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Highlights From Jack Panayotou's Rhode Island FC Debut

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Highlights From Jack Panayotou's Rhode Island FC Debut


Photo Courtesy of J. Alexander Dolan

19-year-old Jack Panayotou looked comfortable in his Rhode Island FC debut.

On Friday, it was announced that Panayotou would join RIFC on loan from the New England Revolution. One day later, the midfielder contributed an 81-minute performance in a 2-2 draw against the undefeated Sacramento Republic.

The midfielder was dynamic, showing an ability to advance the ball up the field. He also displayed his set-piece prowess as he was responsible for six corners.

His best service came in the 42nd minute when his cross found the head of Karifa Yao to give the home side a 2-1 lead.

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Panayotou had 36 touches, created four chances (the most in the game), and completed 16 of 20 passes. He was 2/3 on successful dribbles, 4/8 on successful crosses, and 4/6 on ground duels. He was also fouled twice.

Head coach Khano Smith praised Panayotou after the game.

“He’s clever,” Smith said. “He’s a smart player. He’s intelligent. He picks up good positions. He knows how to find space. Sometimes in a game where everybody is moving around, just stand still. He knows how to do that really well. He just knows how to arrive into open space when it’s available.

“He’s aware and he’s clever. Technically very good. You saw an improvement on our set pieces. The goal came from a set piece from his service. He just adds that extra little bit of quality.

“He’s an MLS player. He was in a position at that club where they had other quality players, so he’s finding playing time here. So we’re happy to have him.”

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Panayotou signed a first-team contract with the Revolution on Jan. 10, 2023.

The Homegrown has since made 12 MLS appearances, including two starts. With the second team, he has 10 goals and four assists in 26 appearances (19 starts).

Smith noted that he’s been keeping an eye on Panayotou.

“We’ve been missing a player that can do the things that he does, so we’ve been tracking him,” Smith said. “Some of our staff has worked with him in the Revs Academy before so we know his qualities as a player and as a person.

“We want to help his development. It’s ultimately about helping him too.

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“But he probably feels and they probably feel that he’s probably exceeded or mastered the Next Pro level, so to speak, so he needs something a little bit more and that’s playing against men. That’s playing against grown men. A lot of times in MLS Next Pro games, you’re playing against kids. For Jack’s development to keep going, he needs to play against men.”



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Rhode Island

For Haitians who built a community in Rhode Island, dreams of returning home fade – The Boston Globe

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For Haitians who built a community in Rhode Island, dreams of returning home fade – The Boston Globe


Rhode Island has seen an increase in the number of Haitians arriving under the federal humanitarian parole program. About 1,200 Haitians have come to Rhode Island in the past two years. For migrants like Nerlande looking to restart their lives, refugee relief organizations – and their leaders – are a lifeline.

The young family entered the United States from Mexico in 2021. When they arrived, they first connected with family in Boston, later coming to Providence, where Elmwood Avenue Church of God’s refugee relief program, on Providence’s South Side, has been a godsend. The predominantly Haitian congregation of nearly 400 worshipers provides aid to 600 Haitian migrants, helping to meet their basic needs.

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Moise Bourdeau is the founder and chief operations officer of the church’s refugee relief program. He and his team of five work with community organizations to assist newcomers in accessing local resources for health care, education, transportation, food, shelter, clothing, and legal assistance.

“Assessment is given to all new arrivals to see if they have any other needs such as [English as a second language] classes, in order to orient them in the right direction,” Bourdeau said.

The program receives funding primarily from the West Bay Community Action, along with one-time contributions from the Rhode Island Foundation, United Way of Rhode Island, and Bank Newport.

The Elmwood Avenue Church of God on Providence’s South Side is a vital lifeline for the 600 migrants who receive aid through its refugee relief program. Moise Bourdeau

What many newcomers need, most of all, is to find a job.

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In Haiti, Nerlande worked as a nurse. Here in Rhode Island, through support from Bourdeau and his team, she’s now working as a certified nursing assistant.

“I feel accepted at work,” she said.

And after seeing a specialist at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Nerlande’s daughter is catching up on her developmental milestones. “She now walks, and talks, and runs,” Nerlande said.

Another refugee relief program client, Darline, 34, came to the United States last year. She also worked as a nurse in Haiti, and since she arrived, has completed CNA training.

Even amid Rhode Island’s shortage of nurses and other health care workers, Bourdeau said processing time for work authorization can take about two months, and for more complex cases, up to a year.

