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Bocce ball tournament benefits Safe Passage

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Beverly Lane Lorenz, For The Lancaster News

Enthusiastic crowds recently came to the courts to support players and to play in the Bocce Ball Tournament at Sun City Carolina Lakes. The tournament was a fundraiser for Safe Passage, a local organization that helps victims of domestic abuse.

After three days of fierce competition, the following trophies were awarded to the winners:
◆ First place: Marc and Brenda Piette and Joe and Dell Lamoureux
◆ Second place: Roger and Lois Unbehagen and Michael and Frieda Nellenbach
◆ Third place: Bill Toflinski, Bonnie George and Bruce and Joan Vanetti

“Over 114 players, almost evenly split between men and women, played in the tournament,” said Sun City Bocce Ball Club president Michael Nellenbach. “Eighteen sponsors contributed in order to have their banners displayed throughout the entire event.  Additionally, some 25 vendors provided us gift cards and merchandise to raffle off as well.”

Nellenbach presented a check for more than $3,000 to Safe Passage interim executive director Jane Alleva and associate director Jazman Roof. Both Alleva and Roof graciously thanked the bocce ball club for its generous support.

Organizer Roberta Brachfeld said it took a team effort to recruit tournament sponsors and vendors.

“Freida Nellenbach and Dolores Sadak worked with me,” Brachfeld said. “It took a lot of walking and talking, along with encouragement, but we did it. We did it and it was worth it.”
Nellenbach said bocce has become quite popular among Sun City Carolina Lakes residents. The club has more than 500 members.

“Strength and agility are not of any real significance,” Nellenbach said. “Bocce ball is more of a skill game. Also, men and women have an equal footing when playing. People with disabilities often play with no difficulty. It is an easy game to learn and people can become quite good players in a short period of time.”
Bocce, an Italian game similar to lawn bowling, is about as old as mankind itself. Early versions of the game used polished stones, and the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all played similar games. The game as we know it today got its name from the Romans and was played by the masses.

At Sun City, the game is played on carpeted lanes instead of a sand or dirt court. There are eight balls of two different colors, along with a smaller ball called a palino, which is also a different color. There are four players per team. The winner of a coin toss determines both the team color, as well as which end of the court begins the game.

Nellenbach said supporting vital agencies such as Safe Passage with the tournament made perfect sense.

Safe Passage provides supportive services to families living in abuse situations so they could make changes in their lives and eliminate violence.

It provides emergency shelter for domestic violence victims and their minor children, counseling, advocacy, community referrals, children’s program, education, support groups and parenting classes.
Safe Passage is open to  victims/survivors of domestic violence in Chester, Lancaster and York counties.

“We felt that Safe Passage was filling an important need in the community and could use our support,” Nellenbach said.