PROVIDENCE — Bishop Thomas J. Tobin has appointed Linda A’Vant-Deishinni to serve as director of the diocese’s St. Martin de Porres Senior Center, following the retirement of the former director, Esther Price.
Bishop Tobin noted that A’Vant-Deishinni’s professional training, experience and demonstrated commitment to the ministry of Christ and His Church made her an outstanding candidate to lead the vital ministry.
“The St. Martin de Porres Senior Center is a very important ministry of the Diocese of Providence as it serves the needs of so many of our seniors in the city, and I know that its outstanding work will continue under your wise and faithful leadership,” Bishop Tobin noted in his appointment letter.
A’Vant-Deishinni, has worked for the Diocese of Providence for the past nine years, where she served as outreach coordinator for the Office of Catholic Social Services. In this capacity she has coordinated and provided outreach for a number of outreach programs, including the Friendly Visitor Program, Senior Companion and Respite “CareBreaks” and the Lifespan Respite Student Nursing Program.
“Seniors are looking for socialization, even if it’s for only one day a week and they can share a hot meal with others,” A’Vant-Deishinni says of the important need to provide consistent programming for the aging members of the population.
In addition to providing opportunities for socialization through bingo games and shared hot lunches provided by Meals on Wheels, the St. Martin de Porres Senior Center also offers exercise classes, health screenings and even entertainment, such as a recent concert provided by the Providence Civic Orchestra of Senior Citizens.
For A’Vant-Deishinni, who graduated from the University of Rhode Island, where she majored in English, and has also done graduate work in public administration and history, being chosen to lead St. Martin de Porres is bringing her life full circle.
“It was like Our Lord was praying for me,” she said, joyed at now leading an organization that her family had supported when she was a child, despite their own meager means.
In moving into her office at the center she chose to hang a photo of the center’s founder, the late Father Anthony Robinson, on the wall near her desk.
“Poverty so inspired the work he was doing, and my parents would bring clothes up here that could be used to help others,” she said.
She and her husband, artist Munir Deishinni Mohammed, have two grown daughters, Katia and Kimiko.
In the fall of 2016, she became a master trainer for Powerful Tools for Caregivers. She is also an active member of numerous committees that benefit seniors and caregiver in the state, including the Division of Elderly Affairs Home and Community Care Advisory Committee, the Caregiver Alliance of Rhode Island, Senior Agenda and the Congressional Senior Advisory Council.