We Share Hope is a business located in the Waterfront Commission’s Phillipsdale subdisctrict. The East Providence Waterfront Commission is the permitting authority for 300 acres of the East Providence Waterfront. The goal of the commission is to support the revitalization of vacant derelict structures and buildings and underutilized land to attract new businesses, jobs, housing, recreation, civic and cultural opportunities.
What is We Share Hope?
We Share Hope, a non-profit located in Phillipsdale, aims to provide food and other necessities for those in need. Their East Providence location serves communities across the state. We Share Hope is most known for Hope Market, a “budget-friendly marketplace that is open to the public.” Hope Market relies on donations from partnerships and other stores, providing families with “quality food and goods at a fraction of the cost.”
The story of We Share Hope begins in the back of a station wagon in 2008, when the founder picked up leftovers from bakeries that were typically thrown out. The goods would be distributed to different food banks, and the mission soon grew to their first home in Warren. We Share Hope has been in East Providence since March of 2020. Johanna Corcoran is the new director of the organization, bringing a wealth of knowledge from previous experience in development in non-profit and otherwise. She has been a Rhode Island resident for over 15 years and is excited about the future of We Share Hope in the new Phillipsdale space.
How is We Share Hope engaged with the community?
We Share Hope depends on volunteers. The people who stock shelves, help people around the store, and work at the check-out counters are all volunteers from our community. The new building in Phillipsdale is essential for community engagement: “Through conversations with the people in the market [we are able to build programming that is most effective and helpful. The space] helps us keep our ear to the ground of what people are truly dealing with in their lives”
Sharing is a large part of the organization’s mission, especially through partnerships where they can share resources. For example, We Share Hope got a donation of bike helmets which they dropped off at San Miguel School during a bike drive. Nothing stays on the shelves at We Share Hope, and items quickly finds use with people who need it.
What does the future of We Share Hope look like?
We Share Hope just launched a new Pantry Pickup program. Rhode Islanders can schedule a time to have their food picked up by We Share Hope volunteers and is then distributed to those in need.
The space in Phillipsdale is 23,000 square feet, providing a home for both the warehouse and market. Some fresh coats of paint and new signage have made the space enjoyable for shoppers and volunteers. Johanna also has a vision for a community resource area at the lobby of the building for workshops and meetings assisting those in need. “Hunger is a symptom of bigger challenges people are facing.” Bringing other organizations into the space could help people to identify these root issues. The potential for these additional programs is made possible by the large space in Phillipsdale. Such additional programming is essential to the organization’s mission. As Johanna said, “Our organization’s name is We Share Hope, not “We Share Food”. Hope looks different to everybody. Everyone has a different definition of what hope means to them, and what they need in their lives to feel that hope.”
See their beautiful facility for yourself: visit www.wesharehope.org for market hours and volunteer information. To find out more about the Pantry Pickup program, visit www.wesharehope.org/pickup