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Atlantic City mayor’s gala raised $400K for youth organizations

Seven Atlantic City-based organizations for youth received a total of $400,000 courtesy of the mayor’s inaugural gala.

“Together We Rise” raised $611,130 this summer, Mayor Marty Small announced Thursday.

A check presentation ceremony marked the seven programs that will receive the $400,000 left after expenses.

“Today was truly a great day in Atlantic City,” said Small, invoking what has become his mantra. “To be able to raise the bar in how we can help our children develop and thrive, we should all be extremely proud. Thank you to every single person who generously donated their time, energy and dollars to this worthy cause, including our amazing sponsors and committee members.”

The Atlantic City Dolphins received the most with a $158,000 donation.

“When the mayor first called me and told me his goal, I thought it was a little ambitious,” the Dolphins’ George Crouch told BreakingAC.

Small early on set a goal of a half-million dollars.

“I didn’t think he’d be able to reach those kind of numbers,” Crouch said. “The donation that the Dolphins received … I don’t know if I have a word for it.”

It was the biggest donation in the organization’s history, besting a $50,000 donation from the then-new Borgata in 2003.

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The money will change a lot of things for the Dolphins, including reinstituting their scholarship fund, he said.

The Police Athletic League, Empowerment Tools Coalition and Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City received $63,000 each.

“The Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City is grateful to the Together We Rise Committee, Mayor Small, Masterpiece Advertising, and all those who supported this incredible funding collaborative,” said Stephanie Koch, chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Club. 

“There are 10,000 children in Atlantic City, and this population is our most precious resource for the future,” she said. “The club believes that we cannot serve all the city’s youth alone, and so it is an honor to accept this award with our sister, youth-serving organizations.”

Also receiving donations were $43,000 to the Omega by the Sea Foundation and $5,000 each to the Atlantic City Ballet and HOPE Foundation.

Each casino gave at least $5,000 to the fundraiser.

Resorts Casino Owner and JEMB Realty Corporation Chairman Morris Bailey was honored for personally donating $35,000. 

Mayor Small and Morris Bailey.

“We at Resorts really feel we are part of a family as a part of this city,” said Bailey, who was born in the city.

“I think we’re going to see great advancements in this community,” he said. “We should be doing more to work together as a team to make Atlantic City one of the most spectacular resorts on the East Coast.” 

Crouch said the mayor has donated to the Dolphins personally over the years, buying uniforms in previous years.

Koch said their funding will be used to fuel the Boys & Girls Club’s soon-to-open Club Café.

The new job-training program is a partnership with Hayday Coffee. They are hoping to open the cafe on Mediterranean Avenue by the fall.

“We are preparing the pipeline of hospitality workers, baristas, cafe managers and more in Atlantic City,” she said.

Crouch said the Dolphins’ recent awards ceremony illustrated the impact the organization has had. They had people in the audience connected to the Dolphins stand up.

“We had lawyers, we had council people, we had community coordinators, banking officials,” he said.

The mayor thanked the city’s youth “for inspiring us all to come together for the good of their future.”

“Together, we have proven that anything is possible,” he said. “And that, together, we can truly rise.”

PICTURED AT TOP: Front row, left to right: Roy Wesley Jr. (Omega by the Sea Foundation); Stephanie Koch and Brian Little (Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City); George Crouch (Atlantic City Dolphins); William “Speedy” Marsh and Lt. Will Santiago (Atlantic City Police Athletic League); Phyllis Papa and Ava Holly Lewis-Korth (Atlantic City Ballet), and Roxanne Passarella (Gala Committee Member). 
Back row, left to right: Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr.; Shurlana Stewart (Greater Atlantic City Youth Association); Joe Jacobs (Gala Committee Member); Phyllis Lacca and Bill McHugh (HOPE Foundation); Shermaine Gunter-Gary (Empowerment Tools Coalition).        

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