Image provided by Family Service of Rhode Island

Family Service of Rhode Island, a comprehensive non-profit social service agency and an essential part of the Rhode Island community, today announced the launch of Be Kind RI, a new site that pairs volunteers with neighbors with those in need.

Image provided by Family Service of Rhode Island

The Full Announcement

During this pandemic, Rhode Islanders have suffered deep losses. We’ve lost friends, family, and neighbors to COVID, and continue to watch as many are still struggling with its lingering effects.  We have masked over our smiles, socially distanced ourselves away from hugs, skipped critical rites of passage, and communed through one Zoom too many.  Yet this week, Rhode Islanders have a new tool to fight pandemic despair and increase happiness through social connection. 

Be Kind RI, a technology platform developed by Nesterly, Inc., works similar to a dating site to pair volunteers with neighbors who need them by utilizing text alerts.  Brought to Rhode Island through an innovative partnership between Age Friendly Rhode Island, the RI Community Food Bank, and Family Service of Rhode Island, Be Kind RI is first tackling the hunger crisis in our state, as more than 25% of Rhode Islanders experience food insecurity. 

Here’s how it works: volunteers register, define where and when they can lend a helping hand, and receive a text to pick up groceries for a nearby neighbor in need from a local food pantry or grocery.  Be Kind RI allows volunteers to accept the request, or take a pass– no hard feelings!  Projects that are passed go to the next volunteer on the text/receive sms list.  Unlike other volunteer programs, this service is 100% free to use and hyper-local, so Rhode Islanders can opt to do a service project in their neighborhoods, or a nearby one.  

“With all of the uncertainty in our daily lives during COVID, Be Kind RI allows Rhode Islanders to step in when they can to help a neighbor.  Be Kind RI is a way for Rhode Islanders to be there for one another, at a time when we need that connection most,” Maggie Slane, FSRI’s Advancement VP notes, “And guess what?  When we are kind to others, research shows that we are happier and healthier.  So, what we are asking you do to is to be kind, volunteer to bridge food access gaps for those in need, and spread a little happiness around our state.” 

Be Kind RI is currently recruiting 200 volunteers and will launch food assistance support for seniors and others at higher risk for COVID during the week of March 15th

For more information and to register, visit

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.