WOONSOCKET — Allen Rivers has spent the past five years as a member of the Woonsocket Rotary Club getting things done without a lot of fanfare or personal recognition.
That all changed last Thursday evening when Rivers’ Rotary Club peers celebrated his selection as this year’s recipient of the organization’s highest award for service during a dinner at River Falls Restaurant.
The Rotary Club’s Vocational Service Award recognizes those aspiring to high ethical standards in their occupations as well as the contribution of “their vocational talents to the problems and needs of society,” Rena DiMuccio, chair of the local club’s Vocational Service Award Committee, said while presenting Rivers the award with Ed Skwirz, Woonsocket Rotary Club president.
The annual award is given to an individual, business or Rotarian from the communities of Burrillville, North Smithfield or Woonsocket, “who exemplifies outstanding commitment to his, her or their business or profession over a significant number of years, leaving a lasting influence on his, her or their vocational area and the community in general,” DiMuccio said.
A recipient of the award should embody the Rotary Club’s motto of “service above self” and its ethical guidelines in a call “to moral excellence,” she added.
Rivers is the owner of Riverside Home Improvement, a company he founded in 2007 to primarily handle single family housing, business and industrial construction and general contracting, according to DiMuccio.
Joining the Rotary Club on St. Patrick’s Day, 2011, Rivers has served as the Club’s Autumnfest Committee Chairman since that time, she noted.
The Rotary Club is responsible for operation of Autumnfest’s beer tent, soda concession, and food court and Rivers has served as the Club’s liaison to the Autumnfest Steering Committee as part of that contribution.
In addition to his volunteer work with Rotary Club and Autumnfest, Rivers and his wife, Darlene, have served as foster parents for almost 30 years, DiMuccio noted.
Rivers was named for the tribute in a unanimous vote by the four-member selection committee, DiMuccio noted.
“He was selected because of the hard work he does with the club and with Autumnfest for the past five years,” she said. “We are very happy with his selection.”
Skwirz also described Rivers as “a great choice” for the 2019 Vocational Service Award, offering “he earned every bit of it” as an active member of the club.
“He is especially deserving because of his role as chair of the Autumnfest Committee,” Skwirz, a prior recipient of the award, said.
“I bet you he was there continuously for almost three weeks getting ready for Autumnfest,” Skwirz said.
“He is a very active member and a very dedicated person,” Skwirz said.
When asked how he was feeling about the tribute on Thursday, Rivers explained that it was a bit out of his norm and comfort zone.
“I am humbled and honored but I am kind of a behind the scenes person,” Rivers said. “I don’t do what I do for recognition. I do what I do just to be a part of the club,” he said.
That is the way it goes for the Rivers overall, he noted. His wife would have joined him at the dinner but couldn’t because they were also scheduled to attend a meeting organized by the Department of Children, Youth and Families and Connecting with Children and Families that night on foster parenting, a meeting she couldn’t miss, he noted.
“I wish more people would do that because there are just so many children in need,” Rivers said of foster parenting.
As for the rest of his special night with the Rotarians, Rivers said he hadn’t expected so many of club’s members and his friends to attend.
“I feel a little nervous, but I also feel good about the award and I will get to spend the evening with my fellow members,” Rivers said.
Follow Joseph Nadeau on Twitter @JNad75