Caroling For A Cause brings neighbors together in spirit of the season

Carol1 - 2015

About 25 adults and children braved unseasonably balmy weather Sunday to go Caroling For A Cause in the neighborhood.

Covering the area of Bayard Street to Summit Avenue and Fourth to Sixth Streets, the group serenaded residents with traditional Christmas carols – plus one requested rendition of The Hannukkah Song – and were rewarded with jars of peanut butter or cash donations to benefit the food pantry of St. Raymond’s Church. In all, $100 and 24 jars of peanut butter were collected.

The festive evening began at 4 p.m. in the foyer of event partner Miriam Hospital for hot drinks and cookies. Then, since is was the Hannukkah season, there was a short explanation of the Jewish Festival of Lights and a demonstration of a menorah by Monica Anderson, the hospital’s director of community relations, with a little help from some Jewish members of SNA.

Then it was off into the night, laughing all the way, under the leadership of Jon Howard, a former SNA president. As the singers got to houses whose porch lights were lit, doorbells were rung, residents came out and carols were sung, led by members Jeff Davis and Kurt Anderson. Younger singers scampered up the steps to collect the donations from the audiences and pile the jars into the back of an accompanying car. New songbooks were used this year, compiled by a committee of Deb Mero and Ellen Santaniello.

The last carols were sung on Fourth, almost to the Hope Street commercial section, where many restaurants beckoned. As the singers dispersed, there were vows to “See you next year!”

Carol2 - 2015One residence invited the carolers onto the porch for hot cider as a neighbor passed out cookies.

Please join in Caroling For a Cause

Caroling1   Carolers last year in front of Summit neighborhood home on Sixth Street.


This year, SNA will celebrate the rich diversity of the neighborhood as well as help to diminish hunger in our midst by sponsoring Caroling For a Cause.

Summit residents and friends are invited to gather in Miriam Hospital’s cafeteria at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13, which falls during the Jewish observance of Hannukkah. There will be hot chocolate and cookies plus a short presentation on the meaning of the Festival of Lights. Then the group will sing a couple of non-sectarian pieces before heading into the neighborhood for traditional Christmas carols.

Along the way, the carolers will solicit donations of peanut butter or cash to benefit the St. Raymond’s Church food pantry. The evening will end about 6 p.m. in the parking lot of Seven Stars bakery on Hope Street in time for dinner at one of the multitude of local restaurants and still allow for homework completion before school on Monday.

Please bring your enthusiasm for the holidays and your flashlights to read the provided songbooks. Remember to dress for the weather and most of all – have fun!

Golden opportunity at annual yard sale

Buyers and sellers meet at the 2014 yard sale

The Summit Neighborhood Association’s annual yard sale is coming soon! If you’re looking to offload no-longer-needed stuff or acquire some great used items at bargain prices, please join us at the Summit Neighborhood Association’s annual yard sale on September 19th.

Details: Saturday, 9/19 from 9 to 1 in the yard at the Church of the Redeemer, 655 Hope Street. The rain date is set for September 26th, but we know it won’t rain. If you’d like to participate as a seller, please register here by September 12th: or use the mail-in registration form that was included in the latest SNA newsletter. The fee is $15 if you bring your own table, or $20 if a table is to be furnished by SNA. Last year there were 26 registered sellers and enough buyers to leave with almost everything.

Community gardens take major step

This is the plan designed by the city to renovate the tot lot and include community garden plots along the north edge.

Community gardens in the “tot lot” on Summit Avenue took a giant leap forward Monday night when a governance committee of residents was formed.

Gathering in the Rochambeau Library under the leadership of Greg Gerritt, a prominent local naturalist and gardener, the group of about a dozen met with Wendy Nilsson, the new superintendent of the Department of Public Parks. The formation of a panel of local people to run the community gardens section of the renovated tot lot was a parks department requirement identified by her predecessor, Bob McMahon.

The committee identified several aspects that needed to be addressed, including how plots are to be set up, allocated and run as well as how to raise the funds needed above the amount the city will be able to provide.  Two subcommittees were set up to move forward on these issues.

Another meeting of the overall panel is to be convened in the near future, with the goal of being ready to plant in the spring of 2016. The committee may choose to operate outside of the structure of the Summit Neighborhood Association, which has been instrumental in developing the garden plan.

