Fellowship Award 2021- Pat Cloonan

October 15, 2021

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Every city’s bowling community has that person or people who just help out in any way they can.  They don’t want the spotlight and they don’t want any recognition.  They just want to be there out of love and support and give back to a community that gives so much to them.   All of you league and tournament officers know the kind of person I’m talking about….  that “unsung hero” in your bowling community.  Someone who just gives of themselves and their time, and doesn’t expect anything in return.  It makes them happy.  Their efforts in turn help your league and tournament succeed, and frankly, we sure could use more people like this.  

The city tonight’s recipient is from is a long time IGBO city.  Many of us here and across the northeast look going forward to going there for their wonderful tournament and terrific hospitality.  There are many really good really friendly people there, several worthy of being nominated for this award themselves, yet THIS is the person they’ve put up for it.   THEIR “unsung hero”.

There were MANY reference letters supporting this nominee.  The superlatives used to describe him are “Selfless”, “caring”, and “honest” …. He is a beloved long time member of the local bowling community.  He’s been a Member of his league for 34 seasons and is a recipient of their local sportsmanship award. His efforts on behalf of his fellow league members, the less fortunate, and the gay community in his area are outstanding.  

Here are just a few examples of what this person has done for his community….

For many years, as social director of the league he creates a monthly raffle lottery ticket basket for the tournament Committee to sell to raise money for their event and charity! He creates a beautiful display each time.  

He organized a month long Post Holiday Food Drive for local food pantries to help keep their cupboards full a little longer and also organized a book and CD exchange for the bowlers with the unclaimed items being donated to local libraries.

As a member of his tournament committee he has taken on the role of:

  • "Creative Consultant" and used his fabulous eye to design and decorate the centerpieces used at the Tournament Banquets, as well as their Booby Prizes awarded to not so successful bowlers.

  • There is a Queen Contest and Miss Congeniality Fund Raiser each year during the tournament weekend.  The recipient helps come up with a name for the "Queen" as well as making the crowns. Each vote is $1.00 with every dollar going to their charity donation.  The recipient never submits receipts for anything - always giving of his time and his wallet to the cause! 

Outside of bowling…

He has been in a leadership position in his gay friendly church for over 30 years as well as annually hosting the church’s garage sale at his home.  It’s their largest fundraiser by far.  For those less fortunate, he has offered transportation to the grocery store or doctor’s appointments, helping to clean out homes to make them ready for sale, and organized many food and clothing drives, as well as retreats and social events. When the congregation is hosting the Area Interfaith Network dinner for homeless families, he will be found there serving dinner.

He was a beloved teacher for over 30 years in the same elementary school.  Since retiring from teaching in 2006 he continues to coordinate volunteer events including a Halloween Candy Donation benefitting the Center for Youth Services.  And a "Wrapping Elves" program at his school, where the retired teachers would come in during December and wrap the gifts of the working teachers as a way of reducing the Holiday stress. He is also involved in his town’s Retired Teachers Association which holds raffles to fund scholarships to High School seniors who are committed to going into teaching 

He has been a longtime member of the city’s Out Alliance working on all the planning aspects for their Pride events as well working with as an organization which documents the history of the gay community in his GREAT city. 

He has done all of the things I’ve listed and more quietly, humbly and consistently - with joy and energy!   He gives and gives and gives of his time and talent.  Many of the items he pays for out of his own packet.  He NEVER wants to be in the spotlight.  He wants to work his magic behind the curtain.  People like this rarely get recognition for the work they do, the love they present and the joy they bring, but today one does.   I’m proud to announce that our first recipient, from the GREAT city of Rochester, New York is James “Pat” Cloonan.