Group plays a key role in keeping kids off the street

Group plays a key role in keeping kids off the street


WESTERLY — A single mom struggles to keep her child fed, clothed, and warm. The car breaks down, she can’t get to work, loses her job, and can no longer make the rent.

It’s that exact scenario that gave rise, in 2013, to the formation of Family Housing Support, an organization that provides emergency housing to families with children. The organization works closely with the WARM shelter, which provides emergency housing for homeless adults but is not set up to work with children. Tara DiMuccio, Family Housing Support co-chairwoman, said her organization is believed to be the only one of its kind in the area. The nearest other agency serving homeless families is in New London. In Rhode Island, she said families might have to travel as far as Providence to find help.

On Tuesday, the organization will conduct a one-hour informational meeting to explain its role and seek support from additional volunteers. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Dunn’s Corner Community Presbyterian Church.

Additional volunteers are needed to help with the group’s fundraisers, including monthly pancake breakfasts at area churches and three annual fundraising events. Volunteers also help clean the organization’s three apartments before new families move in.

To date, the organization has provided housing to 19 families with a total of 33 children. Families typically stay for about three months or slightly longer. The group provides rent and utilities and also provides furnishings, towels, and bedding.

According to the 2015 RI Kidscount factbook, 72 children in the Westerly school system and 29 children in the Chariho school system were identified as homeless during the 2014-15 school year. Kidscount is a child welfare and advocacy organization.

Without such housing, DiMuccio said families wind up in tents or split among relatives and friends. The organization works closely with WARM, which provides the services of a social worker to help families find permanent housing. WARM also serves as a repository for donations, since Family Housing Support does not have 501(c)3 nonprofit status. WARM disperses funds when they are needed.

For more information on the organizational meeting or the group, call Joe Carr at 401-480-7269 or DiMuccio at 401-322-1461.

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