IWC turns lights on at Woonsocket church

IWC turns lights on at Woonsocket church

Italian Workingmen's Club President Mark Zagaglia, left hands a check to Pastor Rebecca Lambert of The River United Methodist Church. Other members of the ministry, to Lambert's right, are Maria Feliciano, Evette Feliciano and Erin Jacques.

WOONSOCKET – The president of the Italian Workingmen's Club delivered funds to The River United Methodist Church on Friday, Aug. 29 to restore power for the ministry, which feeds and clothes some 1,500 of the area's poor each week.

The $1,000 donation will be used to pay the church's past due bill to National Grid. The company cut power to the church earlier this week, forcing the Federal Street ministry to take their work on the road. Church officials passed out sandwiches, drinks and household supplies outside World War II Memorial throughout the week.

"We'll do it again tomorrow if we can't get the power back on today," said Pastor Rebecca Lambert.

Members of the IWC, a charitable organization and social club with a long history in the city, heard of the church's problems and decided to act quickly.

"We contacted the Board of Directors and we made a fast move," said IWC President Mark Zagaglia.

IWC Chairman Mike Kind said his club was able to make the donation, and continue its charitable work this week, because the organization recently reached a tax treaty with the city of Woonsocket. Charitable donations had been put on hold since the start of the year, when member were informed the club would be on the hook for some $21,000 in taxes. According to a deal approved by the Woonsocket Budget Commission this month, the club will now pay just a quarter of that, or $5,291 annually for the next five years.

"It frees up our community outreach funds, so we're going to pay their bill in full," said Kind.

Kind called Lambert with the good news Friday morning.

"I was weeping," Lambert said. "It will open us back up. I can't tell you what a blessing this is for our congregation"

The church ramps up its ministry during the winter, and provides meals to the area's poor three days a week. While community sponsors and donations from the Rhode Island Food Bank help to defray some of the meal costs, the church is hoping to find financial partners to make sure the bills are paid while they continue their good work.

"It's about offering a hand up, not a hand down," explained Lambert.

Zagaglia said the club was glad to be able to help.

"We finally found out what we're going to be paying in taxes and we want to continue the work that we've been doing for the past 85 years."