History of the BHYC Foundation

The Bay Head Yacht Club Foundation was established in 1949 as the "Welfare Fund" to provide financial support to two longtime employees – Howard Rogers and Paul "Pop" Kallmeyer – who were facing serious illness, health care costs and resulting financial uncertainty for them and their families. Members of the BHYC, including Commodore Sylvester C. Smith, Jr. and Vice Commodore George H. Patterson, decided to help them and their families and, at the same time, start a fund to benefit the Club's present and former employees and their families in times of need.

Two days after the Welfare Fund was officially established on August 26, 1949, the first fundraising event took place in the form of a cocktail party, held at the BHYC clubhouse.  The success of that event, which raised $3,976.50, would foreshadow the astounding work the Fund would do for years to come.  It was not long before the Fund and the BHYC's already-established family variety show, The Bubbles, became directly intertwined, with The Bubbles becoming the Fund's principal annual fundraiser. To this day, The Bubbles is one of the oldest running family follies in America and contributes significantly to the Fund's annual revenue.  The Bubbles Book (2010) chronicles this history in greater detail.

As time went by, other employees who had fallen upon challenging times or ill health were added to the list of beneficiaries.  By the close of the next decade, the Fund had provided over $20,000 of financial assistance to Club employees in need. 

The goal of ensuring that employees facing adversity retain peace of mind regarding the necessities of life continued to be the Fund's focus through the 20th century. Eventually, the Club established a defined contribution retirement plan for permanent employees, which was fully funded and terminated when the Club began utilizing a 401(k) plan in 2009.  This enabled the Fund to shift to a broader community mission, including assisting younger summer Club employees with educational scholarship grants; aiding residents in our local community who need special help with medical expenses or a family emergency; and donating to a growing number of community philanthropic organizations. 

Through the years, with generous members and sound investing, the Fund has grown significantly and continues to play an integral role in the lives of BHYC employees and the surrounding towns. The Welfare Fund has come to be referred to as the BHYC Foundation, but remains a separate and distinct legal entity from the Bay Head Yacht Club. It elects its own Trustees, maintains its own records and secures those files separately from Club records. It may share professional advisers also engaged by the Club, but it compensates those experts from its own resources.  Loyal donors and a Board dedicated to the Foundation's mission have helped ensure that, as the Foundation's mission has evolved, it has always been there to step in at critical moments for staff in need.

While the Foundation was able to increase its local community support to some degree after Superstorm Sandy, the Club membership stepped up to support the Foundation during the Covid pandemic in an unprecedented way.  A "special solicitation" with an initial goal of $200,000 to help BHYC employees and local residents facing historic challenges raised nearly twice that goal. Thanks to the support of the BHYC membership, the Foundation was able to make more than 300 grants totaling more than $400,000 during a 24-month period.  The Foundation was able to support every request for pandemic-related relief from staff and charitable groups serving our greater community.  

During the pandemic, several employee college students experienced financial hardship due to campus closures and work-study program suspensions, resulting in lost income they relied on to help underwrite their educational expenses.  Employees and their families had unexpected job losses, while others were indefinitely furloughed or had reduced hours.  Many faced mounting medical bills and escalating educational debt. The Foundation was able to increase its assistance to mitigate that lost income. Local charities experienced considerably greater demand, especially during the holidays. The Foundation provided increased grants for Thanksgiving dinners for several families and holiday gifts for area children. And when a local mother and her son lost their home and all its contents in a fire and had no place to go in the middle of the pandemic, the Foundation helped them secure temporary housing and new clothing to get back on their feet.

While such special appeals take place in moments of great crisis, and donations from Club members are always welcomed, the Foundation's main event each year remains The Bubbles every August.  Participation of young and old alike not only continues a wonderful tradition but also helps ensure the Foundation makes a real difference -- year in and year out -- in the lives of members of our Yacht Club family and in the larger Bay Head community we all love so much, when that assistance is needed most.  All Club members are encouraged to participate in the show in some way and/or to show their support by attending the performance!

The Foundation thanks each and every member who has assisted in the important work that we have done, and we look forward to your continued support as we seek to care for our Yacht Club family and our larger Bay Head community.