New Board President Anthony Bollotta wants everyone to know the simple joy of giving, and the deeper happiness of knowing you are contributing more than you are receiving
Raised by a self-described "unfancy Italian couple," Anthony Bollota is most known as the award-winning creative director, producer, charismatic performer and lead of Bollotta Entertainment. Having performed professionally for most of his life, Bollotta has shared stage space with such legendary stars as David Cassidy, Natalie Cole, The Beach Boys, and the late Nell Carter. With such an impressive resume, Bollotta credits his family as his greatest blessing. We are beyond grateful to have him as our new board president. Read more about Anthony Bottolla's background, what he hopes to do for the organization and how the organization his inspired him.
How long have you been with Home Start?
I began supporting Home Start a few months after Laura became the CEO so it has been close to 14 years, with a bit of a hiatus some years ago. Although it feels like I never left.
What is your background, briefly?
I was created in a test tube marked failure. That’s what Gary Frankel, our friend down the block used to say to me. Actually, I was born the traditional way, and raised in North Miami Beach by very loving, unfancy Italian couple who taught me that if I wanted something I needed to work for it. On days there were chores to do, my father would wake us all up singing, “A family that works together, stays together.” It was maddening.
But he was right. We’re a close family and I am so very blessed to still see them, along with my older siblings and extended family. They live in the same house (Mom and Pop) I lived in until I was 18 – and then some after college, so you can imagine the roots.
And while I’m now living 2000-plus miles away and work keeps me pretty wound up, I consider my family to be my greatest blessing and I thank Pop for singing us awake all those years ago.
If you’d like, tell us something personal about yourself, hobbies, favorite movie, pets or family, etc.
My guiltiest pleasure is doing nothing, but I’m not so good at it, so I’ve been known to piece together a jigsaw puzzle and seen putzing around the yard. The sight of a weed, dead branch, or small pile of leaves brings immediate action and I water succulents so often they may soon take over my backyard.
My partner Dangilo and I adopted a Bichon mix we picked up on March 18, 2020. The timing was INCREDIBLE! She has a fussy tummy like Dangilo and doesn’t like to be toyed with in the morning like me, so she fits right in. On the other hand both she and Dangilo fell asleep the night we watched, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, one of my favorite all-time flicks. “I can't. I can't. Ooh, I just can’t!” HISTERICAL! They missed it.
What initially brought you to Home Start?
I was wooed by the prospect of working with Laura having served as a board member when she was Executive Director of YMCA Youth & Family Services. Paul Davis too was on the board then, and he and I were friends who just happened to go through LEAD together (Yay Class of 2003). Once I met then president, Bryan Lee and Laura to discuss the prospect, I was already certain I wanted to join the board. They accepted and here we are.
Briefly explain your role with Home Start.
Initially, it was to help bring up our annual event. The year before I joined, the “gala” was thought to be lackluster, uninspiring with little to no attendance. I wanted to help change that, and Laura wanted it too. So we did. We turned the event into a real honest-to-goodness gala. I’ll never forget that first year at the El Cortez.
As president of the board, my second stint, I expect to serve in a much broader capacity, providing support, filling a gap, rallying the board, and because it is in my nature, pushing us to strive beyond our best. All this and the usual.
What is your favorite thing about working with Home Start?
The community that Home Start is. On the board level, we are not as entrenched in the organization as the executive team, managers and front-line staff by any means, but when we gather, we do so as a collective, ready to share ideas and take action on behalf of the organization. When we have the opportunity and pleasure to interact with the entire team, the sense that we share in a common goal -that of protecting the smallest, most vulnerable among us, is powerful.
What do you believe is the most important aspect of Home Start?
Healing the effects of abuse, and before that healing the home. Sort of like giving a hungry man a line, pole and some bait rather than feeding him a meal. Home Start aims to help families become more resilient by providing services that help lesson or remove stressors that lead to abuse. In the absence of that ability for whatever reason, it’s to provide services that help children and families deal with its egregious repercussions.
Is there one specific Home Start experience you can share?
Actually, no. I’ve met a number of strong, smart, independent young women through our Maternity Shelter Program and our social enterprises, Bright Futures Candles and the Home Start Thrift Boutique (on Adams across from Vons in Normal Heights - SUPER STEALS AND DEALS).
Their roads have not been easy, to put it mildly, and yet they are undeterred, working hard to take charge of their lives and take care of their children, while beginning down a new lighter, healthier, happier path.
It isn’t easy to be that determined and hopeful when life has been traumatic. I empathize with the enormous amount of work they do and wholeheartedly cheer them on!
What do you hope to accomplish in your work with Home Start?
I’d like to see us reveal ourselves this year. It’s our 50th here in San Diego and it’s time to banner the building and parade out onto the streets with our mission to ensure the safety and resiliency of children. Look for us. ☺
What would you tell others about Home Start that they might not know?
I’d like to ask for monthly support… $50 a month, $20 a month, $10 a month, even $5 a month helps us provide cutting edge therapies, job training and housing, and a host of other critical services. It’s a great way to help and the easiest to manage, and you don’t have to be rolling in dough to do so.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I would. That unfancy Italian couple I love with all my heart did not teach me to be philanthropic or to volunteer. I am just an average hard-working “Joe,” with no trust fund (dang it) who has come to know firsthand the simple joy of giving a hand up, and the deeper happiness it brings in believing I am contributing more than I’m taking.