To the Editor,

Having lived here for the past 33 years, I have always known that Aquidneck Island is a very special place to call home. That sense of community has never been more evident than this past week. Like your readers, we at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center were devastated by news of the terrible fire in Middletown on Labor Day, where Ramon Isaiah Arroyo lost his life. Ramon was a student in the Center’s Summer Camp and all five of his siblings participated in one or more of our education programs. His sister Olga works in our Afterschool and Summer Camp programs. This tragedy hit very close to home and we were compelled to help.

Our board and staff agreed the MLK Center would work to raise awareness and act as a clearinghouse for donations, to get needed resources directly to the family as quickly as possible. We are humbled by the outpouring of generosity and compassion for Ramon’s parents Banghy Morales and Ramon Arroyo, Jr. and their family.

This family’s tragedy affects more than one town. Generous donations made directly to the familymost accompanied by words of shared grief and messages of comfort – have poured in from all six Newport County municipalities, from across our state and beyond. Donors from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Florida, and South Carolina have banded with the local community in trying to help this precious family.

Speaking at her brother’s funeral, Nifaty Morales explained when Ramon knocked someone down while playing football, he immediately reached down to lift them back up. Ramon’s death has knocked our entire community down, but together, we are doing our very best to lift his family, and ourselves, back up.

The MLK Community Center’s mission is to be a locus of hope and help for Newport County. It has been our deepest privilege to have been a local resource at this incredibly difficult time.

It has never been our place to speak for Ramon’s family. But it is my place to speak on behalf of all of us at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center to express our profound shared grief, our wishes for peace and healing for Banghy and Ramon Jr., their children and extended family, and our enormous gratitude to our caring and generous community.


Marilyn Warren, Executive Director

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center

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Ryan Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp, LLC. Belmore has led What's Up Newp since December 2012. Belmore also serves as the Sr. Editor - North America for Mountain News - publisher of OnTheSnow. In his spare time, Belmore serves as the Vice President for the Board of Directors at Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors at Lucy's Hearth. Belmore is also a member and supporter of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to