This past Sunday, AVPFirst, the 501(c)3 nonprofit community outreach arm of the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour, held its fourth annual Serving up Style, a Wall of Champions induction ceremony and fashion show aimed at raising funds to sustain its community programming efforts.
Most volleyball organizations that exist focus on investing time, energy, and resources into the top 10% of volleyball players. AVPFirst is not like most volleyball organizations.
AVPFirst focuses on making volleyball accessible to all, regardless of their economic status or the neighborhood in which they reside, by providing court construction and renovation projects, equipment, volunteer training, clinics, and community leagues to low-income, high-need communities across the country, all at absolutely no cost to those it serves. To date, the organization has impacted thousands of youth aged 7 – 18 with this programming.
This year, AVPFirst had the privilege of inducting Jenny Johnson Jordan and Dain Blanton, two U.S. beach volleyball Olympians who have been just as supremely talented off the court as on it, to its AVPFirst Wall of Champions. This honor recognizes the significant professional and personal contributions of individuals that have paved the way for the advancement and growth of beach volleyball, and already includes other legends and Olympians such as Todd Rogers (2016), Sinjin Smith (2017) and Misty May Treanor (2018).
Together, with the help of over 100 attendees made up from its community of professional athletes, friends, and partners, AVPFirst raised over $50,000 at this year’s Serving up Style. All of which will be directly invested back into the underserved communities AVPFirst partners with by sustaining its community programming.
AVPFirst executive director Tony Giarla had this to say about the evening:
“It’s an amazing event, it’s our biggest event yet. We’re really excited about it,” Giarla said at the Hotel Pasea on Huntington Beach [CA]. “We have new sponsors, plenty of new guests, our largest silent auction ever, with over 30 items for bid, we’ve also added an online auction this year, which will be open for the next two weeks, it’s really about our ability to give back.”
Giarla is incredibly thankful for the positive response that AVPFirst’s contributions have garnered from those it serves.
“The response from the community has been overwhelming. I’ve met so many amazing people in my travels, and that’s the one thing that I’ve learned, that despite the neighborhood, or how difficult the external factors are, there are amazing people in each of these communities that just want better for their kids than what they had. And that’s what we’re trying to provide, a safe environment where the participants can let their guard down for a couple of hours, and really just be kids. Not having to worry about everything else that’s going on around them.”
All photo credits: Anthony Moore.