Fiscal Year 2023/2024
Bristol Rotary, Inc., Post Office Box 469, Bristol, RI 02809

Welcome to Bristol Rotary!

Rotary is a global community of more than 1.2 million men and women dedicated to building a better world.  Founded in 1929, the Rotary Club of Bristol is a fellowship and service organization of over 50 men and women dedicated to the Rotary motto of Service Above Self.  Our club has made many large and small contributions to the welfare of this community and to communities throughout the world. Through the Rotary community, you can exchange ideas and build lifelong friendships with like-minded people. If you have a sincere interest in making a positive contribution to your community, we’re interested in meeting you. Email our President or Secretary to learn how you can become a Bristol Rotarian.

We meet the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month at 12:15 P.M. at
The DeWolf Tavern Restaurant
259 Thames Street
Bristol, RI 02809

Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) is a high school and college program for students interested in business, as emerging careers in: marketing, finance, hospitality and management. This year Mt. Hope HS had 41 students compete in the State of RI Competition. Of those, 9 placed first or second in their event which qualified them for the International Career Development Conference (ICDC), which this year was held in Aneheim, CA.
With donations from Bristol Rotary to help them get to California, those 9 competed alongside 23,000 students from all over the world. 6 reached “competency” in their respective events. Competency is a high level of performance in a given event category. The 5 students shown below all reached a level of competency in their chosen events. They came to last week’s Bristol Rotary Meeting, not only thank Rotary for their support, but also to talk about their experience. They were poised, confident and articulate, and demonstrated why they are winners.
Picture below, left to right: Michael Almeida Co-Advisor, Arden Wilkes, Bridget Williams, Sydney Dichiappari, Ella Quesnelle, Olivia Labonte
Every year Bristol Rotary makes several donations to local and other charities from the funds it raises for that purpose throughout the year - from fundraisers and donors. In the picture below, Joanne Quinn, Executive Director of The Autism Project (TAP), sends a thank you for Bristol Rotary’s donation, which for the second year in a row, was the largest donation received for TAP’s annual “Imagine Walk.”  In addition, donations went out this week to Women’s Resource Center, Rogers Free Library, Community String Project, Linden Place, East Bay Food Pantry, St Elizabeth’s Food Pantry, The Tomorrow Fund, Christian Community Bible Church (supporting a Haitian Orphanage), Bristol Country Chorus (supporting the Joan Roth Scholarship Fund), RI Veterans Home, EB Community Dev. Corp (to go towards their eventual purchase of a van for seniors living in the Franklin Court facilities). Several others will be added in May.
Also, every year Bristol Rotary provides financial grants to high school students, who apply for funds to help them move to the next educational level that fits their goals. Lastly, the Club sends funds to the Rotary Foundation for the organization’s international projects: this year, Polio Plus and Disaster Response. By fiscal year end, June 30th, Bristol Rotary will have donated over $100,000.  Almost half that sum was given out as individual donations during the year, as timing factors affected the need. “Thank you to local friends, supporters, and donors who, ‘help us help others.’”
Johnathan Birs was a Bristol Rotarian from 1995 to 1997 until he moved out of the area. With his company office now in the Bell Tower Plaza, practically walking distance to DeWolf’s, he has come back to us.  John is President and owner of Capital City Financial Corporation and the sister company Bristol County Consultants. The former company is becoming the premiere Mortgage broker in Rhode Island, while the latter company provides strategic tax planning and preparation of tax returns for both personal and corporate clients, currently numbering over 800.
John Birs has been a Mortgage Consultant since 1994. He is a 1983 graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics. John is a member of the Rhode Island Mortgage Bankers Association, served as President of the Board of Directors for the East Providence Chamber of Commerce, is a member of the Blithewold, Garden & Arboretum’s Board of Directors, and a member of its Finance Committee.
John has been happily married for over 26 years and has two beautiful daughters.
John, we’re delighted to have you back!
At the East Bay Food Pantry and Thrift Shop (EBFP), the Food4Kids (F4K) began as a program to supplement meals for families with school-age children when schools are not in session (weekends, vacations, holidays). There was a significant increase in the use of the program following the expiration of COVID-era SNAP benefits in March 2023 (which came after the end of free school meals for all, in Spring 2022). The number of visits has remained high throughout 2023 (650 kids) and higher into 2024 (450 kids, so far through March). They receive shelf-stable items, and they also can pick up milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese, and fresh fruit to help keep their kids nourished and healthy.
Inflation over the past couple years, coupled with increases in visits to EBFP and F4K, has resulted in a significant increase in cost to run these programs – currently F4K program costs $2,900 per month. The Food4Kids budget has more than doubled since 2021, making reliable support even more crucial to ensure that this essential program continues. “Bristol Rotary is such a valued partner in our community. We are grateful for your consistent support”, said Emily Mushen, Executive Director of EBFP, speaking at the Rotary Meeting on April 17.
What Is DECA? Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) is a high school and college program for students interested in business, as emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management.
