CONTACT We Care 35th Anniversary Gala to Honor Celebrity Stars

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WESTFIELD — CONTACT We Care, the award-winning caring and crisis hotline serving the entire state of New Jersey, will celebrate 35 years of soothing souls and saving lives at its 35th Anniversary Gala on Thursday, Nov. 11 at Shackamaxon Golf & Country Club in Scotch Plains.

Music icon Judy Collins and Nobel Laureate John Nash and his wife Alicia Nash will be the guests of honor at the event.  Also being honored are: Sylvia Axelrod, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New Jersey and James Lape, senior vice president at Trinitas Regional Medical Center.


Lori Stokes, ABC’s Emmy award-winning reporter and anchor of Eyewitness News This Morning and Eyewitness News at Noon, will serve as Mistress of Ceremonies.  Assemblyman Jon M. Bramnick will conduct the evening’s Live Auction.

The evening’s festivities will also include a cocktail reception, live entertainment, fabulous live and silent auctions, deluxe celebration dinner, and honoring ceremony.  Tickets to CONTACT’s 35th Anniversary Gala are available for $150 and $250 by visiting the organization’s website

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to recognize our five stellar honorees who are dedicated to saving lives and making a positive difference in the community,” said David Owens, executive director for CONTACT We Care.  “This celebrity event will raise critical funding support for our crisis hotline, which serves more than 12,000 callers each year throughout New Jersey.”

Judy Collins, Grammy-nominated artist who has thrilled audiences worldwide for more than 50 years with her unique blend of interpretative folksongs and contemporary themes, has been a tireless crusader for suicide survivors since writing her memoir “Sanity & Grace” about the suicide of her only son and the healing process following the tragedy.  Collins’ work has offered solace in the face of grief and loss. She has worked to break down the barriers of helplessness and secrecy to openly discuss the after-effects of suicide. She has used her celebrity to spread the message that there is only one way to heal – right through the pain.

Nobel Laureate John Nash and his wife Alicia Nash, whose stories were told through the acclaimed Oscar Award-winning film “A Beautiful Mind,” have committed themselves to speaking out about the state of mental health care in New Jersey and beyond.  They have been tireless advocates, with a simple and urgent message:  Protect at all costs the community mental health programs that have allowed people like their 50-year-old son John Charles Nash, who is living with schizophrenia, the same disease that plagued Nash most of his adult life, to live outside a hospital and help him lead a more independent and productive life.

Sylvia Axelrod, executive director of the New Jersey branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is a key leader in the field, dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families who are affected by mental illness. Her organization’s program provide education, support and systems advocacy to empower families and persons with mental illness.

James Lape, senior vice president at Trinitas Regional Medical Center, has provided the leadership and vision to develop the Psychiatric Services at Trinitas into one of the largest and most comprehensive services in New Jersey. Currently, the service delivers more than 200,000 outpatient behavioral health visits per year and operates 95 inpatient psychiatric beds and 15 residential treatment center beds.  Because of Lape’s leadership, Trinitas Regional Medical Center’s Behavioral Health and Psychiatry Services are also available in numerous off-site locations throughout the state.  In addition, the grant and contract program at Trinitas has grown from $250,000 to more than $16.5 million during his nineteen-year tenure at Trinitas.

CONTACT We Care is based in Westfield, New Jersey, and is the primary responder in the state to calls made to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK and 1-800-SUICIDE.  The phone lines are staffed by more than 100 highly trained volunteers who provide the gift of listening to callers who are lonely, depressed, stressed or suicidal.

“We are pleased to announce that sponsors of our 35th Anniversary Gala currently include:  Celgene Corporation, General Plumbing Supply, PSE&G and a very generous anonymous donor,” said Arlene Klemow, development director.

For more information about sponsorship opportunities or to purchase Gala tickets, please visit the CONTACT We Care website at

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