News & Event
June 2, 2016
Dear Crossroads Donors,
Recently, there has been a great deal of discussion in the media and in the state legislature about the merits and process of awarding Community Service grants to non-profit agencies that provide many of the human services programs in Rhode Island. Crossroads Rhode Island is the grateful recipient of one of these grants, which helps us sustain essential services focused on helping individuals and families secure stable homes. We receive $302,500 from the legislature, of which 100% is spent on direct services, including:
The Community Service grant helps us provide direct assistance to more than 1,500 people every year and makes it possible for those in the greatest need to get help when they need it most. The grant provides only a portion of the cost of operating these programs (less than 20%), but without this assistance, we would not be able to sustain the level of support we offer now. On any given night, we provide emergency shelter to an average of 184 individuals. In 2015, we housed 41 adults directly from living on the streets in unsafe situations into housing – bypassing the shelter system completely. Our focus is on permanent housing solutions—last year, 92% of the adults in our shelter program and 72% of families in shelter exited to permanent housing. We moved and/or maintained 693 households, representing 1,364 individuals, in stable housing.
Crossroads is proud of its strong fiscal infrastructure and transparency. We provide regular narrative and financial reports to the RI Department of Human Services, which manages our Community Service grant. The Community Service grant is a good investment of state funding, and Crossroads ensures that every dollar awarded to us has a positive impact on ending homelessness in our state.
We recently joined together with five other organizations to voice our support for the Community Service grant program. You can read our joint letter here.
Karen A. Santilli
President & CEO
We are pleased and very grateful to announce that Crossroads Rhode Island has been granted a Governor's Workforce Board Innovation award. The award was given to 16 agencies that provide job training to help Rhode Islanders get back to work.
This grant will enable us to train 40 low-income or homeless adults to become certified nursing assistants (CNAs)!
Our CNA training program has graduated 107 classes of individuals. Our graduates are prepared to enter the workforce with the proper training and experience necessary to begin their careers.
We recently had a chance to catch up with Yakellin Garcia, a CNA graduate from our 81st class.
Yakellin graduated from the CNA program in the fall of 2011. She visited Crossroads recently as a Career Day recruiter on behalf of her employer, Cherry Hill Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Yakellin remembers her time as a CNA student at Crossroads as both challenging and encouraging.
"The class was a little challenging because there was a lot to memorize and take in...my teachers and instructors had so much faith in me, so I didn't give up," she said.
Yakellin has been a CNA at Cherry Hill for three years. She specializes in caring for long term patients, and is not only the lead CNA on her floor, but was also named CNA of the Year there. She also has an active role on Cherry Hill's Retention and Recruitment Committee.
Yakellin is passionate about her role, and encourages people thinking about pursuing a career as a CNA, as long as they are passionate about it as well.
"Don't just do it for the money, do it because you really care," she says. "A lot of patients will depend on you."
In the future, Yakellin plans to continue her education and pursue a career in Criminal Justice.
"No obstacles that I've faced stopped me from getting to where I wanted to be, and I'm not done yet," she said.
If you would like more information on the CNA Training program and other Education and Employment Services at Crossroads, visit our website.
Written by Crossroads Staff Member Betty Johnson-Simons
Recently I visited students in Crossroads’ new Non-Farm Animal Caretaker Training Program. They were celebrating the successful completion of the classroom component of the first training and looking forward to the next step—internships at seven animal shelter programs across the state. Every student was full of praise for the program and the instructor, Michelle Cantini, who brings years of animal care experience, knowledge of the field and a lot of enthusiasm to the program.
The training prepares students for careers working with companion animals in shelters, veterinary clinics, pet supply store, kenneling or pet day care programs. Students achieve certification in animal first aid and CPR, learn basic animal care techniques involved in grooming, routine health care, feeding, kennel management and obedience training. They participate in frequent field trips to animal shelters where they observe and learn from professional animal caretakers. After completing the class work, students advance to internships that include hands-on work experience at several animal shelters across the state.
