Ronald G. Rios, director of the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, received the Paige D. L’Hommedieu Award from Middlesex County College on August 27. He was presented the award for his commitment to the College and his longtime dedication to Middlesex County, as well as his focus on military veterans.
During his acceptance speech, Mr. Rios announced the creation of a scholarship for five veterans who will attend MCC.
The Paige D. L’Hommedieu Award is the highest honor given by the College. It is awarded at the Fall Convocation to a person who embodies the citizenship, leadership and humanity of Paige D. L’Hommedieu, the founding board chair of the College.
“Mr. Rios has long supported education in Middlesex County and – as freeholder director – has ensured generous and stable financial support both to the College and to the Middlesex County Vocational-Technical School,” said Mark McCormick, interim president of MCC. “In addition, in partnership with the State of New Jersey – through the State’s Chapter 12 revolving capital fund for community colleges – Freeholder Director Rios has supported several key capital projects at the College since 2013, including the building of West Hall, our new one-stop student services center, and the upgrading of the science labs in Main Hall.”
Dr. McCormick also lauded the freeholder director for his commitment to military veterans, citing his leadership in creating the Veterans Housing Assistance Program to aid veterans and their families who are homeless or at the risk of becoming homeless. In 2016, Middlesex County was named the first in New Jersey to achieve “functional zero” homelessness, ensuring that systems are in place to support veterans obtain a permanent home.
The award was presented by Dorothy K. Power, MCC’s board chairman.
“He is truly a champion for veterans and deserving of this distinctive award,” she said. “He has been instrumental in spearheading programs and benefits for our veterans. When the former Roosevelt Hospital in Edison was transformed into a senior residence, veterans were allocated up to 25 percent of the 84 apartments. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if this became a trend for others to follow?”
Mr. Rios spoke of his belief in Rotary’s motto, “service above self.”
“I would like to thank the Board of Trustees for giving me this honor and I am humbled to accept the Paige D. L’Hommedieu Award and to join the exceptional honorees who have come before me,” he said. “It is a joy to be able to give back to the community. It is a blessing to be able to get up every morning, knowing that I will be working on behalf of all the people of Middlesex County. It is the people of Middlesex County who have given me this opportunity, and I thank them.”
He also announced that, beginning this fall, the Ronald G. Rios Charity Trust Fund will include scholarships for five incoming students who are veterans of the U.S. armed forces and are enrolled in college-level courses.