News & Event
By KELLY SULLIVAN
CHARLESTOWN – South County Habitat for Humanity, located at 1555 Shannock Road in Charlestown, will be hosting a Community Resource Fair on Aug. 25.
This free event is open to all South County residents who would like information and guidance on the services available to give individuals and families a hand up during difficult times.
A dozen different area organizations will be present at the fair and include the following:
Al’s Moving Minds; a non-profit agency for senior citizens living with memory loss. The volunteer-run agency offers customized programs and socialization for those with early-to moderate-stage dementia.
The Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County; offering safety, support, advocacy and education to victims of domestic abuse. Since 1978, the center has been providing a network of services to those who have suffered, or are suffering from, the effects of violence or abuse.
Easter Seals Rhode Island; offering a wide range of services for individuals and families challenged by disability. By providing resources necessary for quality living, learning, working and playing, the organization has been making profound differences in the lives of those with disabilities for nearly a century.
The Education Exchange; providing adult education services in an environment that embraces diversity. Since 1978, the agency has been empowering students through the opportunities for personal growth, job readiness and workforce skills.
The Exeter Job Corps Academy; a no-cost education and career technical training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. Individuals aged 16 to 24 are provided with the technical and academic training that can greatly improve the quality of life.
The Jonnycake Center of Westerly; providing services in cooperation with other area agencies to individuals and families in crisis. The non-profit agency provides food, clothing and financial assistance to residents of the Westerly-Chariho area, while helping them to find a path out of dependency.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors; a non-profit charitable organization that helps to keep South County residents living safely in their homes after unexpected events, such as floods or fires, demand costly home repairs.
Operation Stand Down Rhode Island; started by veterans for the benefit of veterans, the organization’s mission is to give back to those who served and protected our liberties. Offering services and housing to homeless veterans, they help to ensure that struggling vets are able to get back on their feet.
Perspectives Corporation; a multi-faceted agency that helps those with intellectual, developmental and other types of disabilities live quality lives and pursue their dreams. Regardless of the severity of a disability, the programs and services offered by the agency ensures that any individual can have the opportunity to participate in and contribute to society.
The Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty; champions the eradication of poverty in Rhode Island and includes congregations of every faith from across the state. By helping to provide affordable housing, nutritious food, accessible healthcare, equitable education and employment with decent wages, the coalition assists in laying the foundation for a better future.
Tri-County Community Action; providing accessible social educational, health, prevention and other services to people in need since 1964. The organization offers a wide range of services to empower needy individuals in achieving their highest possible level of self-sufficiency and quality living.
The University Of Rhode Island Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; providing assistance with food costs to low-income individuals and families.
The Warm Center; offers care and services to the homeless and needy. The 19-bed adult shelter contains a community soup kitchen that serves lunch and dinner each day of the year. The organization’s services include assistance with finding affordable housing, case management, job development, clothing and other supportive programs.
The Community Resource Fair will run from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. If you are a veteran, a senior citizen, an individual living with a disability, a caregiver, someone undergoing a financial crisis, or if you just want to find out more about the services offered to those in need in South County, stop by and talk to one of the agents or pick up some information.
Courtesy of The Chariho Times
By: Philip Cozzolino
CHARLESTOWN - Habitat for Humanity has welcomed a new face as its executive director. Colin Penney took over the position on Oct. 30 after a nationwide search. Penney takes over the post from Lou Raymond, who is set to retire later this year after 15 years of service to the Charlestown non-profit organization, a branch of the nationwide non-profit which seeks to provide affordable, quality housing for all. In announcing the appointment, Val Henry, president of the South County Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors, was excited to welcome Habitat’s new leader. “We are extremely excited to welcome Colin to South County Habitat,” Henry said. “We look forward to his leadership as we work together continuing in our mission of providing affordable housing in our community.”Henry went on to say the search for a new executive director led South County Habitat on a nationwide exploration of candidates that included over 150 applicants. Of that pool, Penney was the organization’s top choice. Penney comes to South County Habitat with over 15 years of experience in non-profits and affordable housing, and has extensive experience working with Habitat for Humanity various chapters across the country, both as a volunteer and staff member. Most recently, he served as the program director for Habitat for Humanity of Mahoning Valley in the Youngstown area of Ohio. Youngstown, Ohio is currently one of the most affordable places in the country to live – a stark contrast from the pricey real estate market of New England.
