Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Dear Patch Editor:

Dear Patch Editor,
Thank you so much for the acknowledgment the other day in the Patch article.  As President and CEO of Real Short Hills with Keller Williams Luxury, I am pleased to report that the amount donated to the district reflected in the article was only half the amount raised. 

The discrepancy was merely that the 2019 Annual Short Hills Architectural & Real Estate House Tour, raised money throughout the year and provided separate donations to the district at different times. The total amount raised, by this year’s tour, was approximately $6500. The amount donated to date, has been around $45K. 

Autism affects 1 in 34 children in NJ. 

The tour is meant to promote Autism Awareness; and then showcase architecture and design, while providing a pulse on our local real estate market. 

The proceeds from this event help assist the Director of Special Services of Millburn Township Public Schools, Jennifer Sowa, further fund parental and professional development opportunities. 

The money specifically is utilized for 4 key district professionals to attend the Autism NJ‘s official state conference, as well as sending 2 special educators to their main Transition Conference. 

The amount raised each year continually has exceeded the Autism NJ conference fees. Now with these greater funds raised, Sowa provides a speaker series. The topics and reach of this programming goes beyond individuals served by special services, as she invites the entire school district. 

Participates of the tour visit available mansions in Short Hills, and receive a light lunch, other treats, giveaways/door prizes along with literature about autism.  

At this past tour, Sushi was served at one of the houses by Jon Lamkin, from Guaranteed Rate, and all of the literature provided on autism came from the official state autism organization, Autism NJ.

Gold level sponsors of this event included Cara Moxley and Melanie Rosenbaum with Keller Williams, Anthony Verducci with Sotheby’s Prominent Properties, Arlene Gonnella with Weichert Realty, Jon Lamkin of Guaranteed Rate and Matthew Rosenbaum of Simonian Rosenbaum Architects. 

Thank you so much for your interest and acknowledgement.  

Melanie Rosenbaum
Tour Organizer and Sales Associate
Keller Williams Luxury

Autism NJ is the official state organization while Autism Speaks is the official national organization. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Short Hills House Tour Benefiting Millburn Township Special Services and Promoting Autism Awareness

House Tour: Saturday, April 27th from 1pm - 4pm, $25 Ticket
Autism affects 1 in 34 children in New Jersey.

It’s an ​Architectural and Real Estate House Tour that showcases architecture & design while providing a pulse on our local real estate market.  There are six fabulous, available houses in Short Hills on the tour. It is on Saturday, April 27th from 1pm - 4pm, and you can purchase tickets at ​Eventbrite​/Short Hills House Tour.  The ticket price increases two days before the tour, so buy your tickets today!

The proceeds from this event help assist the Director of Special Services of Millburn Township Public Schools, Jennifer Sowa, fund further parental and professional development opportunities.  The reach of this program goes beyond special services, and usually includes the entire district.

Last year’s fundraising efforts helped provide the following professional and parental development opportunities:
  • Four full paid grants to the Autism NJ Official State Conference and two to the Autism NJ Transition Conference
  • Guest author/speaker from Harvard, Dr. Robert Brooks, on his book “Raising Resilient Children" and "The Power of Mindsets, Nurturing Engagement, Motivation, and Resilience in Students"
  • Seminar on "A Parent’s Guide to Signs and Strategies to Help Reduce Anxiety in Children"

This year, one of the houses featured on the tour is a historic Old Short Hills numbered Stewart Hartshorn house.  The home was named the “Sunset Cottage”, and will be hosted by Cara Moxley, Operating Partner/Broker of the Summit, Short Hills, & Westfield Keller Williams Realty offices.  This home is for sale and she serves as the listing agent for the property. In addition to Moxley, the curator of the Millburn-Short Hills Historical Society museum, Lynne Ranieri, will be present to share stories, show pictures, tell facts and provide (for a $5 donation) five historic walking tour.   

12 The Crescent

With a realtor’s prospective, Moxley describes the house as “one of Short Hills’ treasures and rare opportunity to own. This historic colonial was designed and built in 1881-2 by the well-known NY architecture firm of Lamb and Rich and has been noted as one of the finest examples of Shingle Style in the area and has been featured in many architectural publications. It was expanded in 2000 and has continued to adapt to suit the modern lifestyle. The home has been both restored and updated with careful attention to its structure and systems. The possibilities to define the next chapter of this prestigious gem await…”

During a recent walking tour of the historic Short Hills Park, Ranieri pointed out architectural features of this home such as how the home got its name, and the words “Sunset Cottage” in a plaque on the house.  The current home’s owner replicated the plaque, from a picture in an early article about the house. The historical society has lots of background information on local architecture, and the museum collection has old or original photos of the many of the homes in Short Hills, not to mention a wealth of information about the history of Millburn Township.

