Stepping Up: Ballard’s Inn donates $8K to local charities

PICTURED IN FRONT of Ballard's Inn are, from left to right, Marion Filippi, Landon, Lauren, Natalie and Steven Filippi, along with Bryan Sawyer, COO of the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. / COURTESY STEVEN FILIPPI/BLAARD'S INN
PICTURED IN FRONT of Ballard's Inn are, from left to right, Marion Filippi, Landon, Lauren, Natalie and Steven Filippi, along with Bryan Sawyer, COO of the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. / COURTESY STEVEN FILIPPI/BALLARD'S INN

NEW SHOREHAM – Ballard’s Inn on Block Island donated a combined $8,000 to two Rhode Island charities that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The business raised the funds by asking patrons to donate $10 at its door on July 5.

Ballard’s owner, Steven Filippi, said the two entities he decided to support are the Block Island Volunteer Fire & Rescue, which was unable to host its fundraising event this summer, and the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation, an organization, “in dire need” of funding.

“It was the right thing to do,” said Filippi. “The Block Island Volunteer Fire & Rescue are heroes. And we heard the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Foundation was under financial duress. Everyone knows the great work that they do. So, we wanted to help those two local charities, which are in need.”

Kurt Littlefield, who is chief of the Block Island Fire & Rescue Squad, said the donation, “helps. It was greatly appreciated, in lieu of not being able to have our annual Steak Fry fundraiser at the Fire Barn. The $4,000, which will go into the general fund, goes a long way toward buying gear.”

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Littlefield said the public should “be safe” when venturing out on the island and “social distance.”

Bryan Sawyer, chief operating officer of the Gloria Gemma Foundation, said his organization was “extremely grateful for the support that Ballard’s Beach Resort and their guests have given to the Foundation. The COVID-19 Pandemic has made fundraising difficult during these times of uncertainty, and the support of local companies like Ballard’s assists us in providing programs and services to cancer survivors and their families. Cancer did not stop because of the pandemic; now more than ever, our families need our continued support.”

Filippi said that the fundraiser did not begin as a matching enterprise, but after sensing that it was going to be successful, he and his wife, Lauren, decided to match the total amount that was raised.

“We knew within the first half-hour it was going to be successful,” said Filippi, who noted that about 95% of his patrons donated. “Thanks to our customers. Our hats are off to everyone who contributed.”

In a press release, Filippi said, “While the $4,000 each of these organizations received won’t replace what they would have raised independently, we hope it lessens the sting. By many people making a small donation, we were able to make a big impact – together – for our community. That is a true display of the island values I have come to know. During these unprecedented and difficult times, Ballard’s is proud and humbled we are able to give back to the community that has given us so much. I invite my fellow business and community leaders to do the same if they’re able.”

As for business on Block Island, after opening in June, Filippi said, “Things have been better than expected. It’s not like last year, but we have been pretty busy.”

Filippi, who is also president of the Block Island Tourism Council, said the island’s business owners are hoping that the summer tourism season can generate enough revenue to help business owners make it through to next summer season. The Block Island Ferry has added boats to accommodate safety protocols and an unexpected uptick in its ridership this summer.

“We feel as a community that we can definitely get through this time,” said Filippi, while also noting that some island residents and business owners are “anxious” due to an employee at Finn’s restaurant in Old Harbor having tested positive. “So, we are taking it one day at time.”

Providence Business News is spotlighting nonprofits, companies and workers stepping up to challenges presented by the spread of the new coronavirus.

Cassius Shuman is a staff writer and researcher at the PBN. You may reach him at Shuman@PBN.com

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