A Marinelli & Sons presenting sponsor at West Chester Charity Ball

The Marinelli Family at a previous West Chester Charity Ball.

Francis Marinelli says he is partially retired. But even today, at the age of 69, he wakes up at 4.30 am to kick-start his office work. A third generation entrepreneur, he was taught the ropes of the business by his father. From him, he also learned two important things – the importance of work ethic and philanthropy. A Marinelli and Sons has been prosperous under his watch over the years, even as it transformed from a paving contractor to a successful supply yard. “All the success… if we don’t share it with others, what’s the sensibility in that?” asks Fran, earnestly.

His wife, Rose Marinelli nods in agreement, while adding, “We are very grateful for what we have in our lives, and to show that gratitude is to be able to give back.” Rose is a breast cancer survivor; more recently she recovered from a brain injury. She says, “I have been so close to death… I want to appreciate what is in front of me.”

The couple’s business, A. Marinelli & Sons, is the presenting sponsor at this year’s West Chester Charity Ball on December 1, Chester County’s annual event to benefit Friends Association for the Care and Protection of Children. Rose recalls the day she was approached to be part of the Charity Ball committee, almost two decades ago. “At that time, the event was not exclusive to Friends. At the Ball, they used to pick a charity each year, and donate the money towards it.” One such was Friends Association.

Over the years, she has had the opportunity to know the team at Friends, and understand their work. “From what I can see, the people who work there are wonderful, caring and warm hearted. And it is obvious that that carries over into their jobs. Because from what I understand, they really work hard to help people who need help, and it sounds like they are very good at turning the lives of a lot of these people over and around.”

As part of the committee, Rose helps promote the event, and in the last few years, she has been in charge of the decorations. For the 30th ‘pearl’ anniversary celebrations this year, she lets on, in a tone of excitement, that guests can expect pearl-themed decorations. Three decades is a long journey, and her voice takes a serious tone to emphasize the growth that the event has seen.

Fran chips in, “Looking more from a businessman’s standpoint, I would say it has certainly grown financially. The money that they raise, it just seems like every year, it grows and grows. We are lucky enough to be in a pretty affluent area in the Chester County, and the people here are very generous.”

Last year, Friends Association helped 270 children and 122 families overcome homelessness. A feat that might not have been possible if not for the amount raised at the West Chester Charity Ball — the Association’s largest fundraiser.

“This holiday gala, part of West Chester’s Old Fashioned Christmas, is essential in funding the important work Friends Association does to improve the community.  All proceeds benefit the mission of Friends Association for Care and Protection of Children: preventing and ending family homelessness in our community.  Thousands of families have been helped throughout the past three decades,” says Catherine Friedman, Executive Director.

“We are grateful to the Marinelli’s for supporting this important event that helps to support the families we serve. It is so great to see guests reinforcing our work through their generosity. With everyone’s help, we were able to raise crucial funds for our programs,” said Friedman.

Apart from the Charity Ball, the couple donates towards Relay for Life, a community-based fundraising event for the American Cancer Society, The Salvation Army, an international charitable organization, and events at their church, Saint Agnes. They also help the Community Warehouse Project, which provides household goods and furnishings to Chester Country families and individuals in need. “We help collect used furniture for people that are coming into the shelter. We have trucks, and we help them move things when they have to,” says Fran.

While they share a passion for helping those in need, Fran and Rose have their own ways of doing it. “Some people like to go out and do things and help people. They don’t help too much financially for whatever reason. I personally would rather work hard at what I am good at and be able to help out financially, and not be involved in the everyday. I am not a people person,” says Fran, candidly.

Whereas, “I enjoy being around people,” remarks Rose. “I have always enjoyed the committee. The group of women that are in the committee are wonderful people, with whom I have become friends for life.”

The couple completes 40 years of marriage this year. “I love my wife, but I have to say not once in all these years has she ever woken up to make me breakfast and lunch,” says Fran with a laugh. “I am not a morning person, we are opposites,” adds Rose. But what they undeniably agree on is the need to be kind, help others, and spread love.

For more information about tickets, sponsorships, and Friends Association, please visit www.friendsassoc.org.

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