A Hummel Report Investigation
It’s Rhode Island’s oldest child welfare organization and one that has been a pioneer for much of the past 180 years. Children’s Friend, founded in 1834, serves the state’s most vulnerable children and their families. And while last month’s annual Spirit of Giving Holiday Drive drew support from hundreds of individuals and companies, Jim Hummel shows us some of the dozens of programs Children’s Friend runs the rest of the year.
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I’m Jim Hummel and this month’s Rhode Island Spotlight profiles the state’s oldest child welfare organization. For 180 years Children’s Friend has been serving the state’s most vulnerable children - and their families. Our Spotlight this month is sponsored by Panera Bread and its parent company the Howley Bread Group, which as you will see has been a generous supporter of the organization’s annual holiday drive.
All day long the gifts kept coming. And coming. And coming.
An outpouring of generosity that would ultimately brighten the holidays for nearly 1,400 needy families in Rhode Island.
Welcome to the annual Spirit of Giving holiday drive for Children’s Friend - Rhode Island’s oldest child welfare organization -founded in1834.
Caprio: ``We only serve the most vulnerable kids in Rhode Island.’’
Executive Director David Caprio has been with Children’s Friend for 15 years. He says the non-profit organization continues to carry out the mission that its founder Harriet Ware had in the 1830s. Ware was recruited from Massachusetts to be a school teacher - she wound establishing a home for unwanted and abandoned children in Providence, some as young as six years old.
But it wasn’t just an orphanage, Harriet wanted to educate the children as well, something that was very progressive at the time. The kids were eventually placed for adoption. The founders included some of the most prominent families in Rhode Island.
Caprio: ``The Browns, the Lippitts, the Chafees. Women coming together and saying: `Gosh we see kids abandoned on the street, unwanted kids were abandoned on the street.’ There was no organization, there was no governmental agency that took care of poor neglected children.’’
For the better part of the past two centuries the organization has been a trend-setter - in the 1920s placing children who had been living at this home, into foster homes, unheard of at the time.
In 2015 what was once known as Children’s Friend and Service has evolved into an organization that runs Head Start programs like this one at 10 sites throughout Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls - serving 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds.
Tracy Braz recently became a Head Start supervisor after working as a teacher for nearly 30 years.
Hummel: ``What’s it like working with kids this age?’’