ALUMNI AWARD WINNERS
John Kerry VigoritoLiving in, working in and supporting the community in which he grew up was never in question for John Kerry Vigorito. From his earliest teen years at North Attleboro High School, he considered it a given that he would enter the family business and continue a three-generation long tradition at M.A. Vigorito & Sons. Although the famed store on North Washington Street has since closed, Kerry has continued the family tradition of serving the community in many ways. A quick walk through downtown serves as a living reminder of perhaps his most important community work thus far.
Community Impact Award
Kerry began work in retail at the family store, and did so at the entry level, restocking shelves after school and doing whatever was needed. He notes: "When you grow up in retailing and with selling in your blood, you learn to either love it or hate it." In Kerry’s case, it was love at first sight.
Upon his graduation from North Attleboro High School in June of 1969, he made what he still considers an easy choice: to attend Stonehill College. He flourished in his study of business and marketing and remained close enough to home to get in some work at the store on Friday afternoons and Saturdays. Kerry met his wife Patricia early on at Stonehill and maintains he brought the best part of Stonehill home with him upon graduation. Since 1975, he and Pat have lived in North Attleboro, where they raised two sons, Mark and Brian.
The retailing world in North Attleboro changed forever in 1989 with the opening of the Emerald Square Mall. Vigorito's weathered the storm for a few years, but the economic slowdown of the early 1990's put small retail operations on the endangered species list. By the mid 90's it was evident that the Mom & Pop store days were virtually over.
Concerned about the continued vibrancy of the downtown area in changing economic times, the Town of North Attleboro applied for a state grant to help revitalize the heart of the village. In 1994, Kerry was hired by Downtown Associates of North Attleboro (DANA) as the Downtown Program Manager to oversee the grant, fill the empty storefronts, improve the downtown lighting, and find the types of business that could prosper and flourish in the historic downtown area. Kerry put his full passion and vigor into the work, and the resulting impact on the community has been both positive and profound. According to Town Manager Mark Fisher, "If there's one person who should be given the credit for how vibrant our downtown is, it's Kerry Vigorito."
In 1996, Kerry earned his designation from the National Main Street Center division of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, DC as a Certified Main Street Manager. In 1996 and 1997, the town completed its streetscape and lighting, and DANA instituted a program of promotions to foster awareness about downtown and the role it plays in the community. Today, DANA continues to promote the downtown as the historic heart of the community, encouraging expansion of its restaurant and service business niches, organizing and managing parades and block parties, and supporting hanging flower basket programs.
Most recently, Vigorito and DANA have woven another strand into the growing fabric of the downtown area, announcing plans to join forces with the Hockomock Area YMCA in promoting a healthy lifestyle by creating both a one-mile and a two-mile walking loop that will begin at the municipal parking lot on Church Street, according to the Sun Chronicle. Vigorito calls it "a great opportunity to promote a healthy lifestyle and the downtown businesses." The official opening of the walking loops will coincide with the 2010 Downtown Block Party.
In 1999, Kerry again went back to his roots in sales as a real estate broker affiliated with Bedard Realty, in the historic Tower Square building, downtown North Attleboro. In addition to his current roles in real estate and as president of DANA's Board of Directors, Kerry is Vice Chairman of the NA Retirement Board and was a past president of the NA Federal Credit Union. He stands as the epitome of the NAHS Alumni Association's "Community IMPACT Award" winner.
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