TORONTO — The co-chairs of the fourth annual Not Just Another Saturday Night are hoping to make this year’s event bigger and better to raise money for Reena, an Ontario-based agency for people with developmental disabilities.
Over the past three years, Not Just Another Saturday Night has raised more than $75,000 for Reena services, including after-school programs, summer programs and respite care.
Steven Weisz, who is co-chairing the event with Adam Henechowicz and Zach Goldstein, hopes that this year’s party, which is being held at the Dominion Club in Toronto on April 5, will help them pass the $100,000 mark.
“We’ve set out a conservative goal of raising $30,000 for this event,” said Weisz, 29, who has been volunteering for Reena for the past three years.
He said they hope to attract 600 people to the evening, which will include an exclusive cocktail reception, an art show, live entertainment, such as cigar rolling and a handwriting analyst, and opportunities to win great prizes.
When Weisz volunteered three years ago, he and Henechowicz created Reena’s New Leadership division, a volunteer group of young professionals.
“It all stemmed from the need to get young people, as we call them, the new leaders of the community, involved in fundraising for what we feel is a very worthy cause,” Weisz said.
“We targeted people between the ages of 21 to 40, young professionals, who shared our common goal of wanting to get more involved and working with and helping people with developmental disabilities and creating a better life for them. Adam and I have no members who use the services, but we just feel that it is a great cause and the right thing to do.”
Henechowicz said that he got involved with Reena six years ago after graduating from the University of Western Ontario.
“I had a background in health sciences and I started working for Reena because it was in the same field. I was working with the clients directly… I left there for another job, and then I started volunteering.”
Although Henechowicz has been organizing fundraising events for years, he said he is most excited about the committee he is currently working with.
“We have a lot of volunteers on this year’s committee that really believe in giving back to the community and getting involved even if you don’t have personal connections to Reena. I’ve… done a ton of events in the community and this is one of the best committees we’ve put together – very dedicated people who are very dedicated to giving back.”
Henechowicz said he hopes this year’s Not Just Another Saturday Night will outdo the last three.
“The party starts at 7 p.m. with a VIP reception. During the VIP reception, we have an art show, where some local artists can come and exhibit their art. We’ve invited our sponsors and those with VIP tickets to come a little bit early for hors d’oeuvres and drinks and to look at the art. That will last until about 9 p.m., when we’ll open the doors to the general public and have a cocktail reception. There will be live music and a DJ,” he said.
The money raised will go towards Reena’s New Leadership Endowment Fund. Weisz said they hope to fund programing with the interest from the endowment fund.
Although Reena isn’t an organization that caters strictly to Jews, most of its volunteers are Jewish.
“Reena is open to the general public and the community of all denominations and faiths, but it’s core values are consistent with Jewish values,” Weisz said.
“We service the whole community, but the fundraising is done by Jewish people and that is in large part due to the fact that we believe that giving back and tikkun olam is part of our job and part of the reason that we’re here. That’s what we need to do and that is our obligation to the community.”