The Mt. Hope High School DECA club once again finds itself in the enviable position of having ten (10) students qualify for international competition! This year Mt. Hope had 41 students compete at the RI DECA Career Development Conference, that is up from 26 last year. Of those who competed, 11 placed in the top three of their events, with 10 students earning an invitation to compete this April at the DECA International Career Development Conference (ICDC) in Anaheim, California with over 20,000 U.S. and international students. Of the 10 students who qualified, ALL will be representing Mt Hope and RI DECA
“We were very grateful last year, not only for Bristol Rotary’s generous financial contribution to help students attend ICDC in Orlando FL, but also for your genuine support and interest in DECA and our students’ business education,” said Mike Almeida (Co-Advisor, MHHS). Bristol Rotary subsidized almost 25% of the total cost of the trip for the Mt. Hope DECA team to the DECA International Career Development Conference in Anaheim. See the team below, showing the DECA symbol.
Back Row L-R: Preston Brodd, Sabian Mihalos, Maria Cesario (Rotary Found,ation) Vania Qandeel, Arden Wilkes, Bridget Williams, Paul LaFleur (President, Bristol Rotary), and Michael Almeida (Program Director).. Front Row L-R: Sydney DiChiappari, Olivia Labonte, and Isabella Brando. Not shown: Ella Quesnelle.
Last Thursday, Bristol Rotary ran its annual Bingo fundraiser to provide educational grants to support both college bound Bristol students graduating from Mt Hope High School and other private schools, as well as to Bristol students who will be attending Trade or Vocational schools.   The fundraiser, at St. Elizabeth Parish Hall, was a success and well attended by almost 200 people. There was food, drinks and fun games other than Bingo.  Through the entusiasm of the participants, and with some donations from other sources, the Bingo evening raised over $17,000 for Bristol Students.
Bristol Schools are encouraged to help their students apply for these grants.  To do so,  please  send a note with name, address and cell # to “Bristol Rotary Educational Grant Committee, P.O. Box 469, Bristol RI 02809.”  You will be then sent a form requesting more information on the nature of the Grant request.
Donations are also gratefully accepted.  “Help Us Help Others”
Please join us for our Bristol Rotary Club BINGO NIGHT
Thursday, MARCH 21, 2024...
To purchase or reserve tickets contact the members listed below
A very bright group of architecture students at RWU reached out to the town of Bristol to find a project they could create and build as a community service. This is in accordance with their mission as members of the national “Freedom by Design” architecture student’s organization. Obtaining most or all of the funds for the project through fundraising is also part of their mission.
The Freedom by Design group at Roger Williams has brought together a team of architectural students to come up with a concept, design, funding and construction of a structure that can be of benefit to the Bristol community. They chose to design a gatehouse for the Bristol Town Beach to better serve summer crowds using the beach.
The overall design of the project is meant to connect the history and location of Bristol. Their startup costs for materials was $5,400, which they raised with donations from Bristol Rotary, the Town of Bristol and the National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB). More donations may be necessary for completion in May.
Below are the RWU Freedom By Design students at the RWU School of Architecture. Going left to right in the photo are Ryan Desanctis, Dominic Cavallo (who is both a student in the School of Architecture and the Freedom by Design Director), Paul LaFleur (Donor and President of Bristol Rotary), Liv Horton, and Dylan Steward.
Please join us for our Bristol Rotary Club BINGO NIGHT
Thursday, MARCH 21, 2024...
To purchase tickets contact the members listed below.
Warren has been in the recreation field for 38 years starting here in Bristol at the former YMCA, moving onto assistant director for the Bristol’s Parks & Recreation department.  He then became Director of the West Warwick recreation department and the Fairhaven recreation department in nearby MA, returning to Bristol to take on the director’s role 2 years ago. 
He has lived in Bristol all of his life and here with his wife of 27 years and their 4 Children.  Warren has been community minded all of his adult life volunteering with King Phillip Little League, Bristol Youth Soccer the former Bristol Mustangs football, Bristol East Bay Fast Pitch softball league and The OLMC Catholic Athletic League athletic programs.
Warren (below left with President Paul LaFleur) is also an Active member in Bristol’s Knights of Columbus Council #379,the State Council of the Knights where he is a RI District Deputy and a member of the Patriotic Division of that order, where he currently serves as the Faithful Navigator of St Pius Assembly 1060 out of East Providence. 
Please welcome to Mary E. Oliveira who joined Bristol Rotary recently. Mary is a former teacher of Portuguese and Spanish in Southern New England and teacher of the English language in Lyon, France, where she lived for two years.  There, in Lyon she also worked as events coordinator for Advanced Computer Research Institute which employed multi-nationals. She speaks several languages and is an avid international traveler and student of history and world culture. Mary is a graduate of Southeastern Massachusetts University (now University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth) with post graduate studies in local universities, including Brown.  She has also served in Public Relations for the fashion industry and written and produced for a designer, in various media outlets,  fashion shoots and shows which included New York Fashion Week.   Welcome, Mary. Below being inducted by her sponsor Mary Jo Tavares and President Paul LaFleur. 

