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Lisa Churchville: Nothing Builds a Life Like Education

Monday, December 13, 2010

 

Lisa Churchville’s personal commitment to philanthropy can be summed up in two words: community empowerment. As she explains it, “There is nothing that builds a joyful and productive life like education and having meaningful job skills.”

Churchville—who moved to Rhode Island in 1997—is well-known for her support of the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Women & Infants Hospital and several other organizations. And in her personal giving, Churchville’s attitude is focused on building strong communities in the state. Her perspective is much the same as that of the television station she runs. “TV is a great equalizer which supports democracy, builds empathy and develops a connection with the community. Through it, we can create a shared sense of purpose in the community.” 

A Shared Sense of Purpose

This shared sense of purpose has led Churchville to her involvement with John Hope Settlement House and Tides Family Services. “What I love about these organizations is that they really support families—whole families—in a number of real, practical ways. And their work is more than just a reaction to a crisis; they’re really engaged with these families in tangible ways at pivotal points in their lives.”

Gateway to Rhode Island

It’s clear that Churchville believes strongly in the educational aspect of both groups. She points to the multicultural, multigenerational services provided by John Hope Settlement House: “John Hope is a gateway to Rhode Island, and to the country, for many families. They are dedicated to education as a building block for children, and they provide the tools, skills and resources to build a community while also providing a safe harbor.”

Concentrated Connections

With its several locations throughout the state, Tides Family Services demonstrates a characteristic unique to Rhode Island: a concept Churchville describes as “concentrated connections.” She explains, “Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns are all separate, yet we’re all so closely connected here which is a huge benefit; local is what we do best. For instance, one of Tides’ services is to make sure that kids show up for school. These teens are personally accountable to an adult who checks up on them so they stay out of trouble and don’t wind up in the system for truancy. Studies have shown that teens who are regularly truant are more likely to develop other at-risk behavior and wind up in jail.”

Churchville affirms that both John Hope and Tides also share another common element: both are committed to building communities that are self-sustaining. “The more involved I become,” says Churchville, “the more I realize that the foundation of our state’s future has to be built at the community level. And a huge part of the solution is to build and empower our children for that future.”

Empowering Children to Build a Community

The theme of empowering children to build a community is familiar to Churchville. “My great grandparents actually moved to Rhode Island from Ireland, and they started a large family here. During the flu epidemic, all but two of the girls died; they then went to live with family. It’s been amazing to return now, so many years later; I feel like Rhode Island is my home. We’ve come full circle.” 

 

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