From the tour organizer’s perspective, the tour is a great opportunity that provides participants with a nice day out, while creating an event where people can learn about and see the fine architecture, building, local real estate values, and design in our community though viewing local high-end homes, all in one day.  The homes on the tour never disappoint, with the prices typically ranging from $1M - $5M including historic, renovated, new construction and even some that are needing updating. It’s an interesting view to see the architecture and real estate in town.

Gold level sponsors of this event include Cara Moxley & Melanie Rosenbaum with Keller Williams Realty, Anthony Verducci with Sotheby’s Prominent Properties, Arlene Gonnella with Weichert Realty, Jon Lamkin of Guaranteed Rate and Matthew Rosenbaum of Simonian Rosenbaum Architects.  At each mansion, participants will receive a light lunch, other treats, giveaways or door prizes along with literature about autism.  Sushi will be provided at one of the houses by our very own Jon Lamkin, from Guaranteed Rate, and all of the literature provided on autism comes from the official state autism organization, Autism NJ.

Unable to attend?  Not a problem! You can still support a great cause and win amazing prizes.   With a $20 raffle purchase, you will receive 5 raffle tickets.  Raffle prizes include, but are not limited to a consultation with an interior designer, architect, financial planner, family photo shoot, manicure & pedicure, pottery by a local artist, beauty products, stationery, restaurant gift certificate, tennis lesson, and music lesson to name a handful. Winner need not be present to win, however you will be contacted by the tour organizer to make your selections.  Drawing will take place on April 28th. Raffle prizes can be picked up or delivered.

Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 27th from 1pm - 4pm for this special fundraising open house time and day. Purchase tickets at ​Eventbrite​, or for more information please contact the tour organizer, Melanie Rosenbaum at (973) 768-1818 or​.  If you are unable to attend this event, consider buying a ticket anyway as the proceeds are alloted towards important community events.   

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Architectural and Real Estate House Tour Benefits Millburn Township Public Schools, sending key district professionals to the Autism NJ conference

At the most recent Board of Education meeting, a presentation was made to share how funds were raised from the Architectural and Real Estate House Tour which benefits our very own Special Services in Millburn Township Public Schools.  Proceeds from the tour enabled 4 individuals to attend the Autism New Jersey main and transition conferences. Autism New Jersey’s main state conference was recently held on October 18th and 19th. The district’s three behaviorists received grants to attend the conference.  The behaviorists don’t just help those with Autism, they assist anyone who has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). The fourth individual to receive a grant was a self-contained autism teacher from our district. They all shared their takeaways from the conference at the board meeting.  To see a video of their comments, please see the following link.   

For perspective, Autism Speaks is the Official National Autism Organization, while Autism New Jersey is the Official State Organization.

Background on Autism NJ:

It’s the largest statewide network of parents and professionals dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with ASD, autism spectrum disorder. This nonprofit organization is committed to providing information, education, awareness, and public policy work to NJ’s autism community.

Autism affects 1 in 41 children in NJ.

Background on the tour, which is the fundraiser to send our district professionals to the conferences:

It’s an architectural and real estate house tour in it’s 7th run and the idea came into play, by Melanie Rosenbaum and her husband, Matthew Rosenbaum.  He is an architect and Melanie is a realtor with Keller Williams Premier Properties. Melanie also serves on the SEPAC  (Special Education Parent Advisory Committee). Architecture and real estate are definite passions for both Melanie and Matthew Rosenbaum.  Many in this town seem to be similarly interested. The tour was a natural event to host, as a win win win for all.

It’s a unique tour that gives community members the chance to view high-end local homes all in one day.  Tickets are $30. It showcases architecture, design, and provides a pulse on our local real estate market. The homes on the tour never disappoint with prices typically ranging from $1M to $5M. At each mansion, participants receive a light lunch, other treats, giveaways and door prizes along with literature about autism.  Sushi was even provided in one of the houses by our very own Jon Lamkin, from Guaranteed Rate.

