NORTH PROVIDENCE – Nonprofit leaders joined state and local officials on Volturno Street this week to cut the ribbon on Tri-County Community Action Agency’s new Basic Needs Center.

Governor Dan McKee was among those in attendance on Monday to celebrate the new facility, which houses a food bank and space for community organizations like the Moms of Marieville and other services like rent and energy relief.

Tri-County’s CEO and executive director Joe DeSantis said he’s been looking forward to opening the Volturno Street center, which he said represents a strong partnership between federal, state and local government – but also strong support from community programs like the Moms of Marieville. He said their effort was instrumental in getting the center off the ground.

“Finally, after over 50 years, we can bring basic needs services to the Marieville section of North Providence. I think it’s long overdue,” DeSantis said, adding that he’s always felt that section of town was “neglected” and in dire need of services.

In addition to the food bank and Basic Needs Center, Tri-County is also celebrating the addition of a “Health Mobile” that can travel to different sites offering easier access to health care services. The van is outfitted with two fully-equipped exam rooms, a laboratory, waiting area and bathroom.

“We believe everyone has a right to basic health care, and we want to make that happen,” DeSantis said.

If needed, and if there’s funding, DeSantis said they’d consider making a permanent health care unit on Volturno Street.

“We’re looking for every possible opportunity to make this successful,” he said, adding that he doesn’t want to open the center only to close it in a year. “I want to make sure we continue this effort for Marieville.”

Gov. McKee said Rhode Island is leading the northeast in economic recovery, but that there are still many needs to be met.

“Coming out of this pandemic, those needs are magnified,” he said. “We want to make sure there’s a level playing field.” Organizations like Tri-County are essential in helping to do that, he said.

“We’re very proud to have this critical needs center open its doors,” said McKee, offering a congratulatory citation to Tri-County.

Mayor Charles Lombardi said he’s excited about the future of the building, considering he owns it and grew up two houses away.

“I probably wouldn’t have agreed to give up the space for any other use than for the people of our neighborhood to benefit from,” he said, joking that he enjoyed using the building himself. DeSantis “wasn’t going to let go,” and Lombardi said he wanted to “make sure the residents were not forgotten about.”

Lombardi said the services that will be provided on Volturno Street are “critically needed.”

Senate president Dominick Ruggerio agreed, calling Monday an exciting day for North Providence. The pandemic taught a lot of lessons, especially about accessing vital services, he said, adding that the center “very important for the people of this particular area.”

On behalf of the school department, School Committee member Charles Pollock welcomed Tri-County to Marieville. “We can never say thank you enough,” he said.

The Basic Needs Center is located at 19 Volturno St.

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