In January 10, 2024 Dr. Mark Gregory Johnson joined the Bristol Rotary Club and Bristol Rotary was delighted to have a new member of his caliber.

Mark, grew up in Rocky River, a suburb of Cleveland Ohio, went to Duke University: 1970-1974  B.S. and to University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine 1974-1978  to get his M.D. 

Subsequently he did his internship at the Hospital of St Raphael in New Haven where he did his residency in Diagnostic Radiology and a fellowship in Computed Tomography (CT) & Ultrasound (US). 

He joined the Naugatuck Valley Radiology Associates and Saint Mary’s Hospital as a radiologist specializing in CT & US until retirement on September 1, 2019

He and his wife wife, Grace McLaurin Steere, M.D. fell in love with Bristol, Rhode Island and moved here in 2008. They have two daughters, Laurin in Boston, MA and Kristin in Charlotte, NC. Mark is also and active member of the First Congregational Church (FCC) in Bristol, RI.

Welcome to the Club, Mark!

As we have every year, Bristol Rotary provides support to organizations feeding children and seniors in difficulty during the holidays. On the right, Paul LaFleur, President of Bristol Rotary, is giving a check for $2500 to Emily Mushen, Executive Director of the East Bay Food Pantry, for their Food4Kids program. And on the left, Paul donates $50 Seabra gift cards to Madalena Sylvestor, Resident Services Coordinator at the Franklin Court Independent Living. In addition, $50 Seabra gift cards were also given to the Benjamin Church Senior Center.
On September 30th, Bristol Rotary completed a 2-part fundraiser at the Bristol Sports Club to renovate the orphanage for girls of Casas de Acolhimento Residencial de Criancas e Jovens Nossa Senhora dos Anjos, in San Miguel. Working with the Rotary Club of San Miguel, our sister club, the fundraiser raised over $20,000: $10,000 from the event itself and another $10K matched by Bristol Rotary’s Charities Foundation. The funds were wired after the event and the renovation has already begun.  Congratulations to all who participated.
The “Fado Night” fundraiser was a great success not only for the financial results but for the outstanding concert and singing of Sonia Bettancourt, seen below.
The East Bay Food Pantry (EBFP) has helped residents of Bristol, Newport and Providence County to reduce hunger and increase nutrition since 2009 – particularly through the Covid years. On October 22, 2023, the EBFP has planned a fundraiser at the Bristol Yacht Club called “Uncorked 2023” with a goal of raising $10,000. EBFP is offering 3 levels of sponsorship: Platinum for $2,000, Gold for $1,000 and Silver for $1,000.
Bristol Rotary has been a consistent donor to the EBFP, having donated almost $15,000 since 2020.  We are proud to have become a Platinum Sponsor.
Below is Emily Mushen Executive Director of the EBFP, receiving a check for $2,000 from Martin Roussel, Former President of Bristol Rotary and Member of the Board of Directors.
Bristol Rotary along with Rotary Clubs around the country met the call of the Hawaiian Rotary Club to donate to the Maui Fires Relief Fund.  The strength of Rotary Clubs is being able to come together and have a measurable impact on people in need in a tragedy like in Lahaina, Maui.
To Buy Tickets or to Donate to Fado Night:   
At the bottom on this page, there is a link saying "Click here to pay with PayPal." Click. Then put in the amount. Click on "Donate by Credit or Debit Card."  Fill out the contact information, and where it says "Write a note," indicate whether the amount is for tickets or a donation.
Before you click the final "Donate" button, make sure to unclick the option "Create a PayPal account." Otherwise it will ask you to create a PayPal account.
You will receive a receipt and we will respond that it has been received.  Thank you for your support.     
                                                      Help Us Help Others

[ Click here to pay with PayPal ]

 Our speaker at our lunch meeting on August 2 was Warren Rensehausen (below), Director of Bristol Parks and Recreation. Warren thanked the Club for our $900 donation to their summer camp program, covering the cost of three additional children.  He spoke about the many improvements to the Rec. Dept., including six pickle ball courts, renovations to the playgrounds including Rockwell Park, Bristol Marina, Town Beach and Fatima Drive. He is looking at designs for a Town Beach performance stage, which will be open for concerts, as well as a drop-down movie screen for outdoor movies, with that beautiful background. They also plan to put in a 30x60 Splash Pad - sprinklers that come up from the ground. The Rec. Dept. also offers many programs, like volleyball, Maritime Center for indoor activities, bowling at Dudek on Thursdays, Tech Talk and much more.  As a life-long Bristolian, Warren is dedicated doing great things for Bristol Parks and Recreation.



