Playing poker is fun, but when you’re playing poker for a cause, it’s even better. Susan Cioffi, a realtor with RE/MAX Realty Unlimited, has been in the realty business for 19 years while also supporting numerous activities and charities in the area, such as Trick or Treat Street and with every closing she has a donation to the Children’s Miracle Network is made.

About nine years ago, one of Cioffi’s coworkers, 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. The 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 and 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 23 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.” explained Cioffi.

They are grateful for the major sponsors that do it every year, including RE/MAX Realty Unlimited, East Coast Pizza, Summerfield Crossings Golf Club, Nothing Bundt Cakes, All American Title, the Osprey Observer and many realtor friends.  

If you would like to learn more about the poker night fundraiser or want to play in the tournament, you can visit the fundraiser’s Facebook page at or call Cioffi at 813-956-8513.

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Libby Hopkins
Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.