“Land [in northern Ohio] has very little value because there’s lots of it available,” Penney said when asked what would be different between the two locations. “Working in a community where oftentimes the land is just as valuable as the materials you’re putting onto it adds an additional challenge to affordability in the area. And as land values continue to increase as more and more people want to move to such a wonderful area, that lack of land and access to land is definitely going to be an ongoing challenge that Habitat will be facing.” Penney became dedicated to combatting homelessness while studying sociology and anthropology at Ohio Wesleyan University, working with the Columbus, Ohio homeless population and studying how city growth and new infrastructure had triggered a system in which low-income individuals were forced from their homes and into the streets. While working as Mahoning Valley Habitat for Humanity’s Program Director, Penney was directly responsible for all of the organizations volunteer recruitment and training and selection of homebuyers. Working directly with those preparing to become homeowners for the first time, Penney assisted with mortgages, loans and payment collection.
As executive director for South County Habitat, Penney will oversee all operations of the non-profit organization.
“A lot of my experience, particularly on the loan and mortgage side, is something we’re really looking to remodel with the new affiliate and take the affiliate in a new direction to try to simplify and bring a lot of that [work] in-house,” he said. “It will be a big benefit.”
“I’m really looking forward to getting to know the community,” Penney continued. “Habitat really is a community-based organization, we couldn’t do it without our hundreds and hundreds of volunteers and all the donations that are coming everywhere from the University of Rhode Island to local businesses to community members who want to take that time either swinging a hammer or open their wallets to make a donation. I’m really looking forward to integrating myself into that community, getting to know as many folks as I can and figure out what the biggest need is in affordable housing.”
When asked about those housing needs unique to South County and New England, Penney spoke to the effect short-term rentals have had on the local housing market.
“I think one of the really unique housing issues in South County is the kind of housing carousel,” he said. “Where there’s individuals who might not qualify for traditional home loans through a bank but are very stable financially and just aren’t quite ready for that next step, and as a result, they’re forced to rent. With the nine-month academic rental paired with the three-month summer rental, finding consistent, year-round housing is incredibly difficult and very expensive and adds a lot of stress to individual families.” Being a native New Englander originally from Vermont, Penney is excited to return to the northeast.
“I have been fortunate to build with so many Habitat affiliates across the country, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to return to New England and serve a community so close to where I was raised,” the new executive director said. “I have seen the impact Habitat has on the lives of its homeowners, the hearts of its volunteers, and the spirit of the local community it serves. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting involved as quickly as possible.”
Courtesy of The Narragansett Times
Boston– October 30, 2017 – Santander US CEO Scott Powell today announced Santander’s “Inclusive Communities” plan, Santander Bank’s new $11 billion, agreement with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) to increase lending, community development, and charitable giving. The plan outlines Santander’s commitment to communities across its eight-state northeastern U.S. footprint for 2017 through 2021, during which time Santander will increase its Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) activity by 50 percent and triple its investment in charitable grants.
Over the next five years, Santander will provide:
- $4.2 billion in residential mortgage loans for low- to moderate income families
- $1.9 billion in small business lending
- $3 billion in community development lending
“This plan is the foundation of Santander’s approach to supporting the communities where we live and work,” said Powell, CEO of Santander US, the Bank’s U.S. holding company. “We recognize that Santander’s success is directly linked to the prosperity of our communities’ families, businesses and neighborhoods. By increasing lending, investments and financial education opportunities, we hope to boost the long-term economic success of low- and moderate-income individuals and neighborhoods.”
Powell announced “Inclusive Communities” at a meeting this morning in downtown Boston where he was joined by officials from the City of Boston, other public officials, and National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) President and CEO John Taylor.
"This is a good day for people in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and my home state of Massachusetts,” said John Taylor, NCRC President and CEO. I want to applaud Santander for committing 11 billion in investments for underserved neighborhoods over the next five years. Santander’s leadership showed a special dedication to working with community leaders and better understanding the credit needs in the areas they serve. We are very pleased that this commitment, and especially the 10 new bank branches, will help individuals build wealth and neighborhoods build their economies."
