The staff of the Summit Housing Authority once again sponsored a Senior Summer BBQ for the residents of its Vito A. Gallo Senior Building held this year on Thursday, August 14, 2014. Led by Master Grillers Rashan Womack, Maintenance Technician and Executive Director Joseph Billy, over 75 residents enjoyed grilled favorites of chicken legs, hamburgers, cheese burgers and hot dogs accompanied by various salads, baked beans, watermelon and sheet cake. This year’s theme was a Hawaiian Luau, with the community room fully decorated to the hilt. Residents participated in theme related games and a Luau photo-shoot.
Several City of Summit luminaries also attended including Summit Mayor Ellen Dickson, City Treasurer Scott Olsen and the Director of Community Services Beth Kinney.
It was a beautiful summer day for this annual event which provided an afternoon of food, fun and camaraderie for the SHA’s elderly and disabled residents. As noted by longtime resident, Ms. Denise Miles “This is a wonderful thing the housing staff does for the residents. For many, it is the only BBQ they will attend all summer long, Bless Them “.
Plans are already in the works for next year’s event.
40th Anniversary Commemorated at Glenwood Place
Louis Riccio, Vito Gallo, Marion Ollott, Mary Zimmermann, Eula Andrews
After Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968, our nation was in turmoil. Cities across the country were in flames. Some of the burned out buildings can still be seen in Newark and cities as near as Plainfield had erupted in violence. In Summit however, it was a different story. Beginning in 1967 a few caring residents, lead by the late Ted Olcott, understood that our cities needed to look within and resolve the derisiveness that was fermenting. With the inauguration of the Summit Housing Authority, these few leaders saw the need to maintain a decent standard of living for all Summit residents, regardless of race or income. The area of Summit on Railroad Avenue had become what many described as a slum and the fear was that this slum would slowly expand to near-by neighborhoods. So, they began to reach out to the community, using the inspirational slogan that “the Summit community embraces its own, “asking individuals, churches, banks and other private businesses to step up with donations of $5,000 each towards a building fund. In 1967 $5,000 was a huge request, but they were remarkably successful in their endeavor. By 1968, the plans were already in the works to tear down the slum area and build, in its place, a landmark public housing area. Unlike what had become the standard for public housing of low grade materials and shoddy workmanship, their vision was to create a well-built residential area using top grade materials that would create a sustainable, respectful and safe residential area for those less fortunate. The result was the Glenwood Place Housing units.
On May 23, 2012, 40 years after the completion of Glenwood Place, a small group gathered there to honor the memory of Ted Olcott, his remarkable influence in Summit, and the vitality which remains the heart of the Glenwood Place housing units. Among those attending the ceremony was Vito Gallo, former Executive Director of the Summit Housing Authority, who spoke from the heart as he recounted the origins of the Housing Authority and related the inspirational history of Glenwood Place and how it all came to be. Lou Riccio, the current Executive Director, remarked that Glenwood Place remains the cornerstone of Summit’s unique relationship with public housing. Riccio stated that cities from around the country have consulted with Summit’s housing authority to learn about Summit’s success in not only stemming the tide of neighborhood decline but figuring out a way to include Public Housing in a neighborhood and actually allowing that neighborhood to increase in value and desirability. Mary Zimmermann, the current Chairperson of the Board of Commissioners, introduced Mrs. Marion Olcott who was happy to have shared in the fond memories of her husband’s achievements in Summit. Mrs. Zimmermann dedicated a beautiful newly-planted dogwood tree in Ted Olcott’s memory and informed the gathering that a plaque was being struck to be placed at the base of the tree to commemorate the event.
Riccio concluded his remarks by stating that “Summit residents should be proud of this heritage and understand the unique bond that has been forged in this community.” To maintain diverse populations in a community can be a difficult task. Summit has always made it an issue of the utmost importance. It is clear that the primary goal of the Summit Housing Authority is to better the community, one family at a time.
Art Exhibit and Reception at the Vito A. Gallo Building
Senior residents at the Vito A. Gallo Building of the Summit Housing Authority held their annual Art Exhibit & Reception on Saturday, June 15, 2013 in the Annette Dwyer Art Gallery located in the building. Numerous paintings which were the creations of the building residents who participate in the Art & Relaxation Workshop at the development were on display for exhibition and sale. A reception luncheon was served. Well over 100 visitors, family members and guests attended the affair throughout the afternoon taking in a wide variety of the artistic styles being presented. Easels and canvases were even set up for visitors who wanted to release their own artistic passions.
The Summit Housing Authority's new Executive Director Joseph Billy was quite impressed by the magnitude and talent being displayed. "The level of artistic expression is quite impressive. The seniors, and especially their mentor Ms. Evelyn, should be very proud of their accomplishments. I hope this program continues for many years to come" Billy said.
The Art & Relaxation Workshop was founded in 2002 and recieves its inspiration from the talented tutelage of senior resident Ms. Evelyn H. Hassell. Ms. Hassell conducts art classes in the arts & crafts room on the first floor of the Gallo building every Tuesday morning from September through May. Dozens of the buildings residents participate in the program, as well as, seniors from the Summit community. From the beginner to the advanced, all are welcome to participate in the program. An annual Art Exhibition is held in June to display the creations from the current semester.
The Vito A. Gallo Building is located at 12 Chestnut Avenue in Summit, NJ.
Summit Housing Authority • 512 Springfield Avenue • Summit, New Jersey • 07901