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Parties: Copper Linings

Written by Catherine Bigelow | Photography by Drew Altizer

Having successfully revived the Penny Pitch fundraiser for St. Anthony Foundation, event chairs Meagan Levitan and her husband, foundation trustee Dale Carlson, were COVID-denied last year. But on October 15 the dynamic duo — and 215 spirited supporters — returned to battle it out for copper-tossed glory in a parking lot beneath blue North Beach skies.

The stakes this year were high: The couple reimagined the contest’s top trophy as the inaugural Ed Moose Memorial Trophy — a nod to the Penny Pitch founder and late restaurateur EdMoose — a mantelpiece must-have crowned by a massive martini glass accented with three giant pennies.

This beloved EssEff tradition — expertly emceed by Kerry Crowley, The Mercury News’ Giants beat writer who proudly hails from the City’s Westside — starred civic poobahs and a record 26 teams, many sponsored by devoted San Francisco businesses, including the Nob Hill Gazette, Nibbi Brothers General Contractors, the Plough and Stars, Original Joe’s, the Giants, Barbagelata Real Estate, the 49ers and the San Francisco Association of Realtors.

Full disclosure: In spite of my less-than-stellar hand-eye coordination, I somehow ended up on the winning team. But that triumph is thanks to my Pitchin’ Sisters & a Dude teammates: Levitan, Dr. Jennifer Brokaw, Giants EVP Staci Slaughter, former SFFD Chief Joanne Hayes-White and Realtor Michael Barnacle.

Between exhausting rounds, guests “rested” next door at Chief Sullivan’s pub for adult beverages and a Bi-Rite buffet. Silly team monikers and costumes were compared, encapsulated by St. Anthony’s brown wool-robed Franciscan friars: The Bad Habits. And an old-school raffle was won by former 49ers legend Keena Turner, who promptly donated the $1,820 cash prize back to the organization.

This fun-filled fete also raised some serious coin — $110K — for St. Anthony’s social safety net programs, which assist our less fortunate citizens with food, clothing, shelter, job training, tech lab and recovery programs. Amid the pandemic, St. Anthony’s moved some programs, including its free meals, which rose from 2,000 daily to 3,500 to-go meals, curbside on the 100 block of Golden Gate Avenue, which remains partially closed. But Nils Behnke, the foundation’s CEO, describes that experience as a “traffic safety silver lining.” And one that he is working with the City to make permanent: The Golden Gate Greenway.

“We unfortunately can’t complain about not enough demand for our services,” continued Behnke. “The Tenderloin is home to more than 30,000 residents, including 3,500 children. Yet it has less than 1 percent of the City’s 6,000 acres of parks. This (Greenway) initiative, a public venue with seating and shade trees, could improve the physical and mental health of our clients and neighbors.” NHG Sponsored

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