North Smithfield garden guru, flower sower recognized for volunteer service

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – A North Smithfield woman who has volunteered countless hours to help beautify the town and bring the community together with her gardening prowess has been honored with a statewide service award.

Ann Lilley has been recognized with Rhode Island Recreation & Parks Association’s Settimo “Steamer” Ricci Volunteer Service Award.

Lilley was nominated for the honor by Parks & Recreation Program Coordinator Kate Pasquariello.

“Since she’s come on to the Parks & Recreation Commission in town she has given many, many of her hours,” Pasquariello said. “She always volunteers for any help that we’re ever looking for.”

Lilley was the mastermind behind an effort to give the town a cheerful pop of color each spring with a daffodil program run through the North Smithfield Heritage Association. The pandemic-inspired effort, started in 2020, was modeled after a similar program in St. Louis, Mo.

For the past two years, Lilley has distributed affordable batches of King Alfred yellow daffodil bulbs to interested businesses and residents, also planting the flowers herself at various public spaces, such as town buildings and school grounds.

“Somebody just complimented you tonight on that when you walked in,” Pasquariello noted to Lilley on Monday, May 2, as the Town Council also recognized her work with a citation.

Lilley also took the lead, organizing volunteers and again, performing much of the work herself, at a Community Garden launched last year at the former Halliwell Elementary School property.

“Ann planned, planted and brought to fruition a very successful community garden, which donated half of the crops to the North Smithfield Food Pantry and several senior housing complexes,” Pasquariello said, reading from a nomination form she submitted in hopes to recognize Lilley’s contributions. “It was so well received it is expanding in only its second year.”

Pasquariello noted that Lilley has also run several arts and crafts group classes throughout her tenure on the town’s Parks & Recreation Commission.

“She is a joy to work with and a ray of sunshine,” Pasquariello said. “She is a very positive and charismatic personality. She is always available to lend a hand and I am very grateful – as we all are – for her contributions.”

Pasquariello, right, speaks on why she nominated Lilley for the award.
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