Beside Gerritt, the group members were Dean Weinberg, SNA president, Kerry Kohring, SNA vice president, Doug Best, Annalisse Daly, Linda Gifford DeGeus, Anneliese Greenier, Douglas Itkin, Brian Lalli, Hien Le, Lucy Ann LePreau, Jessica Porter, Read Porter and Eugene Sorkin.

Community gardens plan needs help

The tot lot in winter. To be ready for summer, it needs supervisors.

To get community gardens in the “tot lot” park at Summit Avenue and Ninth Street, there must be a citizens’ supervisory board and SNA member Greg Gerritt has volunteered to undertake forming such a group.

Gerritt responded to SNA President Dean Weinberg’s report at the organization’s annual meeting May 20 on the progress of the plans for renovation of the park that include the building of a series of gardens that would be open for residents to cultivate vegetables. The city Parks Department requires local participation for the gardens.

The supervisory panel will set the rules for the governing of the gardens and coordinate the various efforts involved in building them, working closely with city park staff.

Residents interested in the gardens should contact Gerritt at his home email,, or the SNA listserv at

Annual meeting elects directors, gets updates from activists in the community

State Sen. Gayle Goldin and Rep. Aaron Regunberg discuss their legislative priorities at the SNA annual meeting at the Highlands on the East Side.

Almost 60 people attended the annual meeting of the Summit Neighborhood Association May 20 to get updates from its officers plus elected officials and public servants as well as enjoy a social evening with other residents.

Gathering at 7 p.m. in the main dining area of the Highlands on the East Side, 101 Highland Ave., the audience, sipping wine and beer and munching on pizza as well as Highlands-supplied desserts, was welcomed by SNA President Dean Weinberg, who then quickly introduced two speakers who had commitments elsewhere.

First, Wendy Nilsson, the recently named director of the Providence Parks Department, described her excitement of her new post and said she intended to work with the people of the neighborhoods, adding that she was already familiar with the efforts of SNA to develop community gardens in the Summit Avenue park and “tot lot” playground as part of its refurbishment.

Second, state Sen. Gayle Goldin spoke of her efforts in the General Assembly, in cooperation with Summit’s Rep. Aaron Regunberg, who said he agreed with her, to raise the minimum wage so workers could contribute to an economic revitalization of the city, an objective she cited as vital to the quality of life of residents.

Weinberg then turned to a review of SNA’s accomplishments of the previous year, listing the huge music festival in Lippitt Park, the yard sale at the Church of the Redeemer, the bake-off competition at Seven Stars, the holiday caroling for charity, the snow-shoveling program to aid the handicapped and elderly and the group’s cooperation with various efforts by the Hope Street Merchants Association.

HSMA co-president Pernilla Frazier elaborated on those efforts, stressing the block party scheduled for June 6, the project to bring solar-powered streetlights to the area, a volunteer cleanup of the winter’s debris and new bicycles racks coming.

Regunberg returned to the floor, and in response to a question, said he generally is cautious about the proposal for a new stadium, but is keeping an open mind and listening to his constituents.

The main business event of the evening, the election of a new SNA board of directors, was conducted by Secretary Thomas Schmeling . The following officers were approved by a unanimous voice vote: Weinberg, president; Schmeling, secretary; Kerry Kohring, vice president; and Vishal Jain, treasurer. Re-elected as directors were Jim Barfoot, Grant Dulgarian, Anneliese Greenier, Daniel MacLellan, Michael McGlynn, Britt Page, Sheila Perlow and Sharon Lee Waldman. New directors approved were Erik Christiansen, Lee Clasper-Torch, Emily Spitzman, Mark Tracy and Karina Holyoak Wood. (See profiles below.)

Providence Police Capt. George Stamatakos concluded the presentation part of the meeting with an update on the string of burglaries and breakins around the neighborhood, explaining how a few known juveniles have been arrested but released by the courts numerous times. Answering questions from the audience, he urged residents to take common-sense precautions to deter crime, especially not having open doors or windows and never leaving anything in parked cars.

Some audience members stayed afterwards to chat with the speakers and to have a last glass of wine or a pastry delight.


Here are profiles of the new board members.

