Since 2011, Cranston has been home to Rhode Island’s best kept secret: The Rhode Island Dream Center and it’s “Food Truck Program.”
Every night, from Sunday to Friday, and Saturday mornings, The Rhode Island Dream Center teams up with Praise Tabernacle Church, located at 330 Park Ave. in Cranston, and sends out groups of 4 to 6 volunteers, including the driver, to places like Crossroads and Emmanuel House and many more spots in Providence, Cranston and West Warwick, to feed the hungry and impoverished.
“These incredible volunteers take to the streets, night after night, in all kinds of weather, in all different conditions, and feed, interact and care for those who really need it,” said Artie Russo, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Dream Center.
The Rhode Island Dream Center is currently looking for volunteers. The Mission of the Rhode Island Dream Center is: “Providing Hope and holistic support to the impoverished in the greater Rhode Island area, through food, clothing, education and services.”
The RI Dream Center ventures out 7 nights a week to feed the homeless and are looking for volunteers specifically on Monday and Thursday nights. Volunteers must be 18 years or older and to drive, have a clean Motor Vehicle Registration (MVR).
The team of Cyndi Colvin, who gives her time and energy relentlessly to getting each day’s meals ready to load on the Food Truck and Rob Russo, who picks up donations from donor partners in the state and stores them in the warehouse as well as at Praise Tabernacle.
“Also adding to our strengths is City Councilman and successful restaurant owner, Ed Brady who relentlessly has been our biggest supporter connecting us to many folks and organizations in the community,” said Russo.
At 4 p.m. the volunteers start arriving and load everything on the truck, tables, boxes, drinks, food, etc., and by 5 p.m. they head out to bring some love, respect, conversation and nourishment for the body and soul, to some very needy people, needy in many ways.
On Saturday mornings the Dream Center has two teams who head into Providence at 6 a.m. One team goes to Kennedy Plaza, with the Food Truck and a second team to Crossroads to cook a hot breakfast for the folks leaving the Crossroads shelter. Outside at Kennedy Plaza, in the cold and hot weather, snow, rain, etc., they are there: caring and feeding over 250 people every week.
“The statistics in the US are horrible for those who live on the streets, in shelters, in temporary housing or staying with friends or family. The statistics here are Rhode Island are not good either,” said Russo. “They are on the internet, available from different agencies who work with these statistics in RI, by just taking a good look under bridges, in doorways, behind buildings, out in the wooded areas. But the bottom line is that 1 person without a home, 1 family without a home and 1 child without a home is too much.”
“You are a great candidate if you could volunteer 1 night a month or 5 nights a month,” said Russo. “Come out on the Dream Center Food Truck and spend 90 minutes of your life, interacting with the greatest people you may ever meet. It is an experience you will never forget, and we need you, all of you,” said Russo.
Feeding and clothing those in need is a must. It is a big part of the Rhode Island Dream Center; however, “Educating” those in need is what is needed. People living on the streets, struggling to consistently maintain work and a home is what is needed right now. Taking just one person and starting with “building their self-esteem” through a makeover at the barbers or beauty salon, some decent work clothes, work shoes, so they can dress properly for work, knowing where to go for an immediate job that pays something to get started, knowing how to spend a dollar wisely, knowing how to parent a child, finding day care, connecting with the right services for Mental and Physical Health for themselves and their children, gaining some work experience, starting a resume and even just getting a “Picture ID” is what is needed.
“With the Rhode Island Dream Center, you will find that we do not just hand out a sandwich and drive or walk away,” said Russo. “We have conversation, ask questions, provide some help or relief and connect those who need with those who provide. Our incredible volunteers listen well and show respect. They offer a caring hand up through all they, the Dream Center, and other RI Organizations like the MAE Organization, Amos House, McAuley Center, Providence Rescue Mission, We Share Hope, Help the Homeless RI, The RI Coalition for the Homeless, Crossroads, Sojourner House and Be the Change offer. Our volunteers are the secret.”
The Rhode Island Dream Center has 5 Programs operating: The Food Truck – Out 6 nights and 1 Day feeding in the streets of Providence, Cranston & West Warwick; Early Seekers – Feeding at Kennedy Plaza & Crossroads on Saturdays from 6 a.m.; Adopt a Block – Restoring Neighborhoods 1 Block at a time – Playgrounds, Basketball Courts, all in the inner city; I Need U2 Survive – Building Self Esteem through Make Overs and Mentorship for women and Reaching Higher – Educating in Basics, Life Skills and Financial Literacy.
Contact Artie Russo at artie.russo@
ridreamcenter.com or visit their website and sign up at www.ridreamcenter.com or call 261-8499.