Organizing Volunteers with The Mt Hope Community Center

Volunteers bag food for their neighbors

By Sherry Waldman and Ethan Gyles 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Providence in March 2020, Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune convened a call with local non-profit organizations including SNA, Mt. Hope Community Center (MHCC), Jewish Collaborative Services (JCS), and others to discuss how to prepare to help neighbors in need. SNA contributed by organizing a mutual aid list to match volunteers with need and administered it throughout the past year, as well as fundraised to offset the costs of food and goods purchased for folks who were experiencing financial hardship. Volunteer services included picking up medications and groceries for those who couldn’t leave their homes, or who were especially vulnerable to health complications. Over one hundred and fifty volunteers signed on. We also worked with Rep. Rebecca Kislak to run a check-in phone bank to call our elderly neighbors and make sure they were okay, as well as provide information about available resources. 

In addition to answering the dozens of individual requests for aid we received, tapping into the outpouring of community volunteers also helped SNA assist MHCC to deliver food bags to people who could not get out, as well as helped Higher Ground International’s Rukiya Center deliver hot meals to those in need. Volunteers were eager to assist and, on Wednesdays and Fridays, up to ten volunteers came to the MHCC offices to pick up groceries and bring them to primarily elderly and disabled community members. 

On Friday mornings, a few volunteers also help unload pallets from the RI Food Bank truck at the Camp Street Community Ministries (CSCM) across the street from MHCC, and then bag up the food for delivery. Each of the forty-three to sixty recipient households gets two to three bags of dried goods and fresh produce weekly. This has been a year-long effort of coordination between multiple community organizations and individuals –  an impressive feat of endurance! 

In addition, local business leaders Milena Pagan from Rebelle Artisan Bagels and Becca Brady from Hometown Poke & Cafe donated or offered at heavy discount a bounty of baked goods and fresh produce to the MHCC’s food pantry over the past few months. A big thanks to these businesses that continue to give more than delicious food to our neighborhood, and to all the community organizers and volunteers who jumped in to support their neighbors! 

SNA is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with Helen Dukes, Eugene Monteiro, and Marcus Mitchell at MHCC, Jackie Watson at CSCM, Henrietta White-Holder of the Rukiya Center, Erin Minor at JCS, Rep. Kislak, Councilwoman LaFortune, and to help our neighbors! 

Contact Sherry at if you’d like to volunteer – the need goes on!

Observatory group meeting discusses concerns about neighborhood

The Observatory Neighborhood Association has held its second organizational meeting and discussed local concerns with members of the city administration as well as elected representatives.

According to minutes provided by Ruth Breindel, the meeting chair, the group convened at 7 p.m. Jan. 11 at the Rochambeau library branch and the main topics were parking hazards, breakins to cars and garages, water main leaks and dangerous sidewalk and road conditions. The group is working to develop a local association concerned with issues in the area from Rochambeau to Olney, and Hope Street to Elmgrove.

Present to respond to the raised issues were Sgt. Steven Courville of the police department, Adolfo Bailon and Kristen Dart of the mayor’s office, Councilman Kevin Jackson and Rep. Aaron Regunberg.

Courville told the meeting that if there are cars parked illegally overnight or too close to corners, resident should call police at 272-3121 to request ticketing, adding that special consideration can be given to overnight guests. He also stressed that residents should not leave anything in their cars, even in driveways, and be sure everything is locked. He reminded people that they are the eyes and ears of police and should call whenever something is suspicious.

Bailon, a staffer of the Center for City Services, said there are five people tasked with answering calls to 421-2489 and promised a city response to any problem with 7 to 10 days. He suggested calling that number to report the water leaks at Hope and Savoy plus Braman and Morris. Bailon also said he would talk with Waste Management, the trash collectors, to see if they would pick up leftover leaf bags with the Christmas trees.

As to pavement sinking at Hope and Cypress, yellow crossing mats in disrepair, catch basins and gutters clogged with leaves and crumbling sidewalks, Bailon gave the same answer – call and report the problems.

Jackson said there are two sources of funds for sidewalk maintenance – Community Development Block Grants, which are used in each ward, and the Department of Public Works, which are used city wide. He also urged constituents to contact him at 25 Dorrance St, Room 310, Providence 02903, call his office at 521-7477 or cell at 286-4223.

Other concerns were discarded mattresses, which cost $25 to be removed, and broken furniture, which Waste Management will remove three free per week per home if they are called by Friday for pickup the next week.