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Both women are studying English to prepare to take the nursing exam. They said work and school has been a positive experience.

Moise Bourdeau is the founder and chief operations officer of Elmwood Avenue Church of God Haitian Refugee Relief Program. Moise Bourdeau

“We are fighting on behalf of these Haitian professionals to ensure they find decent jobs and eventually get back to the career they had back home,” Bourdeau said.

“These folks will be paying their taxes” and buying locally, he said.

According to the US Census, about 5,000 Haitians lived in Rhode Island in 2020. That figure has since risen to between 6,000 and 8,000, estimates Baha Sadr, refugee coordinator at the state Office of Refugee Resettlement in Rhode Island.

Sadr attributes the increase to the Biden administration’s 2023 humanitarian parole program. Under the law, Haitians qualify for a two-year temporary protected status provided they pass background checks and have a sponsor, such as a family member in the United States who offers financial support for the duration of their parole, which is given for urgent humanitarian reasons.

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Haitians can petition for parole status before arrival by plane, as Darline did. Although now flights in and out of Haiti are very limited. Others, like Nerlande, travel over land and request asylum at the southern US border, awaiting an immigration court appointment. Since 2023, to control the flow of crossings, migrants seeking entry into the United States are required to schedule an appointment while they are still in Mexico, using a mobile app.

The parole program, which allows those from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to enter on humanitarian grounds, was upheld in March by a federal judge. Since the policy began in 2023, approximately 138,000 Haitians have entered the United States.

For Haitians, that protected status is set to expire in August, while some members of Congress are trying to extend it. Sixty-six members of Congress, including US Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Congressman Gabe Amo, have signed a letter asking the Biden administration for the redesignation due to the ongoing crisis in Haiti. While US Representative Seth Magaziner did not sign the letter, he also supports the extension.

Haitians arriving in Rhode Island through the parole program are eligible for federally funded resettlement assistance, Sadr said, including refugee cash assistance, supplemental nutrition assistance, and Medicaid.

Even with assistance, making a new start is challenging, especially when family in Haiti remains a concern. With unrelenting gang violence, starvation, no stable government and an economy in chaos, Haitians here fear for the safety of loved ones there. And they face the growing possibility of never being able to return.

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“Many of our Haitian diaspora clients who built their lives in Haiti – including my parents – were looking to retire back home,” said Elmwood Avenue Church of God’s Bourdeau. But “their houses, including my parents’, were seized by gang members.”

Darline, whose family is still in Haiti, is concerned about their safety and financial security. Because of gang violence, they are forced to stay indoors.

“They can’t go out. They can’t go to school. They can’t go to work,” said Darline, who didn’t want to give her last name for this story.

Amid the spiraling violence, Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigned last month, paving the way for a transitional council and the formation of a new government. Henry had served as acting president since President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July 2021, which plunged Haiti into crisis, and compelled some to flee.

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English instructor and community organizer Anne Jean Philippe teaches the verb “to be” during an ESL class at New Bridges for Haitian Success, a Providence nonprofit that provides Haitian and Afro-Caribbean communities in Rhode Island with employment training, English language classes, and housing and health care case management.Bernard Georges

Bernard Georges, founder and executive director of New Bridges for Haitian Success in Providence, increasingly receives calls for help from beyond Rhode Island, he said. His organization provides newcomers with employment training, English language classes, and housing and health care case management, and while he does what he can to help Haitians in neighboring Massachusetts, his focus is on migrants in Rhode Island.

He described the distress his clients face, with many making desperate calls home.

“People are experiencing trauma,” Georges said. “They see on TV streets filled with screaming people searching for loved ones.” It’s reminiscent of and compounded by the enduring effects of the devastating earthquake in 2010, Georges said, which killed hundreds of thousands of people and triggered a humanitarian crisis.

Georges came to Rhode Island in 2000 at age 16, joining his father, who had fled Haiti years before due to threats to his life during the dictatorship of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc’’ Duvalier. That corrupt regime, and that of Duvalier’s father before him, medical doctor-turned-dictator Francois ‘’Papa Doc’’ Duvalier, tortured and killed political opponents.

Georges’ and his father’s experiences coming to Rhode Island fuel his commitment to supporting new arrivals as they navigate cultural and language challenges, and led him to establish New Bridges in 2013.

Supported by federal funding and grants from the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, the City of Providence, and the Rhode Island Department of Education, as well as the Champlin and Papitto foundations, New Bridges plays a vital role in aiding the Haitian community here.

