Cheryl Bartolini can’t even remember how long she has been working at Town Hall Lanes. She started as a youth coach, and then ran the birthday parties. She worked the snack bar and behind the counter. Over the years, she says people have confused her and owner Frank Ferri as brother and sister.
But looking back at her time at the alley, Bartolini says nothing has made her happier than coordinating the annual Town Hall Lanes fundraiser.
This year, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was the beneficiary of her generosity, and thanks to Ferri and the bowling alley’s customers, St. Jude will receive a check for $2,750.
That money will specifically be directed toward Catie’s Wish, a foundation named for a little girl, Catie O’Brien, who died at the age of 7 from a rare brain tumor. A friend of Bartolini’s lived next door to the girl, and when she shared the story, Bartolini felt drawn to the cause.
She worked hard assembling raffle prizes, including framed sports photographs, a hand-knitted blanket and baskets. Bowlers purchase raffle tickets for a nominal fee, but Ferri says every bit helps.
“Everybody pitches in a little, but because we have such a great family of bowlers, it adds up quickly,” he said.
Bartolini says Town Hall Lanes bowlers have always been willing to donate, whatever the charitable cause.
“The bowlers supported me every year I did a fundraiser. They were phenomenal,” she said. “I can’t thank them enough.”
The Amalgamated Transit Union has also been a perennial supporter of Town Hall fundraisers, this year handing over a check for $200. Bartolini knows that times are tough, now more than ever, so she was pleased to raise more than $2,700 in just two weeks time.
“I was really pleased with the outcome. It feels so good to do it,” she said.
Over the years, Town Hall Lanes fundraisers have benefited many causes, including the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, Autism Project, American Heart Association, AIDS Project Rhode Island, Juvenile Diabetes Association and Make A Wish. Since 2003, Town Hall Lanes has raised roughly $35,000.
The generosity of his customers never ceases to amaze Ferri.
“I’ve been in this business 28 years and I’ve just met wonderful people here. They’re warm souls, and they become family,” he said.
He said the same is true for Bartolini.
“Cheryl has been wonderful to take the lead on this,” he said.
Bartolini has been running these fundraisers for years, but at 63 years old, this may have been her last one. Looking back on the money raised, she is proud of herself and her customers.
I’m very proud,” she said. “I’m glad that God gave me the ability to do it.”