Berthiaume new chairman of St. Jude breakfast

Berthiaume new chairman of St. Jude breakfast

WOONSOCKET - In the roughly 40 years that there's been a chapter of the St. Jude Children Research Hospital in Woonsocket, nearly $500,000 has gone to the facility, which works to advance cures and means of prevention for pediatric catastrophic diseases, such as leukemia, cancer and AIDS.

Around $2,500 of those funds are garnered each year at the Club Par X breakfast, where volunteers gather to serve up pancakes, coffee and eggs, provided by the club, to hungry locals.

And for nearly 30 years, Noel Pincince, a well known city entertainer and philanthropist, has chaired that breakfast, organizing publicity, transportation and service for the big event.

In 2013, Pincince has retired from the role, passing the torch to Romeo Berthiaume, a former history teacher at Woonsocket High School who, in retirement, has taken on volunteer work for organizations including The Museum of Work and Culture and the Northern Rhode Island Council for the Arts, and chaired events such as last weekend's French Heritage Festival.

Berthiaume was named Teacher of the Year in the city in 2004, and in 2012 he was honored in the American French Genealogical Society Hall of Fame. That same year, he was the Kiwanis Club of Woonsocket Man of the Year.

"He wears a lot of hats. He's so busy," said Joe Hyder, the founder of the Woonsocket chapter, who has served on the National Board of Governors since 1989. "I think we were extremely lucky to have Noel for so many years and to have a successor in Romeo," Hyder said.

Berthiaume also hosts a weekly radio program on WOON 1240 known as the Saturday Show, and it was there that he became involved with the St. Jude's cause, co-hosting a radiothon for the Woonsocket group for the past three years.

"I asked him if he would take it on and I told him what it entailed, and without hesitation, he accepted," said Hyder. "He's a very generous man."

Berthiaume said he and his wife had the chance to visit the hospital during a trip to Memphis, Tenn., and he's glad to be involved with the event.

"I like to volunteer," he told The Breeze. "We have a great committee."

He does not, however, think he'll be able to hold down the new role quite as long as Pincince.

"I'd be 97," he said, laughing.

This year's breakfast will be held on Sunday, Sept. 22, from 8 a.m. to noon at Club Par X on Stanley Avenue in Woonsocket. The venue has limited parking, but bus service to and from the event will be provided from the Woonsocket High School parking lot on Cass Avenue every 15 minutes from 8 to 11:45 a.m. Tickets are $6 in advance or $7 at the door, and can be purchased at The Special Place, Pepin Lumber, Club Par X, the Museum of Work and Culture, WOON and WNRI radio stations.