Hello all…hope all is well!!!!
I’m sounding the alarm!! Finances are running extremely low for the Food Truck, and today I focus on fund-raising…
If you don’t know what the Food Truck does, check this video out: Food Truck Video
Wanna see how the Food Truck started: What is the Food Truck?
Real simple – short and sweet – it costs about $1000/month to send the Food Truck every day – and we are looking for whatever help you might be able to offer. We feed 50-100 people every night and 300+ every Saturday morning….the people we serve can not afford us to shut down…
If you can, please donate – we need your help ASAP….please share this blog post with your friends and family so they can help support the cause as well…
The RI Dream Center is a federally and state recognized 501c3 non-profit organization located right here in RI.
Checks can be made payable and sent to the following address: RI Dream Center/330 Park Ave/Cranston, RI 02910
If you would like to donate electronically, PayPal is a great method: PayPal
A one-time donation will help us get through this month….but if you sign up for a recurring donation, it will get us through EVERY month!!!!
Thanks so much for all your support!!!! If you have any questions – let me know! Have a great day!!!
So, we had a great day in Providence today.
The RIDC Food Truck participated in Providence’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade today, and we had a blast!!!
Take a peek at the crew getting ready while we were waiting for our turn to start – I can’t get enough of these smiles:
I am so proud of this crew. Most of members of this crew was, or still are, homeless. Don’t let that fool you, though, as they are some of the most fun people to be around, and I enjoy every second hanging around with them. Seeing this group doing positive things with their lives totally makes my day! I love being able to give them a chance to be a part of something important.
Something else really cool happened – when one of my co-workers found out the Food Truck was going to be in the parade this year, she held a fundraiser at work and hooked us up with over 50 $5 gift cards to Dunkin Donuts and Subway for us to hand out to the homeless that we saw along the parade route. What a blessing it was – we gave all of them away today directly from the truck…pretty cool to be able to treat the homeless to a sub or some nice, fresh coffee – it was awesome being in the parade but actually doing what we do best at the same time…hey, why not take the opportunity to bless some of the homeless along the way!!!! Thanks MG – you are super special and we really appreciate your generosity!!! Check out how nice she made the cards up:
Walking in the parade made all of us feel special. Waving to all the people and having them cheer us on made us feel valued. At the very end of the parade, the announcer on the loudspeaker gave a huge shoutout to the RI Dream Center, yelling into the mic about what a great job we do for the city and how proud he is of us…it really make all of us feel great to be recognized for our hard work. When we were done, the crew was all smiles and all they could talk about was how we could make it even bigger and better next year.
I agree – can’t wait to see where this goes next year!!!!!!!!
Everyone knows that one of the flagship services of the Rhode Island Dream Center is the Food Truck. We are about to wrap up our fifth year feeding the homeless through this program, so we thought this would be a good opportunity for a little history lesson
It actually started as the Live it Up Food Truck with a lot of help from Pastor Levi Pangburn, Chuck Johnson, Mike Harris and the support of Praise Tabernacle Church. Check out what our first truck looked like:
Ever wonder what prompted us to send that old truck out?
Back on January 2, 2009, Paul Langlos, a 41-year-old homeless man, died in his sleep in the bitter cold under the Crawford Street Bridge Downtown Providence. A rotten event, to say the least – and, unfortunately, this is not an isolated event.
At the same time, the city’s homeless were banding together politically to get their stories out there and their voices heard. The homeless came together to commemorate the spot and Hope City (commonly known as Tent City) was organized under said bridge as a thriving community and a place for them to call home, literally. They set up tents and said, ‘we’re gonna watch out for each other and make sure no one dies out here again’…Hope City was born and it doubled as a memorial of sorts for this young man and all the others that have succumbed to the elements and the streets.
Take a look at this video I recently found that explains the camp much better than I ever could (snarkyness aside): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tmi7KtMauJw
Members of Praise Tabernacle Church sprung into action to help John Joyce (we miss you John!!!) and his crew, and the Live It Up Food Truck was born.
