Westerly’s WARM Center, which has been serving the homeless population in Rhode Island’s Washington County for nearly 35 years, has bought Welcome House in Wakefield, a similar organization that had been struggling financially over the last few years.

The WARM Center, which has 19 emergency shelter beds for the homeless, adds Welcome House’s 17 units, making WARM among Rhode Island’s largest homeless shelter organizations, according to Russ Partridge, the WARM Center’s executive director. 

Patridge said negotiations had been ongoing for the past couple of years, with the purchase finalized last week. Patridge said WARM bought Welcome’s emergency shelter facility for $340,000, all of it funded through a federal Community Development Block Grant.

The Welcome House had fallen on difficult financial times and reduced its services to emergency homeless housing, having ceded its transitional housing program to the Jonnycake Center of Wakefield.

WARM provides a wide range of services, including the 19 emergency shelter units, and transitional housing that can serve up to 60 individuals and families. WARM. also hosts community meals, job programs, operates an outreach program, and more.

Patridge said Welcome House used to provide many of those services but was reduced to emergency housing in recent years. He said he anticipates reinstating the community meals program at Welcome House.

He also said all four of Welcome House’s employees will remain. WARM has 14 employees. 

“This gives us a little bit more clout statewide to develop programs and get funding,” Partridge said. It also allows WARM. to extend its fundraising programs, utilizing staffs from both facilities.

WARM’s shelter and offices are located 54 Spruce Street, Westerly in The Rev. Jean Barry Center for Social Services, named for the center’s previous executive director.

WARM (Westerly Area Meals) was founded “to provide shelter and meals to the homeless throughout southern Rhode Island and easter Connecticut. In conjunction with seven local churches, the shelter and soup kitchen was kept open seven days a week from November to March.”

In its description, WARM says it “offers each guest three basic expressions of hospitality: a warm meal, a warm bed, and warm welcome as well as related social services and advocacy.”

Welcome House, 8 North Road, was also founded in 1987 to provide emergency shelter, a soup kitchen, transitional housing, case management, and advocacy.

​ Its emergency shelter, offices, and kitchen are located in a three-story historic rooming house. There, they say they “offer a safe, sober environment coupled with supportive services aimed at stabilization and permanent housing.”

Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal. Prosnitz began his journalism career as a sportswriter at the Asbury Park (NJ) Press, moving to The News Tribune (Woodbridge, NJ), before joining the Providence Journal. Prosnitz hosts the Morning Show on WLBQ radio (Westerly), 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and It’s Your Business, also on WBLQ, Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Prosnitz has twice won Best in Business Awards from the national Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), twice was named Media Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration, won an investigative reporter’s award from the New England Press Association, and newswriting award from the Rhode Island Press Association.