Skip to Content

Shelter Helps Homeless Grow, Thrive

George, Regina, Dotty, Brett

Starting upper left: George, Regina (assistant director), Dotty, Brett

Emmanuel House Director Dotty Perreault understands the struggles facing shelter residents. She was only 11 months sober when she started working at the men’s shelter in 2012. In reflecting on her life, she believes that “God brought me through the fires of hell in order for me to help others who are going through that now. My family was determined and persistent. Many of the men who are here don’t have that kind of support. We become that for them.

“It was hard for me, when I first started here, to know what to do with grown men who would weep and share their personal stories.” Six years later, Dotty says, “I feel it is an honor and privilege that they trust me enough to share their inner feelings with me. It isn’t something I have learned; it is something I have walked. I tell them it is OK to cry—nothing grows without water.”

Dotty’s philosophy rings true when one looks around Emmanuel House today. It continues to grow in astounding and exciting ways. In celebration, recognition and support of the work being done at Emmanuel House, the Catholic Foundation Board of Advisors gifted the shelter with the 2018 annual distribution from the board’s Donor Advised Fund.

The staff is expanding to the second floor of the building on Public Street in Providence. The increased space will allow Dotty to offer programs and resources to Emmanuel House residents during the day—something the shelter had previously not been able to do.

“The agencies our residents need to work with and the employers they need to contact are open during the day,” Dotty says. “We want to provide them phones to call from, computers to complete job applications on, résumé support, family support groups and so much more.

“Emmanuel House is more than just a bed,” Dotty continues. “We provide services that can help residents create stable lives, no matter how long that takes. We do not have a time limit on how long men can stay here. We want them to be successful when they leave, and that takes time.”


Brett leans over the squash plants

The profusion of changes and new opportunities inside Emmanuel House mirror the abundant harvest of the vegetable garden just outside the back door. The garden is bursting with deep purple eggplant, yellow summer squash, green zucchini the length of an arm and cucumbers escaping the confines of their raised beds. Brett, a former Emmanuel House resident, proudly reaches into the plants to inspect their progress. “Soon, we will have more tomatoes than we know what to do with,” he says, beaming.

This garden beside the Emmanuel House Shelter is special. This garden feeds body and spirit. This garden is where Brett got sober.

Four years ago, Brett was struggling with addiction and homelessness. He had traveled from shelter to shelter over the years, but he landed at Emmanuel House just in time to help create a vegetable garden. The overgrown plot of land required many hours of manual labor to clear the weeds by hand and build a single raised bed. Brett jumped into the work, which occupied body and mind—an essential step on his journey to sobriety.

Today, the garden houses at least a dozen raised beds filled with vegetables and strawberry plants, a flourishing potted fig tree and a rose garden planted in memory of Emmanuel House staff and guests who have died. Brett lives in a place of his own now but tends the garden at Emmanuel House every day.

The harvest is so plentiful this year that Brett and Dotty are offering fresh vegetables to local food pantries and parishes. Nothing grows without water…and patience…and time!

To learn how you could make a future gift with a Donor Advised Fund or have any further questions, contact Rich Popovic at or 401-277-2115.

eBrochure Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the brochure.

First name is required
Last Name is required
Please include an '@' in the email address

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to the Catholic Foundation of Rhode Island a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

Bequest Language

"I, [name], of [city, state, ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to The Catholic Foundation [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to the Catholic Foundation or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to the Catholic Foundation as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to the Catholic Foundation as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and the Catholic Foundation where you agree to make a gift to the Catholic Foundation and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

Personal Estate Planning Kit Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the materials for planning your estate.

First name is required
Last Name is required
Please include an '@' in the email address