Daily Point of Light # 2926 Apr 22, 2005

Project Outreach epitomizes the definition of a community service and family supportive organization. By engaging the residents of the Washington Park neighborhood, it is a respected and life-sustaining resource for families served.

Project Outreach, a non-profit organization, has been serving the communities of Providence and Cranston, RI for 20 years. The area it serves has one of the lowest per capita incomes of Rhode Island and is among the most need-oriented neighborhoods in the country.

They provide food, clothing, rental and utility assistance, life skills training and counseling. Over 150 families helped weekly; 100,000 meals served annually. Project Outreach provides programs to facilitate improvements in skill sets and opportunities to better the lives of clients. They specifically focus on helping young parents and children receive the proper education, nutrition and support they need to thrive.

From their humble “office” in the basement of the Washington Park United Methodist Church, Project Outreach has persisted in its mission to ‘rebuild and renew life in the neighborhood of Washington Park and surrounding area.” In other words, strengthening the families and strengthening the neighborhood. Under the supervision and motivation of Director, Paula Cartwright, volunteers, many of whom are the very recipients of services, assist in all aspects of programs offered. To sustain these programs, collaborations are made with area churches, high schools, businesses and service agencies within the state.

Specific programs & services offered (all bi-lingual in English, Spanish and/or Portuguese) include Community & Family Advocacy & Services, Community Food Program, Community Gardening Program, Infant Room, and Health & Nutrition Education Programs & ESL and GED Classes.

Community & Family Advocacy & Services advocate for systemic change to end poverty in the neighborhoods. Toys, books, and clothing are sent to over 1,000 children at major holidays and in August when children go back to school. This service also distributes Toys for Tots throughout RI and they fuel assistance for families, and fitness & sewing programs. The Community Food Program’s clients choose enough food for their family bi-weekly, with amounts to sustain them for that period. Food is purchased from RI Community Food Bank and donated by restaurants and stores. Johnson & Wales University culinary students teach meal preparation from food commonly distributed. The students also learn about poverty while clients learn recipes and nutrition.

The Community Gardening Program demonstrates garden with raised beds for elderly and the disabled. This is maintained by residents and the produce is used within other programs. The Health and Nutrition programs address the problem of disparity in minority health. This includes effects of second hand smoke and use of tobacco products, prenatal lead poisoning prevention, cancer, obesity, heart disease and high-risk behavior. The Infant Room is where we distribute supplies including vitamins, folic acid and other supplements to the families. We also have counseling and support for the new parents with referrals to appropriate agencies as needed.

Project Outreach is a safe place where families of all needs come for more than just groceries. Neighbors become willing and able to reach out to neighbors providing physical and emotional support, proving that building strong families creates strong communities!