Donor Stories

Nothing Grows Without Water

Emmanuel House Director, Dottie Perreault understands the struggles facing shelter residents.  She was only eleven 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.  Now, six years later, “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.”   

Dottie’s philosophy rings true when one looks around the Emmanuel House today.  It continues to grow in astounding and exciting ways. The staff is in the process of expanding to the second floor of the building on Public Street in Providence.  The increased space will allow Dottie to offer programs and resources to Emmanuel House residents during the day, something they have not been able to do in the past.  “The agencies our residents need to work with and the employers they need to contact are open during the day. We want to provide them phones to call from, computers to complete job applications on, resume support, family support groups and so much more.   Emmanuel House is more than just a bed, 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.”

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.  A former Emmanuel House resident, Brett, 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 and it occupied body and mind – a vital component 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 the 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 Dottie are offering fresh vegetables to local food pantries and parishes. Nothing grows without water – and patience – and time!

In celebration, recognition and support of work being done at the Emmanuel House, the Catholic Foundation Board of Advisors gifted the shelter with the 2018 annual distribution from the Board’s Donor Advised Fund.  


Tribute to A Brother Who Served His God & Country

Normand Peloquin was born and raised in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, the fifth of eight children born to Armand and Marie Louise Peloquin. Armand and Marie Louise had been married in St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Woonsocket and that is where Normand and his siblings received the sacraments, attended Mass and school.

When he was in 10th grade, Normand left Woonsocket High School and started working in the French Worsted Company Mill to help support his family.

Normand was drafted to the United States Army in September 1944, the height of World War II and spent the next thirty years traveling the world in service to our country (World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War).

His potential for leadership and responsibility was recognized early in his Army career. Before he reached the age of 20, within two years of his entry into the service, he was promoted to the grade of master sergeant. By the time he retired in 1973, he had risen to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4.

Raised in a devote Catholic family, Normand remained an active member of the Roman Catholic Church even when the military took him to far corners of the globe. Guided by the principles of grace, charity, and love Normand organized parties for children in various orphanages throughout the world, served as a greeter, usher and collector at army chapels and always found ways to help those in need.

Normand’s service to the Catholic Church continues even after his death. In his will, Normand made a bequest to St. Antoine’s residence where he was grateful to have received such good care at the end of his life. This gift is permanently endowed with the Catholic Foundation.

Normand also left a general gift to the Catholic Foundation. His brother Eugene sister Constance and brother-in-law, Gerard carefully considered which diocesan ministries would best represent Normand’s passions. In addition to Our Lady of Providence Seminary and All Saints Parish, Woonsocket the family directed part of Normand’s gift to the Father Marot CYO Center.

This amazing place was a “home away from home” for Normand’s nephew, Raymond as he was growing up. Raymond was still very involved with the Center when he was tragically killed in a car accident while attending Rhode Island College.

The Normand Peloquin Permanent Endowment Fund is a living tribute to a brother, an uncle, a Catholic who spent his live serving both his God and his Country.

A Hero Remembered


In September 1938, Father Bart J. Buckley, Pastor of St. Anthony Church, Portsmouth, became a hero. With rope tied around his waist, Father Buckley waded into partially submerged homes in the Island Park section of Portsmouth to remove the dead and injured people trapped inside after a devastating hurricane.  He then arranged housing, food, and clothing for the hundreds whose homes had been destroyed.  

The late John Cashman never forgot Father Buckley’s efforts.  John’s family lived in Island Park and his father Thomas Cashman built and owned Cashman Amusement Park. This popular destination boasted the second largest roller coaster in New England, the Bullet. When the Cashman home and business were destroyed in the hurricane, Father Buckley offered assistance. John long cherished and kept the sweater Father gave him from after one of his clothing drives.

In honor and gratitude, years later John Cashman created the Father Bart J. Buckley Scholarship with the Catholic Foundation of Rhode Island. This fund, in pertinent part benefits any member of St. Anthony Parish who enters religious life for the purpose of becoming a priest, a nun or a brother. His wife Dolores remains an active member of the Catholic Foundation.