2005 Charitable Recipient

2005 Greenway Challenge Charitable Recipient was the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce Eduation Foundation

Blackstone Valley Education Foundation

In May 2005, the inaugural class of the Blackstone Valley Youth Leadership Academy graduated 23 emerging young leaders from Blackstone Valley high schools in Massachusetts and one from Burrillville, RI. The program was loosely modeled after the adult stewardship program, Leadership Blackstone Valley. Students were selected through a competitive application process and participated in twice monthly sessions for 5 months. The program culminated in a large group community service project.

The 2005 Greenway Challenge selected the BVYLA program as the first charitable program. A team of LBV and BVYLA alums joined community volunteers in hosting a transition site at the Blackstone Gorge. Each year a few BVYLA alums volunteer with the Greenway Challenge event, and with other local and regional activities.   Since 2005, the program has graduated four more classes, bringing the number of BVYLA alumnae to 113. The curriculum has expanded to 12 sessions, and now includes a session on career exploration and a civic engagement session where students participate in a mock town meeting. The centerpiece of the program remains leadership development and stewardship.  

The model was tweaked for the 2009 class to allow individual students to have the opportunity to identify a community need, select a project to address that need, and then plan and implement the project. This change was instituted to give students an immediate hands-on leadership experience, using their newly developed skills to make a difference in their community and involve others in their individual projects.   The Blackstone Valley Youth Leadership Academy is proud to have two student Chafee Heritage Award winners among its alumnae. We look forward to continuing to support the development of the next generations of leaders in the Blackstone Valley.    

Mary Lou Anderson, Program Coordinator, Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation, 110 Church Street, Whitinsville, MA 01588, mlanderson@blackstonevalley.org

2006 Charitable Recipient

The Blackstone River Coalition

2006 Greenway Challenge Charitable Recipient was the Blackstone River CoalitionA grant from the Greenway Challenge helped fund the design and construction of a demonstration rain garden at Mass Audubon's Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary Visitor Center in Worcester.  It collects 5/8ths of the runoff from the roof and sustains a variety of native plants that provide color and interest throughout the growing season. These plants produce nectar and berries to attract wildlife such as butterflies, hummingbirds, cedar waxwings and winter robins. The remaining 3/8ths of the runoff is collected in a rain barrel and used for irrigation purposes. In a one-inch rainstorm, the roof generates 832 gallons of runoff! If more people create rain gardens we can greatly reduce the impacts of stormwater on the Blackstone and its tributaries. The BRC and Mass Audubon are truly grateful for the support of the Greenway Challenge to help reach our goal of Clean by 2015.

The Blackstone River Coalition is a partnership of numerous organizations working to restore the Blackstone River and improve the health of its watershed. To that end, we have launched the Campaign for a Fishable/Swimmable Blackstone River By 2015.

Because polluted runoff is the priority issue impacting water quality in the Blackstone River and its tributaries, the Blackstone River Coalition recently hosted a highly successful watershed-wide conference entitled Managing Wet Weather in the Blackstone River Watershed: The Lull before the Storm. The conference took place at Alternatives Unlimited, a LEED platinum-certified mill restoration on the banks of the Mumford River in Whitinsville, MA on May 14, sponsored by the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission. The goal was to urge municipal officials and staff, developers, engineers and concerned citizens to take advantage of the lull in the building boom to lay the groundwork for communities to require better stormwater management practices and for developers to design more creative projects.

The three panel presentations included representatives from EPA, RIDEM and Mass EOEEA discussing new stormwater requirements; local officials from Mass. and RI exploring the power of local boards to improve stormwater management; and good Blackstone watershed examples of low impact development practices that reduce the volume of stormwater and recharge groundwater. Keynote speaker was Rob Roseen, Director of UNHs Stormwater Center. Everyone attending learned even more about the importance of reducing stormwater volume and polluted runoff to restore our rivers and streams, and methods for making it happen. One of these low impact development practices is the construction of rain gardens to capture runoff from impervious surface areas such as rooftops and driveways, and allow it to seep slowly into the ground. Most importantly, rain gardens help preserve nearby streams and ponds by reducing the amount of polluted runoff and filtering pollutants that might otherwise enter our waterways. For more information visit www.zaptheblackstone.org or contact BRC Coordinator Peter Coffin at  508-753-6087 or peter.coffin@zaptheblackstone.org

