Chepachet Grange recognizes northern RI volunteers with community service awards

North Smithfield resident and Grange 2024 Agriculturist of the Year Ann Lilley, left, with Grange member Irene Nebiker.

GLOCESTER – Volunteers and local professionals who go above and beyond the call of duty for their communities were recently recognized at the Chepachet Grange #38’s Community Service Recognition Night.

The annual awards ceremony honors individuals and organizations in both Glocester and the surrounding towns for outstanding service.

This year’s recipients included North Smithfield’s Ann Lilley, a gardener who was named Agriculturist of the Year with an award presented by Grange member Irene Nebiker. Lilley has led the effort to build the town’s community garden, which produced more than 300 pounds of food for the North Smithfield Food Pantry last year. She has also worked over the past several years to, “paint the town yellow,” making affordable daffodil bulbs available to North Smithfield residents to produce colorful annual blooms.

North Smithfield resident Freya Hainley, also a grange member, was named Citizen of the Year. Hainley is a longtime active member of the North Smithfield Heritage Association, and member of the Historic Joseph Teel Trust.

Burrillville educator Rachel Auclair, Chepachet Grange 2024 Teacher of the Year. left, with Grange member and Burrillville Middle School Vice Principal Raechel Robidoux.

Burrillville educator Rachel Auclair was named 2024 Teacher of the Year with an award presented by Grange member and Burrillville Middle School Vice Principal Raechel Robidoux. Auclair, a third grade teacher at Callahan Elementary School who plans to retire at the end of this school year, was recognized for her dedication to the teaching profession, and for going above and beyond as an educator.

Robidoux, a Chepachet resident, was also recognized for 40 years of membership with the organization.

Established in 1907, the Chepachet Grange began as a chapter of the larger national organization with the same purpose; to discuss farming techniques and legislation. In the years that followed, as the number of local farms decreased, the grange morphed into a civic organization, with a mission today of helping local communities. Today, the group collects food for area pantries and animal shelters, and supports organizations including the Reuben Mason House, the Veterans Administration, Hasbro Children’s Hospital and Rhode Island School for the Deaf. In Glocester, the Grange also originated the town’s annual Scarecrow Festival.

At the Community Recognition Night held on Tuesday, May 21, the group also recognized Scituate Police Department’s Sgt. Richard Parenti. Parenti was named Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, with a special award set to be presented on Tuesday, June 4.

Firefighter of the Year Lindsey Grissom

Lindsey Grissom, a Glocester resident and lieutenant with the Chepachet Fire Department who has volunteered with the district since 2019, was recognized as the 2024 Firefighter of the Year. A Ponaganset High School graduate who works as a medical assistant for Stillwater Primary Care as well as a a pharmacy tech for CVS, Grissom recently completed her master’s degree in physician assistant studies at Bryant University. She was named Advanced Life Support Provider of the Year by he Rhode Island Department of Health last year.

Grissom was recognized for her community service as a volunteer with the department, as well as her academic and professional accomplishments.

The Glocester Historical Cemeteries Committee was named Chepachet Grange’s Group of the Year for 2024. Over the past five years that committee, led by Bill Brown, has cleaned and maintained more than 100 historical cemeteries in Glocester.

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