By Megan Wilson
GAYLORD – The Gaylord Area Bowling Center is enjoying a resurgence thanks to the help of a group of veterans.
“We actually started fundraising for this project a couple of years ago, there were several opportunities said Tony Sharkey, VETS, Inc. president.
Sharkey is a twenty-two year veteran of the Air Force and says that “Transitioning back to civilian life is one of the hardest things that veterans will ever have to do after their service is done, that is why I wanted to help make things easier for returning service members.”
Also helping Sharkey is a board composed of members Ron LeBourdais, Treasurer; Jon Steward, Secretary; and Steve Ralston, and Rich Edmonds performing the function of At-Large.
“It really baffles me how well things have been falling into place for this whole project,” said Sharkey. “We probably have more than 1500 hours of volunteer support from organizations that have helped to make this happen, it’s really wonderful.”
The Bowling Center just finished remodeling the arcade room and added new video games.
“We have several projects in mind for the future, it’s all just a matter of planning and fundraising for them,” said Sharkey. “The first project is a remodel of the lounge, another project is larger, that is the housing of the VFW post and a remodel of their area, the third project that is slated to happen is an addition to an outdoor patio here at the bowling alley and a remodel of the kitchen.”
Sharkey has been networking with local community groups, building bonds that can be used to cross bridges together.
“We have held fundraisers for Otsego Christian School at the Gaylord Area Bowling Center,” said Sharkey. “On Dec. 16, we will be holding an event called Bowling with Santa, participants can bring in a new unwrapped toy and get discounted bowling. Santa will be bowling with the children, there will also be door prizes.”
Next Summer Northwood University will be sending students to intern at the Gaylord Area Bowling Center as Business majors.
“We see ourselves as a talent incubator, we’re here to not only serve the community as a bowling facility but to advance its future needs as well,” said Sharkey. “We’re trying to reestablish bonds that have been broken for veterans when they have left the military.”
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