On August 2, 2023, Bristol Rotary was extremely proud to have had Chief Kevin Lynch become a member of Bristol Rotary.
Chief Lynch has led a distinguished 35-year career in law enforcement and public service across police departments and state agencies in Rhode Island. Chief Lynch has served as Chief of the Bristol Police Department since 2019, and previously served as Commander of the Cranston Police Department and Deputy Administrator of the Public Utilities Commission for the State of Rhode Island. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Roger Williams University’s Criminal Justice program, which is ranked among the top 10 percent criminal justice programs in the country, and teaches in the Criminal Justice program and Policing, Public Safety and Security program at RWU’s University College. 
Paul LaFleur, Bristol Rotary President, said, “Chief Lynch is no stranger to community service which is the primary function of Bristol Rotary and Rotary Clubs around the world. We welcome his advice, counsel and participation.”
Below, Bristol Rotary Board Member and Treasurer, Cidalia Rodrigues (left) who inducted Chief Lynch (right) into Bristol Rotary.
“The Bristol Warren Thrive by Five and Beyond (BWTB5B) is a group of 20 social service and educational agencies, faith organizations and individuals that serve families in Bristol and Warren.  Since 2013, we have been meeting monthly to share information about our programs to better serve our families.  We also run Parenting Workshops, Professional Development programs and Community Presentations such as the 2022 RI Kids Count Data in Your Backyard Event, at which over 50 community members came together to hear data about the needs of families in our community.  In past years, we held six large resource fairs for the community, sharing resources and entertainment for approximately 800 people.  This year we are pivoting to join other events to give us time to focus our attention on addressing issues and needs that arose from the Data in Your Backyard event.  Our areas of focus are:  Increasing Student Attendance in Preschool to Grade 3, Supporting the Mental Health and Wellness of all Children and Promoting Proactive Early Childhood Programs.  To enable us to host some of these events and projects related to the areas of focus, we have been asking our donors to help support our work.  Bristol Rotary's Charities Foundation has donated $2,300 to help pay for workshops, website work and toolkits for schools.  We thank Bristol Rotary for their support and look forward to working with them and our other generous donors.”
Below on the left, Emily Pearce-Spence, & far right, Donna Ramos Razza (BWTB5B); center Elizabeth Habecker (Bristol Rotary).
Annually,  Bristol Rotary donates financial awards to selected outstanding and deserving students from schools in our community. Below, is Bristol Rotary Board member Cidalia Rodrigues giving those awards to two outstanding high school graduates: Marina Abrev on the left, and Shivani Mehta on the right.  Marina is a graduate of Saint Mary Academy - Bayview. Marina is planning to go to the Fordham University in NY in the Fall to study Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and Communications. While Shivani will attend Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. Shivani will major in Neuroscience. Both women have excellent academic records, have been leaders in their respective schools, and have helped their communities.  We wish them good fortune in their chosen fields. Well done!
At our July 12th meeting, the new Board for the Bristol Rotary Club was sworn in. The members of the Board, left to right, are: Maria Cesario, Elizabeth Habecker, Cidalia Rodrigues, Angela Cabral, Paul LaFleur (President), Mary Jo Fidalgo-Tavares, Jacques de Labry, Marty Roussel, Sandra Andrade, and Bruce Cox.  Their titles and roles can be found on the Bristol Rotary website on the right side of the page - ""
At our first meeting of the new fiscal year, three members of Bristol Rotary received the prestigious Paul Harris Award for continuous and exceptional contributions to Bristol Rotary Club over the years. They are (left to right): Mary Jo Fidalgo-Tavares presenting the awards (future President) and Elizabeth Habecker (past President); then Mary Jo and Angela Cabral (past President); and finally Paul LaFleur (current President) and Mary Jo. Congratulations to all three. 
At our meeting on June 21, our speaker was Chuck Anastasia (below). Chuck is a volunteer leader of the M25:35 Ministry at St. Mary of the Bay Church in Warren. M25:35 refers to Matthew chapter 25, verse 35, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me." Chuck talked about his experience working with the Diocese of Providence and DORCAS International assisting refugees and immigrants settling in Rhode Island.  Over the past year, the M25:35 Ministry furnished apartments with donated furniture, housewares, linens, and clothes for six families arriving from Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Sudan, Syria, and Venezuela. M25:35 also provided assistance for Ukrainian refugee families and arranged volunteer drivers for refugee's medical appointments. M25:35 seeks to ease the burdens of those who—often having suffered from war, oppression, poverty and political turmoil—come to the United States in search of the opportunity to live in peace, safety and freedom. Bristol Rotary was pleased to donate to M25:35 and to support their magnanimous work.
