After nearly 20 years, United Way of Northern New Jersey is turning over its annual Chili Open Golf Classic fundraiser to local non-profit Project Self-Sufficiency.
“As we streamline work to maximize our impact, we wanted to make sure this winter tradition would continue in Sussex County,” said United Way of Northern New Jersey CEO Kiran Handa Gaudioso. “We have historically turned over projects such as NJ 211, Dress for Success and Scholar Athlete to local nonprofits who share in our mission and have watched them flourish. We are confident Project Self-Sufficiency will be a good caretaker of this event, and we wish them great success.”
Gaudioso added that United Way will provide planning assistance to Project Self-Sufficiency over the next several months to assure the event’s transition is smooth.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to continue and grow this popular wintertime event to raise funds to help our neighbors in need,” commented Project Self-Sufficiency Executive Director Deborah Berry-Toon.
All profits from the February 4, 2023, Chili Open will be directed to Project Give Shelter, a new Project Self-Sufficiency initiative to help Sussex County residents who need emergency temporary shelter or stable housing.
“Success in becoming self-sufficient is built on a stable foundation of secure and safe housing,” Berry-Toon explained. “It’s difficult to find a job, hold a job, get an education, or receive training when you don’t know where you’re going to sleep at night, or you must constantly relocate. Project Self-Sufficiency has comprehensive wraparound programs and the staff to coordinate our efforts with other community providers to assure families and children are not left out in the cold.” Many individuals and families have been unable to keep up with expenses due to the pandemic and significant increases in the cost of living and now face losing their homes, Berry-Toon added.
The dedicated funds from the Chili Open will be used to provide local emergency shelter, security deposits, rent and utility payments as necessary and appropriate, Berry-Toon explained. Funds raised at the Chili Open will be used to help those in need in Sussex County through Project Give Shelter, which is part of a longer-range effort to fight homelessness and is designed to aid both renters and landlords.
For the Chili Open, Project Self-Sufficiency plans to continue to partner with county Rotary Clubs that are instrumental in organizing and serving breakfast and lunch, staffing a cash bar, and providing souvenir photos of the golfers, among other event assistance.
“The Chili Open has been driven successfully every year by a strong corps of dedicated volunteers who understand the importance of raising needed funds and have fun doing it,” said Bruce Tomlinson, Project Self-Sufficiency Development Director, and a longtime Chili Open volunteer. “We are very hopeful that those loyal volunteers will continue to assure the success of the Chili Open and we welcome more to join in.”
The Chili Open Golf Classic is played on a makeshift course at Sussex County Fairgrounds. Golfers play two of the four nine-hole, par three courses before heading indoors for lunch featuring a variety of fare donated by area restaurants, including of course, a selection of chili, with entertainment from a live band, a putting contest, beverages, raffles and a 50/50.
Only the pandemic in 2021 has prevented the Chili Open from being played every year since 2003. Weather conditions have ranged from over a foot of snow necessitating the plowing of the fairways, to ice and sleet, to unseasonably warm temperatures when golfers broke out their short-sleeved shirts.
More details including early registration dates and sponsorship opportunities will be announced soon for the 20th Annual Chili Open to be held Feb. 4, 2023.