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I think the members understand especially now when times are so tough. A lot of them are hurting too but they understand that people are hurting more than them and they really wanted to help out.

Members in Rhode Island have been helping families faced with one of the harshest realities of a volatile economy, homelessness. For many years, members of Carpenters Local 94 have been raising funds for the Rhode Island Family Shelter, located in Warwick.

Carpenters Local 94 holds an annual Dollars for Food Drive to raise money for the shelter.

“The Carpenters Union has raised well over $50,000 to help the shelter buy food,” notes Tom Savoie, Local 94 Business Representative.

“I think the members understand especially now when times are so tough. A lot of them are hurting too but they understand that people are hurting more than them and they really wanted to help out.”

In this struggling economy, the staff of the shelter sees a troubling trend developing.

“There are so many families that are one crisis, and by crisis I mean a car needs to be repaired, there’s an electric bill that needs to be paid, a medical bill that needs to be paid…they’re that one crisis away from homelessness,” points out Board President Jeff Gofton.

“That is what we’re finding today. People have been employed all their lives are now unemployed and never had to face this situation.”

The Rhode Island Family Shelter assists homeless families with children twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Approximately four hundred individuals receive shelter and supportive services from the facility each year. Located directly above the emergency shelter are seven affordable apartments for formerly homeless families. Supportive services for individuals living in these units are offered on site.

“Homelessness can be a difficult issue to raise money for…because of people’s perception of what homelessness is,” notes Savoie.

“People here don’t expect to be homeless; it’s for people down on their luck that have kids. They take care of families and our members understand the importance of that especially now because times have been so bad in the construction industry. So many of our members are hurting but they realize is important to give to others who are in need too.”

The money raised by Local 94 has helped feed countless families throughout the years.

It addition to the monetary donations, carpenters have volunteered time and labor on site to help with various projects throughout the facility. These projects include a complete renovation of the basement, creating meeting space and a large playroom. The vibrant playroom is filled with toys and books and is a special place for families to spend time together away from the flow of activity happening on the first floor of the building.

“The carpenters are the only ones I know…that provide funds every year and are always there to provide construction help when needed,” notes Gofton.

Families throughout Rhode Island have felt the impact of the generous donations made by the men and women of Local 94. Thanks to all the members who have helped a neighbor in need by contributing to this great cause.