It is uncannily refreshing to attend a gala for a nonprofit that reins in the glitz and puts its money where its mouth is, or in the case of Crisis Ministry of Princeton and Trenton, in the mouths of its clients.

The organization’s 30th anniversary celebration was a modest affair yet full of heart — live music provided pro bono by a quartet from the Princeton High School Jazz Combo, cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres — but the 120 guests in attendance knew that it wasn’t important that they eat a lot.

The impressive $35,000 the event raised will help feed the 1,400 individuals and families each month who come to the Crisis Ministry pantries in Trenton and Princeton and who also seek assistance from its direct aid programs in homelessness prevention (through back rent, mortgage assistance, security deposits, and utility retention).

The circular entranceway to the Chauncey Conference Center was lit with exactly 252 luminaria. As executive director Jarrett Kerbel introduced the event’s recognition and legacy award winners, he said, “Each light represents one ton of food the Crisis Ministry distributed this year, that’s 252 tons, and each light also represents one household that reaches out for utility assistance per month; 200 of those lights also represent how many people receive an eviction notice each week in Mercer County.”

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