Four people standing in front of boxes of fruits and vegetables.

Business Beat: BankNewport celebrates opening of MLK Center’s new center and food pantry

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its newly renovated facility at 20 Dr. Marcus Wheatland Boulevard in Newport, RI, marking the culmination of 13 months of construction. This significant milestone not only honors the legacy of Dr. King, but also signifies the commencement of the “Great Program Migration,” welcoming back the Center’s diverse and vital programs to their improved and modernized home.

In a testament to community support and collaboration, BankNewport helped play a pivotal role in this transformative journey by awarding a $200,000 grant in 2022 to the MLK Center’s Building Hope Campaign, specifically for their new, state-of-the-art food pantry.

“BankNewport expresses its deep gratitude to the MLK Center staff and volunteers and to those community members who contributed to making the building campaign a reality,” said Jack Murphy, President and CEO, BankNewport. “The renovated Center and its food pantry represent a beacon of hope, nourishment, and support for Newport County residents, embodying the MLK Center’s mission to improve economic, social, and physical well-being.”

BankNewport CEO, Jack Murphy; Dr. MLK Community Center Executive Director, Heather Hole Strout; and BankNewport Senior Vice President/Director of Community Relations and Charitable Giving, Kathleen Charbonneau

The food pantry, a critical component of the MLK Center’s offerings, reopened on January 17, 2024, after moving from a temporary location. It provides non-perishable food, frozen meats, fresh milk, eggs, produce, and bread, in addition to household and personal care items. Thanks to the unwavering dedication of volunteers and staff, the pantry is stocked and serves the community with operating hours on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and Wednesday evenings from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, volunteers assemble grocery orders for delivery to homebound seniors.

Established in 1922 and renamed in 1968 to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the MLK Center has been a cornerstone of support, education, and nourishment for the community. The recent renovations are a continuation of this legacy, ensuring that the center can meet the growing needs of Newport County residents with enhanced facilities and services.

Photo Caption – top – (from left-to-right):
BankNewport Board Member, James Wright; Dr. MLK Community Center Executive Director, Heather Hole Strout; BankNewport President & CEO, Jack Murphy; and BankNewport Chairman of the Board of Directors, Peter Capodilupo.

About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center:

Founded in 1922 and renamed after Dr. King in 1968, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center nourishes, educates, and supports Newport County, Rhode Island residents to improve their economic, social, and physical well-being. Celebrating 100 years of service in 2022, the MLK Community Center builds community by promoting health, fighting hunger, supporting families, educating kids, and engaging seniors. As an independent non-profit, less than 2.5% of the Center’s total public support derives from municipal, state, or federal funding sources. Last year, the MLK helped 6,232 people, the most in its history.

About BankNewport:
Founded in 1819 and headquartered in Newport, BankNewport offers a full suite of loan and deposit products and services for families and businesses throughout Rhode Island. BankNewport is one of the longest-standing community banks in the United States and, as a mutual organization, is committed to the financial success of its customers, employees, and communities. BankNewport has 19 branch locations and a commercial lending office in Providence. OceanPoint Marine Lending, a business line of BankNewport, specializes in consumer marine and recreational vehicle financing programs.

Through its All In Giving program, BankNewport is committed to supporting nonprofits with areas of impact focused on basic human needs, children and families, education, economic security, healthy lives, arts and culture, and the environment. BankNewport has awarded over $9.8 million in grants, sponsorships, and donations over the past ten years to a wide range of nonprofits to help strengthen and enrich lives and communities throughout Rhode Island. Financial education and community service performed by employees totals 10,000 hours annually. For more information, please visit

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