A message from Director of Parks and Recreation for the Town of Bristol, Warren Rensehausen (below left), noted that the Summer Camp registration has increased to close to 450 children this year, up 10%. The Program runs from June 21 to August 4th. The fee for the Summer Program ($300 per child) includes a T shirt, bussing from 5 locations, if needed, and lunch daily. In addition, the Program offers scholarships for families who would have difficulty paying the $300 fee. They were able to cover 15 families through grants and donations, but 3 more families came forward asking for help that the Program could not cover. Bristol Rotary offered to help and donated the last $900 needed to provide for everyone. Let’s give all our kids a great summer.
Below, left to right is Director, Rensehausen, Assistant Director, Tim Shaw, Bruce Cox, President of the Bristol Rotary’s Charities Foundation, and Mary Jo Fidalgo-Tavares, President-Elect of the Bristol Rotary Club for the upcoming 2024 year.
King Philip Little League (KPLL) was founded in 1952 and believes in the power of youth baseball and softball, to teach life lessons that build stronger individuals and communities.  We should all be proud of their achievements and the hard work that their volunteers have put in for the league’s success.
The KPLL are in the beginning of their playoff season and then will immediately jump into their all-star season. During these games, numerous baseball families and fans from around the State will be in attendance. But to have the best season, the KPLL needs an upgrade to their sound system. Having an upgraded sound system will allow them to make clear announcements of the action on the field, help in fundraising efforts, and announce awards – so that the spectators can be part of the action.
In the picture, below (left) President Paul LaFleur of Bristol Rotary is presenting a donation of $1,400 to KPLL volunteer Jennifer Mello (center) for the improved sound system. On her left, is Bristol Rotarian Ken Watkinson.  Have a great season KPLL!
We are happy to welcome Glenn Donovan as a new member of Bristol Rotary. Below Glenn is congratulated by Paul LaFleur, President of Bristol Rotary.
Glenn Donovan is a retired Radiation Safety Technologist serving 37 years at Lifespan Hospitals. He also taught in their Nuclear Medicine and X Ray Technology schools. He is currently volunteering as a court appointed child advocate and a long-term care ombudsman.  Glenn also serves on the Bristol Conservation Commission. He is also the husband of another Bristol Rotarian, Susan Donovan, State Representative Bristol/Prudence Island District 69, Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee.
Welcome aboard, Glenn
DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) is an association of marketing students that encourages the development of business and leadership skills through academic conferences and competitions. This school year, at Mt Hope High School, we had 26 students compete at the RI DECA Career Development Conference. Of those, 17 placed in the top three of their events with 11 students earning an invitation to compete this April at the DECA International Career Development Conference (ICDC) in Orlando Florida with over 18,000 students. Of the 11 students who qualified, 8 represented RI DECA and competed at the Conference. This is an incredible achievement and the students have worked very hard to attain their goals.
Below are the 8 students who competed. Rear Center, is Maureen Gauthier DECA Advisor for Mt. Hope. To her left is Paul LaFleur, President of Bristol Rotary who delivered Bristol Rotary’s donation to help the team get to Orlando, and far left is Christina Vieira, Bristol Rotarian assisting Paul, who participated in DECA when she was at Mt. Hope as a student.
This year, due to our generous donors, (who have responded to our motto “Help Us Help Others”), Bristol Rotary donated over $40,000 to a variety of charities that help our community. That also includes charities that are helping Ukrainian refugees resettle here - like Dorcas International and the 2nd Baptist Ukrainian Church. The latter, not only helps refugees from the current conflict but also from the takeover of Crimea in 2014. 
Bristol Rotary not only makes donations during the year, but sets aside a Board Meeting in April as our April Giving event - using funds donated to Bristol Rotary from a variety of fundraisers for that purpose.
In the pictures below, one or more Bristol Rotarian is bringing a donation to the representatives of the charity or project. There are some familiar names, but this year we have emphasized several school projects. Due to a shortfall in funds, we donated to supplement the budgets for Art programs at Guiteras, Colt Andrews and Rockwell schools. In addition, we contributed to the DECA program at Mt. Hope HS, the Kickemuit Science Olympiad and, a student competition established by MADD. In the center, is a list of other donations made this year. It includes organizations that help both young and old, mentally challenged or physically challenged by war or relationships, music and art. And, thanks to one Rotarian couple, we even managed to send an ambulance, full of medical supplies and winter clothing, to Ukraine!
It's been a very good year – help us help others - next year.
The KMS Science Team gets a few miles down the road with help from Bristol Rotary
Kerri Krawczyk (front left), the veteran Science Olympiad coach at the Kickemuit School, recently led her team to a spot in the 39thScience Olympiad National Tournament which will take place on May 19 and 20th.  As reported in last week’s Bristol Phoenix, the team is looking for donations to transport the team and parents to Wichita State University, at a cost of approximately $20 to $30 thousand dollars.
