Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Businesses Shaft Local Charity That Sold Beer to Feed the Hungry

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 3:26 PM

A number of bars and restaurants that agreed to sell a special beer to raise money for a local charity took the beer and never coughed up the money.

The beer, Father Joe’s Penitential Ale, was brewed by Barrio Brewing Company to raise money for Caridad de Porres, which provides hundreds of thousands of meals each year to hungry people across Southern Arizona.

It sounded like a sweet deal: Every pint sold would provide about four meals for the hungry. A number of local restaurants signed on; advertisements were purchased in local papers; both the Tucson Weekly and the Arizona Daily Star wrote about the fundraiser.

But when officials tried to get the $500 each restaurant pledged to donate for a keg of the beer, a number of them didn’t pay, said Burt Nehmer, president of the board of directors for Caridad de Porres.

The fundraiser was expected to raise about $100,000. Nehmer said it ended up raising about $14,000.

Nehmer did not want to mention the names of those who failed to fulfill their pledges, saying only that he’d “hate to have to answer to God for that one.” Businesses that fulfilled their pledges include Barrio Brewing Company, Gentle Ben’s, Pastiche Modern Eatery, Kingfisher, Buddy’s Grill, the Bamboo Club, the Dish and TD’s East.

TD's East actually paid up before the beer was sold, said Nehmer. They also put “Father Joe Is Here” on their marquee, which got Nehmer in a fix with Tucson Bishop Gerald Kicanis.

Nehmer, however, is undeterred. His organization is currently selling Father Joe’s Frownies, a decadent chocolate brownie, at local churches to raise money for Caridad de Porres, which is sorely in need of funds.

The charity has had to scale back its efforts since mid-2008, when the housing crisis and other national financial woes dried up the flow of donations. The charity currently serves about 10,000 meals a month, down from the 15,000 it once served.

Nehmer is also looking at another round of fundraising beer, but said this one will be canned and sold at stores.

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