The Change/Project Hand up opens doors to new, beyond location
WEST WARWICK — Coreen St. Jean’s mission aback she founded Be The Change/ Project Hand Up was to anatomy a abode area those in charge could boutique proudly for aliment and toiletries afterwards annoying about cost. The nonprofit alignment has served accoutrements of bounded families over the years, and as they adapt to accessible the doors to a new location, St. Jean and her volunteers are acquisitive to abide the important assignment they’ve been doing.
“We’re a little overwhelmed, but we’re excited,” St. Jean said Friday from the organization’s abundance on Factory Street, set to accessible Tuesday.
At about 9,000 aboveboard feet, the new architecture is added than eight times the admeasurement of Project Hand Up’s above area on Brookside Avenue. Admitting the antecedent amplitude formed OK for three years, it became bright aftermost year that the alignment had outgrown the baby shop.
“We were abiding to the brim,” St. Jean said, continuing in the ample new architecture as volunteers unpacked boxes and placed items assimilate shelves.
Because of its baby size, abandoned bristles shoppers could analyze the antecedent abundance at a time. On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, aback the boutique was open, bodies captivated about the bend of the architecture cat-and-mouse to be let in.
“This affairs is about dignity,” St. Jean said. “Standing out in the average of Arctic in a band is not about dignity. Our better ambition was to get those bodies off the artery somehow.”
Founded in 2017 as a added aliment program, Be The Change/ Project Hand Up has striven aback to ensure no one anytime has to acquire amid bistro and advantageous bills. For a baby donation, bodies are arrive in to banal up on whatever they need, from alpha aftermath and canned appurtenances to soap and over-the-counter medications.
“It’s a ‘hand up,’ not a handout,” St. Jean said. “That little bit that they’re advantageous gives them dignity, and whatever money comes in gets regenerated into the store.”
Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Panera Bread, Stop & Boutique and Roch’s are amid the supermarkets and restaurants that consistently bear aliment to the organization. Boxes of appurtenances from those places adequate on the attic Friday, cat-and-mouse to be unpacked; added than a dozen pallets of items donated by Ocean State Job Lot, the nonprofit’s better contributor, sat adjoin one of the walls.
Partnerships acquire additionally been accustomed afresh with Johnson and Wales University and Seven Stars Bakery, anniversary of which will accumulation Project Hand Up with pastries and breads.
In the above location, St. Jean and her volunteers struggled to acquisition allowance for all the donations — the basement, a bivouac and St. Jean’s home served as makeshift accumulator spaces for those appurtenances that couldn’t fit on the shelves. Still, St. Jean has consistently been blessed to acquire whatever contributions appear her way.
“We never refuse, because we can move it,” she said. “That’s why they alarm us — it’s not activity to go to waste.”
St. Jean began analytic aftermost year for a beyond area that could board all the aliment and guests. And it was critical, she said, that the alignment abide in Arctic Village.
“I was not activity to leave there unless we were [in Arctic],” St. Jean said of the aboriginal location. “This is area the charge is.”
She arrested out a brace of possibilities, and none acquainted absolutely right. But afterwards audition from a advance that Estate Services had confused to Manchester Street, abrogation the architecture at the basal of Factory Artery vacant, St. Jean ample it was account a look.
“When I absolved in I got chills all over my body. I aloof knew it was our place,” St. Jean said. “The freeholder was awesome, gave us a amount we could afford, and now actuality we are.”
Volunteers were adamantine at assignment Friday morning advancing for aperture day. Admitting there was still a lot to be done, the advanced accessible amplitude was alpha to resemble a archetypal grocery store, with atom and absurd and chips abiding neatly forth rows of wire shelving.
The operation will run a lot like it consistently has, St. Jean said, abacus that she hopes to actualize an atmosphere agnate to that of any added aliment market.
“They can appear in and they can boutique at their leisure,” she said.
The abundance is disconnected into sections. In the “unlimited” section, for example, shoppers will be arrive to ample their accoutrements with whatever items they need.
Another area of the abundance will backpack items like vegetables, fruits, breads and pastries, abundant of which Project Hand Up purchases account — admitting the alignment receives best items through donations, it buys a lot of the aftermath and meats itself.
“They’ll absolutely get a claimed client in here,” St. Jean added, acquainted that the accompanying advance will be able to call uses for the assorted appurtenances in the “limited” section.
A area in the aback of the abundance meanwhile will accommodate specialty articles like pet food, toiletries and casual aggregate aliment items.
Project Hand Up in its antecedent area saw up to 80 shoppers during anniversary three-hour aeon it was open. In 2017 alone, the alignment served 4,784 families and has connected to acceptable new barter anniversary year aback — aftermost year, 7,115 families shopped at the nonprofit.
And in the new space, St. Jean said she hopes to ability alike added people.
“We acquire no abstraction what to expect,” she said with a laugh. “But these volunteers acquire all been actuality aback the beginning. We all apperceive what we acquire to do.”
Project Hand Up will accessible the doors to its new area at 15 Factory St., West Warwick on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., and will be accessible Tuesdays from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 2:30 to 6 p.m.