By PETE FONTAINE
Gina Sabitoni-Arakelian, a longtime volunteer and community activist who has spearheaded numerous fundraising efforts for a number of important nonprofits, was installed as a member of the Johnston Planning Board on Monday.
With her husband George Arakelian, who owns and operates A Custom Car Stereo Center on Atwood Avenue, father Emo Sabitoni and cousin Michael Sabitoni looking on, Mayor Joseph Polisena administered the oath of office inside his Executive Chamber, thus making Sabitoni-Arakelian the seventh member of the highly active board.
“I’m honored that Gina has accepted this position,” Polisena offered while announcing Sabitoni-Arakelian will replace Lauren Garzone, who has stepped down and is running for the District 2 Town Council seat in Johnston. “This is a very active board and Gina will do a fabulous job.”
Sabitoni-Arakelian will join members John Laurito, Peggy Passarelli, Joseph Lembo, Christine M. Cunnean, Nicole R. Pope, George A. Lazzareschi Jr. and alternates Steven Mandarelli and Eric B. O’Connor at the Sept. 1 meeting. Her term runs through April 30, 2021.
“I’m honored to have been chosen for this valuable position,” said Sabitoni-Arekelian, whose resume includes having a major impact on more than two-dozen charities throughout the state. “I’m very excited about being part of such a highly-active board.”
As she looked over the official Certificate of Oath that was signed by Polisena and featured the town seal, Sabitoni-Arakelian went on: “This is exciting and I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to serve on the Planning Board. There are always new projects happening in town.”
Likewise, Sabitoni-Arakelian, who for 23 years has been the administrative assistant for the RI Laborers’ District Council and RI Judicial, Professional and Technical Employees’ Local Union 808, added: “The mayor has done a great, great job of economic development to keep our town moving forward; I’m excited to become part of his team.”
Her appointment to the Johnston Planning Board will be a perfect fit as the two-time beauty queen turned state, regional and national powerlifting champion has helped start and energize countless nonprofit such as Children’s Wishes, Johnston Street Machines, Sandra Fedeli Memorial and Melissa Delmonico Scholarship Fund and the RI Community Food Bank, just to name a few.
“Our family has always been proud of Gina’s many accomplishments,” Michael Sabitoni, her cousin and the highly-respected business manager for the RI Laborers’ District Council and Laborers’ International Union of North American that’s based in Providence, offered during a fun-filled post-swearing-in meeting that included family members, Polisena and Doug Jeffrey.
Jeffrey, who serves as Polisena’s chief of staff, smiled and offered: “Congratulations Gina; good luck and welcome aboard!”