Around the Valley: Main Street Holiday Stroll, Substance Abuse Forum


The following are briefs and news from around the Blackstone Valley.

Town of Smithfield to host parents’ forum on substance abuse

The town of Smithfield and the Substance Use and Mental Health Leadership Council of RI will be sponsoring a Parents’ Forum on Wednesday, Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. in the Smithfield High School Auditorium. The event will bring together experts in the field of alcohol, opioids, addiction, treatment and recovery to provide the necessary tools for parents to keep our children safe.

David Neill, from the US Attorney’s Office, will begin the event by presenting the Circles and Silence film, which has been nominated for five Emmy Awards. Circles and Silence is a sixteen minute film narrated by a diverse group of young adults whose personal true-life stories are mirror images of topics that impact every person who watches the film: opioids, addiction, treatment, recovery, and life, according to a promo on the event. Following the film, Neil and his co-presenters will have the opportunity to tell their story.

Deputy EMS Chief Jonathan Polak and Gateway Healthcare will share information about community resources and the Smithfield Safe Stations Program. The event will conclude with a question and answer panel discussion to include: Catherine DeOrsey, MPT, IIN Health Coach; Integrative Healthcare Solutions; Founder, Executive Director; Robert Houghtaling; Director, Substance Abuse Prevention/Mental Health; Town of East Greenwich; Linda E. Hurley, MA, CAGS; President and Chief Executive Officer ~ CODAC, Inc.; Fred A. Trapassi; N.E. Region Chief Executive Officer; AdCare Rhode Island; John J. Tassoni, Jr.; Vice President of Operations, Community and Government Relations; and The Substance Use and Mental Health Leadership Council of RI.

The rise in accidental fatal overdoses in Rhode Island emphasizes the need for such programs and interventions, according to event organizers. After seeing a decrease by 8.3 percent from 2016 to 2019, accidental drug overdose deaths increased by 25 percent in 2020, and from January to April 2021, accidental drug overdose deaths increased by 7 percent to the same period in 2020, according to the Office of the State Medical Examiners, Rhode Island Department of Health.

Community members are invited to attend the forum, to be held in the Smithfield High School Auditorium at 90 Pleasant View Ave. All are welcome.

LivableRI posters to be featured

The Civic Alliance for a Cooler Rhode Island developed a poster series for public engagement and advocacy to prevent the devastating impacts of climate change, which converts the food poster thematic concept of WWI into climate advocacy.

The posters will be on display from December 1 to December 27 at the Hoxie Gallery, Westerly Library and Wilcox Park. On Wednesday, Dec. 1, an opening reception takes place in two locations in Westerly. First, see and talk with the artists on opening night at the Hoxie Gallery at the Westerly Library from 5 to 7:30 p.m.; and, second, CACRI has devised a second reception location to sit, drink, eat and chat. The second location is the Malted Barley, 42 High Street, Westerly – a five minute walk from the library. Join members of the CACRI for some cerebral conversation about where we are headed with RI’s answer to global warming.

In the war years, messages of saving food and tin for the soldiers were easy to understand. Loved ones who signed up to defend against imperialism and the sinking of US and British ships needed help and they needed a strategy that would motivate the folks at home. Enter the US Food Administration, the War Department and the Defense Department sending out iconic posters pleading with those who stayed home to save cloth for bandages and grow victory gardens so commercial food production would be sent to the troops. 

Local artists Mimo Gordon Riley, Jim Bush, Edie Vonnegut, Irene Allen and Lucy Handy framed their art themed to WWI messaging which helped to reproduce the “WWI look,” of these posters to the fullest extent possible using poster size, artistic character, type of messaging and tone, font, graphic feel and urgency.

“I never tire of seeing them and I feel so proud to have had the opportunity to help make this happen,” said Janet Downing Taylor, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and former graphic design professional at Hasbro. Downing Taylor provided graphic design support and coordination for the series of posters.

The Malted Barley reception takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. and guests are invited to come any time before or after the library reception and stay for as long as they wish. There will be a cash bar and food.

Paul Roselli, secretary of CACRI said if you give the name of the photographer on poster number 13, he might buy you a beer. 

All COVID restrictions apply at both the library and the Malted Barley.

OSJL hosts two day hiring event

Discount retail chain Ocean State Job Lot, with 147 store locations across the northeast, will be hosting an in-person chain-wide hiring event at each of its stores on December 3 and 4 from noon to 4 p.m.

Candidates who attend the event can learn more about career opportunities, part-time and full-time benefits, 30 percent associate store discount, cash bonus referral program and opportunities for store leadership, supervisory, full-time and part-time store positions. Ocean State Job Lot will be hosting on-the-spot interviews for all positions during the event.

OSJL follows all COVID-19 protocols and guidelines to ensure team members and customers are safe while shopping and working in the store according to a release on the event.

OSJL encourages applicants from community-based organizations. Candidates who cannot attend the event but are interested in part-time, full-time and seasonal positions may visit to apply. OSJL offers a competitive pay and benefits package, including flexible hours; medical, vision and dental insurance, if eligible; profit participation; service awards; paid time off; 401K; store discount and more.

Holiday stroll

The Downtown Woonsocket Collaborative, the city of Woonsocket and the Holiday Stroll Committee have announced the 13th annual Woonsocket Main Street Holiday Stroll, to be held on Saturday, Dec. 4, from 2 to 7 p.m.

Back in person this year on the first Saturday in December, this family-friendly event is intended to promote the Main Street area businesses during the busy holiday season; encouraging local residents and outside visitors to buy local and shop small. These small business owners survived through this pandemic and the downtown area actually grew during the crisis.

There will be entertainment all afternoon and evening with stroll activities and decorations spanning from Market Square to Monument Square with several musical acts including choirs, singers, and dancers. Some of the activities to look forward to this year include: a scavenger hunt, a tree ornament contest, kids zone with various craft stations, food, vendors, a fire performer, best dressed window contest, a trolley bus ride around the downtown area, the crowd favorite horse and buggy ride, and many more fun things to do. Stop in at the Museum of Work & Culture, Beacon Charter, Millrace Event Space, Timeless Antiques, Past Down in Time, Monument Square Arts, and more for special activities and refreshments.

The City of Woonsocket will be bringing back the popular Winter Wonderland at River Island Art Park. Santa Claus will be arriving by fire truck down Main Street and at the park around 4 p.m. Activities will include pony rides and petting zoo from 3 to 7 p.m., a tree lighting ceremony at 5 p.m., multiple photo backgrounds, food, music, and pictures with Santa.

Local businesses participating this year are the Woonsocket Historical Society, Millrace Event Space, New York Lunch, Renaissance Tattoo, BL Beauty, Timeless Antiques, Angels Boutique, The Babe Kave, All Choices International Market, Trendz, Convenience Store, Past Down in Time, Geri’s Bluffing Boutique, Beacon Charter High School for the Arts, Monument Square Arts, and Yaya Tree of Life. Performers will include Jeff Gamache, John Scotti, VIDA Church, Krylo Dance Studio, Mount Saint Charles Band, Cirque De Light, Woonsocket High School
Music Department and Lyrics in Motion.

“Shop local has never been so important as it is this year,” said Garrett Mancieri, DWC executive director. “I am so thrilled and proud to have so many wonderful business owners who stayed open during this crisis and now it is our chance to pay them back by ensuring that we do our holiday shopping at our local businesses.”

Millrace will also be hosting a vaccine and booster clinic for kids and adults in the basement at 40 South Main
St. from 2 to 5 p.m. Appointments are recommended and walk-ins will be based on availability.

For more information contact Stephen Casey and Debra Hunt at

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