Twelve churches and more than 200 volunteers will come together on Saturday, June 1, to stage what Pastor Matthew McIntosh said will be the state’s first Hope Day at the ball field in Oakland Beach.
The event, patterned after the Hope Day Networks, will offer a cross section of free services, clothing and food to needy persons and families.
A relative newcomer to Rhode Island, McIntosh is the pastor of Warwick Hope Assembly on Sandy Lane. He said he was involved in conducting a Hope Day as pastor of an evangelical church in Hempstead, New York, and he was intrigued with bringing the program to Warwick. Other churches involved are from across the state and nearby Massachusetts.
He said as many as 12 tents will be set up, allowing people to get free haircuts, health screening tests, shoes and even a free lunch. There will also be entertainment and a play area for children.
“God has come through,” McIntosh replied when asked of donations making the day possible.
The path to making it all happen has likewise been inspired. McIntosh spoke with Mayor Joseph Solomon, who readily endorsed the event – clearing the way for use of the property as well as offering to provide police.
“Right away, he promised to help,” McIntosh said.
As visitors complete the tent-by-tent tour, they will come to the “connections tent,” where they will be able to talk with event volunteers and learn of community services and churches. On their way out, they will arrive at the “grocery truck” where they will be given two bags of food.
McIntosh said they were initially planning for 700 visitors, although as of Tuesday “it looks like we’ll have more.” Hope Day is slated to start at noon and run until 4 p.m., although the closing could come sooner depending on the demand and whether the supplies hold out.
While the event is open to all, McIntosh said the Hope Day is centered in Oakland Beach.
“We don’t want to over advertise and under deliver,” he explained.
He is hopeful the day will become an annual event for his church and that participating churches will pick up on the program and do their own Hope Day.