Peace and Providence Community Outreach Center on Warwick Avenue has been a busy place since opening last month.
“I’ve been very happy. There’s been a lot of positive feedback on
Facebook,” says founder Justin Perreault.
On Sunday, Aug. 26th, the outreach center hosted a grand opening, where about 250 people showed up. On the 27th, the services were available to the public - including haircuts at the Revive Hair Salon and the General Store.
Although the General Store was only open Monday through Wednesday,
Perreault said that a little more than 100 people showed up to get groceries and other products. The organization offers different incentives and specials to “encourage people to come to the General Store”.
The store offers a wide variety of foods, from snacks to canned goods, and even meat products. Hamburger, hot dogs, chicken wings and thighs, and sausage are available at the center.
Donald and Jacqueline Ferdette, who have been volunteers with Peace and
Providence for three years and are on the board, oversee the General Store and said it has been a success.
“Someone said they were on Social Security and that it was a blessing,” said Jacqueline.
She said a man came in and bought $120 worth of meats. She also added that someone came in and bought 10 bags of food for themselves, but is giving the rest that she bought away.
“A lot of people are being blessed and being generous with others,” she said.
Within the two days that the hair salon was open, volunteers provided around 40 haircuts.
He added that there hasn’t been a particular time that the center is busy, as it has been a “steady stream” throughout the day for the three days it was open last week. The kids’ corner has been popular as well. According to Jacqueline Ferdette, while one mom was shopping, her children were able to color and read while they waited. She mentioned another child who was excited to use the gumball machine.
Some of the services they will be providing are set to begin in October, such as the addiction recovery program, computer training and veterans’ services, he said. However, on October 14th, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Oakland Beach, the organization will be hosting a “fall festival” – as Perreault puts it – that will include a bounce house, pie eating contest, crafts and vendors. At the moment, they are working on getting a pumpkin patch to have the event where kids can pick a pumpkin and paint it for a small donation. Admission will be free. He said that it is meant to be a family fun day.
“Families will be able to come and enjoy themselves,” said Perreault.
Perreault works part time at Home Depot, and his wife Kimberli works at a business she’s been with for more than 20 years. He and his family live in Warwick, specifically the Governor Francis area. Not only does he do the volunteer work for the organization, but it is a family affair: both of his children and his wife volunteer as much as possible.
Perreault was raised in West Warwick by his adoptive family. He grew up around religion and in his adult life has reconnected with his faith. Although Peace and Providence is an organization based around faith, Perreault believes in not forcing his or anyone else’s ideals on people who come into the center. The word “Providence” in Peace and Providence translates to “a divine appointment” for people.
In regards to volunteers, he said that they have received around 25 to 30 applications. He added that while each volunteer has to have a BCI check, the organization has to check in with the applicants’ schedules in order to match them with the center’s schedule. He says they still need more volunteers as well.
Perreault mentioned that there is an adjustment they may make, and that is staying open “later a couple of nights a week, or add a day that we’re open” to see what people’s needs are.