Team Banneker Rises to Help Local Mentoring Program

NORTH SMITHFIELD, RHODE ISLAND – After Big Brother Big Sister of Rhode Island’s (BBBSRI) retail partner temporarily closed due to Covid-19 on March 20th, the nonprofit immediately faced an uphill battle. The organization laid off 65% of its employees in March due to cash flow issues resulting in retail closures, but the BBBSRI Donation Center continued to operate its clothing and household item pickups in an effort to prepare for when the organization will be able to rebuild after the pandemic.

“Though we are not seeing revenue right now for these items, we will in the coming months and that revenue is crucial,” said Katje Afonseca, Executive Director of BBBSRI. “Continuing to collect clothing and household items helps to ensure that BBBSRI can recommence its full operations when this pandemic ends. Unfortunately, we cannot afford to rent storage space at this time or to continue to incur expenses related to dumping such as mattress disposal fees because we are not currently being paid by our partner and face significant cash flow issues,” said Afonseca.

BBBSRI put out a request to Rhode Island businesses to donate dry, clean space to help with the storage concerns. “When we received the request, it was a no brainer,” describes Junior Jabbie, President & CEO of Banneker Supply Chain Solutions.  “As a former Big Brother myself several years ago, it was an honor being able to give back to an organization that does so much good for our youth and families – we jumped at the opportunity to help.”

Banneker agreed to lend BBBSRI 2,500 square feet of warehouse space in North Smithfield. “Their Operations Director, Pat Butler, called us right away after hearing that we needed space,” said Afonseca. “Banneker made a special effort to help by shifting around their own warehouse to make space for us. It’s amazing to experience such generosity during a time when everyone is being affected by this. Banneker is going out of their way to help us.”

Joe Cefalo, Banneker’s Director of Sales, reflected on the experience, “As a warehousing and supply chain solutions provider supporting both large and small businesses in New England, we are accustomed to the “bat phone” calls when these businesses need help solving a problem or scaling their business. The only difference this time was there was no talk of prices or terms, just how much space do you need and when do you need it. It’s a good feeling.”

Now that BBBSRI has product in storage, the nonprofit will remove 90% of its bins from the community in order to avoid expenses related to disposing of things like mattresses, damaged furniture, etc. that have been left at many of the charity’s bins. “It’s unfortunate that we need to move these bins, but we have always prided ourselves in the maintenance of our bins,” said Afonseca. “We plan to be here when this pandemic ends and we cannot afford the dumping fees or the possible damage to our brand, so the bins will have to be stored away until this is over.”

To learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island and how to get involved visit
To learn more about Banneker Supply Chain Solutions visit

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