4/13/2011 – Providence, RI – “A special concern for the working class and the poor . . .” The words echo from the mission statement of La Salle Academy through the pages of the Autumn, 2010, Alumni Magazine and resonate in the hearts of all alumni who keep the spark of that “special concern” alive.
At Big Brothers of Rhode Island, the state’s oldest mentoring agency (founded in 1952) that “special concern” spark has been burning brightly for decades. In large part, this is due to the dedication of many La Salle Academy alumni. Big Brothers of Rhode Island has been under the diligent leadership of Executive Director Val Sinesi ‘64 since 1983. His expert guidance has been instrumental in maintaining the humanitarian mission of Big Brothers to provide long term adult male role models on a one-to-one basis to at-risk fatherless boys.
According to Rhode Island Kids Count’s 2010 profile, 30 percent of Rhode Island children under the age of 18 live in single-parent homes. Even worse is the finding that 79 percent of children living in poverty were living in single-parent families. The vast majority of these households are headed by a female.
“Increasingly, Rhode Island children are growing up in single-parent households without their dads. The absence of a positive male influence throughout a boy’s childhood is linked with the child’s reduced academic achievement and increased risk for early parenthood,” said Director Sinesi. “Big Brothers have a tremendous influence in helping to break this socially destructive cycle.”
The contribution of La Salle Academy grads to Big Brothers has gone well beyond the dynamic leadership of Val Sinesi. La Salle alumni have filled numerous positions on both its Board of Directors and its extensive Advisory Board.
(pictured: From left: Richard Smith ’66, John O’Hare ’64, Val Sinesi ’64, Thomas Glavin ’70, Joseph Manera ’64, S. Robert Chiappinelli ’58, Robert Perry ’68 and Walter Smith ’64. click for larger photo)
Currently, the Board of Directors includes President-elect Walter Smith ‘64, Vice Presidents John J. O’Hare ‘64 and Joseph C. Manera, Esq. ‘64.
Advisory Board members have included Joseph DeAngelis ’64, William Devine ’58, Charles Fogerty ’73, John Leyden ’76, Sen. Jack Reed ’67, Joe Walsh ’59 and Mark Weiner ’73. A current member of the Advisory Board is Thomas Glavin ’70, whose daughter Catherine is a sophomore at La Salle.
S. Robert Chiappinelli ‘58 has not only served as a board member, but was recognized with the 2007 Rev. Howard C. Olsen Lifetime Service Award. Board member Robert Perry ‘68 is also a member of the Board of Directors and the 2006 recipient of the Lifetime Service Award. Vincent A. DiMonte, Esq. ‘69 has served on the board and has marched the entire length of the Bristol 4th of July Parade to promote Big Brothers.
In 2006, Big Brothers recognized board member Andrew V. Gallonio (‘68), past assistant treasurer, with the George Katz Board Member of the Year Award. John O’Hare and Richard P. Smith ‘66 have both led BBRI as past presidents. D. Paul Dascoli ‘78 has served on the board and Thomas Boyle ‘69, the son of 1992 Board Member of the Year, Hon. Russell J. Boyle, continues his father’s great contribution to Big Brothers by serving on the Advisory Board. Also serving on the Advisory Board with him is Phanny Prep ‘94, a member of the U.S. Air Force and a former Little Brother. Most recently, the Big Brothers staff added new Social Worker Laura Egerton ‘07.
Perhaps the most prestigious recognition that Big Brothers bestows annually is the Robert “Cy” Killian Humanitarian Award, and, again, La Salle Academy is proudly represented by:
1979: John “Jack” Cronin
1980: Hon. John E. Moran
1982: Hon. John McLaughlin
1984: Gov. Joseph Garrahy ‘48
2001: Edward P. Garrahy, Sr.
2002: John J. O’Hare
2005: Richard P. Smith ‘66
“The backbone of the program remains the dedicated Big Brothers who provide the friendship, emotional support, understanding and guidance to young boys,” said Director Sinesi.
Every year BBRI recognizes that dedication by honoring a Big Brother with the Col. Maurice A. Wolf Big Brother of the Year Award. That honor has been shared over the years by a significant number of La Salle men:
1978: S. Robert Chiappinelli
1984: Walter Smith
1992: Vincent A. DiMonte, Esq.
1997: Robert Perry
“La Salle Academy continues to produce men with the social conscience that it takes to step forward and give of themselves wherever there is a need,” said Sinesi. “The Big Brothers motto — ‘No man ever stands so straight as when he stoops to help a child’ — is a quiet inspiration to many La Salle men who, in a spirit of true Christian charity, step forward to make a difference, one at a time, in the life of a fatherless boy.”
Big Brothers of Rhode Island is still looking for a few good men. If you are interested, you can contact Big Brothers at (401) 432-9955.