It all started with a donation of paintings to make the Child & Family more welcoming for the children and families who walked through its doors seeking help. No one could have known what a long, generous and fulfilling relationship it would be for Mary Jennings, Child & Family and the community of Newport County. For decades Mary has provided philanthropic support and spent thousands of hours volunteering in a variety of capacities ranging from being a welcoming and helpful volunteer at the front desk to being a devoted Board member for thirteen years to chairing the Taste of Newport, one of Child & Family’s most important fundraisers, to supporting many capital campaigns like the new community center and various programs.
The Adopt an Artist Program is a good example of how Mary’s financial support, personal involvement and passion have given hundreds of children, teens, adults and elders the opportunity to take art classes for free at the Newport Art Museum. Mary states, “Art is an important outlet for everyone, particularly for children whether troubled or not.” Mary Jennings credits Child & Family with opening her eyes to the fact that Newport is a small city with all the problems of a big city. She adds, “Child & Family addresses all of those problems in a meaningful way.” Further, she says that over the years Child & Family became her family.
In the words of Peter DiBari, President and CEO of Child & Family, “Mary’s enduring community spirit has had a tremendous impact on Aquidneck Island and all of Newport County. Her dedication to Child & Family over many years has provided a model for the care and compassion which are the hallmark of our service to the community. More than that, Mary’s belief in, and passion for what we do for families and children have provided consistent support through her work as a valued volunteer, an advisor, a welcoming presence to others at Child & Family functions, and a long-time friend.