Stories & Insights

Thankful to all who help our neighbors in need

There are so many reasons to be thankful! CEO Karen Santilli shares why she is grateful this Thanksgiving.

November 22, 2022

I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet many of our donors, funders, and Board members this past year as I’ve been sharing more information about our programs and services and plans for the future. I am so grateful for the interest and support from the people, businesses, and foundations across Rhode Island...and some even outside of Rhode Island! The level of empathy and concern for their neighbors is heartwarming.

To help me speak about our programs and services in an informed way, I love to connect regularly with our frontline staff and program managers. Nothing is more effective than seeing their work firsthand. Their level of professionalism and effectiveness towards the individuals and families we serve is amazing to witness…particularly during this time dealing with the pandemic and its fallout. I am incredibly thankful for all our employees who directly impact the lives of so many, housing and supporting thousands of people across our state.

I recently accompanied our Mobile Outreach team to find individuals who were experiencing homelessness and living outdoors. I witnessed the dedication of our workers and the challenges of those struggling to survive.

One woman we met talked about how she had been living with her father who had recently passed away and she could no longer afford the rent they were sharing. She had been living under a tarp in the woods for several months.

I stood back and watched while our team engaged her in conversation, built on the trust that had been precariously started at their last meeting, and offered some next steps and resources to help her get rehoused. Our values of safety, respect and effectiveness were being played out in front of me and I have no doubt we will soon help this woman move into her own apartment. At the same time, it was very frustrating to walk away leaving her there outside knowing we didn’t have a place to offer her that would meet her needs immediately. We had trust and a plan…and that had to be enough at the moment. This morning, I saw that same woman meeting with our team and a mental health worker from our partner agency. I am thankful we have such strong partnerships with mental and other health providers in the community.

There is no doubt we need more available apartments that people can afford to live in. And there is no doubt that we are moving in the right direction in terms of our programs, services and plans to build more housing. We are at a moment in time in Rhode Island where there is greater support for and investment in building more housing than ever. I am thankful for the elected officials who understand that everyone in Rhode Island deserves to have a safe place to live. They understand that people like the woman I met living under a tarp in an abandoned field in Providence deserves at least that.

I wish you and your loved ones a safe, healthy and happy time of thanksgiving. Thank you for your continued support and generosity. I look forward to the coming year where we build more housing and move towards ending homelessness for individuals and families in Rhode Island.

Return to all articles