The Greater Hartford Connecticut Club donates to SoZo Kids

Bob Mitchell,  Lynn Mitchell, Pamela DiPetrillo,  Melinda Feivou, and Howard Feivou donated funds to Friends of SoZo Kids, Inc.

On the third Sunday of the month, the Greater Hartford Connecticut Club would normally enjoy dinner, friendly conversation and live entertainment at Bacall Recreation Center. In June, the social club spent its entertainment fund a little differently.

With club activity at a standstill, club leader Melinda Feivou decided to donate the money to SoZo Kids, a sponsorship program aimed at supporting children living in poverty in the Ocala National Forest.

Like many social clubs, the Greater Hartford Connecticut Club collects annual membership fees that fund the entertainment and food for monthly socials throughout the year.

In the eight years she has been club leader, Feivou, of the Village of Poinciana, has used those funds to hire musicians, hula dancers, comedians and magicians for members to enjoy with dinner or dessert and coffee.

“Normally we don’t have a lot of money left because we’re a small club,” Feivou said.

This year was an exception.

Since the club hasn’t met since January, a good portion of those funds went unused. Feivou wanted to send the money where it would be most needed.

She decided to donate the money through Friends of SoZo Kids Inc. a nonprofit that recruits volunteers and seeks donations for SoZo Kids.

“The first time someone told us about (SoZo Kids) and it was somebody who was one of our entertainers — I had no idea that this group existed,” she said. “Since then, I’ve heard more and more about it. I just think the fact that there are so many kids that need help and want to go to school ... they have to have transportation, which (SoZo Kids) gives them. It’s quite a big undertaking. It’s really amazing.”

Feivou arranged a meeting with Friends of SoZo Kids Inc. treasurer Pamela DiPetrillo. On June 13, Feivou and husband Howard, club Vice President Bob Mitchell and wife Lynn presented her with the money at Allamanda Recreation Center. DiPetrillo said the organization is especially in need of donations for the upcoming back-to-school season.

“We’re raising money to get clothes, backpacks, school supplies, toiletries, so there are many, many uses for the funds we get in,” DiPetrillo said.

“It was kind of very emotional,” Feivou said. “We were all listening to her tell us more about it and I think we got emotional because we had no idea there were so many children going into the schools. So it made us feel better that we were helping.”

The gesture was even more significant to Feivou, for whom it was the last decision as club leader. Since the club hasn’t been able to meet for a while, she said it has come to a natural end.

“We feel great,” she said. “I think it’s a very positive move for everyone in the club to know it’s gone to the right place.”

Donations can be made out to the Friends of SoZo Kids Inc. and sent to DiPetrillo at 3741 Barrel Loop, The Villages, FL, 32163, or through Paypal at friendsofsozokids.com.

Staff writer Liz Coughlin can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5304, or liz.coughlin@thevillagesmedia.com.