on the quad, delicious hors d’oeuvres and drinks, live music filling the air. Thank you so much to all who shared the evening with us.

While the cocktails, dinner, and dancing didn’t disappoint, but the heart of the evening was found in the program. JCCA Broad President Stephanie Spiegel recounted founding the first Tree, nearly 20 years ago, and marveled at how that humble party had grown into a cherished tradition. We heard the powerful story of Kianna Bell, a former Pleasantville resident––and current JCCA staffer––who overcame a challenging adolescence to find a life of greater stability, joy, and purpose that she once thought possible. “This is where I learned to be comfortable with myself— happy with myself,” Kianna told her partner on stage, SVP of Campus Services Trevor John. “I remember how the staff treated me when I was struggling, how they let me feel my feelings and helped me figure out what I needed. To this day, I use what I learned here.”

Kianna Bell, Campus alumna and current JCCA staffer, pictured with Trevor John, Senior Vice President of Campus Services

CEO Ron Richter reiterated the life-changing importance of the Pleasantville’s mission in troubled times and laid out a vision for a revitalized campus. “This is an oasis of healing, reprieve, and recovery,” Richter said. “We believe in these kids, and because of that we’re investing in them for the long term.”

Fabulous Tree co-chairs Ali Gordon, Danae Farkas, Erica Peltz, and Jenna Weinberg

Partners in government honored JCCA’s work and emphasized the importance of collaboration to meet the needs of vulnerable children and families.

NYS Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, who represents Pleasantville, pictured with JCCA Trustee Sandra Jordan, CEO Ron Richter, and Trustee Wendy Kleinman

The evening raised a stunning $650,000 to fund state-of-the-art therapeutic services, expanded health and wellness offerings, and the kinds of recreation and enrichment opportunities that any kid should have access to. If you couldn’t join us in person it’s not too late to chip in.

JCCA President Stephanie Spiegel with CEO Ron Richter and Vice Chair Barbara Salmanson

Thanks to everyone who attended in support of the wonderful kids of JCCA. A debt of gratitude is due to the Tree co-chairs, benefit committee, and the countless people who helped to make the night such a tremendous success. See you next year!