DOWNEY – After over 12 years of service, John Fiorenza has called his final bingo number for the Knights of Columbus.
Every Tuesday evening, the Downey Knights of Columbus host multiple bingo games in an effort to raise money for various local charities. Fiorenza has managed the weekly event since 2002, after the previous manager retired.
Fiorenza teamed up with a fellow Knight upon first starting to run the bingo, however he took over just a few years later when his counterpart retired.
During his tenure, Fiorenza took on multiple responsibilities including set up, sales, and calling.
“I did just about every job there is to do in that period of time,” he said. “A lot of times people wouldn’t show up and I’d take over. Sometimes I’d be having two or three jobs.”
Fiorenza said that the bingo games would attract anywhere between 100 and 200 patrons each Tuesday. He added that a successful bingo requires around 15 workers.
However, even with other individuals working each event, Fiorenza is credited with raising a quarter million dollars.
“I think it’s purely a calling,” said Steve Perez, a fourth degree Knight of Columbus. “It’s a need to donate and give back to the community. There’s almost a desperation to give away money.”
“He was always here,” said Rose Allard, Fiorenza’s sister. “He’s been a knight as long as I can remember. He’s been loyal. I think a lot of people miss him; everybody knew him.” Perez added that he aspired to reach Fiorenza’s level of dedication.
Fiorenza’s decision to retire came when the job became too much to handle for the 75-year-old.
“It became too much of a burden for me practically every Tuesday, the whole day; I felt guilty even going on vacations because there was no one to take my place,” said Fiorenza. He added that he had started to request help for several months before finally making his announcement to retire. Perez has since taken over as bingo manager.
Despite it being time to pass the torch, Firoenza talked fondly of the time he spent in the bingo hall and the many patrons that he has come to know.
“It was kind of an exciting thing to see the people coming in and win bingo,” he said. “I interacted quite a bit with the customers; I got to know many of them by their first name and they knew me. They felt good playing bingo and knowing that all the proceeds that we made there were going to charity.
Since the announcement of Fiorenza’s departure from the bingo, the Knights of Columbus have seen a decrease in the bingo turnout. Allard said that her brother’s departure may have some bearing in the loss of numbers, however attendance does fluctuate between seasons.
The Knights of Columbus continue to host their bingo games every Tuesday, and advertise themselves as “The Friendliest Game in Town.”
Published: March 12, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 48