By Shelby Williamson, senior communication specialist in the Office of Marketing and Communication
Nearly 40 years ago, the late Dominic Bartolone started a spaghetti dinner fundraiser at Holy Family Parish School in Whitefish Bay where his son, Chris, was a student. The elder Bartolone, who worked as a lead for the Facilities Planning and Management Department at Marquette, wanted to instill in Chris a passion for giving back.
A few weeks ago, Chris Bartolone, Arts ’93, spent nearly six hours rolling and baking more than 1,500 meatballs and an entire morning making gallons of homemade marinara sauce — work that yielded about 400 meals in a single day.
“It’s a lot of fun. Each person who helps with the dinner has their job and you see how it all comes together to make a great thing happen. My wife, for example, made the salad dressing,” Bartolone says. “My dad was really the one who instilled in me the importance of helping out whenever you have the chance.”
Firmly in his father’s footsteps, Bartolone is the assistant director of facilities and campus services for Marquette, where leads a group of dedicated people behind the scenes to ensure that the university runs as smoothly as a brigade of volunteer spaghetti makers. The job entails a busy schedule, often waking up early, staying late and even enduring the elements. For Bartolone, though, it’s all about working as a team.
It’s simple, really, he says: “How can I expect others to go above and beyond if I’m not leading by example?”
Beyond the spaghetti dinners, Bartolone volunteers at Holy Family as a coach for his daughter’s and son’s basketball teams, devoting countless hours to weekday practices and weekend games from November through March each year. He says he doesn’t view the extra hours and effort as public service, but rather another opportunity to watch his children grow up.
Like his father before him, Bartolone wants to pass down a tradition of service to his own children.
Just the other night while making spaghetti and meatballs for dinner at home, Bartolone called his son over to watch the process.
“I want him to learn too,” he says. “Because there’s going to come a day when he will hopefully want to take over for me.”
And that’s what it’s all about, he says — paying it forward and giving back.
So often, Bartolone adds, people are under the wrong impression that one must give large monetary donations to make a difference.
“Sure, money is great,” he says, “But those who can’t write a check should know donating time is all you need to do to make the world a better place.”