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Time to dust off those Kentucky Derby hats.

“Taking the Reins” on Homelessness is a benefit coming Saturday, May 7th to the Wyndham Newport at the Atlantic Resort in Middletown. The first annual Kentucky Derby style event is a fundraiser for the MAE Organization For The Homeless, which provides services for the unhoused throughout Rhode Island.

The benefit promises to be an exciting evening for a great cause. The program includes a silent auction, friendly wagers, and live viewing of the Derby. The menu includes tasty Hors D’Oeuvres, a Pasta Chef Station, and a complimentary Jefferson Julep.

Guests are encouraged to break out their hats, bowties, suits, fancy dresses and other traditional derby attire. There will be a “Best Hat and Tie Fashion Show” held. with all ticket proceeds going directly to the MAE Organization to fund and operate programs aimed to help the homeless and at-risk individuals.

Martinha Javid, Executive Director of MAE, shared a little bit about the mission of the organization.

“Our mission and our programs are all geared towards empowering and supporting individuals who are going through chronic homelessness, who are at risk,” she explained. “We do this through mental health programming which we which provide including yoga, Reiki … and expressive arts, which is a method of writing your emotions, journaling, and things like that. We also do equine therapy. We work with ‘Release the Reins’ and bring clients to them. That’s very powerful.”

Of course, homelessness is a deep-rooted problem, with numerous underlying causes. Javid shared the agency’s approach to the crisis.

”We try to get at homelessness through the root base,” said Javid. “Attacking homelessness at a root cause level from a mental health perspective, from an addiction perspective, I feel that is the only way we can truly get people out of homelessness.”

“I’ve worked with so many individuals providing outreach and they’ve gone through housing, and they get into housing, there’s not enough support and they end up back out on the streets over and over again because the mental health issues are still there and the addiction is still there. We try to offer support, everything we do is about working with individuals on a mental health level.”

It’s a grassroots effort at times, with volunteers helping in a variety of ways. The modest surroundings at MAE headquarters in Cranston offer gently worn clothes and food staples for those in need.

“We provide hot meal services and we meet them where they are. We cook at churches, we cook in our own homes, and we go serve them outdoors. We are currently serving in Woonsocket, Providence and Pawtucket.

For tickets and further details on the Derby, click here.

To learn more about the MAE Organization for the Homeless, click here.

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Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music and more for What'sUpNewp, Providence Monthly, SO RI, and The Bay. He DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse" Tuesday nights, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.