The Island community turned out in force Saturday night at the Portuguese-American Club in Oak Bluffs for a benefit chicken dinner and live auction in support of Edgartown resident Tim Fullin Sr., who is battling cancer.
Nearly 500 people attended the event, which raised more than $30,000 to help the Fullin family with travel expenses and medical costs.
Caroline Derrig and Olivia Law Butler organized the event. Ms. Derrig marveled at the huge crowd. “More people showed than we ever expected,” she said. “In fact, someone at the event referenced the famous line from Jaws, ‘I think you’re going to need a bigger boat.'”
Ms. Butler, who runs an event planning company called Goofproofers, credited her parents for instilling the value of helping others. “My parents taught me a long time ago about the value of helping and taking care of people,” she said. “If it was my family, I would hope that someone would help us.
“What happened on Saturday night was amazing. No where else are you going to get that kind of support, not just financially, but emotionally. That’s what keeps us on the Island. Just because you’re not blood, doesn’t mean you’re not family. We’re all an Island family.”
Ms. Derrig cited the overwhelming support shown by local businesses, by the club itself, and, in particular, the Benevolent Committee. “That’s what the club is all about,” she said. “The club is always ready to help people in need and spring into action.
“We also had strong support from local restaurants, the oil and gas companies, jewelry makers, artists, and photographers. Mikey Waters, who is dealing with his own health issues, managed to make three beautiful, large cement bird baths to donate for the event.”
The evening started with a chicken dinner and all the fixings. Gina DeBettencourt, Bob Jackson, Polly Conway, and the P-A Benevolent Committee ran the kitchen. Oak Bluffs selectman Mike Santoro lent a hand by donating all of the chowder for the event and also helped to serve the food. A live auction followed, featuring more than 100 items donated by Island residents and businesses.
Prior to the start of the auction, Mr. Fullin made a brief appearance to greet family and friends.
Jack Law presided over the auction and did his best to be heard over the massive, enthusiastic crowd. His wife Pat, P-A Club president Tricia Bergeron, and Sally Joseph were on hand to record all of the winning bids and keep things organized. Ana Carter, Bryann Darcy, Brandi Chalifoux, Sarah Cuthbert, Heather McElhiney, and Nick Butler were the event staff.
After the auction, Sabrina and the Groovers volunteered their time to entertain the crowd with a sizzling set of rock, soul, and blues.
Mr. Fullin is a native Vineyarder. His three children, Veronica, T.R., and Keith, all live and work on the Island. Fullin Heating has been an Island staple for more than 35 years. Mr. Fullin is a longtime P-A Club member. Each May for 20 plus years he has organized the scholarship golf tournament to help raise money for high school scholarships. To date, the event has raised in excess of $300,000.
“Islanders know that Tim has helped them out in times of need,” Ms. Derrig said. “Many times, he has come to the aid of people without heat or fuel in the middle of the night.”
This Friday, from 6 to 9 pm, the club is holding its annual open membership drive. Once again, Sabrina and the Groovers will rock the house. The normal procedure of applying for membership with two sponsors present at the monthly meeting will be waived. Dues paid at the event will cover the 2013 year.
Ms. Derrig encouraged the public to take advantage of the once-a-year opportunity. “If Saturday night was your first time visiting the club and you witnessed the P-A’s charitable work and saw the awesome job that the Benevolent Committee did, come down Friday night and join.”
For more information, call the club at 508-693-9875.