2007 Charitable Recipient

Blackstone River Bikeway Association

2007 Greenway Challenge Charitable Recipient was the Blackstone River Bikeway AssocationOn May 16, the Blackstone River Bikeway Association (BRBA) held a Bike Rodeo and Swap at the Whitin Community Center.  This event is part of the Association’s strategy to create “bike friendly communities” and to build awareness and appreciation for recreational biking in the Blackstone Valley, which, in turn, will create excitement and advocacy for completion of the Blackstone River Bikeway in Massachusetts.      “Cycling is a tremendously positive way for families to play together, get exercise and enjoy the outdoors” said Eric Guerin from the BRBA.  “At a time when so many of us are looking for healthy inexpensive activities, we are pleased to have this opportunity to invite everyone in our community to join us in celebrating cycling.”  The BRBA has hosted a transition site at past years Greenway Challenges and is currently meeting with the 2009 Logistics Committee in planning this year’s course and selecting the transition site which they will host. For more information the Blackstone River Bikeway visit www.blackstonebikeway.org  

2008 Charitable Recipient

Waters Farm Preservation, Inc.

2008 Greenway Challenge Charitable Recipient was Waters Farm Preservation Inc.Speaking for Waters Farm, that designation and the association with the event is quite an honor. In choosing Waters Farm, Charles Thompson, chairman of the committee said, “The committee felt that a strong and dependable relationship has grown between the event and the volunteers at the farm. They were terrific hosts at last year’s event and we look forward to working with them again this year. Most importantly, Waters Farm Preservation Inc. is a wonderful example of volunteer commitment. Their efforts to preserve the farm and to make it available for educational and recreational purposes have made it an icon of the Blackstone Valley. We were very pleased to designate them the recipient of our charitable efforts in 2008.

Waters Farm was founded in 1757 by Stephen Waters and home to the Waters family until Dorothea Waters Moran donated the property to the Town of Sutton. While the focus is the 1757 house many people remember the farm through the spectacular open fields and forests that surround the buildings and by the sight of Manchaug Lake from the area near the main house.

There are 120 acres of land that are part of the Waters Farm property. In addition to the fields that are most often seen on a visit to the farm, there are numerous trails that crisscross through the forested land and take the visitor down to the shore of beautiful Manchaug Lake.

In keeping with the mission of the Greenway Challenge, Waters Farm serves as a key connection in the Lake Manchaug Greenway and Wildlife Corridor, connecting thousands of protected acres in the town of Sutton, beginning at the Sutton State Forest, to thousands of protected acres in the town of Douglas, highlighted by the Mid-State Trail and the Douglas State Forest. The farm also provides watershed protection to Manchaug Lake by the stewardship of nearly 2000 feet of frontage along the lake and valuable habitat protection through the nearly 100 acres of forest.

The designation as charitable recipient and the donation that accompanied it came at an ideal time. The first floor of the beautiful main house at Waters Farm is undergoing a much needed “spruce up” and renovation and the generous Greenway Challenge donation has been designated as a part of the funding for those efforts.  Visitors to this year’s Fall Farm Days on October 3rd and 4th will be able to tour the house and see the results. Visit www.watersfarm.com .

2009 Charitable Recipient

Mohegan Council, Inc.

2009 Greenway Challenge Charitable Recipient was Mohegan Council, Inc.The UniBank Blackstone River Valley Greenway Challenge Steering Committee chose the Mohegan Council, Inc., Boy Scouts of America as the 2009 Charitable Recipient.  “The Steering Committee was impressed by the Scouts’ enthusiasm in assisting at various transition sites in past years.  We noted the environmental work they do year-round in maintaining the beauty of the natural setting, increasing wildlife habitat and improving recreational sites found in the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor” stated Steering Committee Chair Charles Thompson.

