Braffle 2024


Just before 7 p.m. on May 2, 2024, Vincent Valentino got a text. He thought it was a hoax.

“When I looked at my phone, I was thinking, ‘This must be a scam. Someone’s gonna ask me to send ‘em money or give them something,” Valentino recalled.

Actually, it was the other way around. The Branford resident had just won the “Absurd Grand Prize” in Branford Rotary’s annual Braffle – the Outrageous Restaurant Raffle.Valentino is now the proud holder of $5,000 in $100 gift cards to 50 Branford restaurants. Yes, 50.

“I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it,” said Valentino. “This really happened.”

Rotary’s 2024 Braffle, which sold out in two weeks, raised $50,000, with the majority of the proceeds going to the Basic Needs fund at Branford Counseling & Community Services. That program helps struggling families with food, rent and utilities.

Now in its fourth year, Braffle has raised more than $200,000 in all, which makes it unique, said Branford First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove.

“Braffle is the single-most significant annual fundraising event that goes directly to the community of Branford,” said Cosgrove. “It has a tremendous, tremendous impact helping people most in need.”

That impact is why Valentino said he entered Braffle. And the grand prize? That, he said, “ better than winning money.”

“All these gift cards, it makes you go out, have fun, try something different,” Valentino said. “There’s going to be restaurants I’m going to that I would never try.”

And if you’re a friend of his hoping to grab a free meal, get in line.

“They’ve all been calling me this morning already, telling me what restaurants they want to go to,” he said.

Branford resident Stefanie Breitung-Duffy won Braffle’s “Ridiculous 2nd Prize” - $2,500 in $50 gift cards to 50 local restaurants. Like Valentino, she was amazed.

“When they called to say I’d won, I thought they were joking! I never win anything,” said Breitung-Duffy. “It took me off guard. I was truly moved.”

Breitung-Duffy said she bought tickets because Braffle helps struggling families, but she also likes that it supports local restaurants, which are still recovering from the pandemic that shut down so many. And for her, there was a third benefit.

“I love going out to eat, so now I don’t have to cook,” she joked.

Valentino and Breitung-Duffy took the top prizes, but there were eight other Braffle winners at the May 2 drawing, held at The Stand restaurant. Nicholas DiGrazio Jr., Ainsley Highman, Hilary Brunner, Jill Platt, Lauren Bernacchia, William Ryan, Nancy Judd, and Debra Giordano each took home $100 gift cards they can use at the restaurant of their choice.

“Braffle has ten winners each year, but the great thing about it is the town always wins no matter what,” said Branford Rotary President Chuck O’Connor. “Of course, it is more fun to win, but there’s always Braffle 2025!”

Braffle is just one of many Branford Rotary projects throughout the year. The club is a service organization of more than 60 local women and men who volunteer their time and effort to help those in need in Branford, across the shoreline, and around the world. Rotary welcomes anyone who lives or works in Branford to join them. Send a note to [email protected].


The Rotary Club of Branford, Conn., is a volunteer group of community leaders from all walks of life who join together to serve. As part of the 1.2-million-member Rotary International, our members give their time and expertise to improve lives in Branford, across the shoreline, and around the world. Interested in helping your community? Click 'Join Rotary' and learn more.


NEW HAVEN, CT – College students who don’t go straight from high school to college make up the majority of undergraduates in America, yet these older, “nontraditional” students, many of them working parents, struggle to find financial aid. Branford Rotary has now rallied to that cause, creating the first dedicated nontraditional student scholarships at CT State Community College – Gateway.

Starting in the Fall of 2023, Branford Rotary will award $5,000 a year to Gateway – the largest campus of the state’s recently combined 12 community colleges. The money will be used to help nontraditional students from Branford aged 26 and older, and can be awarded to multiple students seeking degrees or technical certificates. (Read more...)


Braffle3 winners Eric Anderson and Brooke St. Pierre

The 3rd annual Braffle - Branford Rotary's Outrageous Restaurant Raffle - is over, the winners have been chosen, and most importantly, the project raised $50,000 for the community.

Congratulations to Absurd Grand Prize winner Eric Anderson (pictured left) and Ridiculous Second Prize winner Brooke St. Pierre (in orange)! And congratulations to you, Branford, for supporting Braffle and the town's Basic Needs program.

As the Absurd Grand Prize winner, Anderson took home $100 gift cards to EACH OF 50 Branford restaurants. (A $5,000 value). St. Pierre won $2,500 in gift cards to 50 restaurants. And there were 8 more winners who each got $100 gift cards.

"Branford is home to many of my favorite restaurants, so participating in a Rotary sponsored fundraiser with proceeds going to such a great cause, and the chance to win 50 $100 gift cards, was a no brainer!" said Anderson. "I still can't believe I won."

The town's Basic Needs program, run by Branford Counseling & Community Services, helps families in need with food, rent, and utilities. In all, the three Branford Rotary Braffles, which have all sold out, have raised $150,000 for the community. In other words, every entry purchased has been a win for Branford. Look out for Braffle IV coming in 2024!


BRANFORD, CT - As the coronavirus swept into the state, the strains in Branford were everywhere. At Connecticut Hospice, frontline health workers needed protective equipment. The Branford Food Pantry was having trouble sourcing fresh food. Restaurants and small businesses across town were suffering due to closures, and the ranks of the unemployed swelled.

Faced with this panoply of challenges, the Branford Rotary Club responded in force. The Club spent $5,000 to buy medical gowns for Hospice. For the Food Pantry, Rotary members sourced, bought, and delivered a truckload of fresh produce. And as the needs in town grew, Rotary launched the ambitious HELP OUT – TAKE OUT program, which supports both local restaurants and those who’ve lost work due to the pandemic.

In all, Branford Rotary has so far responded to the crisis with $85,000 in aid, an unprecedented effort for the service group. (Click for More)


MADISON, CT - Every year, Branford Rotary participates in one of the largest Rotary food relief efforts in Connecticut, as hundreds of Rotarians and volunteers from across the shoreline gather  to package 50,000+ meals for the struggling residents of Haiti. 


Rotary Peace FellowshipEvery year, The Rotary Foundation funds some of the world's most dedicated and brightest leaders to study at Rotary Peace Centers. Many recipients go on to careers with governments, NGOs, the military, law enforcement, and international organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank. Read more... 

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