Jennifer Hawkins, director of the ONE Neighborhood Builders community development corporation,
standing in Riverside Park, with some of the new homes her group has developed
in Olneyville behind her, during a trolley tour organized by Rhode Island Housing in 2017.
File photo by Richard Asinof/ConvergenceRI
A beautiful day in the neighborhood
By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – When ONE Neighborhood Builders holds its 35th birthday party on Wednesday evening, May 24, at the Graduate Providence hotel, honoring its community catalysts – Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, EOHHS Assistant Secretary Ana Novais, and Neil Steinberg, the outgoing president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation – it represents an opportunity to celebrate the champions of community, focused on the fruits of harvesting the investments in affordable housing, health equity, broadband connectivity, and bottom-up innovation for three decades.
Translated, ONE|NB has been at the center of transforming and reclaiming what once were the mean streets of Olneyville and its surrounding neighborhoods into a place where the road to prosperity begins at the front door of your own home.
Since 2017, much of that journey has been led by Jennifer Hawkins, executive director at ONE|NB, who along with her team, has been an indefatigable champion of community.
“If Providence had its own home-grown breakfast cereal to celebrate its champions of place-based development,” ConvergenceRI wrote in July of 2021, “one of the faces on the inaugural cereal boxes would no doubt be Jennifer Hawkins, the executive director of ONE Neighborhood Builders, who in the last few years has stewarded a series of remarkable achievements and tangible results [though Hawkins would certainly demur and insist that members of her team share in the spotlight].”
Time and again, Hawkins has been featured in reporting by ConvergenceRI, showcasing her leadership – from developing five affordable, net-zero small homes to launching a network of free, wire mesh WiFi to help heal the digital divide, from serving as the convener of the Central Providence health equity zone to linking childcare centers with place-based affordable housing. [See links to ConvergenceRI stories below.]
It seemed more than appropriate to turn the microphone over, as it were, to Hawkins, to allow her to talk about the past accomplishments and future visions of ONE Neighborhood Builders. Here is the ConvergenceRI interview with Jennifer Hawkins, executive director of ONE|NB, on the occasion of the community development corporation’s 35th birthday celebration.
Hawkins spoke about the following topics in the interview:
- Participatory budgeting is under way. Visit Decideri.org
- ONE|NB is playing a collaborative role in housing development and developed partnerships with organizations like PACE-RI, Foster Forward, and Aldersbridge Communities.
- How the Low and Moderate Income Housing Act has sparked conversations about affordable housing at the General Assembly.
- Why East Providence has emerged as a hub for affordable housing development.
- ONE|NB welcome David Cicilline, the new CEO and president of the Rhode Island Foundation, to visit ONE|NB’s projects.
- The importance of celebrating diversity and community leaders, like in central Falls, who show up and are accessible.
- The community small loan program launched by ONE|NB has been successful in supporting small businesses. Visit centralprovidenceloans.org
- ONE|NB is celebrating its 35th anniversary and honoring community catalysts.