“Inclusive Communities” was developed with significant input from and collaboration with more than 100 community-based organizations throughout the Bank’s footprint. Supported and facilitated by the NCRC, an extensive ten-month long process helped identify emerging community needs and strategies aimed at addressing the challenges faced by underserved communities in Santander’s key markets.
Read a in depth summary of Santander's "Inclusive Communities" agreement here
In addition to the Bank’s financial commitments, Santander is establishing a national Community Advisory Board (CAB) comprising representatives of not-for-profit community development organizations and financial inclusion advocates, as well as community development policy organizations, and representatives of local or state economic development or housing agencies. Members of the CAB are:
The Bank is also establishing statewide/regional advisory boards in its footprint to ensure ongoing community input and will be enhancing its current Community Development and CRA teams with the addition of 17 new positions in the coming years.
Local leaders applaud the agreement:
"ANHD applauds Santander for creating this new CRA plan. They listened to over 100 community based organizations to create a plan that is reflective of community needs throughout the bank's footprint, including New York City. We also appreciate the creation of national and regional community advisory boards, which put the structure in place to implement, monitor, and adjust the plan to ensure it has the greatest impact. We look forward to working with the bank to put this plan into action,” Benjamin Dulchin, Executive Director, Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development.
“New Jersey Citizen Action has had a longtime partnership with Santander Bank and its predecessor, Sovereign Bank. The bank's $11 billion commitment in mortgages, small business loans and community development lending will provide loans, access to capital and affordable housing for thousands of New Jerseyeans. I look forward to serving on the bank's National Community Advisory Board and working with Santander to ensuring that these dollars are reinvested in our communities,” Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Executive Director, New Jersey Citizen Action.
“The effort behind this plan will ensure that those who live and operate businesses in developing neighborhoods can benefit, including immigrants and communities of color,” John Chin, Executive Director, Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation.
“As a leading Center for Independent Living for People with Disabilities in the greater Philadelphia Area, we applaud Santander's commitment to the community and our desire to increase affordable and accessible housing opportunities for the many Seniors and People with Disabilities who we serve throughout the region,” Thomas H. Earle, Esquire, Chief Executive Officer, Liberty Resources, Inc.
"Santander has had a long and impactful presence in the Greater Reading community. We look forward to continue working with Santander Bank and its team members in implementing this comprehensive plan, particularly in downtown Reading, where they have a large workforce and occupy almost 1/4 million sf of office space, in addition to having its name on the Santander Arena & the Santander Performing Arts Center," Edward Swoyer, President, Greater Berks Development Fund.
“This is an exciting and groundbreaking agreement that will improve our communities and transform lives. It demonstrates that banks and the communities they serve can thrive together when they work together. We congratulate Santander, NCRC, and the dozens of community based groups who worked so hard to make this happen,” Joseph Kriesberg, President & CEO, Mass. Association of Community Development Corporations.
“We believe this agreement with Santander Bank will go a long way in helping LMI communities in Waterbury CT. It provides a framework and capital for the hard-working people of the Northend section of town to rebuild a vibrant community,” Pastor Rodney Wade, President, Concerned Black Clergy Council of Waterbury.
“The Community Reinvestment Act is an important tool that empowers people in many ways. For example, the act can be used to conduct community development. As far as I am concerned, it protects LMI communities from senseless crime and violence,” Angela Mciver, Chief Executive Officer, Fair Husing Rights Center in Southeastern Pensylvania.
“This was a unique opportunity to work with fellow community organizations to determine priority needs and where we want Santander to direct their resources to help address those needs. It was also an opportunity for Santander to gain a better understanding of their community responsibility and measures needed to implement in the future. Represented organizations put a great deal of time and care into this process to ensure fairness and optimize outcomes for the communities we serve,” Majeedah Rashid, Chief Operating Officer, Nicetown Community Development Corporation.
"MAHA looks forward to continuing our partnership with Santander in reaching low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers as we both seek to close the large racial wealth gap in Massachusetts", Symone Crawford, board president, Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance.
"Obviously, Home Ownership is the foundation upon which strong, thriving communities are based. We welcome the proactive steps being taken by Santander and we look forward to many years of success. Together, we can be the change that our communities need - one house at a time, one block at a time, one neighborhood at a time..." Stephen T. Gieringer, Executive Director, Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Berks, Inc.
