Hope for the Future
As the Center approaches its 50th anniversary, it is hard to imagine how many meals, warm coats, and other basic needs have been provided over the last half century. As we embark on the future, we are committed to responding to the changing needs in our community.
The pandemic taught us to be nimble and shift resources when appropriate, which we did successfully these past two years. To better understand the needs of our community going forward, we surveyed three hundred members last summer. The responses provided a clear vision for the future (read a summary of the findings). As our board and staff finalize a strategic plan this spring, we want to share with you some of the new initiatives that we will launch this coming year, made possible by this great community.
Jonnycake Market will provide a true grocery store experience where shoppers can select and inspect food items, have access to nutrition education, take home grab and go meal kits, shop more frequently during extended evening and weekend hours, and request transportation when needed.
Healthy Eating & Living
Healthy eating and living will be inspired through cooking classes, physical fitness activities, and opportunities for recreation and socialization for all ages through collaborations with the University of Rhode Island, the RI Community Food Bank, and other partner organizations. The Center is reintroducing Food, Fitness, and Fun as an after-school program for middle schoolers who want to learn how to cook healthy meals, be more physically active, and have fun. We will also host the RI Food Bank’s Healthy Habits cooking class for adults.
Empowering and Enriching Youth
Empowering and Enriching Youth has been a cornerstone of our work these past several years. Thanks to funding from the RI Foundation we will hire a part-time Youth Organizer who will ensure local youth have quality education, enrichment, and empowerment opportunities. We will continue to partner with the Boys and Girls Club of Newport and the South County YMCA for summer camp and after school programs.
Building Credit and Credentials
Building Credit and Credentials is incredibly important to our members. That is why we are partnering with the Westerly Community Credit Union to host a credit building and repair program that combines small loans with financial education and coaching. In addition, we are exploring partnerships with the Indigenous Empowerment Network to launch a youth training program and will continue to partner with our neighbor the Education Exchange to improve work opportunities for adults.
Jonnycake Neighbors will address the lack of affordable housing, which was identified among our members as the biggest challenge in our community. The program offers landlord incentives, a Ready-to-Rent course, intensive housing search, and our own service-enhanced affordable housing that will provide homes to as many as fifteen local families once renovations are complete.