I am a new resident of South Kingstown. After being raised in the south shore of Massachusetts for a majority of my life, I fell in love with the community and found a sense of home here in Rhode Island. After graduating from the University of Rhode Island, I was fortunate to stay because I had landed my first job just a month before graduation.

I moved a few times and, until recently, lived in Warwick for a bit. It wasn’t bad and I enjoyed where I lived. However, working in South County while living in Warwick, I was completely envious envisioning what living in South Kingstown was like.

Catching a sunset at the beach, enjoying a Del’s lemonade on a hot day, your first cold beer from Whalers, a stroll down the bike path, Brickley’s Ice Cream with the line of people down Main Street, breakfast at Phil’s, and all those feel-good hometown classics!

I was ready to be a “regular” at that local coffee shop, you know, the one that knows your order by heart. I knew I would run into an old classmate, or friend at the grocery store. The seasonal activities and joys that my URI friends from out of state wish about! That’s the kind of South Kingstown I get excited about!

So naturally, I joined the town group page on Facebook because I was genuinely interested in what people had to share and it’s so great! Local businesses, neighbors helping neighbors, wild backyard animals, who knew?!

And, then I learned some more. I learned in 2020, the Jonny Cake Center had 10,550 member visits. This means 10,550 visits from local neighbors. People who are someone’s parents, someone’s child, someone’s grandparents, someone who needed a meal, clothes on their back, medical/health outreach services, diapers, or school supplies.

10,550 visits is over 200 visits a week in a calendar year. It seems like a no-brainer that they need to expand their services at a location that can handle that capacity. One that is accessible by everyone.

According to Rhode Island Kids Count, almost half of the children in RI who live in emergency shelters, domestic violence shelters and transitional housing facilities are under the age of 5. Another 45% are 5-12 and the final 11% are 12-17.

How many of those children are in class with yours?

I work at Habitat for Humanity in South County. Our mission is based on partnering with local families to help build homes, and then eventually sell the homes to those partner families. Because of my job, I talk to people everyday who are falling between the cracks. People who grew up here, who “did the right thing” and can’t find a single place that’s decent, safe, and affordable for their families.

Opportunity.

Sometimes, myself included, we can be stuck in our own little worlds, not seeing how fortunate we are to have the access to the lives we dream of.

Then, I see when people talk about the integrity of “our community” being lost in the type of building materials a non-profit chooses to renovate their new building with.

I wish more people would get this passionate about why this organization has to exist in the first place.

One that puts food in the bellies of children, and a bit of hope in the hearts of families.

We don’t walk one day in someone else’s shoes.

I was raised to believe communities were built with people who don’t want to ask for hand-outs, but are willing to offer a hand-up. I was raised to believe that a community works together to overcome challenges, and address problems in ways that works for everyone. That we don’t just get angry and give up.

We roll our sleeves up, and we work together to do something about the bigger picture, we settle for the best.

I sure hope what I was raised to believe stands true in South Kingstown. I look forward to being a regular at a coffee shop, and catching a breath taking sunset. I am proud to be a new member of this community, and I hope my faith stays that way.

Alicia Johnson

South Kingstown

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