• MLK Community Center

Celebrating 1 Year of Literature & Learning for Newport County's Littlest 📚

Updated: Apr 21


Friday, April 9, 2021

Celebrating One Year of Literature & Learning for Newport County's Littlest

The Imagination Library program at the MLK Community Center launched in April of 2020, during a time when all of us were coping with the first challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic. But as we've seen time again at the MLK this past year, acts of kindness and generosity shone forth despite dark and anxious times. Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, presented by the Bazarsky Family Foundation in partnership with the MLK, was one such bright spot for parents and guardians, providing free high-quality, age-appropriate literature for young, growing minds.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library (DPIL) puts books into the hands and hearts of children around the world. They partner with local communities to mail a hand-selected, age-appropriate, high-quality book every month to registered children, from birth to age 5, completely free of cost. Unlike other DPIL sites, the MLK's Imagination Library is fully funded. Thanks to incredibly generous underwriting support from the Bazarsky Family Foundation (BFF), the program is offered at no cost to families, or to the Center.

What a year it's been! The Center's dedicated "Book Lady," Judy Hall (Imagination Library Program Coordinator), has registered over 1,283 Newport County kiddos into the DPIL program. 1,283 children receive a package in the mail each month with their name on it, containing a book of their very own for them to keep. In the midst of the isolation and hardship of the pandemic, DPIL, presented by the BFF, provided families with moments of togetherness, family memories, and fun: little ones looking forward to checking the mail each day, countless bedtime stories, younger siblings & older siblings cuddling up to read together, little sticky fingers grasping their Imagination Library favorite book and begging to read it again, for the third time today.

DPIL, presented by the BFF in collaboration with the MLK, has been the catalyst for family memories and a love of reading but the program's impact goes further still. Early access to books and reading helps set children on a path to academic and personal achievement.

As we look back on an unprecedented year, we pause to thank our partners at the Bazarsky Family Foundation, Carol and David Bazarsky, for ensuring every young child can receive high-quality, diverse and inclusive books for the first five years of their life, regardless of their family's income. And, we pause to thank "Miss Judy" for her tireless efforts to bring books to kids across Newport County, and for always having a smile!

Pictured: David and Carol Bazarsky pose with Imagination Library favorites

If your child is between infancy and 5 years old and resides in Newport County, your family is eligible to receive a free book in the mail every month,through Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, presented by the Bazarsky Family Foundation, in partnership with the MLK Community Center. To register or to learn more, visit our website, or contact Judy Hall.

Imagination Library: Learn More


It's time again for the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce's Ton of Love food drive, benefitting the MLK Community Center!

Throughout the month of April, stop by any of these participating businesses throughout Newport County (& beyond!) to drop off your donation (left). You're also welcome to stop by the Center to drop off your donations - just mention the Ton of Love food drive.

Donations of all non-perishable food, cleaning supplies, & personal care items are welcomed, but suggested items include: Pasta sauce; pop-top canned goods of all kinds, but hearty soups especially; coffee; menstrual products; canned and dried beans; gluten-free foods; dish liquid; laundry detergent; gift cards to Stop & Shop or Shaw's.

Prefer to donate $$? Give securely online: just select "Ton of Love" in the Optional dropdown menu.


Anyone 18+ who identifies as Black, Indigenous, Latino/Hispanic/Latinx, or a person of color (BIPOC) - if that's you and you would like COVID vaccine this weekend in Providence or Woonsocket, fill out this online form.

Please share with anyone who may be interested! (*The web form contains Spanish translations.)

NOTE: Please check your email's spam folder for your confirmation email. If you have already registered and received notice that the clinic is cancelled, that was a system error. This weekend's clinics are still on!


The MLK is hiring for several full and part-time positions, including:

Hunger Services Program Coordinator: full-time

Summer Camp Teacher: part-time, seasonal. Ideal for literacy teachers on summer break!

Summer Camp Teacher Assistant: part-time, seasonal. Great summer job!

Summer Camp Counselor: full-time, seasonal. Great for students, age 18+!

After School Staff: part-time. Great for students, age 18+!


The MLK has volunteer opportunities available on a short or long-term basis:

Breakfast Chefs: Thanks to generous community support, the MLK now offers a hot grab & go Breakfast every weekday. So, we need help with meal prep! We're seeking volunteer chefs to help prepare meals in advance. SafeServ certified preferred, but anyone with the desire & capacity to prepare hearty meals in batches of 50 is welcome. This can be done in the morning or ahead of time, so you don't have to be a morning person, either!

Spanish Speaking Volunteers: Thanks to generous community support, the MLK is expanding our weekly free produce distribution (more news on that to come)! We are seeking volunteers who are proficient in Spanish to assist clients at these events.

For more information, please contact Nancy Harten via email or call (401) 846-4828 x103. You can also fill out our volunteer application online!


Support Newport County, Support the MLK

ONGOING PANTRY NEEDS: Pop-top cans of all varieties

Our Mobile and on-site food pantries are in urgent need of cans for all hands.

Canned goods with pop-tops are among our most in-demand non-perishable items. Some of us might take for granted is the ability to use a can opener. For those who struggle with can openers like the elderly, the disabled, and children, pop-top cans are a lifesaver. The MLK Community Center is in need of pop-top cans of all varieties, but of particular need are hearty soups with pop-tops that can act as stand-alone, easy meals.

Your donations of any and all pop-top canned goods are so appreciated.Our loading dock is open to accept donations from 8 am to 5 pm on weekdays. (If you'd prefer to contribute money toward pop-top canned goods, donate via PayPal and select Hunger Services from the Optional drop-down menu.)


Schedule of all events

  • Grab & Go Breakfast Mon-Fri, 7:30 - 8:30 am. (Marcus Wheatland Blvd entrance)

  • Food Pantry: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 am to 2 pm and Wednesday evenings from 4 pm to 6 pm; first Saturday of each month from 10 am to 12 pm

  • Food 2 Friends delivery for homebound seniors. Contact Ed for more info

  • Mobile Food Pantry visits to low-income housing communities. Schedule

  • Daily Bread: Mon-Fri at the Marcus Wheatland Blvd entrance, while supplies last

  • AARP Tax Prep: Taxes will be prepared virtually (no in-person appointments) at the Edward King House, 401-846-7426 or the Portsmouth Senior Center, 401-683-4106.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center

(401) 846-4828