Residents were reminded that city ordinance requires that snow be removed from sidewalks to a width of three feet and by eight hours after the fall stops. ServeRI has a program to assist the elderly.

The meeting adjourned at 7:40 p.m.



Upcoming Meeting on crime for East Side residents

Meeting for East Side residents with Mayor Elorza and other prominent city officials

WHEN: Monday, November 16th at 6:00pm

WHERE: Nathan Bishop Middle Auditorium

Cheryl Simmons has arranged a meeting with Mayor Jorge Elorza and other prominent City officials to discuss crime issues on the East Side.

Panelists will include:

Please mark your calendar and be thinking of your questions.

Neighborhood animals invited to blessing

Moby, a Golden Retriever who lives in Summit, is ready to be blessed.

Moby, a Golden Retriever who lives in Summit, is ready to be blessed.

All Summit and visiting pets are invited to the Blessing of the Animals at 11 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 3 at the Church of the Redeemer, 655 Hope St.

The church, which has been the gracious host of the Summit Neighborhood Association’s annual yard sale for years, welcomes all animals and their human companions. The event celebrates the life of St. Francis of Assisi and after the blessing there will be a bake sale benefitting Volunteer Services for Animals.

To assure the safety of all, animals should be in appropriate containers or leashed.

For more information, call the church at 401-331-0678 or go to

City arts festival seeks volunteers

The City of Providence and FirstWorks invite you to be part of the first annual Providence International Arts Festival, a vibrant and multicultural arts festival. Volunteer support is critical to the Festival’s success and is needed on June 13, 2015. We are in particular need of volunteers for the afternoon (12:00pm-7:00pm) and evening (7:00pm-12:00am) shifts. Sign up today!

Volunteer shifts will last five hours on June 13 and will include:

·Backstage (ex. ID check, manage artist requests; manage artist hospitality with festival caterer)

· Info booth (ex. assist with questions/directions; hand out maps & schedules)

· Merchandise booth (selling artist cd’s/dvd’s/tshirts; track and report transactions)

· General Production (set-up; tear-down; errands)

The Providence International Arts Festival is an exciting gathering of art, music and spectacle. More than 500 local, national and international artists will come together downtown for the celebration.  On June 13, the Providence International Arts Festival will feature headlining events throughout the day including a parade, art exhibits, live dance and music performances, and more. Grammy-award winning West African singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo, the “guerilla opera” opera group Squonk Opera, the contemporary string ensemble Earth Harp, and the local gospel group RPM Voices are all part of the planned programs.

Contact Amber Ilcisko with questions, ailcisko@providenceri.com401-680-8541.


Be a part of the celebration: volunteer at #PVDFest#PIAF needs YOU!  #PVDFestival #PIAF2015


Be a part of the celebration as we create a new signature event for the Creative Capital: Volunteer at the @2015 Providence International Arts Festival! We’re recruiting people for all sorts of fun stuff!

Hope floats at an open microphone

SNA sponsored an open mic at the Hope Street Merchants Association's block party on Saturday and all sorts of people took advantage of the opportunity to take a shot at a show biz career. They ranged from young people . . .

. . . to very young people . . .

. . . to intense people . . .

. . . and even to a wandering giraffe with an excellent singing voice.

Come to the Hope Street Block Party

Come join your neighbors at the Hope Street Block Party Saturday from 12 to 6 p.m. put on by the Hope Street Merchants Association. SNA will host an open-microphone at a table in front of Blooming Blossoms flower shop with acoustic guitar and keyboard. Bring your songs and your courage and we’ll provide the mic. Talent is encouraged – but not required. For more information, go to:

Join Us for our Annual Meeting

Join us for the Summit Neighborhood Association Annual Meeting!

Everyone Invited – members and non-members.

WHEN:  7 p.m. Wednesday, May 20, 2015

WHERE: Highlands on the East Side, 101 Highland Avenue

Plenty of parking
Wine, beer and pizza

Here’s what’s happening…

  • Election of board of directors
  • Update on activities
  • Conversations with neighbors, politicians, civil servants

PUBLIC FORUM – Improving Pedestrian & Bicycle Infrastructure

When: 5:00PM-6:30PM, Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Where: 444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor

How can the City of Providence improve pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and culture?

The Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission and the Department of Planning and Development invite you to attend a public brainstorming session on the future of bicycle and pedestrian improvements in the City of Providence.

Bring your ideas, dreams, and concerns about bicycling and walking in Providence!

The location for this meeting is handicap accessible and translation or hearing impaired services are available upon request.

Please contact the Department of Planning and Development at 401-680-8400 to request such services.