A very noteworthy sponsor was Anthony Verducci, Jr. with Sotheby’s International Realty, he jumped at the chance of supporting with adding one of the homes on the tour.  He also provided a sponsorship which actually sent two of the 4 individuals that received the grants to the conference. Arlene Gonnella with Weichert Realty has always generously contributed.  She tends to have some of the most expensive and interesting homes on the tour. Her sponsorship sent the other 2 district professionals to the conference. Architect Matthew Rosenbaum usually puts his own design/build high-end renovations and/or new construction homes on the tour.  (He’s the architect of the new construction modern home at 171 Highland Drive in Short Hills). His sponsorship will send two district professionals to the Autism NJ transition conference occurring in early 2019.

The amount of money being raised seems to be growing each year, with almost $40K raised to date.  Keller Williams Premier Properties is another generous sponsor and supporter. With that, additional monies have been slated for Jennifer Sowa, Director of Special Services for Millburn Township Public Schools to add to her  parental and professional development programs. Keep an ear out for those programs as some topic presentations/seminars relate to the entire school district.

Front row:  Dr. Christine Burton, Superintendent; Arlene Gonnella, Weichert; Melanie Rosenbaum, Tour Organizer; Dr. Christopher Mesopotanese, Behaviorist; Meghan Stenziano, Behaviorist, Jennifer Stracquadanio, Behaviorist;  Catherine Benedetto, Behaviorist; Jennifer Sowa, Director of Special Service; Matthew Rosenbaum, Design/Build Architect; Jon Lamkin, Guaranteed Rate; Anthony Verducci, Jr., Sotheby’s International Realty;  Back Row: Emily Jaffe, Board of Education (behind Melanie every step of the way)

Thanks to all those who assisted in making this tour a huge success!  Hope to see you at the next one on April 28, 2019.  April is Autism Awareness Month.  

For Sponsorship opportunities, please contact the tour organizer, Melanie Rosenbaum, or see the following link.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Annual Short Hills House Tour Makes The Cover

So nice to have an article written about the annual house tour (and perhaps my journey related to the cause).  It certainly expresses my passion regarding (though some of the details are mildly off - see below) my desire to spread autism awareness, help enhance parental & professional development in our local schools, and share my passion for local real estate and architecture.  (My husband is an architect and I'm a realtor).  


A few points deserving clarification are:
  • The kindergarten teacher gets a huge hug most every time I see her, since she has educated all 3 of my children as their wonderfully caring teacher.  Check out another article written related to  our journey.  
  • One of the letters written from an educator who has received one of the grants for attending Autism NJ's conference can be seen here.  They come back refreshed and ready with up to date strategies for the children in our schools.  
  • Regarding the real estate that is seen on the annual tour it really does give people a true sense of the values of the Short Hills market and potentially your own home.  It's a fun opportunity to get a pulse on the local market!  
  • All of the additional programs, besides the conferences from Autism NJ, where initiated by the Director of Special Services, Jennifer Sowa.  The tour helped pay for part of those programs.

Noteworthy (with many more involved not mentioned - see the tour map and photos)... Arlene Gonnella is always a generous sponsor with some of the best on the tour (this year $6M & still available);  Jon Lamkin and Matt Keane of Guaranteed Rate always put sushi and sandwiches in some of the houses on the tour;  Amy Burakovsky always puts a house on the tour;  Maggee Miggins, every time she participates gives out candles;  Jacky Elliott, the team leader at Sotheby's International was the igniter & cheerleader in the beginning for this event; Joanne Tedesco Kloud, the team leader at Weichert has always been a lovely supporter;  Tom Baio, local architect always writes a phat check;  The managing partners of KW, Howard Bunn & Cara Moxley are beyond generous and always show up to support me in some form or fashion;  Cecilia Valdez, KW Sales Associate partnering with me on planning this tour;  My family and especially my husband, Matthew Rosenbaum, high end local architect/design builder usually provides a highlighted house on tour, while providing patience and love (and amazing architecture in our town).  

Another special thanks to my dear friend, Lara Stolman, local producer of the movie "Swim Team".  It's a special award winning movie about a team consisting of only children on the Autism Spectrum.  It was playing in the media room in one of the mansions on the house tour.  If you missed it, check it out on Netflix!  