There was no doubt that every student in the class was inspired by a love for animals and was determined to pursue a career that offers many opportunities for further education and advancement. Tony, one of the students, says he highly recommends the program for anyone who loves animals, and that applies to every student in the class. Red, another student, praised the instructor and said that she has motivated them to work hard and pursue their dreams of working in a field they love. Jodi, another student, said that she had never met a more patient teacher.
For these enthusiastic students, the Animal Caretaker Program is a dream come true. Most of these animal lovers are struggling with unemployment, homelessness and poverty, and over and over they said how grateful they are for the opportunity to train for work as animal caretakers. One student said, “We just want to thank Crossroads for offering this class, and we know that there are many more people here waiting for a chance to enroll.” Another student, Ron Dogg, says that he used to work with animals when he lived in Texas. “Now that I will have animal first aid and CPR certification, I know that I will be able to get a good job doing what I love most—helping animals.” Ron really wants to go back to Texas someday and feels confident that he will be successful there.
The day I visited the class, Dave Holden from the Providence Animal Shelter and Tammy Mello, a Warwick police officer, were there to talk to the students about ways they handle animal cruelty complaints. Dave and Tammy had brought along an adorable puppy from the Providence Shelter, and the students were showering the little guy with a lot of attention and affection. It was easy to see that these students love what they are doing and are eager to learn more.
This program helps Crossroads’ low-income and homeless students build on their experiences and talents and love for companion animals to forge a better future for themselves. The animal caretaker field has many opportunities for employment at all levels, and there are many certificate programs to help practitioners advance in their careers. Both the students and the companion animals they care for will benefit from this innovative program.
The Rhode Island Foundation awarded a $100,000 emergency grant to Crossroads Rhode Island today to bolster the agency’s ongoing efforts to meet the unprecedented need for emergency shelter and services for the homeless. Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO the Foundation, and David M. Hirsch, Foundation chairman, presented the grant to Crossroads President Anne Nolan and Board Chairman Howard G. Sutton at a press conference today. Requests for emergency shelter are the highest in the agency’s history and homeless advocates have warned the current crisis situation will only worsen this winter.
"In this difficult climate, many Rhode Island families and individuals are still seeking out resources to obtain basic necessities like housing, food, and health care," said Steinberg. "Thanks to our generous donors, we are able to provide this grant to ensure Crossroads can continue to respond to the increasing need for shelter and services in our state."
The emergency grant, which is made in part from the George M. and Barbara H. Sage Fund at the Foundation, will provide critical stop-gap funding for Crossroads, which has been overwhelmed with visits by Rhode Island families and individuals in need of housing.
"Crossroads Rhode Island is extremely grateful for the support of both the Rhode Island Foundation and the George M. and Barbara H. Sage Fund at the Foundation for this emergency grant," said Anne Nolan, President of Crossroads. "The number of homeless, particularly women and families new to homelessness, coming to us for help is higher than ever before. This grant will help us to continue providing essential life services in a safe, respectful and effective manner."
Twice a week during the summer months, the sounds of music, cheers, and teenagers dribbling basketballs can be heard across Kingstown Crossings as the sun begins to set.
These are the sounds of Bridging the Gap, an organization that runs various programs at Kingstown Crossings, in partnership with the Rhode Island Midnight Basketball League. Both organizations aim to strengthen communities and provide teenagers, typically a vulnerable population, with a positive and affordable social outlet.
Bridging the Gap began working in the community almost two years ago, when founder J. Spence-Straughn approached Jan Hall-Stinson, Director of Housing at Kingstown Crossings, with her idea for offering programs for youth in underserved communities.
“I truly thank Jan for believing in me because I came to her with a dream,” said Spence-Straughn.
Since then, the program grew from an instructional basketball camp to a team, and expanded to include other activities geared to fostering family involvement, health, mentoring, education, and expression.
