City’s finest, he­roes for the hol­i­days

WPD takes part in hair-rais­ing fundrais­ing for spe­cial causes

Woonsocket Call - - FRONT PAGE - By RUSS OLIVO ro­[email protected]­et­call.com

Po­lice Chief Thomas F. Oates III has noth­ing against beards and bushy mus­taches – as long as the fa­cial fuzz isn’t cov­er­ing the jowls of any­body who works for him.

But he made an ex­cep­tion again this year – for a cou­ple of wor­thy causes.

Af­ter Oates turned the other cheek, a siz­able con­tin­gent of the Woonsocket Po­lice Depart­ment’s male of­fi­cers lib­er­ated their in­ner stub­ble, rais­ing over $4,000 dur­ing a two-month “No Shave Novem­ber” and “Dou­ble Down De­cem­ber” fundraiser.

This year – the fourth for the In­ter­na­tional Brother­hood of Po­lice Of­fi­cers fundraiser – the money will be given to the fam­i­lies of Yocdiel “Yodi” Manso, a fourth-grader at Cit­i­zens Me­mo­rial School who suf­fers from al­binism, and Hunter Ben­venuti, the 7-year-old who is now liv­ing with an aunt af­ter he was or­phaned in the mur­der-sui­cide of his par­ents last fall.

There’s no ab­so­lute ban on fa­cial hair in the WPD’s code – of­fi­cers are al­lowed to have neatly trimmed mus­taches that ex­tend no fur­ther than the in­ner cor­ners of their mouths. That’s more than enough hair for Oates – most of the time.

But it was hard to say no when mem­bers of the IBPO Lo­cal 404 made a case for help­ing Yodi and

Hunter.

“I’m a pretty mil­i­tary, spit-and-pol­ish guy,” said Oates. “But I’m glad they take an in­ter­est in the lo­cal com­mu­nity, so it’s a small com­pro­mise to make.”

It’s also fun, says Lt. Mark Cabral, the IBPO’s trea­surer. When of­fi­cers who don’t usu­ally have beards sud­denly start sport­ing lum­ber­jack-wor­thy bushes, the ca­ma­raderie and rib­bing among co-work­ers has a way of grow­ing with the hair.

One les­son from the fundrais­ing ex­er­cise: There seems to be no con­sen­sus among the thicket-faced of­fi­cers of the WPD on whether spouses are on board with beards – or over­board. Some can love ‘em, oth­ers can leave ‘em’.

“It’s a great morale booster,” says Cabral. “And it’s a way to give back to the com­mu­nity.”

Oates ac­tu­ally had to bend the rules a lit­tle longer this year than usual, as the fundraiser orig­i­nally con­ceived as No Shave Novem­ber sud­denly seems to have sprouted into a fundrais­ing af­fair that takes twice as long as it used to, with the ad­di­tion of Dou­ble Down De­cem­ber.

In the end, mem­bers of the WPD ended up gen­er­at­ing $4,355 – all of which is the re­sult of reg­u­lar con­tri­bu­tions from the of­fi­cers them­selves. No out­side do­na­tions are so­licited, ac­cord­ing to Cabral.

De­tec­tive Gabriel Koneczny is cred­ited with spear­head­ing the ef­fort. Lo­cal 404 of the IBPO – the city’s unit – has raised more than $10,000 for wor­thy causes since the in­cep­tion of the fundraiser in 2014.

The $2,000 each for Yodi and Hunt- er will be added to ex­ist­ing fundrais­ers for those chil­dren. Dr. Jeffrey Kenyon, a lo­cal op­tometrist, launched a Christ­mas­time fundraiser for Yodi, tar­get­ing the funds for spe­cial equip­ment he needs to sur­mount vi­sion im­pair­ments of­ten as­so­ci­ated with al­binism. The con­di­tion is most ob­vi­ously char­ac­ter­ized by a deficit of skin pig­men­ta­tion, re­sult­ing in a milky com­plex­ion and sil­very hair.

Hunter’s fam­ily had es­tab­lished a gofundme cam­paign in Oc­to­ber that’s since raised nearly $30,000 to off­set the cost of cus­to­dial care and other ex­penses for the boy, who was taken in by his aunt, Melissa Glaude.

The bal­ance of the funds the IBPO raised will re­main in the union’s con­tin­u­ing char­ity fund and rolled over for an­other wor­thy cause in the fu­ture, said Cabral.

Sub­mit­ted photo

A few of the city po­lice of­fi­cers who par­tic­i­pated in the ‘No Shave Novem­ber’ and ‘Dou­ble Down De­cem­ber’ fundrais­ers, from left, are Of­fi­cer Tim Greene, Lt. Chris Brooks, Of­fi­cer Michael Velino, De­tec­tive David Wahl, Of­fi­cer Joseph Brazil, Lt. Bradley Scully and Of­fi­cer Pa­trick Roy.

Sub­mit­ted pho­tos

This year – the fourth for the In­ter­na­tional Brother­hood of Po­lice Of­fi­cers fundraiser – the money will be given to the fam­i­lies of Yocdiel “Yodi” Manso, right, a fourth-grader at Cit­i­zens Me­mo­rial School who suf­fers from al­binism, and Hunter Ben­venuti, left, the 7-year-old who is now liv­ing with an aunt af­ter he was or­phaned in the mur­der-sui­cide of his par­ents last fall.

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