What started simply as helping a fellow football official in his time of need has grown into a pair of non-profit fund-raisers to help more than just those who officiate games.
The New Haven Football Officials Charity (NHFOC), a non-profit organization, has two major fund-raisers, including one this Saturday night at the Italian-American Club in West Haven, to help raise money for officials, coaches, even athlete in the area in their time of need.
“There are a lot of people we have helped in the past. We’ve helped athletes in softball, in track in football and officials who were out of a (full-time) job or who became ill,” said Ralph Zingarella, who has refereed both football and basketball games for over 35 years. “This goes beyond the scope of what we do (officiating games).”
Zingarella said back in 2006, a group of officials from both the New Haven Football Officials Association and International Association of Approved Basketball Officials raised money to help then official Jim McGuigan, who eventually passed away from brain cancer. The money raised went towards his medical bills and his family.
“We raised $22,000,” said Zingarella, past president and current treasurer of the NHFOA. “We didn’t have an avenue to do this. We just collected the money and gave it to Jimmy. When we decided other people could use this kind of help, Billy Schule got the ball rolling in getting us to be a fully non-profit.”
Schule, the treasurer of the NHFOC, was away on vacation and not available for comment for this story.
Since a number of men officiate both football and basketball, it was a no-brainer to eventually make it a 50-50 partnership with IAABO Board 10. Zingarella said Dr. Dan Davis was instrumental in bringing the basketball board aboard.
“The football board gets complete credit for starting it,” said Buddy Chernovetz, the basketball commissioner of IAABO Board 10. “I’m happy our group got involved with it. It’s such a great thing to do for people. Nobody is looking for publicity. We just like the fact that we can help people.”
Saturday’s fund-raiser is a dance that will include a live auction, a silent auction and a raffle. Anyone can attend. The cost is $25, with all proceeds going to the NHFOC.
“We have a number of people who come back every year who we have helped,” Zingarella said. “I can’t tell you how many people aren’t coming but donated a ticket.”
Said Chernovetz: “I’ve been there every year and I will be there every year until I pass away.”
The other event is a bowling night held in May at Colony Bowl in Wallingford.
Anyone interested in making a donation can do so by sending a check to Schule at 22 Beach Street, Milford, CT, 06460.