Nicole Brien, left, president, and Pamela Jalette, president-elect, stand in front of the new Rotary Club sign at the intersection of Hamlet Avenue and Cumberland Hill Road. (Breeze photo by Lauren Clem)


In her new role as president of the Woonsocket Rotary Club, Nicole Brien said she wants to refocus on the organization’s branding and remind residents it’s “more than the beer tent.”

In recent years, she said, many residents have come to associate Rotary with a few signature events, including its role running the beer tent and food row at the annual Autumnfest. As a result, she said, some people have forgotten the organization’s roots as an international service organization intended to support the community.

“Our biggest focus right now is branding. People see the cog wheel and they’re like, what is that funky thing?” she said.

To do that, she plans to get members back in the community tackling hands-on service projects after a quiet year due to the pandemic. At the end of this month, they’ll open the “Just for You” clothing closet for foster children at Community Care Alliance’s Family Support Center on Main Street. Later in the year, they plan to beautify the organization’s women’s shelter and partner with the Woonsocket Education Department to renovate the high school auditorium. The WED will focus on upgrading the light and sound systems, Brien said, while the Rotary Club plans to fundraise for new seating.

“These are things that we do because we want to be part of the fabric of our community,” she said.

She also wants to become more active in North Smithfield and Burrillville, also part of the club’s service area. She plans to rely heavily on Pamela Jalette, her president-elect and a North Smithfield resident, to oversee programs in North Smithfield schools. As literacy chairperson, Jalette already coordinates an end-of-year summer reading party the club sponsors at the Woonsocket Harris Public Library.

Brien and Jalette were installed last Thursday, July 15, during the organization’s charter night at St. Ann Arts and Cultural Center. Brien succeeds Roger Bouchard, who oversaw club operations during the socially distanced past year. Mark Harnois was installed as secretary and Barbra Day was installed as treasurer.

Brien said the club recently resumed its regular lunchtime meetings at River Falls after more than a year of virtual meetings. The Woonsocket Rotary Club includes about 35 members, many of them local professionals and business owners. The club is actively recruiting, she said, and in the process of updating its website to make it easier for community members to find information.

Along with the website, the club is currently updating its signage around the three communities. A new sign recently went up at the intersection of Hamlet Avenue and Cumberland Hill Road, and other updates are planned for the other two towns. Brien said she wants residents to know that Rotary is here for the community and encouraged them to reach out through the website about joining or with service project ideas.

“I just want people to know that Rotary is still here,” she said.


Credit: By LAUREN CLEM, Valley Breeze Deputy Editor