By MARTHA SMITH
Special to the Standard
NORTH KINGSTOWN â€“ Attention language lovers, spelling bee champs and everyone else who knows how to fit a word containing the letter â€śzâ€ť on a triple score square.
This Saturday, the Grand Chapter of Rhode Island Order of the Easter Star is sponsoring a Scrabble tournament at the Cold Spring Community Center on Beach Street. Proceeds from the event, which costs a minimum of $25 in pledges for each player, will benefit the American Cancer Society/Breast Cancer Research program. It is scheduled from 9 am to 5 pm.
The coordinators of the tournament are a mother-daughter team who are Scrabble devotees themselves as well as longtime Eastern Star participants representing Adah Chapter 15 which meets in the Masonic Lodge on Ten Rod Road.
Faith Thibault, who is fourth generation Eastern Star, joined immediately after moving up from Rainbow, the organizationâ€™s junior club for girls; her mother, Ruby Nicholson and grandmother Marianne Salisbury are members as was her late great-grandmother.
Playing Scrabble in the North Kingstown home shared by Faith, Ruby and Marianne, is a weekly tradition.
â€śWe play every Sunday afternoon,â€ť says Thibault. â€śItâ€™s church, nap, Scrabble. When our family is together, we play Scrabble. Itâ€™s dear to us.â€ť
Although Eastern Star conducts various charitable fundraisers throughout the year, this is its first Scrabble tournament. Two years ago, the group held a Rock-a-thon in which participants spent hours in rocking chairs, raising pledge money to support the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.
Because word games are popular with a wide range of people, the Scrabble tournament seemed natural, especially when this pair of enthusiasts expressed eagerness to put the whole thing together.
â€śWe had talked of having a game night,â€ť Nicholson explains, â€śso we went to the National Scrabble Association for more information on how to run a tournament.â€ť
â€śPeople have called and signed up on Facebook,â€ť Thibault notes, adding that interest has been lively among members and non-members alike. Both she and her mother agree that the event holds special interest because theyâ€™ve had many women friends diagnosed with cancer, including Eastern Star members.
Moreover, while leaders adopt particular charities during their tenure, the entire Grand Chapter hierarchy long ago chose cancer research as the single issue Rhode Island Eastern Star would support.
â€śWe wanted to address womenâ€™s issues,â€ť Nicholson says. â€śCancer and heart disease are the two biggest killers of women.â€ť
Thibault, who is Eastern Starâ€™s statewide publicity chairperson, has been firing off press releases, letters to all the chapters and the Rainbow girls as well as follow-up emails.
She credits local businesses with being generous in donating prizes such as store gift cards in the face of a terrible economy.
Indeed, it seems appropriate that a Scrabble tournament is the method chosen to raise funds at a time when people are battling a national recession. The game was invented during the Great Depression by an out-of-work architect.
For more information on the tournament, call 885-9814 or go to the online events calendar at www.oesri.org.
Martha Smith is an award-winning journalist and author. Retired, she is an independent contractor for SRIN and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.