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ProJo: At Providence’s Amos House, serving more than just food

The Pine Street facility not only runs the largest soup kitchen in Rhode Island, it provides housing, addiction recovery and job training

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Every day, Amos House tries to turn a tragedy into a miracle, knowing that someone might fall many times before they can pick themselves up.

Jerome Hines was one of those individuals that the Pine Street facility rescued, although the nonprofit would say that Hines did all of the hard work.

Hines, who is 59 and lives in East Providence, had been in and out of prison, smoking crack, robbing houses, when he turned up at Amos House in 2008. He enrolled in a recovery program at Amos, relapsed, returned and got sober for good.

Ten years later, he’s the center’s dining house manager and a part-time supervisor at Harrington Hall, a homeless shelter in Cranston

“This place didn’t just save my life,” he said Wednesday. “It saves lives. You know how many people I’ve brought to this place whose lives have been saved?”

Amos House gave Hines back more than his sobriety. It gave him a job, a place to live. It even helped him get his children back.

On Wednesday, the soup kitchen on Pine Street does what it does best: serving a hot meal, in this case, 500 turkey dinners, to whomever walked through its doors. By 11:30 a.m., the line stretched down the street and the kitchen was hopping, with a half-dozen volunteers dishing out stuffing and cranberry sauce, potatoes and apple pie.

Eileen Hayes, the president and CEO of Amos House, used to counsel clients who had eating disorders. Nothing, she said, compares to feeding people. This past year, Amos House has served 120,000 meals. Amos House not only runs the largest soup kitchen in Rhode Island, it provides housing, addiction recovery and job training.

Kevin Dwares volunteers every Wednesday. A retired federal employee, he also volunteers weekly at Hasbro Children’s Hospital and Meals on Wheels. When his 20-year-old son died of leukemia in 2004, Dwares had two choices: he could fall apart or he could honor his son’s memory by giving something back.

“I volunteer because it makes my heart feel good,” he said. “When you come here, it makes you realize that you could be one paycheck away from being homeless.”

Kevin Burton also came to Amos House looking for redemption. Now he works in the kitchen and lives in a men’s shelter run by Amos House.

“People come in the door who are just like me,” said Burton, 63, of Cranston. “You start to believe you’re no good anymore. But these people here, they say, ‘You can do this’ and they say it over and over again.”

—lborg@providencejournal.com

(401) 277-7823

Courtesy of Providence Journal 


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