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Val Staples - Children's Fund Coordinator - to retire

After 35 years of coordinating the NEARI Children's Fund, Val Staples will retire in December 2022.

(November 3, 2022) NEARI Children’s Fund Coordinator Valerie Staples will retire at the end of 2022 and her contributions and accomplishments were celebrated this week at the Children’s Fund board meeting.

Val has been with NEARI for 35 years and she has been an indefatigable advocate for our members and public education. She is best known and most loved for coordinating the Children's Fund. Established in 1985, the NEARI Children’s Fund helps public school students in need. Whether coats and mittens or eyeglasses and field trip fees, the Children’s Fund provides a safety net for struggling students of any age whose personal needs interfere with their ability to come to school ready to learn. 

Val has led the Children’s Fund for much of her 35 years on staff at NEARI and her colleagues still marvel at how she manages the urgent need of our students with ease, connecting with school nurses, social workers, and guidance counselors – always anonymously, leading with empathy and care. 

In addition to the overall fund management, Val organizes Gingerbread Express, the Children’s Fund annual holiday gift-giving program that matches unnamed donors with thousands of students in need. For some of the children, Gingerbread gifts may be the only ones they receive, and Val is known to shop for extras to ensure the biggest smiles and warmest hearts.

Val is unflappable each year come October when Gingerbread Season begins. For 30 years, the Gingerbread Express has sponsored every one of the more than 400 students at William D’Abate Elementary School in Providence. Matching students and donors; tracking, logging, and storing hundreds of giftwrapped packages; recruiting volunteers; connecting with the Teamsters for a tractor trailer to load and transport the packages; and organizing the giving program. She does it all – longhand on a legal pad – with love. 

The Children’s Fund is fueled by donations and fundraisers, such as March Magic, which encourages locals to design their own event, and the annual golf tournament. 

Val Staples helped the Children’s Fund grow while maintaining its mission and vision and she and the program will always be inextricably linked. 

Thank you, Val, for your tireless work year-round of meeting the needs of Rhode Island’s children and ensuring they felt joy and love. 

If you would like to make a donation to the Children's Fund, learn more here. Gingerbread Express is officially underway and you can sponsor a child now! For celebratory or memorial donations, like the Heisler Grant, contact Val directly at (Greg Brennick after December 2022)

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