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HFA Hosts Gala, Gives City Check for Park

About Town covers Hoboken events. Send an invitation to alanskontra@hotmail.com

The Hoboken Family Alliance held its first annual spring gala Thursday night at the W Hotel. During the party the HFA initiative Project Play gave the City of Hoboken the over $50,000 it raised to help renovate the playground equipment at Church Square Park.

Speaking to the gathering, Project Play co-founder Zabrina Stoffel thanked a long list of sponsors and supporters, including Mayor Dawn Zimmer, Director of Environmental Services Jennifer Maier, former Mayor David Roberts, Eat Drink Hoboken founder David Liebler, Freeholder Anthony Romano, Club H Fitness, Liberty Realty, Hoboken Volunteers and the Elysianettes Running Society.

“Thank you,” Stoffel said. “You told us it was all going to work out, and it did.”

Stoffel also thanked the city council for recently passing a $1.6 million dollar bond to pay for further renovation to all of Hoboken's parks.

Accepting the very large check, both in dollar amount and actual paper size, Mayor Zimmer thanked the HFA in return.

“You're making Hoboken into a place where families are staying,” she said.

The gala also ignited the HFA's new scholarship program. The HFA plans on awarding $2,500 grants to multiple students who will graduate in 2012 and will then attend college.

HFA Director for Special Needs Children Theresa Howard is helping to oversee the scholarship process. She explained to About Town that the deserving candidates will be selected on a combination of need, grades and the students' community involvement. The program is open to students from all of Hoboken high schools.

She also explained that the HFA board members, including many who founded the group to help coordinate playdates for their toddlers 14 years ago, got the idea for the scholarship fund when they realized that many of their children now attend high school.

“We're starting this year and we want to establish something sustainable over time,” Howard said. “We want this to be a long-term thing.”

More notes from the party

Perhaps over 150 guests attended the party, which means basically About Town was hanging out with about 75 women and their husbands.

In addition to chatting with Mayor Zimmer, who seemed to hover on cloud 17 after the , we also saw Councilmembers David Mello and Tim Occhipinti, Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, Hoboken Chamber of Commerce president Mike Novak and Hoboken Housing Authority commissioner Eduardo Gonzalez, whose wife, HFA Community Affairs Director Francoise Vielot co-manages the scholarship fund with Howard.

The party was billed as black tie optional, and while all the mothers present were elegantly dressed, we did also see a few men in tuxedos. Then there was Assemblyman Ramos, who wore his trademark business suit and basketball sneakers ensemble.

The guests ate courtesy of several Hoboken restaurants, including the , , the , , , , the , Zack's Oak Bar and Restaurant and Zylo.

The guests also placed their ticket stubs in raffle drawings to win items such as portraits sessions with professional photographers Joe Epstein and Mac Hartshorn, a hockey stick signed by New Jersey Devils star winger Patrick Elias, and a $2,500 credit towards home renovation courtesy of .

“You're going to get a building permit application on your desk soon, Mayor Zimmer,” Howard joked as she awarded that prize to the winner.

At the end of the party we congratulated both Howard and Stoffel on a successful party, both for donating the Project Play proceeds, and for no doubt raising thousands of dollars for the new scholarship program.

We told the women how much we hope to stay in Hoboken long term and raise a family here. We even admitted how much we hope to be able to join the HFA one day.

(Hint hint, any of you wonderful HFA moms who have available sisters.)

Alan Skontra was a big dork who never went anywhere. Then he started writing the About Town column for Patch, and now he's everywhere. Have a hot tip on an event in Hoboken? Send an invitation, questions and comments too, to alanskontra@hotmail.com. And if he gets enough followers he might actually post his first tweet @ twitter.com/alanskontra.

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