Avenues Supported Living Services held its 6th annual No-Tap Bowling Tournament and Fundraiser at Valencia Lanes on Sunday, drawing in more than 200 participants.
Bowlers could compete for small prizes, participate in raffles, bid on sports memorabilia, or bet on themselves in things like the “bowl for a strike” lottery in order to raise funds to support adults with special needs in the community.
Scott Shepard, director of Avenues SLS, said events like these are ways to help fill in the gaps where state funding falls short.
“Our primary funding is the regional center system. But as a nonprofit, we’re pretty much stuck on the rates they give,” said Shepard. “Most of our staff have been with us for 10, 15, even 20 years plus, but with our rates sort of locked in what the state does, we’re not able to pay them a whole lot above minimum wage and so this helps supplement that.”
Shepard said the funds raised at the event will not only help employees, but those they support as well.
“So many of the people who we’ve supported, we’ve supported for more than 20 years each and we’ve been able to really see the progress,” said Shepard. “I think that’s the reason why our staff stay on, too. It’s because of the relationships they developed with the people we support.”
Shepard said one of the things that makes the program special is that their clients don’t have to live in specialized housing, but can live in their own homes if they wish to.
“Our services are all person-centered. They’re all individualized. We don’t have any segregated facilities where people live. Everybody lives in their own place,” said Shepard. “We have two ladies, one in their 70s, one in their 80s, that live in the homes they grew up in, that their parents left to them, and then we provide the support they need and both of them happen to need 24-hour care.”
Natalie Cavarreta, director of development for Avenues SLS, said all types of people come out to bowl.
“As you can see, everyone loves to bowl. We get families, we get individuals, we put them all together and it’s all in supportive avenues and raising funds for the people we support,” said Cavarreta.
One of these people was Hilary Skoch, who came out with her family to support Avenues SLS. She said she loves being able to support a community organization.
“I love that I wouldn’t come here anyways, but then I saw this and now we can be together with a whole bunch of people for the same effort, which is really cool,” said Skoch.