Johnston, North Providence and Smithfield residents in need of community services have a new beacon of hope shining on Greenville Avenue.
The Tri-County Community Action Agency snipped the ribbon on a new Health Equity Zone (HEZ) Community Center at 104 Greenville Ave. in Johnston.
The HEZ mission is “to build a healthy and resonant” HEZ across the three towns,” by investing in communities in their capacities to affect change,” according to Tri-County President and CEO Joseph DeSantis.
The organization plans to succeed “by honoring the expertise of those who live and work in these communities” and “challenging the system and structure (that) perpetuate health inequities.”
“The success of our HEZ comes from you, the organizations and the people who constitute this Collaborative, such as school departments, housing authorities, recreation departments, senior centers, municipalities, residents, and our own program staff, such as Head Start, WIC, Prevention, Health Center and others,” DeSantis said. “Make no mistake about it, this is one of the best grassroots, community organization efforts Tri-County has participated in since its inception, and it embodies what Community Action is all about.”
Johnston Mayor Joseph M. Polisena Jr. spoke to the crowd gathered to celebrate the center’s opening.
“I don’t know if you realize this, but we all have the same job,” Polisena said. “And I’m not talking about the jobs that we have from 9 to 5. I’m talking about the job that comes from our inherent human nature; our traits for compassion, kindness and empathy. And that job is to help those who need it; help those who are less fortunate. But we can’t do it alone. We need organizations like Tri-County to help us reach those people who need assistance.”
Polisena said he’s “very excited” about the Greenville Avenue community center, which aims to help provide heating and food assistance, as well as healthcare (both physical and mental).
“And I would really urge the residents of Johnston, North Providence and Smithfield to utilize this center,” Polisena said. “It’s here for the help. Please utilize it.”
Johnston and Tri-County have a long-forged relationship. The nonprofit community organization has a purchase agreement in place to take ownership of the vacated Calef School. Once the transfer of the old school property is complete, DeSantis said Tri-County may move a large portion of its administrative offices from its Hartford Avenue location to the Calef School, which is in dire need of renovations.
“I know the town of Johnston will always stand by Tri-County,” Polisena said. “We have in the past. We will continue to do so in the future. And any help you need Joe, please, come right to the town.”
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