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Parties: Pennies From Heaven

By Catherine Bigelow | Photography by Drew Altizer

Beneath blue skies, 160 (mostly) Ess Eff natives turned out in force on June 3 for the St. Anthony Foundation’s 44th Penny Pitch. This spirited competition — including one-cent bloody mary’s and clever costumes among 24 teams — raised more than $100K for the nonprofit’s social safety–net programs. Mayor London Breed kicked off the pitch, battling against SFPD Chief Bill Scott and SFFD Chief Jeanine Nicholson.

Founded by the late, storied North Beach publican Ed Moose to benefit St. Anthony’s, the tourney honors him with a mantlepiece-worthy trophy: a ginormous martini glass adorned with penny “olives” — scored again by last year’s champs, The Pitchin’ Sisters.

Held atop a tricked-out parking lot, this alfresco frolic was revived with gusto by event chairs Meagan Levitan and her husband, St. Anthony’s trustee Dale Carlson. Emcee extraordinaire Paul Tonelli (a 107.7 The Bone talk-show host) presided over the tourney. Next door, Chief Sullivan’s doubled as a shady clubhouse and BiRite buffet.

“While COVID is still present, we’ve moved our sidewalk services back inside and clients are again sharing meals in our dining room,” said St. Anthony’s CEO Nils Behnke. “The friars’ curbside coffee service proved so popular, we now also serve a light breakfast.”

Currently, St. Anthony’s feeds 1,000 people daily. St. Boniface Catholic Church, directly across on Golden Gate Avenue, has reopened for daytime rests. But these services are not only for the unhoused; St. Anthony’s is also a haven for those struggling financially.

“There are many social services in this city. But our ability to integrate in one place is more efficient,” explained Behnke. “Whether it’s job training, clothing or addiction reduction programs, we can easily connect our clients with body and mind nourishment.”

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