There were already a handful of soup kitchens in the city, so we searched for a way that we could make a difference. Instead of setting up a soup kitchen so the homeless could come to us, we decided to develop a mobile soup kitchen to go visit them! Someone went looking for a box truck, another decided on a route, another rounded up volunteers to cook food collect donations…and…
Viola…within a few months, everything had come together and we were bringing out hot soup, a fresh piece of bread, and a hot cup of coffee to Hope City and other area homeless communities. As more tent cities sprung up, we found more places to drive to and more people to feed. I remember feeding a community on Cranston Street with about 8 tents, a few more people at Roger Williams Memorial Park on North Main Street, a group with about 20 tents across the pond from Hope City and eventually a large community under the George Washington Bridge in East Providence known as Camp Runamuck.
That was way back in 2009 – this is 2014, and the Food Truck is still going strong…check this out – someone actually donated a brand new truck to us when our old box truck decided it didn’t have any more life in it (I’ll always remember breaking down on the highway in that old truck and the way the exhaust fumes used to rise through the floorboards and choke us out when we were stopped at a red light):
This new truck means we never have to worry about breaking down anymore. We have even added two more days to the original route – on Sunday afternoons we go to the usual spots and on Saturday mornings we visit downtown Providence with the Early Seekers…
Depending on the day of the month, we pass out between 60 and 120 free meals on the Food Truck.
Every once in a while, one of our guests will take me aside and thank me, letting me know that it is the only food he has eaten for the day…when someone tell me this I always try to sneak them seconds!!! I’m reminded of an older gentleman who comes out to greet me at the Overflow in Cranston, saying “I’ve been thinking about and looking forward to this cup of hot cocoa ALL DAY LONG!!!” What a feeling it is to be able to make someone’s day with such a simple gesture. Over the years. I’ve fed people on their first day out of the ACI, people struggling with long-term homelessness and people temporarily out there on the streets for any number of reasons. I have gotten to meet some really great people, both clients and volunteers (I met my wonderful wife through the Food Truck). Some of the people I used to feed have even made it out of homelessness and now help us out. I think of people like Andy, Maria and William – I used to feed them but now they serve along with me as a way to give back. I’m so proud of these guys. There are others, like George, who are all-star volunteers on the Food Truck and volunteer week after week after week.
As the years went by and Praise Tabernacle birthed the RI Dream Center, the countless volunteers that donated time, energy and money throughout the years raised the Food Truck to maturity – I am so thankful for all your support, and we would not have been able to do any of what we do without you!!!!
Thanks to all who have played a part in making the Food Truck a success. We truly appreciate the love you have poured out on our community.
In closing, the Food Truck costs at least $1000/month to operate, so if you’d like to make a donation to help us out, please visit our website at www.ridreamcenter.com and give whatever you can – one-time donations are great, and recurring donations help us budget.
So, thanks for checking in today – we want to make sure no one else passes away under our watch…not under bridges, not in doorways, not ANYWHERE!!!!
Be sure to check in soon for future posts to the Dream Center Diary!
We’d love to hear from you:
- online: http://www.ridreamcenter.com/
- phone: 401-396-2743
- email the Dream Center: firstname.lastname@example.org
- email the Dream Center blog: email@example.com
Well, it’s been a busy few days at the RI Dream Center.
Last night, we had an RIDC meeting and we talked about a lot of exciting things coming up in the next month or so.
We talked about our annual upcoming Hope for the Homeless Event coming up on November 9th (we are having a festival for the homeless and raising awareness for their plight on Nov. 9). We’ve held this event at a number of different churches throughout the years – this year it will be at our home office at Praise Tabernacle Church.
We also talked about organizing the inventory and purchasing the rest of the items needed for our backpack drive (we are handing out 300 backpacks filled with winter necessities to the homeless on Nov. 16), It’s always a blast hanging out with the team as they hand out the backpacks each year.
We also talked about some really great, strategic partnerships we are forming with other organizations working towards the same goals we are reaching towards. I am really excited about this opportunity. That’s all I can say for now…but I am really excited about these partners (that is an enormous understatement).
The whole time we were talking about our upcoming events, we had a whole ‘nother planning committee meeting in one of the other rooms to plan the H4H event out in greater detail. It’s looking like they are planning a walk downtown and through Kennedy Plaza to raise awareness for the homeless. This year’s event has the makings of the biggest and best H4H event thus far.
