Keith Allen has bowled in Poverello’s Bowling to Fight Hunger event for the last nine years.
Three years ago, with a 196 score, he helped his team take first place. Every week, he heads to Manor Lanes in Wilton Manors to practice his game. The bowl-a-thon isn’t until Aug. 20 this year, but he and some members of all five teams he’s put together this year have been hitting the lanes weekly for the last three months.
Allen, a behavioral counselor, doesn’t just come around for the Bowl-a-Thon. The 51-year-old is also a Texas Hold ‘Em dealer around town a few nights a week, which comes in handy at Poverello’s casino nights. He says it’s the non-profit’s drive that’s gotten them more recognition around town within the last two years.
“Helping out a charity is always something I’ve wanted to do,” Allen said. “I’ve put my foot in other charities and I felt like this one was worthwhile, especially with the way they were helping out in the community.”
Poverello’s Annual Bowl-a-Thon is now in its 26th year, with hopes of raising $100,000 from a raffle, silent auction, and donations that teams and individuals raise leading up to and on the day of the event. Last year their goal was $75,000, but far surpassed raising $107,000 instead. Kevin Clevenger, Poverello’s Events and Fundraising Coordinator, said the Bowl-a-Thon is one of the biggest events they put on every year and it’s in part to the help of donations from the community.
“We’re having an amazing fundraising year,” Clevenger said. “Social media is free advertising and it’s helped escalate our name in the community.”
Clevenger has been working at Poverello for the last two and a half years. Before he arrived, though, he volunteered to help with the annual bowling event. Now he’s running it, along with other events that get the word out about how to help Poverello.
For almost 30 years, the Poverello Center has been able to provide meals for 3,000 people annually. Aside from health and nutritional services, the non-profit also offers a full-service gym, access to a nutritionist, and cooking and mental health classes. The donations from the Bowl-a-Thon are critical to helping feed the community.
“For every $2.50 we raise, that’s a complete meal to someone in need,” Clevenger said. “Some of the money that’s raised will go to the cooking classes, mental health classes, and other services.”
The bowling event has grown exponentially over the years. For a long time, it was held at Manor Lanes in Wilton Manors, but due to the amount of teams and bowlers that signed up, the event outgrew the bowling alley. It was a good problem to have, and the event moved to Sawgrass Lanes in Tamarac four years ago, one of the largest bowling alleys in Broward. With 56 lanes and 280 bowlers, the event has sold out the last two years. Clevenger expects this year to be another massive hit.
“It’s a fun event, it’s not all about the bowling,” he said. “Some people are competitive, but it’s more about coming together for our community.”
The two dozen sponsors this year are helping keep the cost of producing the event relatively low so all the proceeds can go back to the services Poverello offers. The event makes a significant portion of money from the raffle and silent auction. Right now, you can win everything from trips to Antigua, Panama and St. Lucia to hotel stays, jewelry, spa treatments and salon visits. There are even chiropractic services, artwork, and liquor baskets. Bidders for the silent auction and raffle don’t even need to be bowlers to participate.
“Since we’re a non-profit, all items are tax-deductible,” Clevenger said. “It helps promote the business, it’s a return on investment. It also shows community involvement because it looks good on the organization that they’re supporting the cause.”
At the end of the bowling tournament, there’s an awards ceremony for the bowlers and the fundraisers. Regardless if you raise money through your bowling skills, networking, or cash on hand, there’s a way for everyone to join in for a good cause.
“The biggest part is participation,” Keith Allen said. “What we can do is spend money by buying raffle tickets and buying in the silent auction.”
Allen said he personally hasn’t raised a lot, but he’s helped his five teams raise money. Last year he put together six years. The year before, in 2014, he put together seven. This year, three out of the top five teams he’s organized are raising the most money.
Because people work a lot, Allen said it’s not easy to get a lot of donations to the teams. The other parts of the Bowl-a-Thon are critical to raising money. But that doesn’t stop him and his five teams from competing hard on game day.
“At least three of the five teams are very ‘I’m gunna kick your butt’ attitude,” he laughed. “Others are just happy to participate. We always meet afterward to celebrate what we’ve done.”
Want to help? To register or support a person or team, or to donate to the raffle or silent auction, visit hungerfighter.org.
If You Go:
Saturday August 20, 2016
Practice: 11 a.m. -Noon | Event: Noon-3 p.m.
8501 N University Drive
Tamarac, FL 33321
This year’s leaderboard so far
Jo Anne McCann – $2,423
Tom Haynes – $1,305
Ericha Lichter – $1,105
Adam Anthony – $575
Cowboy Dan – $510
CJ Josey – $450
Donald Reilly – $435
Mike Trottier – $330
Chris Caputo – $306
Joe Imbrogno – $300
Derby Winners – $2,873
GFLGLCC - Greater Fort Lauderdale Gay & Lesbian Chamber – $2,740
RLII Strikes Out Hunger 26 – $1,105
GYM Bar JOCKS – $539
Hunger Fighters – $378
SFGN Newsies – $345
The Swear and Care Crew – $290
T House Peeps – $286
Dicks Service Station – $228
Khaleesi's Vortex – $215