By DALE MADISON
At a time when most non-profits are struggling to make ends meet, along comes Matt LaMarianna and a new venture on Wilton Drive—one that is, by all indications, thriving. Boomerangs thrift store, which opened on November 11, 2011—or, 11/11/11, as LaMarianna notes—supports the efforts of pet rescue organizations.“I started in the non-profit work in Boston,” LaMarianna explains. “I had just lost someone to HIV/AIDS, and it was someone very important and special in my life. After his passing, I started helping at the AIDS Action Committee. I got my start at merchandising in the thrift store that was run by the committee.” He had found his calling, but the geography wasn’t a perfect fit. “I really enjoyed the work,” he recalls.
“Then, one wintery, blustery Boston day, I decided ‘enough’” with the cold weather. After moving to the warmer climes around Tampa/St. Pete, LaMarianna continues, “I’d heard that Wilton Manors was the place to be if you’re in the LGBT community. I kept passing this one place, and the windows were blacked out, but the place intrigued me. I actually thought that it was part of the Mexican restaurant [Acapulco Lindo] next door, so I kept asking around. My mom left me some money, so I put all that into opening my own 501 (c) (3) [non-profit organization], the Animal Rescue Fund.
As you know, all gay men love their pets,” he adds with a smile. “I am sort of like ‘Aunt Bea’ from ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’ Once she left television, she adopted cats galore. I am that way with dogs, so I am sort of the crazy cat lady—except with dogs,” LaMarianna impishly explains. He takes seriously, though, the work he has chosen for himself and for Boomerangs. “‘Boomerang Buddies’ is our inaugural big-adoption event. It’s going to be on Sunday, August 5, from 10 to 4. The event will raise funds for Lady Luck Pet Rescue, Good Karma Pet Rescue, Stray Aid and Rescue, and, of course Animal Rescue Fund, which is our own organization.
I am so excited about having this event. We will have the mobile van for spay and neutering on site that day, and it will be a great way for us to showcase the new store,” LaMarianna adds, with fatherly pride. “This has been a labor of love for me. It’s been my dream-come-true. Facebook has been such an amazing resource for us to spread our message, because you know what it’s like to struggle to find advertising dollars, and with social media, you have an unlimited audience, worldwide.” LaMarianna acknowledges the realworld challenges he and other not-for-profit groups face.
“It’s still tough out there, but we are paying the bills, and in this economy, that’s saying something. I would love to find a larger space, but I want to stay on the Drive if I can. It’s so important to have the visual, and to be ‘in the face,’” he notes. His work has paid off, with an eclectic assortment of clothing and merchandise that graces the home of more than one GUY Mag staffer. Boomerangs is located at 2365 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors. For more information, visit theanimalrescuefund.org.