The North Central Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 30th anniversary Monday night at Crystal Lake Golf Club in Mapleville. Flashback to the ’80s was the theme affixed to the night’s annual awards dinner, “Night of the Rising Stars,” in the club’s well-appointed Waterfront Room.
There were awards and scholarship presentations, an interesting guest speaker, a mini expo, and a formal dinner to commemorate the 30-year milestone of serving the towns of Johnston, North Providence, Smithfield, Scituate, Foster and Glocester.
And while the NCCC and membership paid tribute to its four major award winners, there was an interesting twist that dates back to the Chamber’s founding in 1982.
That’s when the night’s guest speaker, Jim Hummel, began his professional reporting career with the Providence Journal. Today, Hummel is the founder and executive director of The Hummel Report, a non-profit investigative reporting website that focuses on exposing government corruption in Rhode Island.
Back in 1982, the event program pointed out that Ronald Reagan was president, Joe Garrahy was governor and Buddy Cianci was mayor of Providence.
“Gandhi was voted the best picture back then,” recalled Dan Brown, vice president of the Johnston Historical Society. “A new house back then cost $82,500. Today, the cost is $322,500.”
The night’s turn-back-the-clock theme also included such information about gas, which was 91 cents a gallon in 1982, and milk was $2.19 a gallon as compared to $3.79 per gallon today.
Hummel and North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi agreed that the landscape has indeed changed, but there has been one constant through it all: the North Central Chamber continues to prosper and promote businesses within its membership.
One of those businesses was Goodwill Industries that Dinner Chairperson Kimberly Moore and President Deborah Ramos presented with the prestigious Small Business of the Year award. Denise Doktor, Christine Yankee and Nancy Carrott accepted the honor.
Goodwill Industries provides training, education and other services that lead to employment opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities and other barriers that, in some cases, may prevent those people from landing a job. These services improve quality of life and make independence possible.
Nancy Carrott was honored with her second Ambassador of the Year award. Her first came while employed at the Tri-Town Community Action Agency and Monday night she was recognized for her performance as an employment specialist with Goodwill Industries of RI.
The NCCC’s Rising Star of the Year honor went to Northeast Recycle Group, which is owned by Erren Robateau, a young entrepreneur who just a year ago started his business by recycling printer cartridges from his office. He quickly saw his customer base grow and so did requests for his services.
The Bulfinch Group was honored with the Community Service of the Year award. The group’s charitable foundation has a history of improving communities it serves, and since 2010, has raised more than $30,000 for Riverside Community Care by investing in the health of the community. The company also does clothing drives and hosts a Cradles to Crayons drive.
Ann-Mary Currier, who chairs the NCCC’s scholarship committee, presented special grants to college bound seniors Shayne Foster of Ponaganset, who is headed to URI, and Anthony Rubino of Smithfield, who will enroll at Bryant University in September. Scituate High senior Kevin Ruzycky also won a scholarship but was unable to attend the dinner.