All this was going on while Praise Tab was having its youth service, Youth Redefined…it’s exciting being there with so many other people, working towards the good of the community and building off of everyone else’s energy…we are all feeding each other and pushing each other to do things bigger and better.
And the same thing happened tonight…George got everything ready for me for the Food Truck tonight because I was short my regular prep-guy…while he was preparing the soups, hot cocoa, etc, the leader of the Narcotics Anonymous meeting was setting up in the next room over. Once the Food Truck finally got going, the church had its prayer meeting in the next room over on the other side! When I came back to clean up after the Food Truck, the NA meeting was just finishing up…it is an exciting time to be involved in all this stuff…and I truly believe we are making a significant impact in the community.
Tonight, for instance, we fed seventy-two people on the Food Truck. It was the first real cold night of the season I have been out there since last Winter, and a lot of the people we feed are people we have been feeding Winter after Winter…some seem to be stuck in the system, but I really hope they can find a way out. One of my regulars loves coming out to hear my music (tonight I had a Stevie Wonder mixtape blasting through my little boombox)…they call him Alabama and he stays over by Prairie Ave. Sometimes he is completely drunk and just dances to the music the whole time, and other times he is sober and just wants to say hi. He always says, “I knew it was you because I could hear your music!!!” No matter what, he always brings a smile to our faces, and it’s these simple, yet significant, interactions that really make the Food Truck special to be a part of.
But, the whole night was not rosy on the truck…(by the way, thank you to the gentleman that donated that new truck to us…we thoroughly enjoyed the heat tonight….our old truck did not have heat!!!)…because we came upon a set of two Providence police cars and a fire truck with their lights flashing on Broad Street…and sure enough, there was a woman completely laid out (drunk, high, not really sure, but she looked to be in a really bad way) and she had one of the yellow Live It Up hoodies we gave away last year as Christmas presents to the homeless. I still am not quite sure who it was…but to see that woman laying on the side of the road, completely motionless, broke my heart and I still can’t get the image out of my head. Imagine, last year at Christmastime, she came into the church and we gave her a sweatshirt…10 months later she is using it to keep her warm, but is passed out on the side of the road…
It hurts me even more because tomorrow we have another event for our homeless women…tomorrow morning, at our office, we are hosting another I Need You To Survive event, where we bus homeless women in and give them free makeovers, haircuts, dyes, etc…the difference between being passed out on Broad Street and showing up to our event tomorrow could be razor-thin for these ladies…and I hope that we can help them all!
In fact, to tie it all together, let me take this opportunity to brag on Maria…I first met Maria several years ago at a shelter on Cranston Street. She was doing ok, but still getting into trouble in certain areas…fast-forward a few years, she has turned things around significntly…she is off the streets in her own apartment with her new husband (she and William recently celebrated their one-year-anniversary! they were married through The Covenant, another service provided through the RI Dream Center) and Maria and her husband are super-faithful in helping me on Friday nights with the Food Truck. Tomorrow, she will be dropping by to take part of INU2S to get her hair done…I am sooooo happy that Maria is moving in the right direction and am extremely proud of her. As I drove by the woman laying on the street tonight, I was struck by the thought of how many other women this woman was representing, and as I looked over at Maria, I thought to myself, “how can we help more and more and more….just one at a time….just make an impact….just be there to help someone make a change…”…I’ll cry myself to sleep tonight thinking about that woman passed out on the side of the road…police and rescue were taking care of her…I’m so glad that Maria is helping to take care of others…
Well, Dream Center Diary, I think that is enough for tonight…we will be back at it soon…as I think about all the ways people are touched in that building on a nightly basis, I am truly excited about what our future holds…imagine the impact you and I can make together for those less fortunate throughout the next fifty years!!!
So, if you’ve been following the Dream Center Diary, you know we have a lot going on right now. We are working feverishly raising donations for our backpack drive and putting together the finishing touches on this year’s Hope for the Homeless event. Meanwhile, the Food Truck is still going strong, and Early Seekers is seeing more visitors than ever before.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of tunnel-vision while this is going on, focusing solely on the tasks at hand. However, I want to make sure we remember to take the time to thank our donors as well. Without you, we would not be able to operate as an organization.