Below Paul LaFleur (front right), President of Bristol Rotary, contributes to the ride with a check from Bristol Rotary for $4,000 and encourages other businesses and local organization to help grease the wheels. “We are all  proud of these outstanding local students!”
Sunday, April 30, The Imagine Walk fundraiser, which has been run annually by The Autism Project of Johnston, RI came to Goddard Memorial Park. The Imagine Walk contributes to The Autism Project ‘s mission to “support children to young adults with autism, their families and the many professionals who work to support them. They touch more than 7,500 people each year through their direct programming, training, outreach, and parent consultants.
The Autism Project is a ‘Hub of Hope’ that supports autistic people, their families and caregivers, community members, and educators to build a more neuro-inclusive community for all to be successful. A world where individuals with an autism spectrum disorder are valued participating members of their communities.”
Bristol Rotary raised funds in 2015 – 2016 to bring The Autism Project to the East Bay to provide closer support to the over 2,000 families in the East Bay affected by autism spectrum disorders. Support is still critical, as the rate of children born with autism has grown from 1 in 68 in 2016, to 1 in 36 today – per the CDC.
Below center left is Joanne Quinn Executive Director of The Autism Project, center right is Bruce Cox, President of Bristol Rotary’s Charities Foundation. Also, Bristol Rotary Board Members, left Maria Cesario and right Jacques de Labry.
Ken Watkinson, from Bristol Rotary, working with Tom Carroll, President of Paramedic Systems & Alert Ambulance, managed to donate an Ambulance to be sent to Ukraine through the unique channel of the Second Baptist Ukrainian Church.  The Second Baptist Church through donations, have already sent four large containers to the Ukraine. Bristol Rotarians, Ken & Mary Watkinson, with help from the Bristol Rotary Club, have managed to bring 50 truckloads of supplies for the soldiers and civilians: such as PPE defibrillator, heart monitors, winter jackets, hygiene bags, and warm clothes to the church. The Church in turn packages the goods in containers and sends them to Ukraine.
Alert Ambulance is donating the ambulance and all the necessary equipment inside.   Life of an ambulance in the Ukraine is 60 days. This ambulance will be brought over to the Ukraine via container. Once there, it will be painted in camouflage and will go right into the battlefield to help the wounded. Soldiers are transported from the war zone via pickup truck then they will be placed into the ambulance and brought to the hospital.
The Bristol Rotary also donated $1000 which will go toward obtaining wound VAC kits to be placed in the ambulance.  Vacuum-Assisted Closure kits (VAC) assists in the closure of wounds, a type of therapy to help wounds heal faster.
Below, is Ken and Mary Watkinson (center) delivering the check to Slavik Krishchuk (right) Mission Director for the Second Baptist Church, and his brother Leonid Krishchuk (left), Pastor of the New Life Church in Lutsk, Ukraine.
Chief of Bristol Police Kevin Lynch (left) and Lieutenant Stephen St. Pierre brought a timely and important story to Bristol Rotary Meeting of how to prepare and deal with an active threat to your business, school, property or home. The Chief emphasized that Bristol was named, not only the safest town in Rhode Island, but also the safest University town. However, that doesn't mean that, in this day and age, we should not be better prepared to deal with threats to our well being. Lieut. St. Pierre presented a detailed PowerPoint video reviewing all the stages of such an attack, beginning with being always aware and watchful of your surroundings and people coming into your establishment; how to deal with the threat when it happens (run, hide and fight as the last resort); to how to help the wounded when the police have eliminated the threat. This is an important presentation that should be seen throughout Bristol. Bristol Rotary is making it available to you on this website by clicking below. It will download the presentation on your computer to be watched on your time schedule. Pass it on to your friends and family. Thanks Chief and Lieut. St. Pierre for keeping us safe!
Bristol Rotary is growing! Four new members joined Rotary at the luncheon on March 22, in addition to Chef Sai of DeWolf at the last meeting. Below from left to right are Cesar DaPonte (of Northwest Boats & CC Marine in Bristol ) and his sponsor Maria Cesario, Christina Vieira (Commercial Lines Account Manager of John Andrade Insurance) and her sponsor President Paul LaFleur, Hannah Araujo (Owner of Victoria Flowers) and her sponsor Lisa James, and Dawn Jenkin (Director of Rogers Free Library) and her sponsor Marie Knapman. All new members will make a significant contribution to Bristol Rotary and the community. They will "Help us Help Others."
