Fund-raising guru gets his own day |

Fund-raising guru gets his own day


A lunch honoring Paul Bruso, owner of Ernie’s Coffee shop, will begin at noon Aug. 18. Bruso will receive the Friends of Patrick Bennett Humanitarian Award 2002 for his good works over the past 22 years at the south shore of Lake Tahoe.

“There are so many people in our community who do so many good things for so many people,” Bruso said. “Although I am honored, I’m uncomfortable when so many others are just as or more deserving.”

Bruso, who will be teaching a small business course at Lake Tahoe Community College this fall, identified long ago that his restaurant was an excellent vehicle for fund-raising. The formula is quite simple. Six to eight times a year Bruso and his wife, Judy, host “Ernie’s Burger Night” with the benefiting group selling tickets for a burger, fries and a shake meal.

“We donate the costs,” Bruso said, “with help from Mc Donald’s, Earth Grains and Crystal Dairy. We’ve got it down to where we raise between $1,700 to $2, 100.”

Ernie’s Coffee Shop staff their time for the events as well. Server Betsy Sommerfeldt, who has been with Ernie’s since Bruso took it over 22 years ago, said of her employer, “I have always admired Paul for the time he puts into raising money for community groups.”

A longtime friend of the Bruso’s, Stacy Romagnolo, concurred by saying, ” Paul is one of the few people that I will just jump into whatever fund-raising project he has going because I know that he will work twice as hard as everyone else.”

“Think Globally, Act Locally” is the theme of the lunch, which benefits the Sierra Foothills AIDS Foundation and the Romania Association Against AIDS.

Two experts on AIDS will speak at the lunch. Journalist William Carlsen is the recent recipient of the Pan American Health Organization award for his two-part series on the origin of the AIDS epidemic published in the San Francisco Chronicle. Also speaking at the lunch will be Neil Flynn, M.D., who is familiar to south shore audiences for his informative talks on AIDS. Dr. Flynn is professor of clinical medicine and director of AIDS and related disorders at the University of California Davis Medical Center at Sacramento.

In addition to the speakers, Jackie Landrum who has been voted south shore’s favorite female vocalist for a number of years, will perform. Landrum has only begun to sing again after having been diagnosed with, and treated successfully for, cancer.

Robert Maloon, a local dancer and dance instructor, also will perform. He has created an original tap dance for the event.

Held in the garden of Don Regis-Bilar’s residence, this will be the third consecutive year the Friends of Patrick Bennett has hosted a summer fund-raiser in this venue. Regis-Bilar is the volunteer fund-raiser for the Sierra Foothills AIDS Foundation.

The menu includes grilled salmon and shredded chicken breast mixed with Jasmine rice, scallions, cashews and mandarin oranges in a cream sauce. Chase’s Restaurant will provide vegetarian gumbo to complement the menu.

The event will take place from noon to 3 p.m. Aug. 18 at 3071 Sacramento Ave. Due to limited space, tickets should be purchased or reserved in advance. Tickets are $25 and are available at the Tahoe Douglas and South Lake Tahoe chambers of commerce and Ernie’s Coffee Shop or by contacting (530) 544-6959 or

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