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Short of fundraising goal, Station Fire Memorial construction to begin
Kelcy Dolan

After ceaseless fundraising efforts, the Station Fire Memorial Foundation plans to begin construction on the Station Fire Memorial Park this July.

Built on the site of the Station nightclub, the Station Fire Memorial Park will have 100 monuments to commemorate those who tragically lost their lives on Feb. 20, 2003. The monuments would feature pictures and names of the victims. In 2012, the Station Nightclub property was donated to the volunteer organization. Since then the foundation has been planning to create a memorial for the victims and are waiting for approvals to start construction. The foundation has been pushing their fundraisers so construction can begin as soon as possible.

Gina Russo, president of The Station Fire Memorial Foundation and survivor of the fire, said in a recent interview, “It was a place of music before and we want to bring the music back.”

She mentioned that the planned entrance would be a large working wind harp that could produce its own music.

Russo said, “As the wind blows through the strings of the harp it will play a soft melody of music. It’s subtle, but it is something.”

The budget for the memorial is estimated at $2 million, but the foundation hopes some of the materials and some time may be donated that could take the cost down. As of now, the foundation has raised only $219,000.

To help raise the remaining $1.8 million the foundation recently turned to fundraising consultants, Daniel Barry and Associates. Barry’s website says that some of his clients include Special Olympics RI, The Kent Center, URI and the Providence Children’s Museum.

Russo said, “He was recommended to us. Barry has been successful on many, many different projects and helped a lot of people get the funding they needed.”

Valvoline Instant Oil Change recently partnered up with the memorial foundation for their newest fundraiser. Richard Leonti, a longtime friend of Russo’s, is a manager for Valvoline. He spoke to the corporate sector of the business and convinced them to support the Station Fire Memorial Foundation. Window clings are available through donation at four Valvoline stations throughout Rhode Island: two in Warwick, 1130 Warwick Ave. and 1600 Post Rd., one in Cranston at 520 Reservoir, and one in Johnston at 159 Putnam Ave. Customers receive a window cling after a $1, $3 or $5 donation. One hundred percent of the proceeds go directly to the Station Fire Memorial Foundation. In the first two days a single Valvoline location had already earned $193 through the window clings.

The black and white shaded clings have a brick patterned background with the foundation name and logo. Also on the clings are the date of the fire and the proclamation that “We Will Remember.”

Their past fundraisers include a golf tournament, a dinner at Uno’s restaurant, and their commemorative brick campaign where bricks that will be later used in the construction of the memorial can be purchased and personalized.

They still have a few other fundraisers in the works. On Columbus Day they will be holding their second golf tournament at the Cranston Country Club and Golf Course. On Aug. 31 the Station Fire Memorial Foundation will also be holding their Annual Ride to Remember, a motorcycle run. The final details are still being discussed.

“God willing, the project will be finished in 6 to 8 months and hopefully this New England weather won’t cause us any trouble,” Russo said. “When it is all done, we plan to have an unveiling and that would be a huge event not just for our foundation, but all of Rhode Island. I am just so grateful for all the help we have received from the community that comes out and supports us.”

The Station Fire Memorial Foundation is waiting on the DOT and DEM for the seal of approval to move forward with the project.

For more information on The Station Fire Memorial Foundation, their plans for the Station Fire Memorial Park, or their numerous other fundraising efforts, visit www.thestationfirememorialfoundation.org. You can also donate directly on the site or by sending a check made out to the foundation to 20 Hall St., East Greenwich, R.I. 02818.


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