Harriet Ballou Charitable Foundation launches to help support senior-living community

WARWICK – A former longtime local senior living nonprofit that recently ceased operations a couple years ago will have its legacy live on through a newly formed foundation to aid the senior living community moving forward.

The Harriet Ballou Charitable Foundation officially launched Tuesday. The foundation is a philanthropic nonprofit that will support senior populations across Rhode Island via quarterly grants to be distributed based on need.

The foundation is spawned from the former Ballou Home in Woonsocket. Harriett Ballou, along with John A.G. Wightman, Henry Greene, William Preston and Leonard Taylor, established the 43-bed nursing facility in 1900 to help senior citizens with daily needs.

The home, due to difficult economic situations coupled by the COVID-19 pandemic, shuttered in September 2021, and the building was sold in March 2022. However, board members felt the home could still have a positive impact on the community in a different way.

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TIMOTHY D. SACCOIA, executive board member for the Harriett Ballou Charitable Foundation, says the foundation was formed to continue the legacy of the former Ballou Home in Woonsocket, which permanently closed in 2021. / COURTESY TIMOTHY D. SACCOIA
TIMOTHY D. SACCOIA, executive board member for the Harriett Ballou Charitable Foundation, says the foundation was formed to continue the legacy of the former Ballou Home in Woonsocket, which permanently closed in 2021. / COURTESY TIMOTHY D. SACCOIA

Timothy D. Saccoia, an executive board member with the charitable foundation, told Providence Business News that the board agreed to preserve the fund at Ballou Home as much as possible instead of funding ongoing operational losses where long-term sustainability as a nursing facility wasn’t feasible.

“The thought was to turn it into a foundation, which would have a greater reach and ability to impact organizations across the state,” Saccoia said. He also said the foundation will serve as an advocate and be a voice for the senior living community, and “being a champion for their causes.”

Saccoia confirmed that the foundation, which will have its office at 15 Cowesett Road, has established an endowment fund to help provide grants to organizations. From now until the end of the calendar year, the foundation has $300,000 in funding available for organizations to apply for. Moving forward, the organization will distribute at least $300,000 each year, possibly more.

Saccoia says the foundation looks to help fund through grants various programs or initiatives that senior living organizations are looking to do. Also, senior living facilities can apply for grants for any structural needs, such as a new van to transport seniors, he said.

“It has to be tied to a specific initiative and there has to be a project plan around it,” Saccoia said, “how the budget will be and how [the grant] will be spent. We’re pretty open about what we would love to see.”

The foundation’s executive board, led by Nancy K. Saccoia as board president, is the current leadership structure, Timothy Saccoia said. He said “there are talks” within the foundation to hire an executive director to lead the organization, but the organization is not quite at that point yet.

The board will at this time focus on accepting applications from senior living organizations seeking supportive grants. Providence-based public relations agency Regan Communications Group is assisting the foundation with creating outreach and awareness to both potential donors and to the senior community about the organization and its available funding.

Saccoia says the foundation plans to distribute its first grants to organizations by the end of September, and then again in December for the following round. Grant applications can be found on the foundation’s website.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette. The Associated Press contributed to this report.