Seriously it warms my heart how all of these people come together to give to this cause.  
Thank you! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

House Tour Funds bring author to the district

Dr. Burton, Superintendent of Millburn Public Schools sent the following message below in her most recent letter to the school district.  The grant mentioned below paid to bring the speaker to our community, and a portion of it comprised of funds raised from the Short Hills House Tour that took place last May.

"I do want to remind you about next week’s speaker, Dr. Robert Brooks.  He will be presenting to parents on Wednesday night about the topic of resilience.  How do we learn, and teach our children, to bounce back in difficult times?  How can we help them become self-reliant, a skill needed for success in life?  You don’t want to miss this presentation – I have seen him speak at a conference and he is a highly engaging speaker.  He will share strategies that he has developed that you'll want to try out for yourself and with your family.  I want to thank Jennifer Sowa, our Director of Special Services, for using grant funds to invite him to Millburn.  He will be working with our staff on Wednesday afternoon, to give them professional development and instructional tools to support your children." 

To see the speaker, Dr. Robert Brooks, author of "Raising Resilient Children" please join us at MHS Auditorium at 7pm on March 14, 2018.

Robert Brooks, Ph.D. Child Psychologist and renowned author of 16 books Dr.Brooks has lectured nationally and internationally to parents on topics pertaining to motivation, resilience, and family relationships. He is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and has served as the Director of the Department of Psychology at McLean Hospital in Boston.

Thank you so much for supporting the house tour to help provide these type of programs.

The next tour will be in May 5, 2018. To get tickets and learn more, please go to:  

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Emails of Appreciation for the House Tour


email from Christine Burton, Superintendent of Millburn Township Public Schools:

From: Christine Burton <>
Date: May 9, 2017 at 7:03:18 PM EDT
To: Melanie Rosenbaum <>Cc: Jennifer Sowa <>, Nancy Dries <>

Thank you for all your hard work to bring the event to fruition. It is a great deal of work to bring everything together for a very
important fundraising effort!
All the best,
P.S. I will look to get you information for the summer admin. meeting needs as we finalize our planning.

The Superintendent, well the Superintendent came to the Preview Party!  So kind because she had limited time needing to get to a School Board Meeting in the town in which she lives.  She's the President of that School Board!  I'm serious!  So she showed up early to the party, I was running around setting up last minute details, it was funny!   I offered her a drink (with no bar tender there yet), I offered her some food (with the food not yet served), and I offered to take her coat (but she was still holding it when someone went to snap a photo).  I'm not even sure if she toured around the house!  lol  Regardless, it was so nice of her to attend and appreciated her support for the cause.


email from Jennifer Sowa, Director of Special Services with Millburn Township Public Schools:

On May 9, 2017, at 12:21 PM, Jennifer Sowa wrote:

It was a wonderful event and I enjoyed myself. Thank you for all you do to support the district and our
students with ASD!

Jennifer is the new Director of Special Services.  I seriously believe we are in good hands, and the district is fortunate to have her in this role.  I love how interested she was in the house tour, and of course she was thrilled to learn the funds raised from it were for her to decide on additional parental and professional development programs.   


email from Victoria Carter from Weichert:

On May 6, 2017, at 6:30 PM, Victoria Carter <> wrote:

Thank you for your hard work and coordinating such a fantastic and meaningful event. It was our pleasure to participate and we are
glad that it was as successful as it was!

Victoria F. Carter
Weichert Realtors
505 Millburn Avenue
Short Hills, N.J. 07078
973.220.3050 mobile

Seriously a gracious realtor!  With one phone call, a brief description of the philanthropic event, Victoria's response was lovely, warm and welcoming.   She happily confirmed her participation, and graciously made a generous donation.   Thanks Victoria!   


email from Tom Wragg of Wells Fargo:

On May 8, 2017, at 4:25 PM, wrote:

Good Afternoon, Melanie –
I’d like to thank you for getting in touch with me so I could participate in the house tour this
weekend – it was really fun! looked like the people who went on the tour had a really nice
time and that they all saw some incredible houses!
I’d love to do this again next year if you are planning to do this again –


Tom Wragg
Mortgage Consultant
NMLSR ID 785390
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage | 190 River Rd | Summit, NJ 07901
MAC M6153-031

Tel (908) 608-2213 | Cell (917) 796-7621 | Fax (866) 731-9203

I have not even met Tom yet!  Seriously, surrounded by rock star professionals.