In a year of changes for Poverello, one traditional event endures.
People came to Sawgrass Lanes on Saturday afternoon for many different reasons. Brianna Finnk and Jasmin Henry were bowling on the National Voices for Equality, Education and Enlightenment (NVEEE) team. The teenagers were far from bowling professionals but said they were having a good time nevertheless.
“The last time I went bowling, I think I scored like an 18 in total, I’m very uncoordinated,” Finnk said. “I just want to support the community and anything I can do to help others I’d like to.”
Henry is a rising junior at West Broward High School. Before coming to Sawgrass Lanes, Henry said she was not aware of Poverello’s role in the community, but had participated in Relay for Life events and understood the importance of helping those in need. NVEEE is an anti-bullying and teen suicide prevention organization.
“I like helping people,” said Henry, 16, a Pembroke Pines resident. “I really like expressing myself in the arts and I feel I can help someone in the future through dance.”
While the teams bowled, Nicole Halliwell, a local drag queen announced prize winners from raffle tickets and silent auction items. Attendance and donations were down from last year, said Kevin Clevenger, Poverello Events Coordinator.
“I had to give away lanes this year,” Clevenger said.
Thomas S. Pietrogallo, Poverello Chief Operations Officer, estimated when the dust settled on this year’s “Bowling to Fight Hunger” the organization would clear a net gain of $40,000. When the event launched 27 years ago, bowling to raise money for HIV/AIDS care was unique. Now that pool contains several agencies.
Bowling is now a fundraising vehicle for other local organizations such as the Pet Project and SMART Ride. Poverello’s event was held in Tamarac, 12 miles west of its headquarters in Wilton Manors. Pietrogallo said the bowling event is Poverello’s second biggest fundraiser behind the Florida AIDS Walk.
“I think there will always be a place for events like this one,” Pietrogallo said. “There’s a reason so many people have tried to duplicate our success. People enjoy meeting together within our community. What makes it so special is that events like these are the relationships, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.”
This has been a memorable year for Poverello, which lost its founder Father Bill Collins, who died in May at the age of 86. Collins launched Poverello by giving away food out of the trunk of his car. Thirty years later Poverello has expanded its mission to provide life-saving meals to not only people living with HIV/AIDS but those suffering from chronic illnesses such as cancer and/or cardiac and kidney conditions.
“I’m a cancer survivor,” Ronny Nadiv said. “I believe in Poverello’s cause of helping those in need and I’m proud to be here.”
Nadiv is the director of membership for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. He said his team was an example of the business community’s support for Poverello’s mission. In addition to food, Poverello also provides a thrift store, gym and massage and acupuncture services.
Bowling alley meetings are a great way to unwind, Pietrogallo noted.
“Corporate teams get to play together and enjoy their relationships outside of work,” Pietrogallo said.