So we want to take a little time to send out a couple of thank-you notes to two of our corporate sponsors:
Thank you, Blount Fine Foods.
Blount has been one of our premiere partners since the first year the Food Truck went out. When we first started, we used to ask our volunteers to make their own soup, and quite often it was not all that appetizing. We were not always putting a high-quality product out there on the streets in those early years…then, somehow we made a connection with the fine folks over at Blount. Since then, they have provided us with all the soup we can pass out every single Winter. I have no idea how much this has saved us, but I imagine it must be in the thousands of dollars by now. And because of you, Blount Fine Foods, we have been able to provide the homeless with delicious hot soup all winter long.
We recently presented Andrea Walker and Courtney Hamilton with a plaque to say thank your for their wonderful generosity:
If you get the chance, please support this fine company. My family has been eating Blount dinners for years. Wherever you are, you can find a Blount Clam Shack near you – they have locations in Providence, Warren, East Providence and Fall River. You can also find some of the freshest seafood around in their Fish Market in Warren. My wife recently brought me home a fantastic fish-n-chips from their Providence location. There are many other ways to support Blount as well…find out more by visiting their website, http://www.blountseafood.com/about-us.
Thank you Blount!!!!
Thank you, Elmwood Sports Center.
These guys have been sooooo good to us over the years. They have donated sooooo many clothes to us to give to the homeless, supporting the Early Seekers out there on Saturday mornings. This year, they have continued to step up to the plate as they have just announced they are donating 125 backpacks for us to stuff with winter necessities and hand out to the homeless this year. Elmwood Sports Center has been a continual source of support to the RI Dream Center, and we appreciate your help so much. I would certainly encourage anyone looking to fill their sporting goods needs to visit the team at Elmwood Sports before checking anyone else out. After you visit my friends at ESC, you’re not going to want to check anyone else out anyways! Just like Blount, they have donated top-notch, first-quality products to us for years, and we will never be able to thank them enough! If you need any team apparel, or just need something custom-made (just the other day, one of my friends was showing off his new custom-made hoody he got there), please visit our friends at Elmwood Sports Center on Elmwood Ave, in Cranston.
Be sure to check out Elmwood Sports Center online at http://elmwoodsportscenter.com/ or in their shop at 1553 Elmwood Ave.
There are many other corporate and personal donors that have made a huge impact this year. Blount and Elmwood Sports are all I have time for tonight, but I’d just like to send out a huge THANK YOU to all those unsung heroes (big and small) that keep the RI Dream Center up and running!!!
Thanks for taking the time to check out the RI Dream Center Blog.
The title says it all – this is the Dream Center’s Diary…we will be posting news, updates, and every-day life stories about Dream Center volunteers, donors, and patrons.
- Looking for volunteer opportunities? check!
- Looking for ways to give? check!
- Looking to see what your donations are doing? check!
- Looking to meet some of the RI Dream Center staff? check!
- Looking to catch up with some of the people RI Dream Center is serving? check!
For starters, here are some of the things RI Dream Center has going on these days:
- Food Truck – hits the streets every day handing out free meals to the homeless across Providence and Cranston
- The Covenant – putting together wedding ceremonies for financially poor but emotionally rich couples
- I Need You To Survive – providing free head-to-toe makeovers for no/low-income women
- Overcomers – Monday night meeting helping those looking to beat addictions
There’s much more we have going on as well…and as time goes by we’ll spend more time exploring the RI Dream Center…
In fact, we are having a huge fundraiser this weekend…please be sure to check out our event page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/538478832892214/) for more details, but here are some of the fun things we have going on this Saturday from noon to 6pm at 330 Park Ave. in Cranston:
- Pig Roast
- Bouncy House and Face Painting for the kids
- Live Bands
- Silent Auction
- Dunk Tank
- And much more…
Well, thanks for checking in today – be sure to check in soon for future posts to the Dream Center Diary!
We’d love to hear from you:
- online: http://www.ridreamcenter.com/
- phone: 401-396-2743
- email the Dream Center: firstname.lastname@example.org
- email the Dream Center blog: email@example.com