Boys & Girls Clubs of Gloucester County honors President Houshmand

Boys & Girls Clubs of Gloucester County honors President Houshmand

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The Boys & Girls Clubs of Gloucester County (BGCGC) honored Rowan University President Ali Houshmand during its annual fundraising dinner Oct. 19.

The program, at Auletto Caterers in Deptford, was themed “Hot, Hot, Hot” in tribute to Houshmand, a lifelong lover of hot peppers.

BGCGC President Patti Withington said the event drew some 240 attendees, raising more than $120,000 to support the organization, which provides services for more than 1,000 boys and girls at centers in Glassboro, Paulsboro and Woodbury.

“Funds raised will help pay for staff to provide services, after school activities and care, tutoring, leadership development and instruction,” Withington said.

She said Houshmand, who as a boy in Iran grew up in poverty but came to realize his own American dream, related directly to the 11 boys and girls from the club attending the event.

“I think the most touching thing was that in Dr. Houshmand’s address he spoke to the kids, not only of the challenges in his own youth but in the value of pursuing your dreams,” she said. “His message was of hope and opportunity, to see that there is no barrier, that if you work hard enough, you will achieve this.”

Withington noted that Houshmand, who as president of Rowan has helped lead a vast expansion of the University and its influence in the region, is a strong proponent of opening up access to a four-year degree and has pushed for the institution to be a driving economic force in southern New Jersey.

He is the creator of Houshmand’s Hazardous Hot Sauce, a multi-pepper blend that he developed to raise money for student scholarships. During the BGCGC event he sold 64 jars of hot sauce of which the proceeds, about $650, went to support the county Boys and Girls Club organization.

“I am thrilled to be honored by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Gloucester County but the bigger thrill is seeing excitement in the eyes of the next generation of leaders they are helping to develop,” Houshmand said.

The program, part dinner and part celebrity-style recognition, has been the BGCGC’s major annual fundraiser since 2005, the year that clubs from Glassboro and Paulsboro united to form the county organization. The program last year honored longtime Glassboro resident and former state senator Dan Dalton. Previous honorees include Glassboro Mayor Leo McCabe, state assemblyman and former Paulsboro mayor John Burzichelli, Glassboro Business Administrator Joseph A. Brigandi Jr., and John E. Wallace Jr. of Washington Township, a former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice.

Major sponsors of this year’s fundraising program included Parke Bank, Verizon, Paulsboro Refinery, Horizon BC/BS, Gourmet Dining LLC, Rowan University and businessman Ray Angelini.