Leading Aquidneck Island homeless advocate accepts new challenge

The following has been submitted by Lucy’s Hearth.

Longtime Lucy’s Hearth director Jennifer Barrera is leaving the acclaimed homeless program to join the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless. 

“On behalf of the children and families whose lives she helped transform, thank you Jennifer Barrera for your devoted leadership of Lucy’s Hearth,” said Mark Gorman, chair of the homeless program’s board of directors. 

He pointed to her many accomplishments, which include spearheading a $4.4 million capital campaign for purchase and renovation of a new location; increasing the number of donors and foundations supporting the organization; and decreasing the length of stay for residents from two years to an average of three to six months. 

“Jennifer, in short, modernized Lucy’s Hearth to ensure we are helping homeless families by using best practices to quickly foster permanency and to avoid future homelessness,” he added. “This includes guiding the design of our new location so the building itself lessens trauma experienced by kids and moms and dads who have nowhere to call home.” 

Ms. Barrera’s last day will be a few weeks before the “Fall for Lucy’s Hearth” annual fundraiser on Wednesday, October 16 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. “I will continue supporting Lucy’s Hearth and I urge everyone to continue and to build upon your support,” she said. More information about the event may be found at lucyshearth.org. 

Lucy’s Hearth will continue regular operations and events as Ms. Barrera’s replacement is identified in the weeks ahead. 

Lucy’s Hearth was founded in 1984 in a former convent on the grounds of St. Lucy’s Church in Middletown, Rhode Island. It was operated, at that time, almost entirely by volunteers. In 2007, to broaden its programming and administrative capacity, it affiliated with Family Service of Rhode Island. Ms. Barrera, a Middletown resident, joined Lucy’s Hearth that year and in 2009 became its director. In 2011, for the first time in its history, it became nationally accredited, and in 2016 it moved into its new facility, which is located at 19 Valley Road, Middletown. 

“Lucy’s Hearth will always be my home, and I look forward to continuing to assist the program through my work at the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless,” Ms. Barrera said. “To all our supporters in Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth and beyond, thank you for helping us help homeless children and families. Please continue to support Lucy’s Hearth in the years ahead.” Lucy’s Hearth is a non-profit which provides a comprehensive array of assistance to homeless children and adults, including an emergency shelter, parenting classes, educational programming and more to promote resilience and self-sufficiency. More information is available at www.lucyshearth.org.

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