Founding of McAuley Village:
Seeing the lack of safe and affordable housing in Providence, the Sisters of Mercy once again responded to the needs of the poor and initiated McAuley Village.
The Village would become a 23-unit apartment building on Niagara Street in Providence for homeless women and their children, with an on-site day care center.
The goal was creating a place where women and their children could be safe, learn to become self-sufficient, and move forward.
Sr. Dolores Crowley raised funds for the project though grant writing, seeking individual donations, and with a "Buy a Brick" campaign at the Rhode Island State House.
Sr. Antonia Tognetti was hired as administrator, and Sr. Christina Costigan managed the Child Care Center.
An early fundraising letter stated: "With your help a dream of a decent place to live and learn can be realized by one-parent families... with your help, these needy families can be guided toward a life of independence, self-fulfillment and self-esteem."
In January 1990, Sr. Holly Cloutier was hired as a residential services coordinator in preparation for the Village opening. She began interviewing prospective tenants.
More than 300 applications flooded in.
The building opened in June. An early program was mentoring, in which nurses, social workers and other volunteers guided Village residents. They offered financial advice, listened, and sometimes formed lasting relationships that endured through the years.
Other early programs included weight loss groups and tenant meetings. The goal was empowering the families and guiding them toward independence, fulfillment and self-esteem.
In 1992, Nancy Carignan became village administrator.
Village leaders soon realized that, once the residents had finished their two years in the program, they had nowhere to go. A volunteer housing coordinator began helping them seek permanent housing, for the time when they completed the Village program.
Also in these years, volunteers from such institutions as St. Mary Academy-Bay View, Providence College and Rhode Island College began helping at the child care center, in the Christmas program and in other efforts. Many of those volunteer efforts continue today.
2000 and beyond:
During these years, the Village was able to hire a housing advocate on staff. This was a very successful change, enabling more women to locate permanent housing when they leave the Village.
McAuley Village has been able to secure subsidies from Rhode Island Housing's RoadHome program and additional grant money to help residents with such issues as repairing cars so they can get to work, or to buy textbooks for school.
School-aged children living at the Village are offered healthy enrichment activities, including field trips, through the Youth RAP program.
Women continue to be supported through a host of workshops and services, including mentoring, health and nutrition, tutoring, parenting support, and computer skills training. Financial counselors help the women budget, address bad debt and credit histories, and plan for a brighter, independent future.