Local Riverview realtors are hosting a poker night fundraiser to benefit St. Vincent de Paul CARES on Friday, September 24 at Summerfield Crossings Golf Club. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. and includes the Texas Hold’em Tournament, food and desserts.

Playing Poker is fun, but when you’re playing poker for a cause, it’s even better. Susan Cioffi is a Riverview realtor and has been in the realty business for 18 years.

“I’m also very involved with the community, from the Riverview Chamber and Trick or Treat Street to helping the veterans at Christmas time and doing the golf tournament, as well as supporting the Children’s Miracle Network by every closing I have, I donate to them,” Cioffi said.

About eight years ago, a coworker of Cioffi, Michael Markus, asked for help with getting Christmas gifts for families of local veterans that were transitioning to new housing.

“It was through St. Vincent de Paul CARES,” Cioffi said. “So, that year, we had a few families with children that our brokerage and fellow realtors helped during the holidays. Well, the next year, we did it again, but this time we had all the families that St Vincent had, and it was a little more challenging, but we always got the majority of what they wanted.”

Cioffi felt it was hard to ask a fellow realtor to sponsor a whole family when there were a lot of big-ticket items.

“Many of them ask for TVs, computers, freezers and other items we take for granted,” Cioffi said. “So, I told Michael we should have a fundraiser so we can pay for the big tickets out of what we raised. Their poker night fundraiser to help St. Vincent de Paul CARES was born.”

St. Vincent de Paul CARES is a nonprofit organization committed to ending homelessness by making it rare, brief and one-time. All of its programs are built on the belief that everyone has the right to live in dignified and affordable housing. With ‘Housing First’ principles at the core, it has a healthy disregard for all community-perceived barriers to housing, including employment history, criminal/credit background, mental health, addiction or religious practices.

The organization works to rapidly house those experiencing homelessness within 30 days and concurrently connect them to stabilization support services to assist their needs. The organization believes stable housing is the only solution to ending homelessness.

This year, the realtors’ poker night will be held on Friday, September 24 at Summerfield Crossings Golf Club. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. and includes the Texas Hold’em Tournament, food and desserts.

“We [are] still looking for more sponsors and we need more poker players,” Cioffi said. “We hope we can raise enough money to make these veterans and their families smile on Christmas morning. Would love to make this event the best and biggest one yet because we owe our veterans a lot for what they have done for us, so this is the least we can do for them.”

If you would like to learn more about the poker night fundraiser or if you’d like to play in the tournament, you can visit the fundraiser’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/events/523243602214167 or call Cioffi at 956-8513.

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Libby is a writer for The Osprey Observer/The Christian Voice. She started as an intern in 2009 and upon finishing her internship, she was asked to stay on as a permanent writer for both papers. Libby lives in Brandon with her two rescue dogs, Olive and Bogey.