Rotary International initiated a program asking all Rotary Clubs to offer financial support to Ukraine early in the invasion by having Rotary Clubs all over the U.S. and other countries contribute to Rotary's Disaster Relief Fund. This fund was to be dedicated to Ukraine and and sent to Rotary Clubs in-country as well as in neighboring countries. Bristol Rotary's  members donated over $3,000 at the time. Bristol Rotary wanting to continue the support as more and more refugees were sent to our area, teamed up with  Dorcas International, a local 501(c)(3), dedicated to helping and integrating Ukrainian families locally.  Through a fundraiser, Bristol Rotary was able to contribute to Dorcas for their immediate needs. See near the top of the picture, Paul La Fleur giving a check to Dorcas representatives, the first of checks totaling $5,000. But, that was the beginning, throughout 2022 Bristol Rotary focused on local help to Ukrainians, not only those families arriving during the current conflict, but also those left homeless during the first Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014. Both groups of refugees still had families left behind and were eager to help them too.  Working with the local 2nd Baptist Ukrainian Church, Bristol Rotary led by Ken and Mary Watkinson, Bristol Rotarians, and supported by the Club and other Bristol donors, have collected, packaged, and delivered to the Church over 45 truckloads of medical equipment, hygiene kits, warm clothing, bedding, winter coats and other vital items. The value of these contributions are in the tens of thousands.  These were processed at the church and distributed  to the refugee families with the remainder sent to their families and friends in Ukraine. These shipments in containers were also paid for by donations from many other supporters including Bristol Rotary. The containers make their way into Ukraine by special underground routes using air, trains and trucks. This local support to our local congregation of Ukrainians will continue to be one of Bristol Rotary's charitable projects for "as long as it takes."
At our Bristol Rotary lunch, Lynn Smith (Linden Place Historian) treated us to a fascinating lecture on the history of Bristol, both the ugly slave trade business of the DeWolf family as well as several stories of  the almost 600 enslaved people in Bristol, from it's founding in 1670 to 1808, when the slave trade was officially outlawed. This included Indigenous People who were also enslaved. Linden Place has been reexamining its history as part of the Rhode Island Slave History Medallion Project. They will be sharing the stories that have been uncovered about the house, its inhabitants, and most importantly the enslaved and free black people connected with Linden Place and our community. As part of this project, one goal is to create a safe space at Linden Place to discuss this difficult topic. Lynn had so much to share that she will be invited again to speak at a future meeting. This is not a lecture to miss. Come join us.
Chief Anthony Silva, ret. (left), accompanied  by Kevin Lynch, Chief of Police of Bristol, came to our Rotary meeting to stress the importance of  stopping Impaired Driving. Chief Silva represents the "RI Impaired Driving and Engagement Council." Chief Silva stressed that the car is the most dangerous weapon we have - killing more people in the U.S. (over 35,000 p/a) than any other - even guns! He reiterated all the cautious actions to take when dealing with driving after drinking (the legal limit .08%) or driving after taking marijuana. Or, more importantly what you can do to prevent a friend from doing so. Surprisingly, with the legalization of marijuana in RI, the police have many more tools for identifying alcohol than marijuana abuse while driving.  More tools and standards need to be developed for dealing with marijuana police stops. Chief Kevin Lynch will be speaking to us at a future meeting (March 15) about actions the Bristol Police are taking to protect our businesses and schools in Bristol in the dangerous national environment we're in.  Come to our lunch meeting at DeWolf, lunch is $20. Please send an email to, if you would like to come listen to the Chief.. 
Sai Viswanath, Owner and Executive Chef , of DeWolf Tavern at 259 Thames St, in Bristol, has joined Bristol Rotary as an active member. Sai has hosted Bristol Rotary lunch meetings for the past ten years and was very supportive of Rotary during the Covid years, as we were both challenged to keep going.  By joining Bristol Rotary, Sai wants to participate in the charitable support of our community, which is the mission of Bristol Rotary, as a way of paying back the community that made DeWolf Tavern so successful. Below Sai (center) is being sworn in by Paul LaFleur, President (left) and supported by his sponsor, Jacques de Labry.
The new Executive Director of the East Bay Food Pantry (EBFP), Emily Mushen, briefed us on the impact the EBFP has had in the East Bay during this transition year of 2022. She reiterated their mission to "engage, educate, and empower the East Bay in creating a hunger-free community." She thanked Bristol Rotary for our continued financial support not only last year, with the Food for Kids program, but for our donations at the height of the pandemic, when food insecurity was at its most challenging. See below Emily's further comments and EBFP's incredible performance through out last year. 
Due to budget cuts, Bristol Rotary donated $1,000 each to the three elementary schools in Bristol to restore more fully their art programs. Below, Paul LaFleur presents a check to the school to support the art teacher's program: center picture is Rockwell School, teacher Sarah Jacobs; upper left is Guiteras School, also Sarah Jacobs; upper right Colt Andrews, teacher Lynne Ramos. See full story below.
At the beginning of the holiday vacation period, children in need don't get their meal as school is closed. To meet this need, the East Bay Food Pantry has created a "Food 4 Kids" program, though their funds are strained this year. Here Bristol Rotary President, Paul LaFleur, brings some help with a check for $2,000 to Emily Mushen, Executive Director of the EBFP.
On December 3, Bristol Rotary held their annual fundraiser to fund donations to over 20 local charities that the Club supports every year.  Fun was had by all and just as important, through the generosity of donors and participants, our goal was met and exceeded. Click on Read More to see how to apply for a donation. 
