As Poverello turns 30 years old and gets ready to celebrate by holding its 30th Anniversary Open House, Sale & Party on June 12, it’s a year that will see a return to the organization’s roots – Pompano Beach.

In about four months, Poverello expects to open a second thrift store [9,800 square feet] in the Save-A-Lot shopping center at Powerline Road and Atlantic Boulevard in Pompano Beach. 

Founded by Father Bill Collins who died last month at the age of 86, the organization was started with meals delivered to individuals with HIV/AIDS out of the back of Collins’ car.

Since then, Poverello has helped feed and support thousands of individuals, many of whom had nowhere else to turn for help. But although the organization has grown – from its number of volunteers to its number of clients to the size of its thrift store – it hasn’t always been easy. 

In October of 1991, Poverello, which focuses on helping people with nowhere else to go, had to find somewhere else to go.

According to a Sun Sentinel article published October 23, 1991, Poverello received an eviction notice two weeks previous from the owner of Pompano Plaza, the shopping center where Poverello leased 10,000 square feet of space.

Collins told the Sun Sentinel that he didn’t know why Poverello was being asked to leave. The organization had a good relationship with its neighbors. But he did know he had to find a new home. Not long after that, he found it in the Shoppes of Wilton Manors in 15,000 square feet of storefront formerly occupied by the Piggly Wiggly supermarket which closed in 1988.

But a new home would not be the last thing Poverello scrambled to find.

Just as many unfortunate individuals depend on the charity of Poverello, Poverello depends on the charity of donors and its volunteers to keep its doors open. According to a 1997 Sun Sentinel article, Poverello had to find alternative sources of funding when it lost $300,000 in federal grants. “I've been begging all over Hell's Half Acre. I've become fluent in words I didn't think I knew,” Collins told the Sun Sentinel.

In 2000, Collins and Poverello faced another financial hardship when the organization lost one of its delivery trucks and $10,000 worth of food in a fire and was forced to borrow $28,000 to buy a new truck. In 2007, the Sun Sentinel also reported that Poverello was forced to temporarily stop receiving clients because of the loss of $100,000 in grants.

Mario Rosario, Poverello’s thrift store and facilities manager, who started with Poverello as a truck driver in 1993, said there’s no secret to the organization’s success. “The great customers we have and the great people who are associated with this place are why we were able to pull through. I’ve been blessed and honored to be involved with Poverello. [Collins] was not only a friend, he was my mentor. He had a dream and that dream caught on with me.”

Poverello’s anniversary celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 12. There will be an open house with tours at the top of each hour, 50 percent off sale in the thrift store, lunch from 11:30 to 1 p.m., Italian dinner and happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. For more information, visit poverello.org


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