October 23, 2014
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Champion in Action right here in Conimicut
Kelcy Dolan
Warwick Beacon photos
CHAMPION IN ACTION: Barbara Cottam, the executive vice president, RI market executive for Citizens Bank, announces that the Rhode Island Family Shelter in Conimicut is this year’s recipient of a Champion in Action $35,000 grant. The bank and Channel 10 run the program. Mario Hilario of the station shared in making the announcement Tuesday.

The Rhode Island Family Shelter will enhance onsite programs thanks to the shelter’s selection by Citizens Bank and NBC 10 as the 2014 Champion in Action.

The Champions in Action program, which began in 2002, is a Citizens Bank initiative to help support local charities.

On Tuesday, Barbara Cottam, the executive vice president, RI market executive for Citizens Bank, and NBC 10’s Mario Hilario visited the shelter to announce it had been named the Champion in Action.

Cottam said, “Your mission of keeping families together is critically important. We often take it for granted that we have a home to go to every night.”

She said that over the course of a year the family shelter helps 300 people and that half of those helped are children. They also have an 85 percent success rate of individuals finding independent housing.

Hilario toured the shelter the week before to interview some of the families. At the announcement he remembered those interviews and said, “There is a place in my heart for the work you do here. The success stories are tremendous; you bring hope and promise to so many people and I am honored to share your story.”

Mayor Scott Avedisian, also at the event, spoke of the history of the family shelter from their “humble beginnings” at Norwood Baptist Church, starting out as a group of “well intentioned” people who have come great lengths in supporting and caring for Warwick’s homeless. He is glad Warwick is the home for the Rhode Island Family Shelter.

He said, “This award is a true testament to their tenacity and dedication.”

As Champion in Action, the shelter received $35,000 in unrestricted funding as well as volunteer support from both NBC and Citizens and media coverage from NBC 10. Citizens Bank will also promote the shelter with notices in their branches and on their 3,100 ATMs.

The Champion in Action program is highly competitive and Patti Macreading, the executive director of the Rhode Island Family Shelter, was honored to have the shelter selected.

She said, “There are so many deserving organizations; thank you for choosing us.”

She said that the publicity and funding will help the shelter educate people on family homelessness; something she said many people don’t realize is a problem in our community.

Macreading said that the money would be going to increase and enhance the onsite programming. She said the shelter often refers people to outside programming and would like to have similar options available at the home center. Her example was transportation. Many clients rely on public transportation and she would like to see the shelter reach out to different companies that could offer other choices.

Janis Lavallee Fisher, the now retired executive director and first ever employee to the shelter, said, “This is a long time coming, but it is so nice that the shelter is finally receiving the recognition it deserves.”

For more information on the Rhode Island Family Shelter, visit their website, rifamilyshelter.org, or call them at 739-8584.


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