Pawtucket Foundation takes different route with annual event

Pawtucket Foundation takes different route with annual event

A rendering of what the area around the future commuter rail stop near the intersections of Pine Street and Goff Avenue in Pawtucket could look like once developed, provided by the Pawtucket Foundation. One of the foundation’s main goals is to bring developers to the 150-acre Conant Thread District.

PAWTUCKET – Featuring a few key changes this year, including a new downtown location, the Pawtucket Foundation’s annual awards celebration, titled Make Your Mark, is designed to boost engagement in the city and among attendees, say organizers.

The event, on May 7 at 5 p.m., will take place at Nexus Property Management National Headquarters, 49 North Union St. in Pawtucket.

“We decided to switch things up,” Christine Sullivan, development director at the Pawtucket Foundation, told The Breeze. “It’s a great networking evening. I think we’re known best for that.”

Hearing positive feedback about the networking opportunities at past events, Sullivan said organizers decided to scrap a sit-down dinner after 12 years and let attendees enjoy a cocktail-style party that facilitates more conversation.

Heavy hors d’oeuvres will be provided by Russell Morin Catering and Events.

The event draws between 350 and 400 people each year, Sullivan said. Anyone can purchase a ticket and attend.

While the ceremony typically takes place at the Pawtucket Armory, Sullivan said organziers wanted to try a new space this year. The Nexus Property Management National Headquarters is “historically a cool building,” she said, adding that its location downtown is great.

Each year, two or three people receive awards, which is the highlight of the evening, she said.

“It’s a great way to honor some people who have really put their heart and soul in moving Pawtucket forward on the map,” Sullivan said.

This year’s “mark-makers” are:

• Linda Dewing, of Places & Spaces Realty and a member of the foundation’s board of directors, will receive the Special Distinction award for “helping to revitalize downtown Pawtucket by connecting people and places.”

• Rosalie DaRosa, owner of North East Knitting, who will receive the Heritage Award. Her “leadership, wisdom, and strong values have allowed North East Knitting to thrive and provide a long-term commitment of excellent service and investment in Pawtucket for decades.”

• Daniel Sullivan Jr., CEO of Collette and co-chairman of the Pawtucket Foundation, will receive the Person of the Year award for his “long and influential presence in Pawtucket, not only bringing jobs to the city, growing the business and inspiring his team at Collette, but in the many projects he has spearheaded to revitalize and enhance Pawtucket.”

Wanting to emphasize the new direction this year, Sullivan said that Eric Delin, of Delin Design and a member of the foundation’s advisory board, helped create the invitations, which included scratch papers for people to doodle and create art.

“We want people to be engaged, excited, and participate in what’s going on in this city,” she said.

Commenting on the phrase “crafting a better Pawtucket” found on the invitation packets, Sullivan said, “A better Pawtucket to us is one that is attractive, sustainable, livable, (and that) has an engaging community. That’s why our mission is to help drive economic redevelopment in the city.”

“The projects we take on … have a catalytic impact on driving economic development in Pawtucket and Central Falls,” she added.

While Pawtucket has had its share of recent losses, including the PawSox and Memorial Hospital, Sullivan said the foundation doesn’t feel responsible.

“We have had some losses but there’s so much that has potential for happening for the good of this city,” Sullivan said. “The only thing that’s consistent is change.”

About the baseball team, she said, “I think everyone did what they could to make that a positive to have them stay here … People showed up (to rallies) and were invested … For them (owners) it was a business decision.”

Much of the advocacy group’s current focus is on the construction of a commuter rail stop near the intersections of Pine Street and Goff Avenue in Pawtucket, as well as the economic development of the surrounding 150-acre Conant Thread District.

The goal is to bring in developers, not just within Rhode Island but also from other states “to invest in Pawtucket and come in with new ideas,” Sullivan said.

Plenty of empty buildings around the commuter rail stop make for “a blank canvas,” she said. “There could be so many cool things that could happen … The space could be reworked into something amazing.”

She said no particular industry is being targeted but added, “The history of Pawtucket is industrial and to some degree some of that still fits.”

The foundation also continues to work on connecting and completing portions of the riverfront bike path and redeveloping the downtown and riverfront corridor.

Of the bike path, Sullivan said, “It’s important for residents; it’s important for people who work here to go out and take a great walk at lunch.”

One of her favorite parts of Pawtucket, she said, are the people she works with every day who are “so committed to wanting to make (the city) a better place for everybody.”

RSVP to Make Your Mark by April 30. One event ticket costs $175. A gold ticket, which includes an event ticket as well as a complimentary raffle ticket and a short message to honoree(s) in the program and video, costs $250. Raffle tickets cost $50 each.

For tickets, call 401-725-4400, email csullivan@pawtucketfoundation.org, or visit www.pawtucketfoundation.org .