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Jazz for Jennings: Honors The Legacy Of Peter Jennings While Supporting The East End Community

Sydney A. Braat

Jon Faddis workshop at the Center. (Courtesy Photo)

"The folks that use the Bridgehampton Child Care & Recreational Center are our neighbors; they're part of the community, the community has also been important to us," emphasized Kayce Freed Jennings, wife of the late Peter Jennings and the heart behind Jazz for Jennings.

Christian McBride, one of the jazz musicians at Jazz for Jennings. (Courtesy Photo)

On Sunday, June 26th at 12:30 p.m., Jazz for Jennings is returning to the Watermill Center. Jazz @ Jennings began in 1996 after Peter Jennings, a well-known Canadian-American journalist and news anchor on ABC, saw a need to give back to the Hamptons community. The event ran until 2005 and then took an 11 year hiatus after Jennings' tragic death, until it began again in 2015 as Jazz for Jennings. The event was brought back to honor Peter Jennings and his commitment to the Bridgehampton community. Proceeds from Jazz for Jennings support the Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreational Center. Jon Faddis is the artistic director behind this eventful day.

"Last June, we gathered to celebrate the Center for the first time since Jazz @ Jennings ended more than a decade ago with the death of my husband, Peter Jennings," explained Freed Jennings. "The Center lost not only a champion but a major source of support. Re-named Jazz for Jennings in honor of Peter's commitment to his community, the benefit was a truly joyful afternoon. We're doing it again because it was not only great fun but, most importantly, we raised critical funds to support the BHCCRC, a shining light on the Sag Harbor Turnpike which serves African-American and immigrant families with all important educational, recreational and enrichment programs."

The Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreational Center was born out of a tragedy in 1949, when a fire killed two children in a local migrant camp. Today, the six-acre Center stands to assist many working parents. There are programs designed for children flourish and stay safe. Over 150 families are served each year.

The evening will be filled with wonderful jazz music, delicious food, and good company- all for a great cause. (Courtesy Photo)

"It started with The Center. There was someone who said that you're more than this, that you can do more, you can be anything you want to be," said Karess Taylor-Hughes, Proud "Center Kid" & PHD student.

During the event, there will be beautiful music, great food and spectacular surroundings at the Watermill Center, who has graciously donated their space for the last two years.

"It's a community Center that's important to all of us and should be important to all of us, because it serves part of the community which is underserved," said Jennings. "There are many of us that are in a position to help and we should. For us, it's a no brainer to hold the event in the community where the Center is."

For the Jennings family, Jazz for Jennings is all about acknowledging the responsibility to serve others and giving back to the community, specifically the Bridgehampton Child Care & Recreational Center.

Children in the ambassador program at the Center. (Courtesy Photo)

"Like Peter, I hope participants of the event will take away a commitment to their community, the community we all live in, we all enjoy, we all benefit from. A lot of us come in and out of the Hamptons and we have a wonderful time and it's a beautiful place and we're very fortunate to be able to enjoy it but we don't always look around quite as much as we should," stated Jennings. "It's our responsibility to care about our neighbors and take care of our community that supports us and gives us such pleasure."

Freed Jennings encourages the Hamptons community to make an effort to learn more about the Center's mission. "I hope people are aware not only that the Center exists, but also what it does - the incredible programming and support it provides for an underserved community. It's a wonderful place. Don't just drive by, stop by!"

The Watermill Center is located at 39 Water Mill Towd Road in Water Mill. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 631-537-0616 or visit www.bhccrc.org.

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