Many in this community come from challenging backgrounds; playing a team sport regularly helps to foster a sense of community that can be particularly beneficial to teens with complicated family lives. Team sports also teach young athletes about perseverance, responsibility, and respect, while the games themselves give parents a chance to be involved and supportive - which is creates a strong foundation for the teens’ futures.
Consisting of two developments, Kingstown Crossings is a permanent housing complex in North Kingstown owned and operated by Crossroads Rhode Island. The complex provides housing for families, couples, and individuals from a variety of backgrounds.
Approximately 50 teens participate in the program, including 10 residents of Kingstown Crossings. The remaining 40 players are from other family housing complexes in North Kingstown.
The basketball players range in age from 13-17, while the spectators include their peers, parents, and some younger children holding their own basketballs eagerly anticipating the day that they join the program themselves.
Each game day, Pier Pizza in North Kingstown donates pizza to feed the hungry players in between games, while Allen Pires, also known as DJ Lefty, volunteers his time and talents by providing musical entertainment.
Showing their support for this initiative, the North Kingstown Police Department Union recently donated brand new basketballs to the teens, and even joined them for a game one warm July night.
With one month left in this year’s summer program, some players are looking forward to continuing their basketball career in the fall with their high school teams. Other players consider the league more of a recreational summer hobby.
"It's a lot of fun to get out here and compete with other kids I know," said one player. "There's not always a lot for kids our age to do in the summer, but this has been cool."
Whichever view the players take, their participation, and the participation of the spectators, volunteers, and donors, has strengthened the community of North Kingstown by providing entertainment and a reason to come together for good.
The Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) was an innovative program created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Crossroads Rhode Island received funds for the rapid re-housing component and was able to provide financial assistance and services to individuals and families who were experiencing homelessness and help them be re-housed quickly.
In July 2012, Crossroads received a second round of funding to continue the program, now known as Intensive Housing Stabilization Program (IHSP). While some of the criteria for acceptance into the program changed, it essentially remained a rapid rehousing program for individuals and families living in shelter. In order to be eligible for IHSP, clients must be referred by their shelter or outreach case worker, be staying in a shelter or in a place not meant for human habitation, be committed to intensive case management, and be likely to sustain housing once the program ends. Clients are eligible to receive up to 24 months of service depending on need.
The mission of Crossroads Rhode Island is to secure stable homes for individuals and families in Rhode Island, and IHSP is one of the most effective ways to achieve that mission. This program directly supports individuals and families to move out of homelessness and achieve housing sustainability. IHSP provides more than just rental assistance. It is a complete package of case management, financial assistance, financial literacy and good tenancy education. The goal of sustainability is to limit the likelihood that the family or individual will re-enter homelessness when their participation in the program has ended. Crossroads’ IHSP features the following services and assistance:
One of the major challenges of this program is the lack of affordable housing in Rhode Island. The majority of apartments that Crossroads housing locator finds for clients are market rent housing. While they are market rate, they also have to meet HUD’s criteria for fair market rents by geographic catchment area (i.e., what is fair in Westerly is very different from what is fair in Providence). Crossroads’ housing locator also works with Community Development Corporations (CDCs) to secure low income tax credit units when they are available.
Since the program started September 2009, 661 people have participated in the program, and 76% of them have moved out of the shelter system and into stable homes. Unfortunately, because not everyone qualifies, many were not able to participate because of lack of income and need for a higher level of care and support. Clients who are still in the program are living in their new homes and receiving services to help them become independent and remain stably housed.
On average, it takes 1-2 months for families or individuals to transition from shelter into their own homes. Once clients are living in their homes, Crossroads’ case advocates work with them for an average of 3-6 months (sometimes up to 9) to ensure they stay successfully housed.
Crossroads works with clients from the entire statewide shelter system. Individuals and families have come to this program through referrals from at least 19 other organizations throughout Rhode Island, and most have transitioned successfully to permanent housing in many communities.
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