11 Sep 2021
John Hope Settlement House
Throughout the summer, the John Hope Settlement House opened its doors to the community as the sun began to rise. The first campers would arrive at 7 a.m. and the last would leave at 5 p.m. In between, the campers’ days were filled with non-stop activities – from field trips to swimming pools and rock-climbing gyms to gardening and STEM programs.
In the midst of each hectic day, Brandford Davis, John Hope Settlement House’s executive director, required each camper to pause for a few minutes. To promote summer education so kids do not fall behind, Davis required campers to read for 15 minutes daily.
This summer, unlike in the past, the campers grabbed hold of the books and when the 15 minutes of reading concluded, they begged Brandford for additional reading time.
A year ago, that wasn’t the case. The books that lined the shelves at the John Hope Settlement House were more than 10 years old. The campers weren’t interested in opening outdated books. Getting the campers to read was a struggle.
This summer was different. The books flew off the shelves into the hands of campers eager to continue reading long after the 15 minutes had expired.
With support from the Papitto Opportunity Connection, Davis was able to purchase new books that were age appropriate, culturally sensitive, and related to the experiences and interests of the kids. The new books aimed to make reading fun. It worked.
“The kids begged me to keep reading,” said Davis.
The new books were just a fraction of the improvements that benefit John Hope Settlement House’s youth summer initiatives and recreational program for the BIPOC community, thanks to the funding from the Papitto Opportunity Connection.
A Bright Future
“We were able to have field trips to swimming pools and rock-climbing gyms. For some of our kids, it was the first time they had a chance to swim. None of this would have been possible without the support from the Papitto Opportunity Connection. POC has been able to breathe life back into John Hope,” said Davis.
The organization, which has provided crucial programs and services and a safe space for the BIPOC community in Providence for more than 90 years, was almost forced to close its doors recently.
The John Hope Settlement House, the only African American community center in Rhode Island, was struggling. But the organization refused to close and instead worked tirelessly to keep its doors open.
“It has been difficult to stretch beyond our daily operations to provide additional opportunities for our youth, particularly over the summer,” said Davis. “The funding from POC allowed John Hope to do just that. POC allowed John Hope to expand the imagination, engagement in learning, and developmental growth for the youth in the summer program.
“The Papitto Opportunity Connection funding means that John Hope Settlement House has a chance to improve the outcomes for our youth and families by creating a greater impact on their lives,” said Davis. “We are able to renovate our facility for the community’s use, reassure our families that the agency is operating in good standards, and most importantly show the youth that someone cares about their well-being, quality of life, and potential for a bright future.”