For many years, the Nation’s Capital Area USBC stood at or near the top of local association contributors to BVL. As the number of bowling centers and bowlers declined, the association donations started slipping down – way down. This year, the new BVL Committee pulled a U turn. The NCAUSBCA BVL put their campaign into overdrive, and they have the results to prove their effort is working.
From a low of just over $8,000 in 2010, the Nation’s Capital has raised more than $27,000 in the 13-14 season.
While insiders point to the untiring efforts of BVL Chair Berlin Myers; Myers quickly deflects the praise to her committee members.
“I had always been a big fan of BVL,” explains Myers. “I am an unabashed supporter of those who have served and sacrificed for our country – I know that there are a lot of great causes out there, but none of us would be here to support any cause if it weren’t for our armed forces.
“When I first got assigned the position of BVL Chair, I sat down with Bruce Merriman, who was also on the committee — thanks to his belief in BVL — to strategize about how to make the most of our campaign,” continued Myers. “We were really lucky to have a great committee, in addition to Bruce, we had Tom Dale and Susan Ryan assigned by our Board. Then, we went outside those committee assignments to find the best people to help fill out our committee — Mark Spire, Jimmy Lewis, Leon Gray, Connie Brown, John Simmons, Beverly Ellis, Karen Jost, Larry Gonzales, Bob Ashley, and Regina Owens.
“I can’t tell you how important it is to get the right people. It’s hard to ask for money; this is not an easy job,” Myers admits. “But we found people that were truly passionate about BVL. When you believe in it, you can teach others to as well.”
Myers and her committee set a goal of $25,000; lofty, they admit. Myers started out right away and planned to set up a BVL table at tournaments every weekend. “Sometimes, we’d get lucky and get a lot of contributions, other times, due to various policies; we would not be permitted to collect any money at all. Naturally, I was disappointed with these roadblocks,” says Myers. “But then I looked at it as an opportunity to talk with people about BVL – and give out a brochure or two. So, next time we ask them for support, they’ll be educated as to the importance of the cause. Then, I handpicked the biggest leagues and asked the secretaries to do a presentation.
The NCAUSBC BVL Committee went into high gear – committee member Karen Jost (who has since moved to Washington State), developed a special NCAUSBC BVL fund raising kit that was distributed to league secretaries. The committee used information (logos, posters, pamphlets, etc.) from the BVL website to help spread the BVL word. Merriman, who owns a popular area pro shop, Sports Plus – Carmen Don, coordinated the donation of a bowling ball so that every NCAUSBC Board member could conduct a ball raffle in the centers they represented. Merriman also orchestrated ball raffles at tournaments and other events. Sports Plus/Carmen Don Pro Shop donated more than 30 balls in total. Myers also praises the work of committee member and high school student Beverly Ellis, “When Beverly learned about BVL, she wanted to get involved. She worked with Bob Ashley to run a Luck Strike Pool in the Bowl America Chantilly Scratch Challenge league. This effort raised over $1,400 for the cause. Beverly worked tirelessly to make sure that BVL was front and center. She’s a great young lady with a big heart – and just another example of the great people I had working with me.”
But Myers didn’t stop at the confines of the bowling center. Using the BVL materials with the new tagline, “Brightening Veterans’ Lives,” she went outside to solicit funds — to the VFW, to the schools, to a motorcycle group. “If I see an opportunity to speak to someone about BVL, I do,” Myers says.
In addition to the need for good people and great passion, Myers believes that the third key to their success is contributor recognition. She sends a personal note with her signature to all contributors. The committee also presented two of their centers, Crofton Bowling Center and Bowl America Shirley, which raised the most money with a special plaque. Concludes Myers, “We don’t want to waste all our good work with donors by not showing our appreciation for their support. We will all benefit by being thanked for our efforts – it’s a good feeling!”