Photo Credit: Ryan Belmore/What'sUpNewp
There are many things that make Newport a great place to call home. My previous editorials have examined many of these benefits from sunsets to sandy beaches, but today’s is perhaps the most important. When considering all the blessings and resources that Aquidneck Island has to offer, the most superlative of these is our sense of community.
Merriam-Webster defines community as ‘a unified body of individuals’ and ‘a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society.’ Anyone who grew up in Rhode Island understands the ‘small state bubble’ firsthand and in a tiny town like Newport, the reality of that is all too apparent. Many of us cross paths on a daily basis; whether it’s grocery shopping at the supermarket, making a deposit at the bank, walking our dogs downtown or enjoying a cold pint at a favorite watering hole. The blessings of small town living are often taken for granted, as many people gripe about the monotony and banality rather than focus on the support and soul that comes with the territory.
Over the past year, our community has rallied behind so many causes. The tragedy that occurred in Middletown this past September, when the Arroyo family lost their 7-year-old son Ramon in a house fire was met with immediate and overwhelming support from so many. When Jamie Crowley, Principal of Thompson Middle School and Maureen Martin, a secretary at Rogers High School were in need of a bone marrow transplant, hundreds of potential donors showed up to the drive to aid in finding a match. Just this month, when the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center was nearly out of food for Newport’s hungry and homeless, over 100 local businesses banded together and pledged to donate over $16,000 to help replenish the barren shelves.
When our local celebrity Cliff the Coyote was due to be executed, the community garnered support for his cause and because of that, he now roams free in the vast wilderness of northern Rhode Island.
There are so many philanthropic organizations and non-profits around town that benefit so many people, groups, societies and associations. It’s captivating to see the hard work, dedication and perseverance that contributes to the overall well-being of our community. Charitable fundraisers are almost always a success, as so many people are so quick to aid in an event to help others.
Over Columbus Day Weekend, the Broadway Merchants Association held the 1st annual Broadway Street Fair. The event was held on Saturday to highlight the Broadway restoration project and was extremely well-received. Thousands of people flooded the street to enjoy all that the vendors, shops and restaurants had to offer. It was amazing to see so many familiar faces walking around the neighborhood, having fun and supporting local businesses. Each bar you walked into, you’d see someone you knew and it gave the entirety of Broadway a ‘Cheers’ type environment for the whole afternoon.
Watching local artists and musicians come out to support one another at shows or bartenders sending their guests to other restaurants where their friends work are much less significant examples than the ones aforementioned but the foundation of community still holds true. If a restaurant runs out of onions, a Chef is only a text message away from sending his line cook down the road to borrow a bag from another restaurant to help them get through dinner service, no questions asked.
Walking into a bar and having the bartender know your name and what you drink is such a small but satisfying touch. Sitting at a bar and having a buddy send you a beer is even better. Watching a bar full of regulars share stories, laughs and buy each other rounds is the best. Newport is a place where you can run into anyone and everyone at any given time. It’s almost impossible not to interact with local politicians and other important members of the community as they are far more accessible here compared to larger cities. You could be grabbing coffee and wind up sitting next to the Mayor or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and not even realize it.
A few months ago, a resident having breakfast at Lorusso’s posted a photo on Facebook of a golden retriever that they found outside the restaurant. A few people, including Ryan from WhatsUpNewp, recognized the dog and sent the post to a gentleman who could be the dog’s owner. Sure enough, Riley (the handsome yet rebellious pup) decided to take a neighborhood stroll after his owner, Lee Caouette, had taken a trip out to Block Island for the day. Within 30 minutes, Riley was back home and Lee was seemingly relieved. When Colby Raposa’s scooter was stolen back in July, over 50 people shared her post on Facebook hoping to find the thieves who took her beloved vehicle. Unfortunately, the scooter was never recovered but not without the help of many who tried their best to get it returned to its rightful owner.
When someone is in need, this community rallies to their aid. It’s something so simple yet so beautiful when you truly consider it. Doing the right thing and helping one another is a basic moral philosophy. We should be proud to be members of this community and thankful to live in a place where we know others have our back. Sure living in a small town is trying at times, but it’s the sense of unity and unwavering support that we share that makes it all worthwhile.
Tyler is a local hospitality professional, bartending at Midtown Oyster Bar Wednesday through Sunday nights on the Burgee Bar and at Caleb&Broad on Monday nights for their award winning $10 entree dinner special.
Tyler is a graduate of Providence College and a true Rhode Islander, born and bred.
Email him at TylerBernadyn@gmail.com and follow him on Instagram at @tylerbernadyn.