Do you know John?
By: Jo-Ann Schofield
When I started working at the Chamber Education Foundation now MENTOR Rhode Island it was 1997…. 20 years ago (how did THAT happen?). I had never met John Howell. Being in an entry level position, I was intimidated by one of our founders, the Chair of the Board.
He stopped in frequently, especially since the Academic Decathlon, another passion project of John’s, rents office space in our building. Then, John would ask questions… As the mom of two daughters enrolled in Warwick Schools, what did I think about all of the testing? What about the lack of a school contract? (Wow…. ironic how these questions are timeless!) He is always inquisitive. He wants to know what you think…. And he is always thinking, too… connecting the dots. Connecting people with opportunities. Championing the underdog. The compassion he has for the people and organizations in our community is unparalleled. Always believing that a small paper in a small city can make a big difference. In it, achievements are celebrated, issues are debated and losses are mourned.
John knows everybody and it seems everybody knows him. He writes affectionately about his family and his experiences. Friends like Captain Freddie, adventures with his beloved pets (I saw the chewed interior of his Subaru myself), and the beauty of our bay that he experiences on his morning row or on a paddle board. So many adventures, so cool he chooses to share them with his readers, his friends.
He even agreed to dance in our first-ever Dancing with the Stars of Mentoring. Every year since, John has been our official photographer. He actually sits (or lies!) on the floor next to the judges to get the best angle. That’s John…. Always looking for the best angle. I noticed this year he is still just as limber popping up off the floor as he was a decade ago. Amazing!
When we broached the subject of an event honoring him, his only request was, “Make a lot of money for the mission.” He even has issued his own challenge grant to encourage folks to donate.
John writes and publishes all REAL news. No fake news here. And there is nothing fake about John. He is authentic, a genuine Warwick icon. The city and our organization are stronger because of John’s involvement. I’m proud to celebrate John’s accomplishments, his vision for a stronger community and his humanity. I am even prouder to call him my friend.
Please help to celebrate John on Thursday, September 14 from 5:30-7:30pm at Hendricken High School. 100% of each ticket sold goes directly to support the mission: www. mentorRI.org/events or call 401-732-7700. You’ll be glad you did! Oh wait, that’s someone else’s tagline….