The mission of the selected organization must be compatible to that of the UniBank Blackstone River Valley Greenway Challenge, which is to promote the recreational opportunities in the Blackstone River Valley.

Working with partner organizations, the Greenway Challenge supports clean water campaigns, hiking and biking trails, wildlife projects, environmental education and development of waterway access. The Boy Scouts of America’s mission matches the Greenway Challenge’s mission well. The selection committee also felt that youths  should be encouraged and given further opportunities to learn about and enjoy the Blackstone River. The Boy Scouts of America’s conservation focus has been part of its core program and emphasis since its inception in 1910.  

According to Jay Garee, Scout Executive, “Through Scouting, young people are exposed to the recreational benefits found within the Blackstone Valley Region. Scouts age 6 and up have explored the Blackstone River by canoe, hiked and cycled the Valley’s trails, and camped along the Blackstone Canal. Learning by doing is a hallmark of outdoor education and Scouts have learned to appreciate both the remarkable industrial heritage of the river as well as its eco-revitalization.”   “We are very pleased and honored to be awarded this grant and look forward to a continued partnership with those involved in preserving the natural setting of the Blackstone River Valley.”  

For the past century, the Mohegan Council has been a vital part of the central Massachusetts community.  The Council currently serves over 4,700 youth in 32 cities and towns by providing Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Venturing and Learning for Life opportunities to children and young adults. Scouting has helped countless boys and (yes...) girls from our region develop into confident adults, engaged in community service and willing to serve others. In 2010 the BSA is celebrating its centennial ~ 100 years of fun and learning. Visit www.MoheganCouncilBSA.org for more information.

2010 Charitable Recipient

Blackstone River Watershed Council/Friends of the Blackstone

The UniBank Blackstone River Valley Greenway Challenge Steering Committee is pleased to announce the Blackstone River Watershed Council/Friends of the Blackstone as the 2010 Charitable Recipient. The Steering Committee recognizes the positive impacts to the Blackstone River and the region that are a direct result of the efforts of the individual members and the BRWC/FOB as a whole.  “We recognize the work the BRWC/FOB does through their own efforts to restore the Blackstone River to its original beauty through ecological actions programs and through collaboration with other Blackstone Valley community groups” stated Steering Committee Chair Charles Thompson.

The mission of the selected organization must be compatible to that of the UniBank Blackstone River Valley Greenway Challenge, which is to promote the recreational opportunities in the Blackstone River Valley. Working with partner organizations, the Greenway Challenge supports clean water campaigns, hiking and biking trails, wildlife projects, environmental education and development of waterway access. The BRWC/FOB’s mission matches the Greenway Challenge’s mission well. The selection committee also felt that based on the past success of the efforts of the BRWC/FOB, the award money will enable future progress made by the group, its members and its partners.

Upon receiving the news of receiving the Charitable Recipient award, Joe Pailthrope, Treasurer of the Council said,  “ The Blackstone River Watershed Council/Friends of the Blackstone is extremely honored and pleased to be chosen as the 2010 UniBank Blackstone River Valley Greenway Challenge Charitable Recipient.  Our council spends thousands of hours every year keeping the Rhode Island Blackstone River clean and safe for all citizens to enjoy.  The Greenway Challenge is a diverse and wonderful display of recreation we have always enthusiastically supported.”

In 2005, the Blackstone River Watershed Council and the Friends of the Blackstone, Inc. merged into a single larger group in order to leverage the strengths and broader reach of both organizations.   The non-profit, volunteer corporation devotes its resources and efforts to the restoration and continuous preservation of the Blackstone River.  Programs include; river education, river restoration including water quality monitoring and cleanup events, fish passage and river recreation.  These programs are carefully crafted with the protection, preservation and enhancement of the natural habitat of local river wildlife and creating recreational programs for local residents and visitors to enjoy as a goal.

