Two Burrillville couples recognized for volunteer service

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WHITINSVILLE – Two couples from Burrillville have been recognized for their volunteer service with a group focused on promoting tourism in the Blackstone Valley.

Julie and Steve Riendeau of Burrillville, and Betty & Carlo Mencucci of Burrillville were recognized for their contributions to the region by the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.

The organization gave out awards at a 5th anniversary celebration of the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park on Thursday, Dec. 19.

Both couples have been actively involved for years with the organization’s Volunteers In Parks program.

The Riendeaus have been volunteers with the organization since 2002 and have helped to plan and execute paddle trips for the Blackstone Valley Paddle Club, which will enter its 20th season in 2020. Julie also volunteers at area schools to bring education about the watershed, how it works, and how littering negatively impacts water quality and the health of wildlife.

Betty and Carlo Mencucci

The Mencucci have been volunteering together since 2011 and, in addition to leading history walks, the two are well-known for their historic cemetery conservation efforts. In October, the couple received the 2019 Antoinette F. Downing Volunteer Service Award presented by Preserve Rhode Island and Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission.

The awards also recognized corporate and non-profit partners including the Blackstone River Watershed Council/Friends of the Blackstone of Manville, and Displays2go, of Fall River, Mass.

Other volunteers recognized included Beth and Paul Milke of Uxbridge, Mass., Jill and Dick Winski of Northbridge, Mass.; Carol and Rob Dandrade of Uxbridge, Mass.; Pat Choiniere of Lincoln; and Marjorie Turner Hollman of Bellingham, Mass.

Over the past five years, volunteers in the VIP program have contributed 69,159 hours in volunteer time, at a total dollar value of $1,687,256 according to BHC. The volunteer value is considered an in-kind donation, which BHC can use as matching funds when applying for grants, etc.

“Though the gift of a volunteer’s time has a dollar value, which currently is $25.43 per hour, they are giving a gift of themselves, often juggling more than one job, step-families, health issues, and more,” said Suzanne Buchanan, BHC’s volunteer coordinator. “We truly appreciate the passion they bring to this program, and by logging and reporting their hours, we can continue our mission to preserve and promote our legacy as the Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, and work with community partners to preserve and enhance the historic, natural, cultural, and recreational resources for current and future generations.”

To learn more about the Volunteers-In-Parks program, visit BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org or considering attending BHC’s next Volunteer Open House on Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at BHC’s office at 670 Linwood Avenue, Whitinsville, Mass. To register, RSVP to Buchanan at Volunteer@BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org or call (508) 234-4242.

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