Partners in the Community Benefits Agreement:
Santander Bank, N.A. is one of the country’s largest retail and commercial banks with more than $79 billion in assets. With its corporate offices in Boston, the Bank’s 9,700 employees, more than 650 branches, 2,100 ATMs and 2.1 million customers are principally located in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The Bank is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Madrid-based Banco Santander, S.A. (NYSE: SAN) - one of the most respected banking groups in the world with more than 125 million customers in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. It is managed by Santander Holdings USA, Inc., Banco Santander’s intermediate holding company in the U.S. For more information on Santander Bank, please visit www.santanderbank.com.
Santander Holdings USA, Inc. (SHUSA) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Madrid-based Banco Santander, S.A. (NYSE: SAN) (Santander), one of the most respected banking groups in the world with more than 125 million customers in the U.K., Europe, Latin America and the U.S. As the intermediate holding company for Santander’s U.S. businesses, SHUSA includes six financial companies with more than 17,500 employees, 5.2 million customers and assets of over $135 billion. These include Santander Bank, N.A., one of the country’s largest retail and commercial banks by deposits; Santander ConsumerUSA Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SC), an auto finance and consumer lending company; Banco Santander International of Miami; Banco Santander Puerto Rico;Santander Securities LLC of Boston; and Santander Investment Securities Inc. of New York.
Health equity as a reality, not a pipe dream
Ana Novais, the executive director of the R.I. Department of Health, described the health equity zone initiative as an example of what happens when “brilliance that exists” in the state, at the community level, at the state agency level, and at the funding level, can build a collaborative approach.
Novais continued: “We can make a difference by investing in our communities, so we can build strong, resilient communities, so that every single child does have a chance for a healthy life, and does have the opportunity for good housing, good education, and good jobs.”
Some say, Novais concluded, “That the dream of health equity is a pipe dream. I believe that Rhode Island is proving them wrong. It is not a dream, it is a reality, when people and communities come together, connected to our health equity zones.”
Crossing the news chasm
As much as The Rhode Island Foundation has recognized the value of the work of the nine existing health equity zones in Rhode Island, there is still a news chasm when it comes to The Providence Journal, which failed to cover the 2018 Health Equity Summit held on Sept. 20 at the Providence Convention Center, even though it drew more than 750 participants. And, two weeks later, in a front-page story about health disparities, The Journal made no mention of health equity zones, a glaring gap in news coverage. More than an error of omission, the oversight appeared to be an error commission, in ConvergenceRI’s opinion.
Similarly, The Providence Business News, in rewriting the news release about the Oct. 19 event at Progreso Latino, inexplicably described the $3.6 million in grants in support the work of health equity zones in Rhode Island as “health care remediation grants,” whatever that means. [GoLocal Prov simply republished the news release in its entirety.]
And, at the upcoming PBN 2018 Fall Health Care Summit on Oct. 30, with its panel of “health care experts and business leaders,” one topic missing from the conversation is health equity zones. Why is that?
Courtesy of ConvergenceRI
October 26, 2017 08:16PM
By Catherine Hewitt, Sun staff writer
CHARLESTOWN — South County Habitat for Humanity announced Friday that Colin Penney has been named executive director, effective Oct. 30. He will take over for Lou Raymond, who will retire later this year after 15 years of service.
Most recently Penney, 34, served as program director for Habitat for Humanity of Mahoning Valley, in Struthers, Ohio, near Youngstown. He has more than 15 years of experience in nonprofits and affordable housing, and has worked with Habitat as a volunteer and staff member.
Penney got his start working on housing issues as a student at Ohio Wesleyan University, where he studied sociology and and anthropology. He worked with the homeless in Columbus, Ohio, and studied how city growth and new infrastructure had forced low-income people out of their homes.
Val Henry, president of the board of directors, said, “We are extremely excited to welcome Colin to South County Habitat and we look forward to his leadership as we work together continuing our mission of providing affordable housing in our community.” Henry said the board conducted a nationwide search that attracted more than 150 applicants.
Penney, a native of Vermont, said he was excited to return to the Northeast. “I have been fortunate to build with so many Habitat affiliates across the country, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to return to New England and serve a community so close to where I was raised,” he said. “I have seen the impact that Habitat has on the lives of its homeowners, the hearts of its volunteers, and the spirit of the local community it serves. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting involved as quickly as possible.” For more information go to www.southcountyhabitat.org.
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