News & Event
Citizens Bank Rhode Island President Ned Handy was present at the dedication to receive a certificate of appreciation from Crossroads President Anne Nolan for Citizens' continuous support throughout the years.
Since late 2011, the Crossroads Family Center has sheltered a record number of families with small children. The Family Center has space for 15 families, but the demand for shelter has been so great in recent months that the staff has had to put cots and mattresses in the Center’s common area and computer study room to accommodate additional families.
At our downtown location, families have had to share our Family Room or sleep in conference rooms because no shelter could be found for them. Crossroads is working frantically to find additional shelter options for families, and the staff at the Family Center is doing everything possible to help parents and children cope with their situations. Homelessness is traumatic, especially for children, and the severe overcrowding at the Family Center presents additional challenges for everyone.
Chontell Washington, Crossroads’ Family Literacy Coordinator, tries to come up with creative approaches to brighten the lives of the families and help the children enjoy learning activities while they are with us.
“Last year, we had a grant from the Ronald MacDonald House Charities, and I was impressed by their mission to enhance children’s lives. That idea stuck, and I decided we could enhance the lives of the children in our shelter despite the difficulties we are having now,” says Chontell.
She looked through a catalog of arts and crafts supplies, and when she saw some materials that she could use to convert the common area into an impromptu theater, she ordered some paper “guitars” and a backdrop that depicted a curtain and stage lights. The guitars were a little too flimsy, though.
“I knew that Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island employees were coming to Crossroads for a volunteer day in April, so I brought my paper guitars and some materials I got from the recycling center to our downtown location and took advantage of some of the Blue Cross volunteers,” Chontell explained. “They cut out colored cardboard backing and glued them to the paper guitars to make them stronger.”
On one of the regularly scheduled Family Literacy days, Chontell took over the Family Center dining room and brought out all the materials so that parents could work with the children to decorate each guitar.
“It was a great learning experience for the kids,” Chontell says. “They learned about guitars, counted the number of strings and learned how each one makes a different sound. It was a good activity for hand and eye coordination, dexterity, and learning new words.”
When the guitars were all decorated, Chontell put up the stage backdrop, lowered the lights and started the music, which turned out to be a universal language for the multi-lingual group of children. One by one, kids volunteered to be rock stars.
One little boy called his song ‘4’ and happily sang the words, “Uno, dos, tres, cuatro,” rocking to the music, with all the other children joining in.
“The parents were so proud of their little rock stars,” Chontell says. “So many of the children in the shelter are suffering from the trauma of having lost their homes, and they don’t talk to anyone. But when we started rocking, they all began to join in the dancing and singing. It was a wonderful time for them, and parents were so happy to see their children doing something fun.”
After the concert, the children enjoyed healthy snacks and continued to sing and show off their very own guitar creations.
This effort, which brought so much joy to children enduring very hard times, shows how a small effort by community volunteers can make a huge difference in the lives of our clients.
“I am so happy that the Blue Cross volunteers will be able to see how their work making paper guitars turned into so many smiles and so much happiness,” Chontell says.
Crossroads is very proud of Chontell and her woquatrrk to bring a successful Family Literacy program to our Family Center. These kinds of programs are a rarity in a shelter setting, but they are a powerful way to help children create positive memories while they are with us.
If you would like to help dedicated staff members like Chontell continue to enrich the lives of homeless children and give their parents the essential support and services they need to move their families out of homelessness, please consider donating now.
Providence, RI, July 1, 2016
The Board of Directors of Crossroads Rhode Island, the state’s largest provider of services to the homeless, today announced a merger with the Women’s Center of Rhode Island, an organization serving victims of domestic violence. After a formal three-year affiliation, the two organizations have merged into one 501(c)3 organization governed by the Crossroads Board of Directors, and all Women’s Center programs and services have moved into Crossroads’ continuum of care as the Domestic Violence Program of Crossroads Rhode Island.
The Board of Directors of both organizations unanimously agreed to the merger. “This merger represents the coming together of two organizations united in the common goal of empowering vulnerable individuals and families to overcome homelessness and live safe, self-sufficient lives free of violence,” noted Virginia Branch, Women’s Center of Rhode Island Board Chair and Crossroads Rhode Island board member.
By combining the resources of both organizations, this new entity is better positioned to meet the needs of the community.
“By merging, we will improve the quality and accessibility of services to survivors of domestic violence and expand the range of services that support clients as they transition to safety, housing and stability,” noted Jack McConnell, Crossroads Rhode Island Board Chair. “The merger not only enhances and expands the scope of services of both nonprofits, but also provides a larger operating platform,” he added.
From a sample of women who had experienced domestic violence, 38% became homeless after they separated from their abusive partner. An additional 25% indicated that they had to leave their homes during the year following the separation for both safety and financial reasons.
“By bringing an innovative Housing First approach to our Domestic Violence Program, we hope to break the cycle of violence by providing opportunities for supportive, safe housing options for women and children as they transition from shelter,” noted Karen Santilli, President of Crossroads Rhode Island. “We will continue to offer comprehensive, evidence-based programs and services to individuals and families in crisis, such as 24/7 hotline, domestic violence safe shelter, case management, employment support and supportive transitional and permanent housing that survivors want and need to become independent.”
A Domestic Violence Committee of the Board will ensure that evidence-based domestic violence programs and services will continue and expand to meet the needs of clients who have experienced the trauma of domestic violence.
Additionally, Crossroads has applied for affiliate membership with the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV), an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence.
