2016-06-30 / Around Town

MLK Center: A ‘Place of Hope and Help’


MLK Center Executive Director Marilyn Warren stands between Keeper of the Dream recipients Rena DiMuccio and George Emerson at the center's annual meeting. (Photo by Jen Carter) MLK Center Executive Director Marilyn Warren stands between Keeper of the Dream recipients Rena DiMuccio and George Emerson at the center's annual meeting. (Photo by Jen Carter) At the annual meeting of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Community Center on Monday, June 20, a quartet of local heroes were recognized for their “essential” contributions to the life and mission of the center.

“We are fortunate to live in a beautiful place,” said Board President David Howe in his opening remarks. “But this can be a challenging place, too,” he added, “for the nearly 3,000 clients we serve.”

In her remarks, Executive Director Marilyn Warren spoke about the center’s evolution into what Howe referred to as a “place of hope and help.”

“Our programming has become more client-driven and holistic,” Warren said. “We are seeing more and more clients coming to us for information and fellowship beyond basic human need. But,” she added, “feeding the hungry is still a huge part of what we do.” In the past year, according to Warren, the center distributed more than 223,000 meals via the food pantry.

George Emerson of Newport was honored as the 2016 Volunteer of the Year. “You have been a champion for the [center], giving of your time, talent and treasure,” said Howe. Emerson has logged countless hours volunteering at the Breakfast Program, at Community Dinners, and for special events such Santa’s Workshop, Swing into Spring, Stuff the Van, the Newport Marathon, and the Pell Bridge Run. He has stocked the food pantry shelves and made lunches for preschoolers and summer campers. “Whenever we ask,” said Howe, “you are there for [us]. Quite simply, you are essential to us, and to our clients.”

Keeper of the Dream Rena DiMuccio was recognized as “our partner in philanthropy.” Keepers of the Dream–Business were Grace Banks and Gina Banks, from Water’s Edge flowers. The board thanked them for their many years supporting the annual Swing into Spring fundraiser, and specifically this year when the event was moved to a different–and larger– venue. “You stood by us and created, donated, and delivered 40 [perfect] centerpieces,” said Howe.

The awards highlight contributions of time and talent “that most embody the selfless spirit of Dr. King.”

Warren also mentioned the children’s programs, the free-of-charge Medicare and Medicaid counseling programs, health insurance enrollment and nutrition counseling, and the center’s involvement as a collaborating partner in the Health Equity Zone project.

“2015 was a very good year,” she said, “where through collaboration we were able to create lasting community impact.”

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