Councilwoman Kerwin Honors Local Activist
City Council Honors the Legacy of Community Activist Mary C. Jones with Commemorative Street Renaming
City Councilwoman Katherine (Kat) Kerwin, (Ward 12) hosted a ceremony on Friday for the commemorative street renaming of Candace Street in honor of the legacy of the late community activist Mary C. Jones. This event was hosted at the Smith Hill Library where Mary C. Jones worked for over forty years. Two commemorative signs were placed, with one at the corner of Candace Street and Orms Street; and another at the corner of Candace Street and Chalkstone Ave.
“I am humbled to memorialize the life of Mary C. Jones with this commemorative street renaming,” stated City Councilwoman Kat Kerwin. “Mary was committed to the Smith Hill community. She labored tirelessly to keep our libraries open after funds were cut and she helped residents obtain access to affordable health care and better housing opportunities through her work with the Smith Hill CDC and the Neighborhood Health Center. Her story is integral to understanding how important it is for organizations to form partnerships by engaging and understanding the needs of residents.”
The Providence City Council partnered with the Smith Hill Library; the Brown Arts Initiative; the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage; and the Feinstein Institute for Public Service to present, “Smith Hill: Past, Present, Future.” Today’s Dedication included remarks from the family of Mary C. Jones, Althea Graves, President of the Friends of Smith Hill, Councilwoman Kat Kerwin and former Ward 12 Councilman Terrence M. Hassett.
“Mary C. Jones was not only my friend, but she was a fierce advocate and kept me on my toes for years,” stated former Ward 12 Councilman Terrence M. Hassett. “For a whole generation, when they think of the Smith Hill Community, they think of her, and that’s a legacy that not everyone gets to leave behind. I’m honored and humbled that one of my last acts as a Councilor for Ward 12 is to honor Ms. Jones in this special way. She meant a great deal to me, and I’m so glad that we can celebrate her lasting legacy.”
During Mary’s forty years with the Smith Hill library, she developed programs based on cultural awareness, education and health issues; for the advancement of marginalized groups and people of color. Many of her programs still run today such as the “Keep Our Families Warm Campaign” (KOFWC) and the “Children’s Christmas Party” (CCP). The annual KOFWC ensures that residents in need get warm clothes for the winter season and every child who attends the Children’s Christmas Party gets food, a free toy and a day full of fun.
During her career, Mary served on numerous boards, committees, and commissions throughout the city and state. Notably, she was a member of the Neighborhood Health Center Board for over thirty-five years. She traveled all around the country advocating for safe, comprehensive, affordable health care from infancy to senior care. She was also one of the founders of the Smith Hill CDC, serving on their board for close to twenty years. This organization is still helping people realize their dreams of home ownership today. She was also one of the co-founders of the Capitol Hill Interaction Council (CHIC) which worked with landlords and tenants to repair buildings, help residents connect with social agencies, and help locals find employment opportunities.
Miss Jones is survived by her sister Bessie Jones, her children Althea Graves, Anita Jones, Angela Jones, Aaron Jones, a host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and extended family across the United States.