How it all began...
God Provides Ministries International Inc (GPMI Inc) was officially formed in 2017 and is the product of a childhood dream that Joseph had while growing up in Kenya. Unofficially GPMI existed for a few years before formerly structured as a non-profit organization and registered with the state of Connecticut. With Joseph as its President and CEO, GPMI Inc has 4 incorporators and 9 board of directors.
While growing up near Lake Victoria in the Western part of Kenya, Joseph had a 'revelation' of a 'great' responsibility in life before he would die but never knew what, how and when that would materialize. In search of this responsibility which he was so assured of deep within him, Joseph never had a settled life but had the dream haunting him. Through his life he asked himself "what is it?". Could it be the richest person in the world for years, could it be a Nobel prize winner in medicine, could it be running for an office and become president, could it be running the largest company or business in the world? The answer was always "no".
While studying for a diploma in clinical medicine and minor surgery in Kenya, Joseph would use the little money that his parents gave him for personal use to buy bread for the homeless kids in the streets of Kisumu-Kenya. Joseph desired to replicate this in other major cities across Kenya with a plan to find a better way of life for these kids most of whom were orphans or from dysfunctional families. This did not happen as Joseph moved to the USA in November 2001.
From 2008-2013 Joseph experienced what he describes as a deep spiritual encounter or enlightenment from which he believed he found the purpose for his existence and direction in life. "Life is not about this life, life is deep, mysterious and greatly spiritual", he says. He believed he found what the childhood "great responsibility" dream was and that it is spiritual- it is God thing. Nothing is greater than leading a soul to salvation! Joseph was ready to be used by God.
Through an already existing outreach program at the Waterbury Seventh Day Adventist Church which he attended and where he is an elder, the missionary ministry was born. A few church members would go once a month to serve dinner at the near by largest homeless shelter, St Vincent DePaul Homeless Shelter. In 2015 Joseph and a few others decided to pick up and bring the shelter's residents to the church for breakfast, service and lunch every Saturday. Realizing that some of the visitors did not have good shoes and or clothing an area was then designated in the church's lower level to store donated items to help the individuals in need. Soon some of them who got blessed with housing would ask for help to furnish the apartments. Joseph then started driving around in his Dodge SUV to pick up used but reusable items left by the street for garbage collection. At first he stored a dinning table with four chairs and a small TV in a friend's house, then he began to rent storage units across the city, first with 5x10 ft unit then two 10x20 ft units, then God answered his prayer for a larger space after word had gone out and people began to rapidly donate items. In late February 2017 he was blessed with a 12,000 square feet space at only $300/month.
Many homes of the formerly homeless would be fully furnished at no cost to them, clothes and shoes, toys, books and other items also provided. Word spread so that it would not only be the homeless but others in need. The missionary work expanded so that it would include food. Joseph would help with food Pantry and would provide groceries every other week to the formerly homeless yet still transitioning. Sandwiches would be made by volunteers. At times up to 200 sandwiches every week that he would personally hand out at a local hospitality center and on the streets and in the tent cities. Every Friday at 1pm Joseph would stop at the hospitality center and offer prayers and words of encouragement and also assist with directing to resource that would be helpful to the individuals. Every Wednesday he would drive around the city to pick up formerly homeless and currently homeless and bring them to church for Bible studies, then offer a meal and then would drive them back. Believing that God had led him to a life of sacrifice and self-denial, Joseph would run the missionary work in the day and work at his regular job in the ER at Waterbury Hospital in the night. "Life is not about me, I do not live for me but for others", he would say. Joseph uses the scriptures to drive his faith and as a motivation. Galatians 6:2 "Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ" and Mathew 25:31-46.
Why the name God Provides Ministries International?
Joseph has a deep conviction that there is a true and living God who created all things and for and from whom are all things. One time on a Friday, a lady asked for a washer and a dryer and the following day Joseph received a text message from a friend saying he had a washer and a dryer and asked him if he knew anybody who could use them. Another time another had asked him for a mattress and while driving a round Joseph saw one at someone's yard as though was to be disposed. Efforts to try reach the home occupants or landlord before it began to rain that evening were fruitless and Joseph only prayed. the following day he got a call from Wyndham Hotel, in Southbury CT who were getting rid of all their mattresses to bring in new ones. Joseph rented a U-Haul box truck and picked up at least 40 mattresses of different sizes. Another specifically desired to have a sectional couch, in the morning they asked and in the afternoon, Joseph received a call from a co-worker who wanted to donate a sectional couch. Story after story and he believed it was more than a coincidence...God was at work.
The goal of our organization is not just to provide physical needs but the Salvation of the souls. The food, the clothing, the furniture and all the blessings only act as points of contact and to build relationships as we endeavor to demonstrate and share the love of Christ culminating in the Salvation of the souls. GPMI partners with others to achieve this and we look forward to have you on board as well, to do this locally and abroad, it is God's work and He has called us and He is Faithfull, He will do it through us. Jesus is coming soon!
