MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (SEPT. 17, 2021) – Sometimes, you never know what’s going to result from a phone call.


Arriving over the summer as the new principal of Forest Avenue School, Lisa Birkett said most of the building was in excellent shape, clean and ready for opening day on Sept. 8, minus one area.


The teachers’ lounge on the second floor of the Forest Avenue school looked dated, worn and in need of some TLC.


Enter Cardi’s Furniture & Mattresses to the rescue. Birkett said after she placed a phone call to Cardi’s, the Swansea, Massachusetts furniture store asked how they could help. Within a few days, the teachers’ lounge was outfitted with all new furniture at no cost to the school or town.


“I couldn’t believe it, when they said they were going to donate everything to us,” Birkett said. “I just called thinking maybe they could help and they were really, really great. They delivered everything and set it up and now the lounge is a much nicer, welcoming place.”


Based on what she’s heard, Birkett said the new furniture has brightened everyone’s day.


“I’ve heard from a number of teachers who said it was a nice surprise to open the year,” Birkett said. “We all know that teaching is hard enough and it’s important to have a nice space to take a couple minutes for yourself and we have a big ‘Thank you!’ to Cardi’s for that.”


More these days than ever before, “extras” like furniture for the teachers’ lounge, field trips and even some in classroom programming aren’t covered by the annual education budget anymore.


As a result, businesses like Cardi’s and community organizations like school Parent Teacher Groups, sports booster clubs and the Middletown Education Collaborative step up to fill the gaps.


Superintendent Rosemarie Kraeger said the support of the community – and volunteers – goes a long way to helping make Middletown schools among the best around.


“I can’t say this enough – our community groups and volunteers really help make everything tick,” Kraeger said. “Without them, I don’t know where we’d be as a district. We’re truly, truly appreciative for everything they do.”


And the same goes for Cardi’s and other businesses. Cardi’s operates a mattress store at 1235 West Main Road, next door to the BMW of Newport dealership.


“This isn’t the first time that Cardi’s has stepped up and helped us out,” Kraeger said. “That’s the kind of business they are and they understand how important it is to give back, especially these days.”


“Every time I walk by and see teachers and our staff in (the lounge), it brings a smile to my face,” Birkett added. “We want to help make Forest Avenue School the best it can be and Cardi’s helped us make that a reality for the teachers’ lounge.”