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Rhode Island Heroes

  • Red Cross of Rhode Island Heroes

The Rhode Island Heroes Luncheon recognizes everyday men, women, and youth who have undertaken extraordinary acts of kindness and courage to prevent and alleviate human suffering, exemplifying the true spirit of the American Red Cross.

Please join us as we celebrate exceptional individuals who have made a personal commitment to creating a safer and stronger community.

For more information, email Libby Richardson at or call (860) 678-4310.

When and Where

Community Heroes Breakfast in Greater Hartford

Friday, June 02, 2017, 11:30AM - 1:30PM

Crowne Plaza Warwick, 801 Greenwich Ave., Warwick, RI

Tickets are $50 per person or $500 for a table of 10.

To purchase tickets or a table, click here.

For more information, contact Libby Richardson at or 860-678-4310.

Our 2017 Heroes

Congratulations to our 2017 Rhode Island Heroes

Community Hero Award

Community Hero Award

Christian Hill Community Church

Christian Hill Community Church is receiving our Community Hero Award for creating a regional Red Cross shelter at their church and for their partnership with the Red Cross.

Dave Simas and Michelle Messier from Christian Hill Community Church had a strong desire to put together a disaster relief project in partnership with the American Red Cross. The church’s Disaster Relief Ministry was always able to offer some food and clothing to people in need and to give them a quiet space in the sanctuary where staff was available if they needed to talk, or pray. In partnering with the Red Cross, the Disaster Relief Ministry made it possible to help many more people when disaster strikes. The partnership provided the Red Cross with a space to register fire victims from the 38 condo units destroyed in a Warwick fire in 2016.

The church desired to do more, to create a Red Cross Regional Disaster Shelter to help the Rhode Island community. Led by the efforts of Dave and Michelle, the Church received a grant to transform part of their church into the shelter. Construction is already underway and they are looking forward to helping more people in the future.

When asked what it means for them to be a hero, Dave and Michelle said: “A hero is someone who puts others needs before their own, a person with a servant's heart.” And as a community they will always be serving: “We are always in operation in our Ministries and will continue to do so, as long as God gives us the ability and the resources. We do not have just one person to serve or one story to tell but many.”

Emergency Services Hero Award

Emergency Services Hero Award

Officers Yomaira Rodriguez, Sergeant Derrick Levasseur, and Officer Bari Cameron, Central Falls Police Department

Officers Yomaira Rodriguez, Sergeant Derrick Levasseur, and Officer Bari Cameron of the Central Falls Police Department are receiving our Emergency Services Hero Award for saving seven people by putting their own lives at risk.

On January 28, 2017, Officer Rodriguez was on night patrol. She observed flames coming from the porch of a residence in Central Falls. She notified dispatch and together with Sergeant Levasseur and Officer Cameron made entry through the side door to evacuate the two-family home. The tenants were asleep and the one working smoke alarm failed to alert them that their house was on fire. A total of six adults and one child were all safely removed from the burning home, with no time to spare. Neither of the three officers had experienced this type of rescue effort before, but said they would do it again, that it is part of their job.

When asked how they define a hero, they agreed that a hero is "someone that risks his/her own life to help someone else.” Sergeant Levasseur adds that “a hero understands that we all have a purpose in life, to leave the world better than how we found it.” Officer Cameron is convinced that “it is an automatic response of him and other first responders to want to help and keep people safe.”

The Officers have been honored by the Mayor of Central Falls and the State of Rhode Island General Assembly for their heroic efforts in January.

Lifesaving Hero Award

Lifesaving Hero Award

Christopher Monteiro

On Tuesday, August 9, 2016, Christopher Monteiro was at a dinner stop in West Warwick when he heard two parents screaming for help for their child.

Christopher ran out and saw that the baby boy was blue and not breathing. He immediately tried to give breaths. When the parents informed him that the baby was eating when he stopped breathing, Christopher knew what to do. He performed many back blows and compressions, and after several attempts, the baby started breathing again.

Christopher took his first American Red Cross course when he was 15 for a summer job. This experience also helped him later on when he became a firefighter and an EMT. Now Christopher has extensive medical and public safety training.

When he was chosen for the Lifesaving Hero Award, Christopher reacted very humbly: “I am not the person to accept this award for doing what is right and what I am trained to do. A hero is an ordinary person that does extra-ordinary things. There are many heroes in life but I am not one of them.” For the parents and the little boy he will always be the hero.

Service to the Armed Forces Hero Award

Service to the Armed Forces Hero Award

Karen Dalton, Dare to Dream Ranch, Inc.

Karen Dalton is receiving the Services to the Armed Forces Hero Award for her founding of Dare to Dream Ranch, which offers Alternative Therapy Programs for Veterans and their families.

A daughter of a US Marine, Karen wanted to do something for veterans and their families who are dealing with emotional challenges like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, military sexual trauma and mild traumatic brain injury. She combined this desire to help with her love of horses and started an alternative therapy program which includes equine therapy, woodworking, fly tying/fishing, nutritional cooking, gardening, kayak/canoe excursions and more.

Many veterans have shared their positive experience of visiting the farm and working with Karen. One veteran grew up on a horse farm, and being able to visit the ranch brought him back to that place of happiness when he was a young child. Another veteran expressed how truly peaceful and comfortable he felt at the ranch, which for him was a huge milestone given his trust issues and severe PTSD.

Karen offers her services to the entire family, understanding that military life and service affects the whole family. She offers families a healthy forum to heal together, connect and bond and spend good old fashion fun as a community.  