Erik Christiansen lives on Rochambeau Avenue and has been a Summit resident for four years. He is a history professor at Rhode Island College and is involved in local community-history projects, including one at the North Burial Ground. His special interest is in promoting walkability and safety in the neighborhood.
Lee Clasper-Torch lives on Fourth Street and has been a Summit resident for 25 years. He is an adjunct professor of the philosophy of religion at the Community College of Rhode Island and is men’s engagement coordinator for the R.I. Coalition Against Domestic Violence. His special interest is in community building and neighborhood advocacy.
Emily Spitzman lives on Lauriston Street and has been a Summit resident for 6 1/2 years. She is an assistant professor at Johnson and Wales University with a special interest in education and language learning.
She has previously served on the SNA Board of Directors.
Mark Tracy lives on Arlington Avenue with his wife and two children. He is on the boards of both Home and Hospice Care of Rhode Island and Brown University’s Association of Class Leaders. He earned his B.A. at Brown and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard. His “day job” is with Cargill, working with public pension funds, foundations and endowments. His wife, Molly, is a pediatric neurologist at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
Karina Holyoak Wood lives on Ogden Street and has been an East Sider for 18 years, moving to Summit last year. She is the public policy director for the American Lung Association in Rhode Island and is a parent advocate for improving the public schools. Her special interests include local politics and running.

SNA President Dean Weinberg briefs members on the organization's accomplishments.

Village Concept for seniors presented

Living well as you age was the theme of a presentation to the SNA board by advocates of a “village concept” in which seniors work together to facilitate services while being able to stay in their own homes.

Introduced by SNA member Ralph Mero, organizer Cy O’Neill described the system which was first put in place in Boston’s Beacon Hill and which has since spread across the country. He said the villages are “comprised of member-volunteers and a small professional staff . . . who provide one-call-does-it-all access to the services members need to live safely and confidently in their own homes while staying connected to a supportive community.”

O’Neill said the Providence organizers have an online survey of needs at and he urged people to take a look. He also noted their email address of and a telephone number, 401-441-5240, for further information.

The SNA board agreed to serve as a conduit for interested neighbors and board member Jim Barfoot volunteered to assist.

Carols brighten the night in Summit as neighbors assist neighbors for the holidays

The carolers stop at a house on Sixth Street, where the residents brought out snacks for the singers and donations of peanut butter for a local food pantry.

On a clear, cold, star-blessed Saturday night, about 30 Summit neighbors went caroling for a cause.

After meeting at event partner Miriam Hospital for refreshments at 5 p.m., Dec. 13, and singing some nonsectarian holiday tunes including the Dreidel Song, the group went a-wassailing among the streets so clean.

Led in traditional carols, and a few more-modern selections, by voice and performance coach Ellen Santaniello, the singers wound their way along Sixth, Bayard, Fifth, Summit and Fourth, finishing just short of Hope Street as a star of wonder, star of night example of the Geminid meteor shower silently streaked overhead.

Along the way, doorbells of illuminated houses were rung by the teenagers among the carolers, and residents, alerted by leaflets the previous weekend, came out to listen and donate cash plus peanut butter to benefit the St. Raymond’s church food pantry. The collected jars were piled in the back of an appropriately decorated accompanying vehicle provided by another event partner, Zipcar.

As the temperature plunged, some of the youngest carolers had to drop out and head home, but the rest kept making spirits bright until about 6:45 when they finished walking, and singing, in a winter wonderland.

The carolers weren’t able to build a snowman in a meadow, but they did collect $120 plus about 140 jars of peanut butter, much of which was donated by employees of the hospital.

The next week, representatives of organizers Summit Neighborhood Association and Miriam, bearing the gifts, travelled not far to the food pantry, where they were gratefully received in the true spirit of the season.

Zipcar, in partnership with SNA, provided a decorated vehicle to transport the growing weight of jars and jars of peanut butter.

The donated peanut butter sits on the receiving platform at St. Raymond's food pantry before being taken inside to help nourish needy neighbors.

Please join us in Caroling for a Cause

Neighborhood carolers in 2012.

Sing all ye citizens of the Summit neighborhood to benefit St. Raymond’s food pantry.

In order to help diminish hunger in our midst as well as have some fun, we will assemble at our event partner Miriam Hospital at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13, for refreshments, then at 5:30 head out, caroling all the way. We plan to finish on Hope Street about 7:30 so participants may avail themselves of the many dining and drinking opportunities there, but completing the entire trek is not mandatory.

As we go a’wassailing, we will ask for donations of cash, checks made out to St. Raymond’s food pantry or jars of peanut butter, put them in our accompanying convertible, provided by our other partner, Zipcar, and drop them off at the church.

Parents, children, singles and doubles are encouraged to attend. Songbooks will be provided but please bring flashlights. And be sure to dress for the weather.

Oh come all ye faithful, and neighborly, to help make this season a little more joyous.