Christmas Comes Early For UC Youth Shelter

A charitable event raised more than $4,000.

A chilly round of golf the day after Thanksgiving led to a warm, early Christmas present for the Union County Youth Shelter in Elizabeth. Organizers of the annual Al Dill Memorial Invitational golf outing held each November at Suburban Golf Club in Union this year chose the shelter as the recipient of their annual charitable contribution, donating more than $4,700 so the facility could purchase a natural gas generator for future power outages.

The shelter lost power for four days when Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey in late October, leaving the six youth aged 13 to 17 and their staff in the cold and dark, according to Tanya Johnson, senior assistant executive director of youth services at Community Access Unlimited (CAU), which operates the shelter for the county.  Staff members were forced to relocate the youth to other CAU properties.

The Al Dill Memorial Invitation is held each year in memory of Al Dill, a longtime member of Suburban Golf Club who was loved for his generosity, according to the outing’s co-founder, Dan McCarthy, a partner in the law firm Rogut McCarthy LLC in Cranford.

“Al was an incredibly nice man who died suddenly,” McCarthy said.  “Three friends and I went out the first Friday after Thanksgiving and played in his memory and we each kicked in money for a charity.”

The tradition stuck and this year 74 golfers played in the outing.  The money raised each year nearly always goes to a charity that helps children.

“Al had seven kids, all adopted, and he dedicated his life to making the world a better place for kids,” McCarthy said.

Past beneficiaries of the outing’s donation have included Family and Children’s Services, holiday toys through agencies such as the United Way and the nonprofit Autism Speaks.  Harold Poltrock, an attorney and the secretary/treasurer of the CAU board of advisors who plays in the outing each year, suggested the shelter as this year’s recipient.

“It seemed like a perfect fit to take care of kids in Elizabeth,” McCarthy said.  “It was extremely gratifying for all of us involved.”

Johnson was elated with the donation.

 “The Union County Youth Shelter plays a vital support role for young people at very vulnerable stages in their lives,” she said.  “Some are estranged from their families, others have run into difficulties with the law and all are in desperate need of our guidance and protection.  Being able to weather the next Hurricane Sandy will be a huge help to us.”

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