Most people are in a giving mood toward year’s end. They hope to share happy vibes and goodwill towards those who are dealing with financial and/or emotional difficulties.
While this time brings out the appeals, it often subsides once the new year begins. That thinking or attitude doesn’t help the hundreds of Rhode Island families’ who rely on such programs and assistance to make it through the other months.
That is how Jules Hope Chest in East Providence has proven to be a viable resource. The nonprofit organization works with families statewide, by connecting them with essentials for the short term, and services to direct them for the long-term.
Jules Hope Chest Founder and CEO Julie Silva and the group strives to help anyone who reaches out.
“We want to provide families with the necessities that are often cut out of budgets when the money gets tight,” Silva said. “We give them supplies, ranging from diapers and wipes to clothes. We also give them access to area services to get the assistance they need, particularly during the colder weather months.”
Jules Hope Chest started in 2019, to give back to the community. The name is derived from Julie’s first name, Rhode Island’s slogan, and possessing a “hope chest,” to bring help for a brighter future. The endeavor began from Silva’s apartment, but she quickly realized she would need more space to adequately help others.
That was when she moved her operation to 505 Waterman Street in East Providence. There is a volunteer staff of five people who wear many hats—from marketing to grant writing—and pitch in elsewhere.
Silva notes that the spirit of giving predates her current venture. Her father, Joseph Silva, oversaw a toy drive serving East Providence and Providence for two decades, before passing away in 2013. Julie took it over and soon discovered some people weren’t getting their basic needs addressed.
It was there that Silva became determined to make a difference.
“There was such a need for families—the working poor—who needed basic necessities, such as toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, soap, laundry detergent, and other essentials. We work with local agencies and the community to obtain these supplies, and then work in tandem with other agencies to get these out to those in need,” she said.
While many of the families they serve come locally, there are other clients that live in Central Falls, Providence, Woonsocket, and elsewhere. They are connected with other agencies, such as CAPs (Community Action Programs) that can offer heating assistance, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, utility subsidies, and more. Silva noted that many of these families live from paycheck to paycheck. Others may not qualify for programs because they make too much money, according to federal poverty guidelines.
Besides those services, Jules Hope Chest also offers HOPE—Helping Our Parents Excel. This is where local people and manufacturers donate items for the needy. Covid-19 tests, shampoo, and other essential items are placed in bags with other information for the clients to take home. Silva said they try to supply families with enough to last one month. There could be exceptions—such as diapers and wipes—but they try replenishing their supplies whenever possible.
Their “Sir Joseph’s Birthday Closet” program helps to ensure children receive new clothes and gifts for the holidays and birthdays. The kids can go to one of three locations statewide, and in partnership with Children’s Friends and Warren Head Start Program, to select something special for themselves. Having clothes that aren’t “hand-me-downs” gives the kids something that is truly their own.
Silva said that while they help families around the holidays, they are around long after presents are unwrapped and the new year begins.
“The need for help is important, regardless of the season. Families in this situation may not know there are ways for them to get help. That is the driving force for what we do. For me to get people the help and care they need is essential to the success of our programs,” she said.
For those who would like to contribute, Silva has Target.com and Amazon.com registries. There, people can sign up to purchase gifts and other accessories for those in need. They can also donate using either Venmo @JulesHopeChest1 or PayPal @juleshopechestri. Anyone who would be able to help obtain grants or other funding is encouraged to contact Julie, to help.
For more information about Jules Hope Chest, including how to donate items and or financial aid, please contact the office at 401-216-8677 or visit Julie@juleshopechest.org.
The organization may also be found on social media platforms.