Daniel Brooks, New Hope Celebrates – Founder 2003
New Hope Celebrates Founder and Director of the New History Project
Dan is a licensed psychoanalyst with a private practice in Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York. He is also on the staff of the National Institute for Psychotherapies in New York, the Metropolitan Center for Mental Health and Identity House. He is also a part-time staffer for the New York Post’s News Corps and is working on professional publications. Dan is also the owner of the Wishing Well Bed & Breakfast in New Hope, PA.
Dan holds a master’s degree from Fordham University and is a two-time graduate of the National Institute for the Psychotherapies, both in New York.
He founded New Hope Celebrates in 2003, based on the need for a volunteer LGBT organization that would serve the community and promote tourism. New Hope Celebrates has since won the 2012 Bucks County Landmark Towns “Best Multi-Event Award” for its parade.
He is currently the director of New Hope Celebrates’ LGBT History Archive, co-founded in 2010 with Sara Scully. Dan attributes the success of the organization to the dedication and diverse talents of its members.
New Hope Celebrates Founder 2003
New Hope Celebrates History Co-Founder (with Sara Scully) 2013
Owner: Wishing Well Guesthouse
Chairman: New Hope Borough Human Relations Commission—2010-present
Former Editor: New Hope Gazette—2010-2012 (to closing)
Recipient of “Distinguished Citizen Award” by PA House of Representatives-2009
NHC awarded “Service Award” twice by Greater New Hope Chamber of Commerce-2006 and 2014
NHC awarded “Best Multi-Event” by Bucks County Landmark Towns—2012
NHC awarded citation of merit from PA Senate—2012
Born in Beaver Falls, PA, and a journalism graduate of Pennsylvania State University, Daniel Brooks at 21 years old, packed his wife, cat, some faded bell-bottom jeans, Beatles records, and ironing board into his bright yellow Opal. They headed for New York City with no place to live, but a lifelong dream to work at the New York Times.
However, to support himself at PSU, Brooks worked summers as a counselor at Camp Daddy Allen Easter Seal Society, whereas “Mr. Dan” he administered recreational therapy to mentally and physically challenged children in the Pocono Mountains. Seeing their changes inspired his conviction that “anything is possible” with what they called “The Allen Spirit.” “The kids were amazingly resilient. They strived and thrived to be the best that they could be in the scenic and nurturing recreational outdoors. Camp Daddy Allen changed my life,” he reminisced.
Rethinking his fantasy Madman career, he quickly secured a position as a caseworker with the venerated Spence-Chapin Services for Children on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. There he decided to toss away his journalistic ambitions in favor of “making a difference” through psychology and social work. It was the 1970’s, New York City was a bit of graffiti, grime, and dirt, but Daniel was young and determined to tidy it up.
A work-study program at Spence, with Fordham University, helped him pay his way through graduate school in clinical social work. Then on to four years of post-graduate education as a psychoanalyst at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies, next to Fordham on Columbus Circle. He currently continues his private psychotherapy practice in that same building, some 40 years later. He has also been on staff at the Metropolitan Center for Mental Health and the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy, LGBTQ division.
With a son to support, over 30 years ago he bought a home in a then “questionable section” of Park Slope Brooklyn and still spends four days a week there.
“New York City has grown exponentially in these years, cleaned and grew up, but fundamentally the Big Apple core remains the same, and it still takes my breath away, “ said Brooks. “However, in 1996 when I visited New Hope, PA, I found “home” again. And it was a lot closer to New York!”
Physically, New Hope not only visually twins his hometown, which is also located on a river with a “sister” town across a bridge surrounded by lush green hills, but it also contains a sturdy community of and talented residents. Now a member of the LGBTQ community, Dan packed up a second time with former partner Jason Nerys and together they moved into Village Two, knowing nothing about and no one in Bucks County.
“But that Daddy Allen spirit took over me,” he said, “And I knew that Jason and I would find our way in New Hope. I thought we fit and I saw an opportunity to have an alternative to Brooklyn, where many of our good friends had died of the AIDS epidemic.” While Dan continued to retain his New York office and Brooklyn home, Jason left his job at Broadway’s Palace Theater to become a bartender at Mother’s Restaurant. To Jason, as a child of Brooklyn, New Hope was the town he used to dream that he would someday live in.
After surviving a genetic disorder that entailed quadruple bypass surgery in 1999, Daniel became even more determined to make a difference and bought an abandoned 165-year-old farmhouse. He transformed it in six months and opened its doors as the current Wishing Well Guesthouse.
To stimulate business and bring together the LGBTQ community, he approached New Hope Borough Council in 2002 about an idea to initiate, market, fund, and promote an inclusive LGBTA all-volunteer non-profit organization. That night New Hope Celebrates was born!
“The council and many in town looked at me like I was nuts but said “sure, why not? We can’t fund you but we support you and wish you well.’” This year will be Number 16 for New Hope Celebrates.
Besides having his entrepreneur son Jonathan and his wife Jacqui live nearby in Park Slope and the many lives he has been lucky to touch as an analyst, Brooks considers New Hope Celebrates is his biggest life achievement. He is proud of how New Hope Celebrates History is also “growing up”; a container vessel for not only the history of NHC events but also a vehicle for preserving the essence of the influence of all gay culture on the diversity and acceptance that earmarks the essence of the New Hope community.
“Along the way I have been fortunate to be surrounded by talented, committed volunteer NHC Board members who “carry the torch”. I am especially proud to collaborate, for many years, with a genius graphic artist, designer, and friend, Gordon Pulaski-Ray, who has tirelessly worked immeasurable hours in making many of my weirdo ideas come to life.”
“I was raised in a safe, close, multi-ethnic community in a town built from the gritty steel industry by all kinds of folks from every ethnic and religious background. I am still super close to my friends there. But it’s been my sheer joy and surprise to find myself a part of a new and similarly accepting family in New Hope. The town epitomizes the notion that if you dream it, you can be it. My passion in life has always been to make a difference, to show off “that Daddy Allen spirit!” he said. “New Hope opened its arms and continues to help in making that determined dream an actuality.”