We’re so lucky at NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley to have a staff of hardworking, committed team-players who work tirelessly at our mission of building affordable housing and enriching community life.
In this series, you’ll get to know the people behind the work.
Tell us about yourself.
Hello! I’m Jen. I’m a mom, a long-time Rhode Islander (sadly not born and raised), and a member of the vibrant South Providence community. I love growing vegetables and cooking meals for my roommates (I once owned a restaurant). I love local politics (I once managed the campaign of an independent candidate for city council). And I love detective series! I once spoke French fluently. Today, I’m slowly learning to speak Spanish with a French accent. Qué horror!
What do you do at NWBRV?
I have the good fortune to serve as NWBRV Director of Resident Service and Community Engagement, (RSCE) a new role in a brand new department. The RSCE team advocates for residents within our organization. We connect residents to programs that subsidize utility bills, provide affordable childcare, or help develop job skills. We work closely with NWBRV’s HomeOwnership Center and often refer residents to their in-house financial well-being and coaching programs. Today, our new department’s focus is on how we can best support residents. Our first efforts included direct outreach to residents about programs that could lower their heating bill this winter. Our team called 300 residents, provided program information to 160, and directly helped 30 submit completed applications. In December and January, our team will provide information about a program that lowers internet service bills by $30 per month. There are many federal and state programs designed to help our lowest-income neighbors. Accessing these programs is a challenge for many people. Our goal is to earn our neighbor’s confidence by providing high-quality resource navigation; our hope is that our work will make a positive, meaningful change in our neighbor’s daily lives.
How long have you been working with NWBRV, and how did you start working with the organization?
I’m new to NWBRV. I stepped into my role in July 2022. I recently completed my Masters in Public Administration and Public Policy from the University of Rhode Island. There I served as research fellow at the Center for Non-Violence and Peace studies. My graduate work focused on how state and local housing policy plays a central role in redressing economic and racial inequality. Through my fellowship, I coordinated the logistics and analysis of mixed-methods survey data from hundreds of public housing residents across Rhode Island. We measured resident satisfaction in many ways, from involvement in housing governance to access to amenities like transportation, playgrounds, community centers, grocery stores and medical care. As the Director of Resident Services and Community Engagement, I’m creating ways our team can collect and rigorously analyze relevant data while also establishing a person-centered approach to resident engagement.
What inspires you to do this work?
Put simply: I love my neighbors and I want to see them thrive.
What is your proudest accomplishment working with NWBRV?
I don’t think I can answer this question quite yet, but stay tuned! I’m excited for all that is to come!