When asked whom she considers a hero, Karen says: “Someone that will go out of his or her way to help another person, without thinking about it. It is just the right thing to do, so you do it.” As for herself and her work on the Ranch, Karen says: “I love what I do and any time I can help make a difference in the lives of others it makes me feel good.” 

Spirit of the Red Cross Hero Award

Spirit of the Red Cross Hero Award

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Rhode Island

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Rhode Island (SVDP) is receiving the Spirit of the Red Cross Hero Award for their commitment to the Red Cross and for partnering with the Red Cross to help fulfill its mission.

Recently, the Society has participated in the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, to help reduce the number of injuries and deaths due to home fires. Currently, the two organizations are working together to co-host additional smoke alarm installation days.

Over the past year, under the leadership of Reneé F. Brissette, Executive Director of SVDP Rhode Island, the Society has begun forming a disaster team in Rhode Island to eventually serve as second responders and case managers in times of crisis, and to support the efforts of the RI Red Cross. The two organizations have worked together on small fires, providing assistance to victims in their relocation, as well as in larger disasters such as the Warwick Four Season Apartment fire.

In addition, St. Vincent de Paul’s House in a Box™ program is helping people recover from disasters. House in a Box™ is a national program of the Society that is funded with a $2 million grant from the Red Cross. The program supplies qualified survivors with critical items to furnish an entire home: furniture, dishes, towels, food, toiletries and clothing – everything from the kitchen to the bathroom to the bedroom.

When learning about the award, Reneé was honored, “I was extremely humbled. The National Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the American Red Cross are regular partners on disasters and projects across the country, and over the past two years, it has been exciting building such a complimentary partnership here in Rhode Island. I am humbled to receive the Spirit of the Red Cross Hero award on behalf of SVDP Rhode Island, and want to thank Liz McDonald and the RI Red Cross for recognizing our partnership. It is an honor to stand with the Red Cross, and its dedicated volunteers, serving our community members as partners, and I look forward to expanding our partnership moving forward."

Water Safety Hero Award

Water Safety Hero Award

Patrolman Kevin O’Connor, Narragansett Police Department

Patrolman Kevin O’Connor of the Narragansett Police Department was dispatched to the rocks at the end of Hazard Avenue following reports a man fell from the rocks and into the water on May 31, 2016.

Members of the Narragansett Fire Department were heading to the scene in a boat, but Patrolman O'Connor and his fellow officers didn't wait. Aided by his colleagues, Patrolman O’Connor jumped into the water, retrieved the victim and performed chest compressions until firefighters arrived. Unfortunately, the victim, didn't make it, but Patrolman O'Conner risked his life to at least give the man a chance.

When asked how he felt about being nominated as a hero, Patrolman O’Connor said, “I am humbled and it is a great honor, but I was just one of the many people involved with the rescue.” Patrolman O’Connor says if the situation arises, he would do it again, and that this was the job that needed to be done.

Asked to describe what it means to be a hero he said, “My definition of the word hero is just doing what needs to be done. Someone needed to try and save Mr. Vota’s life. Unfortunately, we were not there in time to save his life but I was one of the many people there who tried to save him.”

Patrolman O'Connor has been honored by the 100 Club of Rhode Island and the Narragansett Police Department for his efforts to save Mr. Vota's life.

Workplace Hero Award

Workplace Hero Award

The Home Depot Stores of Rhode Island

The Home Depot Stores of Rhode Island is receiving the Workplace Hero Award for their ongoing commitment to active and retired military members and the community at-large in Rhode Island.

The Home Depot Team (Team Depot) is made up of Home Depot employees who dedicate their time to giving back to the community. The team at Rhode Island supports our active and retired military. They reach out to make the lives of our soldiers and their families better consistently throughout the year.

Over the course of the last 12 months, Team Depot has completed numerous community projects including: winterizing a veteran's home to supporting the Lt. Governor's Operation Holiday Cheer; remodeling Operation Stand Down Hollie House and landscaping the Westerly property; participating in Rhode Island National Guard Operation Holiday Cheer; repairing a roof for a veteran; assisting with the Holidays for Heroes party for military children; building storage and kitchen areas for Sophia Academy; and conducting Hasbro Hospital workshops.

After a natural disaster, Team Depot stands ready to act both locally and nationally. Home Depot recognizes that rebuilding takes time, money and energy that many victims simply don’t have to spare. From making sure emergency supplies are on hand to helping repair and rebuild, Team Depot instinctively goes into action to make sure our communities have the support they need to recover.

The list of Team Depot activities is robust, and the commitment to Rhode Island, and our nation, is deep. Team Depot's dedication to our community is simply remarkable.


Thank you to our 2017 Heroes Selection Committee
  • Skip Buxton, Quonset Development Corporation, 2016 Hero Award Winner
  • Barry Hitner
  • Trish Livingston, Verizon Wireless
  • Inés Merchán, Rhode Island Foundation
Thank you to our 2017 Heroes Selection Committee
  • Nick Cicchitelli, Northeast Ventures, Inc.
  • William May, W. W. Grainger, Inc.
  • Rick McAuliffe, Mayforth Group
  • David Medeiros
  • Jo-Ann Pellegrino, Citizens Bank
  • Jay Ryan, Webster Bank
  • Sean Welch, Amica Mutual Insurance Company

Event Sponsors

Thank you to our Hero Award Sponsors

Thank you to our Event Sponsors

Bank of America
Robinson & Cole LLP