ALUMNI AWARD WINNERS
John C. RhynoThe Alumni Community Impact Award recognizes individuals for their outstanding commitment to the North Attleboro community. John Rhyno is a current selectman, small business owner and co-founder of the Neighbors Helping Neighbors program whose commitment to helping others started when he was a young boy. Today John Rhyno is a community leader with an innate sense of right and wrong and the courage to act on his instincts.
Community Impact Award
John Rhyno learned the value of hard work and kindness from his parents. His father, John, Sr., was a War II veteran who returned from the war to work as a jeweler, when that industry still had a commanding presence in the Attleboros. His mother, in addition to working long hours herself, was devoted to caring for her husband and John, their only son. These values were reinforced in the community through the YMCA, Boy Scouts, his church, and school sports. John also realized at a young age that doing what is right often requires as much courage and toughness as it does compassion. Consequently, he would regularly stand up to bullies, even when they were picking on kids he hardly knew.
Young John did yard work, shoveled snow, fixed cars and did other odd jobs, contributing much of the money he earned to his parents to help them make ends meet. His wife, Sherry, tells the story of a Christmas from John's boyhood when he surprised his parents by purchasing a tank full of heating oil from W.H. Riley & Co., a practice he has continued over the years. Even though it was for his own home, the experience planted the seed within John that family, friends and neighbors know best who is in need and are obligated to help out.
After graduating from NAHS in 1966, he took night classes at Wentworth Institute and Fisher College, earning degrees in automotive technology and business while working full-time managing the repair garage, motor pool, and snow removal for a local manufacturing plant. A devoted employee, John quickly assumed a good deal of responsibility. However, after more than a decade on the job, new management took over. One day, his new boss called him into his office and told John that to save money, John would have to lay off a subordinate. He refused. Taken aback, his boss explained in not-so-subtle terms the finer points of insubordination and its consequences. John got the message and did the only thing that seemed right to him. He quit, saving his subordinate's job.
Within a few weeks, John and a friend hung a shingle at 675 East Washington Street in North Attleboro. Thirty years later, "John & Ed's Garage" remains a highly respected, successful local business.
Through his relationship with Dr. Herbert and Dr. Elsie Loeb, Jewish concentration camp survivors, John realized the importance of giving a voice to others who may not be strong enough to speak up for themselves. Rhyno saw local public office as an opportunity to advocate for his friends and neighbors, and he won his first race for North Attleboro Selectman in 2000. John and Sherry use the term "office" very broadly. Open office hours take place at the couple's home, where they encourage constituents to share their concerns and ideas for making their community a better place to live, learn, work and play.
During the unusually hot summer of 2005, many local seniors on fixed incomes expressed concern over how they would afford the rising energy costs. John recalled how he was able to help his own parents decades earlier with much needed home heating oil and together with Sherry founded a 501(c)(3) community assistance fund called Neighbors Helping Neighbors. In six years, the fund has raised and donated over $100,000 by and for the people of North Attleboro to help pay for home heating or just make ends meet until they get their feet on the ground. One hundred percents of all donations go directly to those in need through a voucher system.
The Rhynos still open their home for office hours, though local residents also know they can always just drop by John & Ed's Garage when they have a concern. About to begin his twelfth year on the town's Board of Selectman, John is known as an accessible, common sense problem solver who always seeks citizen input, often taking out newspaper surveys to gauge local opinion. His common sense advise to NAHS graduates is this: "Don't give up on the world or yourself…Whatever you put in, you get more out of."
On March 21st, John received the North Attleboro/Plainville Rotary Club's top honor: the Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Citizen for his lifetime of advocacy for his community. The NAHS Alumni Association is proud to honor John Rhyno's selfless dedication to his community with the 2011 Community Impact Award.
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