By Terry Rogers
On Tuesday, September 2, Abbott’s Grill sponsored a fundraiser for the Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club by donating ten percent of their proceeds throughout the day to the organization. During the evening, several guest bartenders worked along with the regular bartenders in Bald Jason’s Pub, taking drink and food orders for patrons.
The first pair of guest bartenders included Margaux Fischer Azzanesi and Joe Gannon who stepped behind the bar at 5:30pm. “Wait, you mean I actually have to make drinks?” Ms. Fischer said as the bartenders showed her where to find all the supplies she would need. “I thought I just had to stand back here and chat with people.” Mr. Gannon not only took the drink and food orders during his time behind the bar, he actually shucked oysters which are offered on the half-shell at daily in the pub. The second half of the event, Shelby Nash DiCostanzo and Mayor Bryan Shupe worked behind the bar. The third hour was handled by Leanne Silicato-Prosser and Scott Hammer who also said that sitting on the other side was much easier than working behind the bar.
A staple in the Milford community for several decades, the Boys & Girls Club celebrated their fifth year in their new location off Airport Road this past January. Programs at the Club are geared toward helping kids develop into productive, responsible, and caring citizens. The Milford Club is aimed at changing the lives of not only the children who attend every day but also their families and the community at large.
“We serve from ages three to 83,” said Tod Van Eyken, Executive Director of the Milford site. “We offer preschool, before and after school care, as well as a teen program called the ‘Teen Titans’ with about 100 teens who spend Friday evenings at the club.”
In addition to serving school-aged children, the Club expanded its facility and services to include a full size fitness center, adult basketball and pickleball leagues and water aerobic classes. The Richard Y. Johnson Aquatic Center is also home to the Milford High School Buccaneers Swim Team, the Club’s own Milford Marlins Swim Team and is the only Boys & Girls Club in Delaware to offer swimming scholarships through the Michael Phelps Foundation. These community services are made available to Greater Milford Area residents year-round through support from the Annual Fund Campaign.
“This is a true community center for Milford, which is what we wanted when the idea was developed,” Mr. Van Eyken explained. “Our kids programs focus on making sure they are healthy, but we also require one hour of homework each afternoon. Many of the kids go home with their homework done so that takes some of the burden off parents.”
Mr. Van Eyken says that they are not just saving kids from the streets, but, in some cases, are saving them from their own homes. “We are a positive role model for children when they may not have that in their own home,” he explained. “No matter what type of day we may have as a staff members, we know our focus is on those kids when they walk through our door. We want to make learning fun so kids do not even know they are learning.”
The idea for the fundraiser came during a Board of Directors retreat, which was held at Abbott’s Grill. Mr. Van Eyken said that Bryan Shupe, who is the President of the Greater Milford Boys and Girls Club Board of Directors, mentioned that Abbott’s held a monthly “Community Day,” choosing one organization per month for the program. “The event was pulled together very quickly,” Mr. VanEyken said.” “This is a great way for those who support our club to get out for the evening, enjoy each other’s company in a social setting and have a little fun with each other at the same time.