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First Person

AT A RECENT board meeting I asked the trustees to reflect on what their lives would be like if we did not properly take care of Beacon Hill Club (BHC) and it became unsustainable. When I am feeling the stress of being president of BHC, I often ask myself this exact question and contemplate what life would be like without it. The answer is unimaginable, and it motivates me to always keep my full attention on the club. Without BHC, where would I play my favorite sports? Where would my four children go to play tennis and paddle, to be on a swim team and to play hockey or participate in figure skating? Where would we entertain and celebrate holidays and special occasions? Where would I devote my time as a volunteer?

My family has been a member of BHC since 2002. Back then, I had no idea the club would become a second home for my family, and that I would be there at least three times a day. BHC is a unique club in Summit, N.J. The club was founded in 1956 by a group of neighbors who did not want to see a historic, nine-acre residential estate end up in the hands of developers. Instead, this insightful group bought the property and converted it into a private, family club dedicated to serving the athletic and social needs of local residents. The founders converted the estate’s decorative gardens to tennis courts, repurposed the main residence into a dining and socializing venue, added a regulation-sized pool and ice rink, and soon after opening the club had a roll of 50 members. The founders’ can-do spirit and collegiality lives on today and is one of the things that sets the club apart.

My husband grew up as a member of BHC, playing racquets sports, ice hockey and swimming, and I grew up nearby, also belonging to a club and doing similar activities. We wanted this same experience for our family. So, when we bought our first home in Summit after getting married, one of the first things we did was join BHC. In the early years it was a great place to meet new families by the baby pool and play competitive adult sports. Fast-forward 14 years and four children later, I cannot even begin to count the number of swim meets, hockey games, tennis matches and events we have attended with our children (ages 7, 9, 12 and 15).

Even though the club has been great for our children, being a member of the club has had a profound impact on me personally. Playing sports at the club has been a key element of my adult life, but of greater significance has been my involvement on the board. When I began as pool trustee four years ago, I had no aspirations of being president. However, as I came to learn more about the behind the scenes operations of BHC, and the club industry as a whole, I realized that volunteering at the club was a worthy and rewarding use of my time, and I knew I could make a difference. As a byproduct of my increased engagement, I have made terrific friends and formed a common bond with many whom I might not have known before. It feels great to be connected to something larger than myself and particularly for an organization that positively impacts every area of my family’s life—a club that creates indelible memories and friendships and shapes the lives of a family for generations. This is why I love being a member of BHC, and why I love being president even more.

First person is a column written by club members and directors about what makes clubs special. Send your 600-word submissions and photos to Cindy Vizza at [email protected].