Rep. Deborah Ruggiero will be honored as a “Community Hero” by Lucy’s Hearth next week for her consistent and perseverant dedication to the Middletown organization that provides shelter and programs for homeless women and their children.

Representative Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown), who has served in the House since 2009, has long worked to assist Lucy’s Hearth, obtaining state grants, helping its staff navigate state regulations and issues, and helping it obtain property-tax exempt status for the new headquarters it opened this week on Valley Road in Middletown, said the organization’s director, Jennifer Barrera.

“She is always very responsive, very understanding, so professional and she builds great relationships with people. She is always able to get people to respond to her quickly because she is always so kind and thoughtful,” said Barrera.

Barrera said Representative Ruggiero has been particularly helpful this year in helping Lucy’s Hearth navigate several obstacles involving the state, such as when the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority announced it planned to cut bus service to the area of the organization’s new building a week after it closed on the purchase. Representative Ruggiero arranged for RIPTA officials to come to Middletown and meet with Lucy’s Hearth staff, and not only restored service to that building, but ensured that service would be maintained other areas where needy local people would otherwise be left without transportation. Just last week, when the state was late sending a scheduled payment to the organization and jeopardized its ability to pay its own obligations on time, Representative Ruggiero intervened on Lucy’s Hearth’s behalf and ensured the swift resolution to the situation, Barrera said.

The award will be presented Thursday at the organization’s fall fundraiser, scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, 194 Bellevue Avenue, Newport. The event, catered by Russell Morin Fine Catering, includes cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, small plates, raffles, auction items, a museum tour and music by Jack Casey. Tickets are $85 and are available at www.lucyshearth.org.

Also being honored as Community Heroes are the Middletown police and firefighters; the Newport Daily News and Newport This Week; the organization’s new neighbor, NAPA Auto Parts; and dedicated volunteer Don Parker.  Lucy’s Hearth hopes to make the award an annual tradition.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).