PAWTUCKET — Call it a healthy version of the “Oscars.” Five individuals who have worked to steer children and teens away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco products and toward making good lifestyle choices were honored recently by the Pawtucket Prevention Coalition.
The 18th Annual Pawtucket Prevention Coalition Academy Awards were held on Dec. 1 at Rosinha's Restaurant. Pawtucket Prevention Coalition Director Diane Dufresne hosted the ceremony, presenting statuettes to CSI Program Mentor Sean Garedo, Pawtucket Slaterettes Baseball League President Sarah Feeley, Jenks Jr. High/JMW School for the Performing and Visual Arts school nurse Linda Mendonca, City Councilor Lorenzo “Larry” Tetreault and State Representative and Pawtucket Police Lt. Roberto DaSilva.
Dufresne noted that she first met Sean Garedo at Roger Williams Hospital where he was a mental health worker helping patients with addictions. Impressed with his ability to draw patients in with his personal stories, she asked him six years ago to be a mentor for the CSI Program. Since then, she said, he has become a fixture at Prospect Heights and has developed the same “Pied Piper” effect with the youth there as he does with the patients of Center One.
Garedo, who recently celebrated 22 years of sobriety, is also a nationally known motivational speaker who has conducted over 250 workshops around the country. With his stated goal to “inspire and motivate people to better their lives in some capacity,” Dufresne called Garedo “a true pioneer of prevention.”
In recognizing Sarah Feeley, Dufresne noted that the Pawtucket Slaterettes is the first all-girls baseball league in the United States. It has become, she said, a national model for perpetuating the knowledge of baseball among girls and implanting the ideals of good sportsmanship, courage and respect for authority.
Dufresne said that Feeley played for the Slaterettes until the age of 18 and later joined an alumni team. She joined the Slaterettes board of directors in 2002 and became president in 2007, and continues to coach younger girls (ages 5 and up) in Little League baseball as well as in Pawtucket Youth Soccer. The Pawtucket Prevention Coalition, Dufresne said, chose Feeley for her “dedication to the youth of Pawtucket and the powerful role sports play in promoting positive behaviors in our youth.”
Linda Mendonca, a school nurse for 20 years--nine of them at Jenks/JMW, was called “an outspoken advocate and prevention ally,” by Dufresne. She was cited for her support and efforts in running the junior high school health fairs, motivational speaking programs and grant-funded programs such as Get Up and Go, Peer mentoring and Fule Up and Play.
A member of the Pawtucket School District's Wellness Committee, Mendonca was instrumental in Jenks/JMW receiving grants to fund a new fitness room, mental health screening for teens and pre-teens, and a program focused on HIV/AIDS and risky behaviors, said Dufresne.
Elected to the City Council in 2008, Lorenzo “Larry” Tetreault has been the council's representative on the Pawtucket Prevention Coalition for the past two years. Dufresne cited his 30 years as a teacher at Goff and Jenks junior high schools and at Shea High School, as well as 12 years of teaching evening GED classes. She also noted that even in his retirement, he continues to teach a driver's education course and to substitute teach.
Dufresne said that Tetreault had also served on the city's Juvenile Hearing Board, helped coach the Darlington Little League and, as a city councilor, has helped support legislative changes in the city on underage drinking and tobacco control. She called him a “role model public servant and a true pioneer of prevention.”
In honoring Roberto DaSilva, Dufresne noted that the 18-year veteran of the Pawtucket Police Department has worked in both the narcotics and juvenile divisions, and is currently a lieutenant in the patrol division. She added that she first met DaSilva when he sat on the Truancy Prevention Committee and ran the Juvenile Hearing Board, and said, “He has always been there when we needed him, supporting all prevention efforts the Coalition was involved in.”
Additionally, Dufresne noted that DaSilva coaches youth soccer, is a board member of CACD and a founding member of SPB which distributes scholarships to police officers who are Portuguese. In his role of state representative and as a police officer, she said DaSilva has supported anti-tobacco and alcohol legislation and “remains a strong champion of prevention.”