Back in September, when Long Island bowling magnate John LaSpina added JIB Lanes in the Electchester section of Flushing to his ten-pin empire, he promised to be a good neighbor and a good operator.
Now he’s letting the alley go to the dogs, and people love him for it.
LaSpina, along with son Joe and Director of Community Affairs Jim Santora have created the “Paws ‘N’ Pins” series of monthly benefit events to raise money for local animal shelters and related organizations.
The first of these Saturday morning events, on January 24, raised roughly $1,800 for Bobby and the Strays, the Ozone Park-based no-kill shelter with space in the Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale.
“They were so good to us at JIB Lanes,” said Bobbi Giordano, rescuer of strays. “It was something I never expected.”
The next event is on Saturday, February 21, from 9:30 a.m. to noon, to benefit the Little Shelter Animal Adoption Center of Huntington. One of the oldest no-kill shelters on Long Island, it is the only animal organization outside New York City that is a member of the Mayor’s Alliance.
For $15, bowlers enjoy hours of “no tap” tournament bowling, raffles and refreshments. The sponsored shelter get $5 for every bowler, half the money from raffles and the lane sponsorship fees, less promotional costs.
For the uninitiated, in “no tap” bowling, participants score a “strike” if they knock down nine rather than all ten pins with their first ball. According to Santora, the variant makes for more fun, higher scores and more bowling per session.
“It’s just part of our ‘JIB Lanes Cares’ program,” Santora explained. The animal themed events now take their place alongside “Friday’s Bash” events - discounted bowling with refreshments, raffles and events that also raise money for worthy causes.
The Friday events have already raised more than $1,800 for Saint Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside. Recently, JIB Lanes added a raffle to benefit the building fund of Saint Robert Bellarmine School in Bayside.
LaSpina, whose holdings include two bowling alleys in Brooklyn and two on Long Island, may be remembered for making a valiant, though ultimately futile effort to save Woodhaven Lanes.
Santora managed a bowling league that lost its home when the Woodhaven site closed, and holds the LaSpinas in high regard. “They’re like the old timers who saw the bowling alley as part of the community,” he commented.
Since taking over JIB, they have begun a $1 million upgrade on the 48-lane facility, located at 67-19 Parsons Boulevard. Bowlers can park in the shopping center lot across the street.
“Paws ‘N’ Pins” will benefit Rescue Ink on March 28 and the ASPCA on April 18. Events are in the works for the North Shore Animal League, SaveKitty Foundation, Animal Haven and Linda’s Feral Cat Assistance.
For more information about JIB Lanes events, call 718-591-0600 or visit their web site atwww.jiblanes.com.