PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A Portsmouth nonprofit is working to help provide residents in need of resources.
Mercy Drops Dream Center has been around for a number of years but the COVID-19 pandemic made the organization more widely known within the community.
“When you bring hope alive to people, you bring life. That’s really what we do,” said founder Joe Friszolowski.
Friszolowski says he started the groundwork for the organization more than 10 years ago to help those like he was helped.
“I started the organization out of darkness, out of my life going through drug addiction, sexual addiction and manipulation and going through periods of my life in struggle. God making a difference in my life spiritually, physically, and financially in those areas,” he said. “He helped me and I was like yes, awesome. This is good. Then he said ‘I want you go to help others.'”
The nonprofit provides a number of programs and resources such as free meals, groceries, a men’s transformational home, and Adopt-A-Block, which they are hosting a fundraiser for next week.
Friszolowski says through the program, they adopt neighborhoods, find out what resources and help they need, and provide it.
Their 5th Annual Adopt-A-Block Bowling event is a way to support families in those neighborhoods.
“A lot are experiencing a tough time right now. We want to provide a way for them to get away and for two hours at this event, we’ll take care of up to six people in a family, their bowling lanes, their shoes, their drinks, laser tag, and all their food. So they can come and have a blast,” he said.
Friszolowski says the idea behind the bowling event came to him a few years ago after a child in one of the neighborhoods said he did not know what bowling was.
The organization is also using this time to fundraise for the program, where they also provide meals.
They were feeding around 5,000 a week in 2020 and 500 children weekly, according to Friszolowski, and while numbers have dropped down, it still costs money.
“We’re roughly at about $30,000 a month. It’s a blessing to be here but that’s why we need the community to continue to do what we do every week,” he said.
The bowling event is being held on Saturday, Sept. 25 from 11 am to 2 p.m.
Friszolowski says you can sponsor a family at the event for $250, a lane for $1,500, their food table for $3,000 or the event for $15,000.
To learn more or to help in other ways, click here.