The George Wiley Center was founded in 1981 by anti-poverty activist Henry Shelton. It opened as a grassroots organization with the mission of being actively committed to local community organizing for the purpose of creating social and economic justice through changes in public policy. Shelton ran the organization until his retirement in 2016, when he handed the reins over to his lead organizer, Camilo Vivieros. Vivieros has more than 25 years of experience as a community organizer and has been a part of many of the Center’s successes and a main voice for the causes that they continue to fight for.
“He does this for love of the community and certainly not for money or recognition,” says a friend of Vivieros who wished to remain anonymous. “He works nonstop. He’s out there working and getting little or no credit. He just wants to see the community succeeding. It’s a labor of love.”
The George Wiley Center is currently working on numerous campaigns, with the biggest being a battle with National Grid over turning customers’ power back on. The Henry Shelton Act, which made it so customers’ power could be turned on if they paid 10% of their bill, was signed into Rhode Island law in 2011. National Grid found loopholes and has continued to keep the power off for those who are the worst off in the state. Vivieros has brought attention to this issue, organizing and helping community members find ways to get their power back on.
“He’s one of the three people I admire most in the world,” she said of Vivieros in the midst of trying to put into words the impact he has had on the community as a whole as well as individuals lucky enough to meet and know him. “Everyone who knows him would say that everyone should know him. He makes the world a better place just being in it.”
The George Wiley Center is located at 32 East Ave in Pawtucket. Call 401-728-5555 for more information or check them out at georgewileycenter.org or their Facebook page.