November 13, 2002

Daily Times Chronicle, Woburn, MA





Rotarians hear how colleges, schools help those with mental, physical challenges





By Jim Haggerty


Woburn – Members of the Woburn Rotary Club have heard a unique approach using colleges, universities, high schools and other educational resources to assist individuals with physical and mental challenges through a program called The Giving Camp

Executive Director Diane Ricciardelli spoke in laudatory terms about being involved in the Tufts program and assistance from members of the Woburn business community, such as Rick Buzzanga of M & L Transit Systems Inc. and William Cummings of Cummings Properties.

The effort, she pointed out, is one of marshaling resources to assist those with special needs.

Presently, only Tufts is involved but others are expected to follow the Tufts lead, including area high schools and secondary schools.

Ricciardelli herself provides guidance to the student leadership team and works with the faculty and administrative committees at each university.

Presently, the group is working on a $130,000 project at Tufts. The donations, she said, can be of money but often come in the form of transportation and “in kind donations” from individuals and companies.

Ricciardelli began to develop her interest in The Giving Camp in early 2002 when she said she recognized the enormous volunteer potential available on a college campus “and the dedication of students who want to participate in the community as part of their college experience.”

A resident of Somerville and a Somerville Rotarian, Ricciardelli reported a lot has gone through the works since the start, like getting involved with for-profit companies as well as IRS approval. “We’re talking about teams and students getting involved as part of their citizenship,” said Ricciardelli. “Soon, we hope to expand to other schools.”

All of the details, she said, are directed by The Giving Camp. Much of the work, she says, is to educate the area communities about the goals and the projects available to them.

Ricciardelli has worked for 16 years in higher education and has the experience to work with a university structure “While providing operational and strategic leadership to the camp.”

            She has worked as a Program Director for the National Resnet Symposium, where she traveled to many colleges and universities and worked with colleagues from colleges throughout the U.S. and Canada.

            She has also worked for IT Communications as Project Manager and Director of Training for an internet startup company that grew from 20 to nearly 200 employees in one year, and later founded SRB Solutions, Inc. in 1999, where she is responsible for business solutions to small and mid-sized companies.

            She has also been active in the area in many volunteer capacities to help individuals.