“What’d you do this summer?”

These last days of August as summer slips into Autumn, where the (mythical, in my book) slower quieter days of Summer yield to calendars packed with events, meetings and STUDENTS flooding in and out of the Newman Center – that’s an often asked question “What’d you do this summer?”

This year here at Newman I can say – quite a lot – and a lot more than we ever imagined.

For those who don’t know, the very last day of the 2014-15 Academic Year – Commencement Evening when our thoughts were turning towards a summer of rejuvenation and preparation for this new year – an Old Oak Tree behind our recently purchased 100 + year old house (affectionately known as “Newman II”) decided to “drop in” – literally.  It simply dropped – and crushed about 1/3 of the Third floor.

From the emergency work to get the tree off the house – to contractors rebuilding the dormer and rafters- to replacing the entire roof; painting – and then doing some additional preventive measures (removing a slew of trees encroaching on Newman II and Newman Classic) it was quite an unexpected ordeal.

This on top of our already scheduled-contracted work of removing some 50 year old wall paper in both houses and having the walls repaired and painted; a Bathroom-laundry-pantry- (the students were calling a BLANTRY) in Newman II being renovated to solely a bathroom and a laundry room being retrofitted to the basement; repairs made to our stone walls/35 brick steps staircase; having some major work done on the radiators in both Newman II and Classic…along with a bunch of other “side projects” – it turned into a long, very busy – but very productive summer.

Just going through all of the receipts for all this work, I realize over $100,000 of work was done at our two buildings.  While the tree-incident was obviously an accident and a bulk of those bills were paid through insurance – that incident caused us to replace the entire roof of the building which wasn’t covered.  Thankfully through the support of the Archdiocese of Newark, that $26,000 bill was covered.  Along with some of the other scheduled work.

But I’m also grateful to our Families, Friends, Alumni and Benefactors for their generosity to our two Annual Appeals (one in the Summer and one at Christmas).  Their generosity over the years has made all kinds of projects to make these centers more inviting, welcoming and usable to our ever growing program.  One generous friend for example is donating a gas fireplace to make the fire-place/chimney in Newman II workable/usable – which I think will be a further draw to students to feel more welcome and comfortable down here.

These closing days of Summer -as I reflect on all we did – I’m thankful to all of you who are making it possible.  To donate, please check out our website and click the paypal link: http://chernjam.wix.com/classisite#!summerappeal/cbjb
or checks to the Newman Catholic Center can be sent to “Newman Catholic; 894 Valley Road; Montclair, NJ 07043″