North Country Family Center in Newport receiving $458,000 to expand programming

By John Hawks, NBC5

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) visited the North Country Union Career Center in Newport Tuesday for the announcement that an additional $458,000 is coming to the North Country Family Center.

It’s part of $38 million in direct congressional spending secured by the federal lawmaker.

“This is clearly one of the most rural parts of the state. It is one of the most low-income parts of the state,” Sanders said. “The needs here are pretty intense. And we think expanding the family center is going to be an opportunity, not only to help kids but to help their families as well.”

The center will be a central hub for coordinated services for 2,700 students and their families. While also providing services to any family living in the towns served by the North Country Supervisory Union, including those experiencing homelessness.

“We have 100 students in our supervisory union that are considered homeless,” Superintendent John Castle, said. “The needs are pretty compelling when you think about the families, they struggle with transportation, they struggle with food security and certainly those things influence our student’s ability to be successful in school.”

A need felt in the local community that this money will try and help.

“We are going to have 4 or 5 vans that we will refer to affectionately as “Bernie Busses” and those buses will be able to bring resources to our outlying communities,” Castle said. “Because we recognize the challenges of sometimes getting from Brighton to Lowell and other outlying communities into Newport.”

The center has been open since the fall of 2021.

“A full kitchen, laundry, washing machine and dryer and all of those things so we can host meals there,” Castle said. “We have a classroom. Those resources can be utilized by families.”

The money will help expand their programs and hire new people to help provide services for families.

“We sit down, we help with those applications, and we have a welcoming space to do that in,” said Lizzy Alexander, family and community outreach liaison for the center. “And it can now grow through this earmark. And we’re really excited about it.”