“The Women’s Center was one of the founding member agencies of the RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 1979, and they have been an integral component of the domestic violence movement in our state. We are looking forward to working with Crossroads Rhode Island, and to helping them maintain critical services for victims of domestic violence in the Providence area,” noted Deborah DeBare, Executive Director of the RICADV.
Crossroads Rhode Island Board Member, Mary Leahy, will be honored at a new initiative called Providence Place Gives, hosted by Providence Place and sponsored by Rhode Island Monthly. Providence Place Gives celebrates six important local organizations within Rhode Island and the passionate philanthropists who support them in this community friendly fundraising event. This year, Mary Leahey, Secretary of the Board of Directors for Crossroads Rhode Island is one of six nonprofit participants to be honored in the event.
You are invited to show your support for Crossroads and Mary Leahey for their hard work and dedication to helping the homeless in Rhode Island by attending this noteworthy event on Sunday, October 23 from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. The requested donation to attend is $20 for advance tickets and $30 on the evening of the event.
To purchase tickets, please contact Maureen McLaughlin in the Crossroads' Development Office. All guests will receive a fun goodie bag with gift samples and special offers from Providence Place merchants. 100% of the proceeds from tickets sold through Crossroads will go towards supporting programs and services for homeless men, women and families in Rhode Island. The event will be held on Level One, Providence Place, Near Tiffany & Co.
Stephanie Rice, Marketing Manager of Providence Place said "We hope the community will join us for an exciting evening of recognition to honor our city's gracious givers and their passion, commitment and energy to making a better Rhode Island for all of us.” The evening's festivities include cocktails and hors d' oeuvres from Blackstone Caterers, raffle items and the opportunity to bid on a variety of unique items in a silent auction. Miss Rice also stated "The evening will be filled with great entertainment and extraordinary prizes. We are looking forward to a wonderful turnout and an enthusiastic show of support for a number of really good causes."
This year's partnering organizations and their honorees are Crossroads Rhode Island- Mary Leahey, member of the Board of Directors; The Rhode Island Philharmonic- Karen Pelczarski, President of the Board of Directors; Rhode Island Good Neighbor Energy Fund (RIGNEF) - Marisa Albanese, Manager of Community and Customer Management at National Grid for RIGNEF; Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation- Maria Gemma, Executive Director; Rhode Island Free Clinic- Stephanie Chafee, Co-founder and President Emerita; Roger Williams Park Zoo- Liz Rollins Mauran, Member of the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee.
“It’s all very surreal” Michael said at his GED Certificate celebration party.
Michael came to Crossroads in the midst of acquiring his GED. Enrolled in a previous GED program that ran out of funding, Michael was only two tests away from completing his course. He was looking for an opportunity to finish what he started. That’s when he and his program manager contacted Crossroads. He was referred to the Learning Center at Crossroads in January and after working with our staff setting goals, putting together a plan, and studying hard, Michael achieved something he originally thought wasn’t possible.
Michael talked about his journey through Crossroads with other students in our education and employment services programs. Hoping to be an inspiration for them, he gave them tips that helped him get through the tougher moments of test preparation.
Michael achieved one of his goals and plans on continuing his education and going to school to work on small engine and motorcycle repair.
The Learning Center at Crossroads has a dedicated staff that works with students creating a personalized plan. Meeting one-on-one or in small group sessions, they commit at least 4 hours a week in working towards their identified learning goals.
Crossroads would not be able to continue offering these kinds of programs to the homeless and disconnected without the generosity of our donors and supporters in the Rhode Island community.
If you’d like to help make a difference in someone’s life, please donate now.
Earlier this year Crossroads completed a renovation of the entrance to our building at 160 Broad St. in Providence. This renovation has provided us with the necessary upgrades to create a safe, respectful and effective environment for our clients.
The re-configuration of the main entry has increased the size of the waiting and seating areas, improved security by allowing front-desk staff to see all parts of the Community Room and waiting areas from the reception desk. A redesign of the intake space and housing services desk areas adjacent to the reception area has provided greater security for clients and staff, has allowed controlled access to the housing tower, and ensures maximum privacy for homeless clients during intake.
The renovations were made possible because of a grant from The Champlin Foundations On July 26, 2012 the lobby was re-dedicated to the memory of a beloved advocate and friend of Crossroads Rhode Island, H. Peter Olsen Esq. Members of Peter’s family, former colleagues and representatives from The Champlin Foundations attended the touching ceremony. Peter also served as a Trustee of The Champlin Foundations.
The Crossroads Rhode Island community suffered a tremendous loss at Peter’s passing at the end of October 2011. Peter, who served on Crossroads Board of Directors for many years, was not only an asset as a Board Member but also as a volunteer. Spending time with our clients in Education and Employment Services, Peter dedicated many hours assisting men and women in learning to read, write and perform math skills. He earned their trust and friendship; he helped them move forward in their educational journey. His family generously asked that people honor his memory by making donations to Crossroads Rhode Island.
Carlos, a Crossroads client and former student of Peter’s, wrote a speech and read it at the dedication. An excerpt from Carlos’s speech poignantly read;
“Peter was a special man. Whoever had the opportunity to work with him knew how much he cared for his family and the world around him. I will miss Peter, but cherish his memory”
A plaque is mounted right by the front desk in Peter’s honor. It serves as a reminder to everyone what it means to dedicate oneself to their community. If you’d like to make a lasting gift in Peter’s memory, please contact Christine Luke in the Development Office at Crossroads Rhode Island.
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