The Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale will hold several fundraisers this fall in order to fund its efforts to help South County residents in need.
Founded in 1974, the Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale is a social service organization with a mission to provide basic needs and resources to residents of South Kingstown and Narragansett. Rhode Island has the highest poverty rate in New England according to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, while the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 17 percent of Narragansett residents and 9 percent of South Kingstown residents live in poverty. The center is well known for its thrift stores, food delivery service and food pantry, which helps to serve over 173,000 meals each year to more than 1,700 residents. The center also offers other programs such as coaching and classes that, according to the center’s executive director Kate Brewster, help get to the roots of poverty.
One of the fundraisers is the Jonnycake Center’s 19th annual calendar sale. The calendars, crafted by Burns & Allen Typedesign, feature photography of South County’s beautiful landmarks. Calendars cost $2 and are available at select locations such as Jonnycake Center thrift stores, Washington Trust Banks in Wakefield and Charlestown, Belmont Market, Dunns Corners Market, Old Mountain Lanes Bowling Alley, Liberty Rentals, The Hungry Haven, Phil’s on Main, Time Again Consignments and the Charlestown & Narragansett Chambers of Commerce. All of the calendar’s profits go to the Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale as well as its sister charity, the Jonnycake Center of Westerly.
According to Sharlene Allen of Burns & Allen Typedesign, the calendar sale raises approximately $5,000. The calendar features photography by Ingrid Mathews, Peter Ryan, Stephanie Vazquez, Peter Fish, Victoria Dority, Ed Hughes, John Riley Sr., John DaSilva, Matt DiMaio III Eric Wertheimer and Allen herself.
“It’s a wonderful way for folks in the community to really get something in return for their donation, while also helping to feed people in the community,” Brewster said.
Another major fundraiser the center will hold soon is the Breaking the Waves of Hunger benefit dinner, held on Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. at the Dunes Club in Narragansett. The event, hosted this year by Fred O’Rourke and URI Foundation President Lil Breul O’Rourke, is the center’s biggest fundraiser. Tickets for the dinner are $100 and can be purchased on the Jonnycake Center’s website.
The dinner will begin with a happy hour courtesy of Whaler’s Brewing and Wakefield Liquors, and will also feature music performed by musicians from the University of Rhode Island. Guests can participate in a silent auction involving donated items from local businesses and artists, as well as a live auction late in the evening. The O’Rourkes and center member Sandra Pates will speak about their experiences with the Jonnycake Center during the dinner, while the Becky Chace Band will play at the end of the event.
“Everyone in that room is extremely supportive of the center,” Brewster said of the dinner. “So having so many supporters together is just a wonderful feeling and sense of community. They’re there to support us, and they also get a wonderful bargain for the evening. But it’s also a time for us to come together.”
Brewster is most looking forward to what she describes as “surprise announcements” that will be revealed at the dinner. However, Brewster was tight-lipped about what exactly these announcements would be. She assured that these announcements would be worth the wait.
“We’re going to have some exciting news about new beginnings for the center,” Brewster teased. “That’s all I can say. Any more will give it away.”
Finally, proceeds from the 10th annual Harbor 5K, hosted by the Harbor Church in West Kingston, will go to the Jonnycake Center as well as the Welcome House of South County. On Sept. 21, participants can walk or run the course at 10 a.m. or participate in a 1K “fun run” at 9:30 a.m. The event launches at the church and will also include family-friendly fun including food, music, face-painting and games.
“It’s so great to have groups hosting benefits on our behalf at the same time as we host our own,” Brewster said of the Harbor Church’s fundraiser. “It’s so critically important in our ability to serve the community. We get very little government funding, so we really do count on our community members through fundraisers like this.”
For organizations like the Jonnycake Center, fundraising events are especially important since government funding can be tight, while grants can often only be applied for certain uses.
“The beauty about fundraising events is that it’s really unrestricted dollars,” Brewster said. “We can apply for certain grants, but this allows us to use the funds for whatever the center needs.”
Brewster found that her experiences at the center have not only made an impact on the community, but have also been personally rewarding. Some highlights include working with parents and grandparents to establish a Boys and Girls club, and starting an emergency financial assistance program for those who need help paying rent or bills. She said that having an understanding of those who are struggling is most important when working with the Jonnycake Center.
“It’s really been about listening to the needs of the community, and responding to those, in a timely and caring manner,” Brewster said.