Giving back to a beloved local.
A fundraiser was held on Sunday, November 19 for lifelong Brooklynite Michael Papa, a Fort Hamilton High School graduate and former employee at Circles Café, who has been diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma.
Around 200 friends, family and local community members showed up to the event, held at the Knights of Columbus Archbishop John Hughes Council #481, 1305 86th Street, to show both their love and financial support.
Georgette Lake, an event organizer and longtime friend, came up with the idea and made it happen with the help of three other friends. “It went really well. We raised a good amount of money between the fundraiser and the GoFundMe page,” she said. “The fundraiser was very successful. We did a Chinese auction so multiple people bought lots of tickets. One hundred percent of the proceeds raised that day went straight to the family so we did really well.”
Lake was inspired to host the event due to her own situation and her planning skills.
“I’m a single mother. I’ve known Michael since pre-K and he’s very close to me,” she said. “He’s like a brother to me and I couldn’t spare a dime to help them because of my situation at home. I really wanted to help them out. I’m an event planner so I wanted to use my expertise to do a fundraiser and try to raise as much money as I could since I can’t donate myself.”
Friends Michael Moughrabie, Gene Bernhard and Anthony Verello also helped organize the event.
Moughrabie started a GoFundMe page along with Lauren Raffele, who also a meal train coordinated for the family.
Many Fort Hamilton High School alumni showed up, including former members of the school’s football team, which Papa played on.
Lake said that Papa, who made an appearance, was touched by the event. “We weren’t sure if he was going to come because he had chemo a few weeks before, but his immune system was strong enough to handle it,” she explained. “He had a mask on throughout the event. I think he was actually overwhelmed by love and support of people that donated even if they weren’t there.”
Local eateries such as Salty Dog, Kettle Black, Peppino’s, Casa Calamari and Circles donated food and beverages.
“Circles did a lot because Michael used to work for them,” she added.
“I’m kind of speechless and [the family] was speechless as well just seeing everyone come together and help them out,” Lake said. “We were really touched by the amount of love. We had a lot of different people contact us to donate even if they couldn’t make it so we were really touched by the outpouring of love for Michael and his family.”