A bowling fundraiser that benefits college students and the food bank is adding a new partner and beneficiary this year – Community Living Chatham-Kent.
This year’s event, dubbed The Bowling Stones takes place Saturday, Nov. 2, at the Bowlerama in Chatham.
Since Tea Party drummer Jeff Burrows founded the event four years ago, the St. Clair College Scholarship Fund and Chatham’s Outreach for Hunger have shared in the proceeds. But this year, Community Living Chatham-Kent is also being brought on board.
While busy touring last year, Burrows said he didn’t put the time into the planning, which showed in the results.
“Sometimes you need that kick in the pants to reinvigorate things and to realize it doesn’t happen overnight. You really need to work at it,” he said.
He added it is also important to change your strategy and be more inclusive in the community.
Burrows compares building the event to trying to start a new small business, which often takes two to three years to get established.
“We want this to grow,” he said. “In order to do that, we need to extend those tentacles within the community of Chatham-Kent and get to more people.”
Tammy Chouinard, manager of community relations for Community Living, said being part of the event has “been pretty amazing.
“We’re just excited. It’s a great group. We’re lucky to be a part of this,” she added.
With about three weeks to go, there are only a few spots left for teams to take part in the party-like fundraiser.
Burrows said they have nearly tripled the number of teams from last year already.
“More and more we’re seeing that businesses are coming to this event as a really fun evening for their staff,” Paul Haslip, a member of the organizing committee, said. “Their employees have a fun night and it’s electric because there’s a whole bunch of people (participating).”
Haslip said people who are not on a team are still encouraged to come buy raffle tickets and hang out with friends who are bowling and enjoy the party atmosphere.
He said Burrows tried to organize this event in Windsor, but could not get the facility for free, which is the case with Bruce Cockburn, owner of Bowlerama.
“This is not typical. This is extremely generous of Bruce,” Haslip said.
Cockburn said the event would still be successful without his contribution, but it does help the bottom line.
While the Bowlerama does have a few other events that fill all 24 lanes, Cockburn described this event as “different in that I’m actually involved somewhat with the group.”
Brenda LeClair, executive director, said the combination of the three beneficiaries from the event “is near and dear to what I do.”
“Because, I’ve always said, ‘Without education, you live in poverty, you have no future,’ and we’re supporting those bursaries for kids,” she added.
She noted a number of young people who access services through Community Living also volunteer for Outreach for Hunger.
“We love being able to give them the opportunity to come out and be a part of the community and meet new people,” LeClair said.
More details about the fundraiser, including how to register a team, is online at www.outreachforhunger.com.