Below on right is President Paul LeFleur giving a check to Diane Sanna, Asst. Superintendent of Bristol Warren Regional School District (center) for the Guiteras School Art Department to supplement their budget for art supplies. On left is Sarah Jacobs, Visual Arts Teacher, for Rockwell and Guiteras Schools, who gave a compelling presentation of the need to continue art programs at these difficult times for her students. 
Above: President Paul (left), Steven Gallo, Operations Manager (center), Maksim Krishchuk (right), Ukrainian Response Coordinator, both of Dorcas International
At Wednesday’s lunch meeting (9/13/22), President Paul LaFleur handed a check to representatives of Dorcas International, a 501c3, who has launched a program to support Ukrainian refugees coming to Rhode Island with a variety of services to ease their relocation. Bristol Rotary has raised close to $8,000 through donations and fundraisers since April 2022 to help Ukraine and Ukrainians both here in RI or through Rotary Clubs in Ukraine and surrounding countries.
For more about information about what Dorcas International of Rhode Island is doing for Ukrainian refugees, click on Dorcas International on the left side of our website ( under "Downloads."  Or click here.
Bristol Rotary has been having its luncheon meetings at DeWolf Tavern for over 10 years. Chef Sai Viswanath has made his restaurant welcoming and the home of Bristol Rotary all those years. And, the food is always excellent! The real test of this relationship was during the pandemic. Despite all the pressures that DeWolf and all the other restaurants faced during Covid, Chef Sai always accommodated Bristol Rotary and the changes we were forced to make. We both did what we could to help each other out.  Here, Elisabeth Habecker, President of Bristol Rotary (fiscal year 2021/2022), offers our thanks the Chef Sai for his unfailing support and hospitality to the Club. On the right, Chef Sai counters with his thanks to Bristol Rotary - at the meeting where a new President, Paul LaFleur, is inducted for fiscal year 2022/2023.
Paul LaFleur is sworn in as the new President of Bristol Rotary for the fiscal year 2022/2023 by Assistant District Governor, Betty Galligan, at the Rotary lunch at DeWolf Tavern. Paul has been a Rotarian for 25 years and has been President 3 times. On the right, is Elizabeth Habecker, former President of Bristol Rotary for fiscal year 2021/2022, and Betty Galligan and Paul.  Lower Right, is John Andrade, President of John Andrade Insurance, who came to honor Paul's induction. John is not only Paul's boss but has been his mentor for decades. John Andrade has been a Rotarian for 59 years and was President of Bristol Rotary in 1965. Welcome Paul!
Joyce Watts, the Director and inspiration for Global Outreach, spoke about their broad services for people in need. Global outreach and its partners are dedicated to putting this mission into action by providing a full range of charitable, human service, educational, religious and community development activities. 
David Harrington, curator of Linden Place, spoke at our Rotary lunch meeting of the evolution of Linden Place from being the home of prominant Bristolians to a center for charitable and artistic events in Bristol. The history of Bristol is embodied in the beautiful house which was the home of DeWolf's, Colt's and Ethel Barrymore, as well as the families and historical activities they represented.
Ken and Mary Watkinson updated us on the situation in Haiti and specifically on the children's school in La Mothe, with over 200 students, that they have been selflessly helping with medicines, clothing and financial support. Bristol Rotary has held several fundraisers in the past to help this cause as well. It is called Haiti's Child.  In short, the situation in Haiti continues to be very dangerous with lawless gangs controlling the country and stealing or attacking any source of money or goods. The Watkinson's have suitcases full of medicines that have not been sent to Haiti for fear that they would be stolen. However, the support continues to be collected here while we continue to find new ways to get it to Haiti. 
Maria Cesario joined Bristol Rotary and is being pinned by President Liz and her sponsor Mary Jo Fidalgo-Tavares. Maria recently retired from Textron where she was Senior Tax Accountant. She has now formed her own tax consulting company, called World Consultancy Services. Maria also continues to serve on the Bristol Fourth of July Committee as Correspondent Secretary. Welcome to Bristol Rotary, Maria.
Our Speaker for our Bristol Rotary lunch on March 16 was Joanne Quinn, Executive Director of The Autism Project, which serves Rhode Island with support services for families with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. They also train teachers and professionals on methods and practices. In 2015 and 2016, Bristol Rotary teamed up with The Autism Project to fund and create The Autism Project - East Bay Support Center, to bring these services to the under-supported East Bay of Rhode Island. With participation from all the towns in Bristol County, the joint project raised the highest level of donations in Bristol Rotary's history. The Center was opened in September 2015. 

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Bruce H. Cox
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Mary Jo Fidalgo-Tavares
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Jacques de Labry
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Maria Cesario
Scott Pickering
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Michelle Hughes
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