In the 1960’s, the space boom hit Brevard County. The population grew rapidly and houses were built. Restaurants, bars and hotels followed. During this period of explosive growth, people in Brevard usually fell into two categories – those in the aerospace industry and those in the hospitality industry. The members of the aerospace industry had benefits such as health insurance, while those in the hospitality industry did not. If a bartender, server or musician was injured or became ill and unable to work, they were unable to eat, pay rent or utilities.
The Joe Realino Memorial Fund was developed in 1969 by members of the local hospitality industry to help their fellow workers in their time of need. Joe Realino was a local bartender for many years who developed the idea for the fund. Instead of having a “benefit” each time someone needed one, why not have a general fund for everyone in the industry and have a few BIG fund raisers a year in which to draw donations from. The fund was named in his honor after his untimely death from cancer. Although he didn’t live to see his dream come true, Joe’s spirit has been part of each fund raising event since the first Party with a purpose took place in March 1969.
In its 40 years of operation, the Joe Realino Memorial fund has provided more than ONE MILLION DOLLARS in assistance to qualified hospitality employees. This assistance is not a loan, it is out right aid. While the treasury is not large enough to assist with medical bills, it does assist with basic needs such as rent, utilities and food. The fund has been honored as one of George Bush’s Thousand Points of Light Foundations.