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Advocacy group rolls on despite bumpy road

May 31, 2013

The property on Washington Street that will house services and temporary residences for some of the Valley’s homeless. (Coventry Courier File Photo)

COVENTRY— The Artic Mission and the Coventry Department of Human Services are in the final stages before they begin construction on their soon-to-be risk assessment center.
Although many things have changed in the previous months, such as the name of the former Pawtuxet Valley Homeless Advocacy group (PVHA), the focus of this group remains the same.

The newly formed Artic Mission Advocacy for the Homeless has made it a priority to work alongside the department of human services to establish the center.
Barbara and Mike Absi, who previously were a part of the PVHA Outreach Team, are now members of GROUP, from 1
the group’s board and are assisting in any way they can.
Mike said he met with Bob Robillard, Social Worker for the Department of Human Services, on May 20 to formulate a list of materials that will be needed for rehabilitation of the building.
The home, located at 578 Washington St., Coventry, has been vacant for some time and needs repairs in various areas.
He explained that the roof has a hole, the floors are buckling, walls need to be repaired and a toilet, sink and shower need to be installed in the bathroom.
The building was donated to the former PVHA by the Department of Human Services in January after Director Patricia Shurtleff heard about the growing number of homeless residents in the valley.
Prior to that, the building had been sold to the town by the Federal Government for $1. Interim Town Manager at the time put Shurtleff in charge because the original use was an adolescent shelter.
Because both Barbara and Mike were part of the outreach team during the winter, they heard about the donation of the home and decided to get involved.
“I have an uncle who was homeless since he was in his 20s,” Barbara recalled. “He lives in Providence now but I’ve always had a passion for this so in our hearts we knew we had to help. Once the house is open, since we’re on the board we’ll figure out how to continue helping.”
Mike explained that he has contacted people from various churches looking for volunteers, churches such as Christian Hill Community Church, SouthPointe Christian Church and Kent County Church of Christ.
He said he was able to get parishioners from those churches who have skills in carpentry and plumbing to donate their time to rehabilitate the home.
“I am also coordinating with outside laborers to do the demolition and the painting; it’ll be a group effort,” he said.
The timeline of construction is currently unknown, Barbara said, but they hope to finish all the repairs by the end of summer.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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