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Florham Park law partner serves others on YMCA board

After watching his children participate in one activity after another at their local YMCA, Harold Atlas was happy to join the board of directors of the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges in August.

“The Y really is great. My family’s always been active in it. I’ve gotten to see my kids get involved in their programs at a very young age. Swim lessons. Not only that, but both my kids are lifeguards. They’ve taken lifeguard training there and been certified or re certified as a lifeguard over the years. It’s a very safe environment,” said Atlas, www.jewelryfyku.top whose main focus is corporate law as a partner in the law firm of Sherman Wells Sylvester Stamelman, LLP in Florham Park.

“The more I learn about all the variety of programs they have, the more excited I became about the opportunity to work with them. I’m very excited. It’s a great organization and I’m really looking forward to it a lot.”

The Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges is the largest association of YMCAs in New Jersey, serving more than 35,000 individuals and providing nearly $1.3 million in direct financial assistance. Its six YMCAs are located in Hardyston, Stillwater, East Orange, Livingston, Maplewood and Wayne. They are committed to maturing the potential of children, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility. They offer a wide array of programs that build spirit, mind and body for people of all ages and circumstances.

The chance to join the board of directors presented itself after Atlas met with Metro YMCA President and CEO Richard K. Gorab and Treasurer Ronald Schwarz. As a board member, he’ll not only attend regular meetings but beginning in September, he’ll begin working with different committees.

“The opportunity presented itself to me and it was a chance to get more involved. They usually put a board member on one or two committees and I’ll get more active in that sort of thing. I’m excited to get started with it and learn more about it.”

After moving to Livingston with his wife Emmy 22 years ago, Atlas’ two children, Noah, 17, and Elana, 20, made good use of the West Essex YMCA in Livingston. Besides swimming and lifeguarding there, they spent their days growing up playing basketball, attending birthday parties and enjoying outdoor activities at the Fairview Lake YMCA in Stillwater.

The 660 acre non profit co ed summer camp maintains recreational programs and services for all ages. Besides sleepaway summer camp for grades 2 11, they host environmental programs for schools and family programs for individuals and groups.

“It’s really something. They really do have a lot of programs. During the school year they have the camp at Fairview Lake and my kids have been to programs there through their school. A lot of the public schools have programs they run there,” said Atlas, a resident of Livingston.

“You can see how the Y is really supportive not only of the individuals and the families and the towns but also the school system and their programs. It’s kind of cool.”

As a fourth grader growing up in Glen Rock, Atlas became interested in magic, teaching himself card tricks and juggling. In junior high school, he and a partner began entertaining young children at parties and at a variety of events.

“It actually was a great way to make money. We did a lot of card tricks and we did a lot of illusions. We did a couple of shows each weekend and we did it for years. We enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun.”

After high school, Atlas headed to Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he concentrated more on his studies and dropped his magic routine. Looking for a job after graduating from Rutgers School of Law Newark, he would add a note about being a magician on his resumes.

“That was the one thing they always wanted to talk about. They talked about law school for a minute, they talked about summer jobs for a minute and then immediately they switched to, ‘Well, tell me more about being a magician.’ It was always interesting. Always very interesting. It was a way to break up the mood and make it lighter. It was fun.”

Despite no longer practicing magic, Atlas still lives by the Magician’s Code, refusing to reveal any secrets.

“I’m bound to keep all the secrets,” Atlas said, laughing. “We’re not allowed to reveal the secrets. But it was a great way to make extra money as a kid.”

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