John J. Ribas will be the Honorary Starter for the 2012 Commodore Hull Thanksgiving Day 4K Road Race.Ribas is a life-long resident of Shelton who has made service to the Valley community a big part of his life. He is a product of the Community Center which evolved into today’s Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley, where he has served executive director for 34 years. Under his leadership, instilled the value of giving back to the community to generations of Valley youth who have passed through the Club, according to the Boys & Girls Club. Jack will be retiring from the Club on Dec. 12, and the Committee feels that Jack’s 34 years at the helm of the Club makes him the perfect choice to be this year’s starter.
Ribas calls the dollar spent on his membership in the club back in 1956 as “the greatest investment I ever made.” The lessons learned at an early age have guided him throughout his life, he said. After graduating from Shelton High School and Boston University, he came back to the area and worked as an engineer in training. However his volunteer work at the Boys & Girls Club eventually pulled him back into working with children. He started as a program director in Shelton and moved onto to increasingly more responsible positions with the Boys & Girls Clubs in Bridgeport before returning to Shelton to become the Executive Director of the Community Center Boys Club in 1978. Under Jack’s leadership, the Club soon admitted girls and came to be known as the Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley.
His work as head of the Club has been well documented and the tremendous growth in programming and size of the local club has made him a recognized leader in the Boys & Girls Club movement across the country. The club has surged in the aftermath of the tragic fire that destroyed its building, but resulted in the new club at 1 Positive Place in Shelton and eventually the new club in Ansonia as well. Jack was also instrumental in assisting MIlford in developing a new club there as well.
He has also been an active member of the Parent Child Resource Center and served as its President from 1988 to 1990. He was a board member at the Birmingham Group and served as its finance chairman. He was president of the Community Alert Program
As a former member of St. Margaret Mary Parish, he served on the Parish Council and held its presidency for a two year period during the construction of the new parish rectory. Ribas has been a very active member of the Derby/Shelton Rotary Club since 1978 and He is a member of the Board of Directors of the St. Vincent De Paul Society and served as its President from 1998 to 2006. Ribas has been a member of the Highland Golf Club and served on its Board of Directors and its President in 1985 and 1986.
Ribas has received numerous community awards recognizing his professional and community achievements starting with his Boy of the Year Award in 1962 by the Community Center Boys Club. He has received the Valley Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award, the Book of Golden Deeds award from the Huntington Exchange Club Parent Child Resource Center’s Outstanding Service Award. The Boys & Girls Club named him to their first class of inductees to their Hall of Fame in 2007, and Boys & Girls Club of America honored him with their Distinguished Service Award in 2005. He is also a 1994 recipient of the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Gold Seal Award. He also received the community’s oldest and most prestigious community service award, the Charles H. Flynn Humanitarian Award, from Valley United Way in 2008.
Ribas and his wife, Alicia, live in Shelton and have two sons, John and Matthew.
The 11th annual Commodore Hull Thanksgiving Day 5K Road race will be held on Thanksgiving morning through the streets of Derby and Shelton. All 700 spots for this year’s race have been filled. For further information, visit the race website: electronicvalley.org/derby/HullRace/.