Havinagala a Hit at Punch Bowl Social

February 10, 2023

Havinagala a Hit at Punch Bowl Social

On January 28th, Havinagala — a Party for PAL — was a huge hit at Punch Bowl Social (PBS) with the more than 300 excited young professional attendees. The event was back in full swing after a quiet couple of years during COVID. It was apparent how much the young adults missed being together, and that their passion for mentoring and the PAL Program has not waned.

For 33 years, Havinagala has brought together Big PALs, PAL alumni, community leaders, and guests to learn more about — and fundraise for — mentoring through the PAL Program, Atlanta's only Jewish Big Brother/Big Sister program.

This year’s Event Co-Chairs were Ethan Fialkow and Sydney Lippman. Samantha Paulen, Auction Chair, spearheaded the silent auction. The committee members worked hard to help spread the word to their friends and the community about Havinagala and the PAL Program.

Sydney Lippman, Event Co-Chair, became a Big PAL two years ago, and was enthusiastic for her role as a mentor.

“I never would have imagined the impact the program would make on my life," she said. "When the team asked me to join the committee as chair, I knew it was something I had to do because of how much I love being a Big PAL.”

Ethan Fialkow volunteered to co-chair the event after attending last year's event.

“I was looking to get more involved in the Jewish community, and Havinagala seemed like the perfect fit," he said. "It’s not every weekend I get to enjoy a night out with my friends and help raise critical funds for JF&CS.”

“Looking around the room, Havinagala was back in full force! It was a sight to see,” added Samantha.

Guests dined on sliders and apps while enjoying delicious signature drinks. The HASMA (Helping Atlantans Manage Substance Abuse) Program of JF&CS sponsored refreshing (nonalcoholic) mocktails, which were also a popular choice. PBS activities included bowling, darts, pool, and pinball, but schmoozing was the predominant activity.

Sarah Bernstein, the PAL Program Manager, was all smiles all night. She's already identified a few potential new Big PALs from Havinagala and hopes many more will reach out.

“I’m overwhelmed with how great Havinagala went," she said. "The energy in the room was incredible, it was such a special night. My favorite moments were talking to people about the PAL Program and sharing stories of impact. We had a lot of new faces this year, which is exciting because we are looking for new Big PALs. We have children eagerly waiting to be matched. Now that the event is over, it’s time to get to work and start matching interested Big PAL volunteers with Little PALs,” she said.

Jason Munsell, a guest at this year’s event was inspired to apply to be a mentor, after speaking with Ari Weitz, PAL Committee Chair and Big PAL alum.

“After hearing about Ari’s incredible experience with his Little PAL, I knew I wanted to be a Big PAL. I look forward to going through the process of becoming a Big PAL and hope to be able to give back to a child in our community,” he said.

The night was also a special one for Sam Perlman, this year’s Joel Libowsky Big PAL of the Year Award recipient. Sam has been matched for over six years, and he's created countless memories with his Little PAL. Though his Little PAL is aging out of the program this school year, the two plan on staying in touch.

“Asher is now one of my good friends and I know we will continue to see one another,” he said.

The PAL Program is successful and sustainable for many reasons, including the awareness and support raised at Havinagala. These funds ensure that PAL matches can enjoy outings together, Jewish holidays, and events hosted by JF&CS. This event was sponsored by more than 30 caring individuals and companies, some of whom have been involved with the PAL Program for many years. Perennial Properties, Diamond Sponsor, has been a long-time partner with this event.

You can view more photos and the complete lists of sponsors and leadership HERE ON OUR 2023 HAVINAGALA PAGE!

The PAL Program needs more adult mentors for kids on our waiting list. If you know of a responsible, caring adult who would make a great mentor, ask them to apply to the PAL Program today. It will change their lives in amazing ways.