Rotary Club Goes with Volunteer Organization for Vocational Service Award

As seen in the October 26, 2016 edition of the Woonsocket Call by Joe Nadeau

The Woonsocket Rotary Club has broken tradition with the presentation of its 2016 Vocational Service Award, this year choosing to name a volunteer organization, Woonsocket Adopt-a-Family, for its recognition.

Members of Adopt-a-Family joined the Rotary Club’s members at a Club dinner at River Falls Restaurant Thursday evening to receive the prestigious service award from President David Lahousse and Rena DiMuccio, Club Secretary and chair of the Vocational Service Award committee.

DiMuccio said the award is selected each year through a process in which Rotary Club members for the club’s service area, Woonsocket, Burrillville and North Smithfield, nominate prospective candidates for the committee to review. The committee then reviews the merits of each nomination to decide the final award of the Club’s special recognition of Community service.

“I think this is the first time in the history of the club that we have given the award to an organization and not an individual”, DiMuccio said of the local Rotary Club’s decision to honor Adopt-a-Family. “It was because for 28 years they have been providing Christmas to the children in Woonsocket and they are an all volunteer organization,” DiMuccio said.

In addition to the crystal award recognizing Adopt-a-Family’s work, the Rotary Club also granted the organization a $500 contribution to help sponsor a Christmas for some of the children it serves.

Meghan Bentley, Adopt-a-Family president, said the organization was surprised by the Rotary Club’s tribute. “It’s a great honor and I don’t think we usually get that kind of recognition,” she said. Adopt-a-Family connects donors who buy a selection of holiday gifts with children and families that need them when the holidays arrive. Last year the organization helped provide 1.985 children, or about 1,000 families, with holiday gifts, she noted.

Julie Wunderlich, Adopt-a-Family secretary, said the organization was pleased ot have the Rotary Club’s support in its work. “It is great to have a community partner who are like minded,” she said. “It is not easy to put together the week-long effort to organize all the donations that come during the Adopt-a-Family Drive and then distribute them to the families in need, according to Wunderlich. The support of groups like the Rotary Club help, she explained. Adopt-a-Family rents the Elks Hall on Social Street for its volunteers work like a coordinated army to direct the gifts to their respective families and then schedule the picks over last part of the distribution week.

“Anyone who wants to get involved can visit our website ( Wunderlich said. The collection drive involves filling out a form available from the website that request shopping for a child’s full holiday needs, including three to four clothing items as well as two or three toys and stocking stuffers in the range of $150 per child assisted. All of the gifts must be new and wrapped. The drop off of donations begins around with the distribution week Dec. 4 through Dec. 8 when the family pick ups are also scheduled at the Elks Hall on Social Street.

Adopt-a-Family also takes cash donations to help cover the costs of the program such as the hall rental and to fill out emergency needs that come in such as a family left homeless by fire, Wunderlich noted.

For more information on Adopt-a-Family visit the organizations website.