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Georges hopes to return to Haiti some day.

He emphasized that it’s time for the Haitian diaspora to reform Haiti’s political, criminal justice and education systems, but stressed that negotiations must exclude those responsible for the current situation.

“My body is here, but my heart is in Haiti. If I go back, I want to be a part of the solution.”

Material from prior Globe and wire stories was used in this report.





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Free “Hop-On Hop-Off” RIPTA Service Returns to Newport This Summer – Newport Buzz

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Free “Hop-On Hop-Off” RIPTA Service Returns to Newport This Summer – Newport Buzz


As the summer season approaches, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) has announced the revival of its popular free “Hop-On Hop-Off” bus service in Newport, set to commence on Friday, May 24, 2024.

Funded by Discover Newport and the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, this complimentary service aims to facilitate transportation around Newport, catering to tourist destinations and beaches alike. Commencing from May 24th, the service will operate until October 31st, 2024, offering free rides on Route 67 (Bellevue/Salve Regina Univ.) and Route 68 (CCRI/Memorial Blvd./First Beach).

“We’re thrilled to bring back free ‘Hop-On Hop-Off’ seasonal service to Newport, offering a convenient and eco-friendly way for visitors and residents to explore this beautiful city,” stated Christopher Durand, RIPTA’s interim Chief Executive Officer. “This initiative not only helps reduce traffic congestion during the busy tourist season but also supports our commitment to sustainability.”

Passengers can avail themselves of this service at designated RIPTA bus stops along Routes 67 and 68, allowing them to hop on and off at their convenience. Route 67 provides access to prominent tourist attractions like the Newport Mansions, Cliff Walk, Audrain Automobile Museum, and the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, Route 68 facilitates travel to local beaches and the Cliff Walk.

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“Given the success of the FREE trolley over the last two years, Discover Newport, in partnership with RIPTA, is pleased to once again support the Route #67 trolley,” remarked Evan Smith, President and CEO of Discover Newport.

Mayor Xaykham (Xay) Khamsyvoravong of Newport expressed his support for the initiative, highlighting its significance in improving traffic, mobility, and equity within the city.

“The Hop-On Hop-Off program allows people to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation without clogging our streets and filling our air with pollutants,” commented Bishop W. Nicholas Knisely of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island. “It also makes the beach safely accessible to residents of Newport’s North End, who otherwise might not be able to reach it.”

Schedules for the “Hop-On Hop-Off” service will be available on RIPTA’s website and at the Newport Visitor Information Center. For further inquiries, individuals can visit RIPTA.com/Newport or contact 401-784-9500 x2012.

 

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RI’s first head of the Cannabis Office has been tapped. Here’s what we know about her.

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RI’s first head of the Cannabis Office has been tapped. Here’s what we know about her.


Michelle A. Reddish has been tapped to be the first administrator of the Rhode Island Cannabis Office.

“Michelle’s significant expertise in regulatory compliance, development, and technological advancement position her to hit the ground running on day one,” said Governor Dan McKee in a news release. “I’m confident Michelle will effectively continue Rhode Island’s commitment to promoting the safe usage and responsible regulation of cannabis in our state.”

Kim Ahern, Chair of the Cannabis Control Commission, said of Reddish: “Her regulatory and industry experience will help ensure our Commission continues its thoughtful and thorough progress as we carefully expand the adult-use market in Rhode Island.

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More: How are recreational pot sales in RI a year after legalization? What the numbers show.

What does the administrator do?

The administrator coordinates the oversight and administration of cannabis use in Rhode Island, per state statute.

The position reports to the Cannabis Control Commission, which controls regulation, licensing, and enforcement requirements for cannabis establishments in Rhode Island, as well as policy for both adult use and medical cannabis.

Who is Michelle Reddish?

According to the news release, Reddish is the Chief Operating Officer at the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, which oversees Oklahoma’s medical cannabis industry.

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She previously was the Chief Regulatory Officer at that same agency. In both positions, she focused on streamlining internal services, records retention and compliance.

Of the appointment, Reddish said: “I’m thrilled to move to beautiful Rhode Island with my children and step into the role of inaugural administrator. “I am eager to build strong partnerships across the state in support of safe and equitable access to cannabis. I sincerely thank Governor McKee and the Cannabis Control Commission for their trust and recommendation.”

What comes next?

Like many similar positions, Reddish’s appointment must go through the Senate for confirmation.

The news release said McKee has already submitted her name to the Senate for consideration.



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