Recent projects of the Blackstone River Watershed Council/Friends of the Blackstone include; the 14th Annual River Fest 2010 Canoe and Kayak Race held in Woonsocket Rhode Island, the installation of the signage and buoy system at the Pratt Dam in Cumberland Rhode Island, completed design work for the Broad Street Fish ladder and raised funding for two more, hosted and participated in numerous cleanup efforts and continued water quality efforts.  In the past ten years that group has removed 25,000 old tires in the Blackstone River and along its banks and has even assisted the Rhode Island State Police in retrieving old cars from the river.  

2011 Charitable Recipient

Blackstone River Watershed Association

 

The Steering Committee has been impressed by this organization's enthusiasm with the event, assisting us in a number of ways during the last 10 years – helping staff transition sites, sponsoring river cleanup projects critical to race course integrity, and providing important input to help us stage a quality event.

We salute the environmental work members of the BRWA do year round to educate the public, provide water quality monitoring, maintain the beauty of the natural setting, increase wildlife habitat and improve recreational sites in the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.

The mission of the selected organization must be compatible to that of the UniBank Blackstone River Valley Greenway Challenge, which is to promote the recreational opportunities in the Blackstone River Valley. Working with partner organizations, the Greenway Challenge supports clean water campaigns, hiking and biking trails, wildlife projects, environmental education and development of waterway access.

Upon receiving the news of the Charitable Recipient award, Dona Neely,  President of the Blackstone River Watershed Association, said,  “ We are very pleased and greatly appreciate the Greenway Challenge Steering Committee's support in general and for the BRWA's new educational initiative that this grant will help support.” 

Dona wrote in their proposal, "lf selected, the award funds will be invested in the continuation and expansion of our new school program that brings the watershed model into the classroom and provides students with a hands-on opportunity to learn how daily activities on the land impact the health of our waterways. At the conclusion of the presentation materials that students can bring home to share with their families are distributed. The information packets provide homeowners with suggestions and tips for things they can do to help improve water quality and mitigate the negative impacts of contaminated stormwater runoff. Polluted stormwater is one of the major problems we are facing in terms of water quality. When students participate in the watershed model demonstration they "get it" and they are really good at taking this knowledge home and nagging family members with their new found knowledge. They become our best champions for more eco-friendly practices!"

2012 Charitable Recipient

Governor Aram J. Pothier Elementary School

Governor Aram J. Pothier Elementary School, Woonsocket, Rhode Island was named the 2012 Charitable Recipient of the UniBank Blackstone River Valley Greenway Challenge.

Governor Aram J. Pothier Elementary School received a $2,500 donation from the proceeds of the 2012 UniBank Blackstone River Valey Greenway Challenge. The School, located at 420 Robinson Street in Woonsocket, is a primary early childhood facility serving some 500 students in pre-school through grade 2.

To be selected, the charitable recipient must have a mission that complements the goals of the Greenway Challenge — a race in which participants run, paddle, and bike through a course to raise the awareness of the history, natural beauty, and environmental significance of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.

“We are impressed by the enthusiasm at the Pothier School for supporting the Greenway Challenge, and for stressing the importance of environmental awareness to the children in the Woonsocket school system. We recognize that these children are our environmental stewards of the future and we are pleased to have Pothier School as our 2012 partner,” Charlie Thompson, Greenway Challenge Steering Committee, Chair, said.

The Governor Aram J. Pothier School’s Principal, Donna M. Coderre, noted that the school stresses the importance of environmental awareness and education. “Through our science curriculum, we teach the children about protecting the environment, the local wildlife, and the value our environment plays in our everyday lives.” “Our health education and physical fitness programs teach the children about the health benefits of physical fitness and recreational opportunities in the community and the Blackstone Valley. “School-wide initiatives such as recycling, family health fairs, andwalk to school days, reinforce all these lessons,” she added.

Coderre said that with the $2,500 grant the school would be able “to do even more” with new initiatives such as in-house field trips, where the children could learn about the local ecosystem; software to enhance the students’ hand-on independent learning of the environment; or taking more children on field trips to the Blackstone River Valley.

School volunteers committed to helping plan and staff a transition site on the day of the race.

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