Founder, President and CEO
Board of Directors
Renee Young - Treasurer
A native of Waterbury, Renee Young enjoys worshipping at the Rock of Ages Christian Church where she serves as an evangelist, and raising her two children with husband Charles. Renee has a passion for working with people, which is demonstrated in her involvement with outreach ministry, as well as in her professional life. Renee has spent the past 8 years working for the United Way of Greater Waterbury, where she now works as the Community Impact Manager.
In this role Renee assists in coordinating and administering processes related to fund distribution and community initiatives, in addition to coordinating volunteer engagement opportunities for community and corporate partners. Prior to this Renee spent 12 years working for Saint Mary’s Health System. In her role as Manager, Occupational Health and Naugatuck Medical Walk-in Center, Renee was responsible for the day to day operational oversight for both locations, in addition to marketing occupational health services to small and large businesses within the Greater Waterbury community. Renee is hoping to utilize her professional experience and skills, along with her passion for working with people to benefit God Provides Ministries International, Inc.
Gia M. Lawe - Board Member
Gia Lawe hails from sunny south Florida, loves New England and has dedicated her life to serving God by empowering others. Currently she is a semi-retired Education Administrator, consultant and Chaplain. She loves to sing and finds solace in helping others.
It has been an aspiration of hers, for more than two decades, to begin a mission school and church in Haiti. "The thought of being an instrumental part of helping those less fortunate, educating children and families in the way of God, academically and socially is more than amazing!" This dream is being realized. As a member of GPMI it is her endeavor to be a contributor of resources, assistance and prayers for the success and vision of this organization.
Bob LaBonne Jr - Vice President
I was born in Waterbury CT and moved to Watertown in the second grade. I now live in Morris CT with my wife Shelley of 30 years and she is a registered nurse at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital. We have 3 children ages 28-22. I’m the President and CEO of LaBonne’s Markets. We have three supermarkets in Watertown, Woodbury and Salisbury. I started working when I was 8 years old in the family business when we had only one very small market in Watertown CT with my father and grandfather. I am a fifth-generation meat cutter in my family. My great, great grandfather sold meat out of his horse and buggy around 1900.
I have served on many non-profits boards over the last 30 years and through our company’s Annual Golf Tournament we have supported our local food banks with over $350,000 of food. We have also contributed to hundreds of other community organizations, churches, charities and non-profits in our surrounding area.
Part of my personal Mission Statement is: “I enjoy giving back and helping others, to make the world a better place; even if only, one person at a time.” I‘m looking forward to helping those less fortunate in our communities and to enhance the GPMI goals and objectives with my fellow board members and volunteers as we work further our GPMI Vision.
Sofia Ricciardi-Swaby - Board Member
Sofia Ricciardi-Swaby was born and raised in Waterbury and now raises her children in this community. Sofia graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with her Bachelors in Psychology. Sofia was very involved in her family’s restaurant business until she decided to follow her passion for helping people. Sofia graduated from Post University with her Masters in Human Services and has been giving back to her community since then. She was the assistant program coordinator at St. Vincent DePaul Mission of Waterbury for three years when she took on the position of Shelter Director for two and a half years. In May, Sofia became the Director of Social Services for The Salvation Army in Waterbury. Sofia works directly with the majority of the nonprofits who service the Waterbury community to assist in creating a better life for the under privileged, those struggling from a disability and/or the homeless population.
Sofia is committed to being a key player in establishing the future of “God Provides Ministries International, Inc. to continue her work within the Waterbury community. Sofia lives in Waterbury with her husband Keith and their two children Grace & Keith Jr. She assists her husband in his commercial & residential plumbing business, Hope Plumbing Ct. Sofia is very religious and heavily involved in her church community, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. Sofia wears many different hats, but they all involve helping people become the best possible people they can be. She knows God has great plans for her and cannot wait to see what the future holds.
Delroy Paisley - Board Member
Delroy Paisley, born on the beautiful island of Jamaica, is a long standing Elder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and is currently serving in this same capacity in Waterbury, CT. Married to the lovely Audrey Paisley and together share four sons and one granddaughter.
As a tradesman, he serves the Atlantic Union College of Seventh-day Adventist in South Lancaster, MA. For more than a year, it has been his passion to assist in helping others. It thrills his soul to offer a kind word, deed and lend a helping hand. He takes great delight in ensuring those less fortunate are equipped with the necessities that are so desperately needed. It is his utmost desire, and with fervent prayer, to see those who are struggling with substance abuse and other practices realize better living. Through the power of God, they can overcome every obstacle and be free from the clutches of sin.
He has chosen to be a part of the God Provides Ministries International, Inc. because it is an organization that seeks to advance God’s cause and to improve the lives of people. As an active member of GPMI, Inc. he is confident that he will make a difference in this community, and hence, the world a better place.