Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fundraising part of bar owner's lore

George Timmins bought the beachside Sugar Bowl bar in the Breezy Point section of Queens, N.Y., the year (1976) his son Tommy was born.

It was only natural that Tommy grew up in the bar, the father showing him the ropes. One of the important lessons that George taught Tommy and his brother (who now runs the Sugar Bowl) was that giving back to the community is good for business.

George constantly built fundraisers, 5K runs, golf tournaments and raffles to raise money for families down on their luck, firefighters, police officers, or other neighborhood groups that served Rockaway Beach.

"It was almost every week," Tommy said of his late father. "Whenever there were troubled times, like after 9/11, people would gravitate to the bar where there was a sense of community, and out of that would come ideas. Usually ideas that raised a lot of money."

So when Tommy and his business partner, Kevin Devin, opened Madison's bar and lounge and Connolly's on 5th next door at 115 E. 5th St. in uptown Charlotte, the fundraising part of bar life followed them.

They've helped raise thousands for people in need: For a woman with cerebral palsy who needed a service dog. For the family of a friend dying of cancer.

Now uptown charities, like non-profits everywhere in Mecklenburg, have seen their funding slashed and are having to dispense human services with far less. Timmins and Devin are reaching out again.

Starting Friday, from 6-9 p.m., and continuing for the next seven Fridays, Madison's is hosting Fundraising Fridays. It'll work like this: Each donor will pay a $10 cover fee, and that money -- every dime -- will go to a different uptown non-profit each week.

Timmins and Devin have locked in the first four, including Community Health Services, King's Kitchen and Boy Scouts of America. As a draw to donors, they'll serve up certain beers and wines at half-price.

They're keeping the beneficiaries in the neighborhood because that's how George Timmins did it.

"We are well aware of the budget crunching and the charities right here in uptown losing their funding," Tommy said. "They're our neighbors. We've watched it happen, especially with what the banks went through.

"Neighbors help neighbors."


Randy Reis said...

I happen to live directly next door to the Sugar Bowl. I bought my home in the summer of 1997. Many people said to me "ooh, there alwayts a lot going on at the Sugar Bowl". And yes there was / is. And it has been one of the things that I love the most about Breezy Point. The feeling of community. Breezy is a place where people look after each other. When help is needed, whether its the local volunteer fire and ambulance corp rushing to save a child having difficulty breathing, a memeber of the community temporarily down on his luck, or the families of people who have tragically passed away, Breezy is a one of a kind place. And the Sugar Bowl epitomizes that!!!. Whether it be from the Timmons's, Fish, the bartenders or the patrons, you will always find a smile, a beer, a helping hand and a friend at the Bowl.

Randy Reis

Anonymous said...

Good idea - you need more exposure!

Anonymous said...

I have an idea. Have a summit to fully fund te schools. Start with taking 20 million from DSS and give it to CMS.