Hosts Get Political With Achieve Foundation ‘Night of 100 Dinners’ Themes

In recent years, South Orange and Maplewood residents have been expanding the offerings of the Achieve Foundation’s biggest annual fundraiser, the Night of 100 Dinners.

Achieve held its 13th 100 Dinners event on Saturday, March 4. Local residents hosted parties to raise awareness of and money for the foundation’s programs supporting teachers and students in the South Orange-Maplewood School District. Hosts donated their party costs to Achieve and guests contributed $50 per person (or more) in support of Achieve to attend.

This year, some hosts got creative by offering cycling classes  — more of a “Let’s Burn Off the Calories from 100 Dinners” — and an Oscars party (photos coming in separate story).

But others reflected the politics of the times. Tina Kelley hosted a knitting party where a number of participants crafted the now ubiquitous pink pussy hats that were practically a uniform for the Women’s Marches on January 21.

On another topic, Karen and Dave Palaitis crafted a dinner with food representing the “seven banned countries” of President Trump’s travel ban on the Muslim-majority nations of Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Somalia, Sudan and Syria. Among others, the Palaitis’s hosted Maplewood Township Committeeman Frank McGehee, Columbia High School Principal Elizabeth Aaron and Maplewood Middle School Principal Dara Gronau. Achieve Director Deborah Prinz stopped by on her rounds (photos by Marie McGehee).

Amy Goring had the same idea and offered some of the recipes via Facebook (photo by Thandi Center):

The Achieve Foundation is a volunteer-based, non-profit organization that raises private funds to promote exemplary public education for all students and educators in the South Orange & Maplewood public schools. Achieve supports educator grants and professional development, volunteer tutors and district-wide initiatives. Achieve has invested over $1.8 million in the schools since 1999. The 2017 Night of 100 Dinners Top Chef sponsor is Allison Ziefert of Keller Williams Midtown Direct Realty.

Find out more about Achieve or donate at

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