Power of changing lives theme of CCRI awards, celebration


Three Rhode Islanders were recognized for changing lives Thursday night at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet. The event was to support the Community College of Rhode Island.

CCRI President Ray Di Pasquale told the 350 people there that the college has graduated 60,000 since it was founded 48 years ago and many of those needed assistance to make it. That hasn’t changed, even though the $3,900 tuition is low compared to other schools. Of the more than 17,000 enrolled at the college, 3,000 wouldn’t be there without the help of the CCRI Foundation.

“We hope to change lives and to achieve dreams,” he said of their mission. The evening promised to do that by raising about $70,000 to assist students and the college.

The celebration focused on three people who, as Di Pasquale put it, “are true Rhode Islanders who have made a difference.”

As one of the three honorees, John Hazen White Jr., president of Taco Inc. in Cranston, said he has become more and more involved with CCRI in recent years and is “amazed by the breadth and depth of the institution.” He said many of us “spend our lives trying to do things” and that CCRI empowers people to do that. White was presented the Business Champion Award.

Di Pasquale thanked the White Family Foundation for all their support.

Di Pasquale credited Mayor Scott Avedisian with making Warwick “a true partner with the college” when Avedisian was presented the Community Champion Award and added, “It’s a city I’m proud to call my home.” As was the case for each of the honorees, a short video with comments by friends and pictures from their careers preceded Avedisian’s award. Avedisian was pictured with late Senator John Chafee, for whom he worked. Michael Ryan of National Grid, who also worked for Chafee, applauded Avedisian for having a vision for the city in his video remarks. But, unlike the others there was one shot of Avedisian as a small boy, and for good reason. Beverly Wiley of the college was Avedisian’s babysitter while he was growing up. She had a role again, this time accompanying Avedisian to the stage.

Avedisian related how he had met with Di Pasquale soon after he was named president and how Di Pasquale had brought along a folder that contained all the programs the city and the college had cooperated on: the folder was empty. Avedisian thanked Di Pasquale for changing that. He also applauded the work of Frank Caprio, the third honoree, and Ryan as Board of Governors for Higher Education, in pushing for the college.

Di Pasquale carried that theme to Caprio. He said Caprio worked behind the scenes “and opened more doors for this college…he knows how important education is.”

Caprio said his selection “is a great honor for a kid from Federal Hill.” Reflecting on his parents and his upbringing, Caprio said there was an understanding that, while his father was a fruit peddler, Frank would go on to college. His parents provided the opportunity for him.

Today, Caprio said, “we don’t have the cohesive family,” and that is why the work of the foundation is so important as it provides “a helping hand” from CCRI. He said with education we are able to achieve and in the end it is not the money we earn that we will be judged by but rather what we give. Caprio was awarded the Education Champion Award.

The Changing Lives Celebration was co-chaired by Rick Edwards, assistant vice president at Amica Life Insurance, and Nancy McMahon, vice president of human resources at Miriam Hospital. Both are members of the CCRI Foundation.


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