Newport This Week

this week’s Conversation with Liz Davis



Growing up without parents hasn’t stopped Liz Davis from turning into a caring, community oriented individual. The petite powerhouse is organizing a neighborhood reunion on Aug. 19, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., for those who grew up in Sunset Hill, Tonomy Hill and Park Holm.

She says she is trying to teach children what she didn’t have growing up. For example, instead of yelling at them for smoking or ditching school when she sees them sitting on the walls of Tonomy Hill, she asks, ‘Can I join you?’ Then, she moves to a conversation of appreciation before prodding the child to get to school. Teachers have often asked her, ‘How did you get him to wear a tie?’ as she beams with pride attending a neighborhood child’s graduation ceremony.

Remaining a presence in children’s lives is important to her. Davis said Newport educator Rudy Borgueta did the same for her family. Borgueta visited her home when her son, Dougie, was at Thompson Middle School, complimented her on her housekeeping skills and presented Dougie’s diploma when he graduated from Rogers High School. It made a big impression on her.

In addition to encouraging neighboring teens to success, she volunteers in a program at the Senior Center that supports people who have recently gotten out of jail.

What was the North End like when you moved here in 1973?

It was cool back then, but a lot different. It made me grow up and see things that are real. Things were not fanatisized. I got the real deal.

What brought you to Newport?

I babysat for a couple who brought me up here and helped me until I got a place. I’ve spent my life babysitting in Tonomy Hill. I’ve babysat for the entire neighborhood.

You must know all the kids in the neighborhood.

Yes, over 30 kids have invited me as their guest to their graduation ceremony. The kids around here have a lot of respect for me and I have a lot of respect for them. I want to support them. I got my high school diploma and I’m willing to put my life out there to help them get theirs. I used to drive kids to school. People would ask me, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to be a mother?’ I would respond, ‘I already am.’ I have a son, and a daughter, Michelle.

On Aug. 19, you are hosting the Legacy Now & Then event at Miantonomi Park. How did that come about?

It started as an idea I had with my kids’ godmother, Geraldine Keelen. We wanted to give back to all of the people who have helped us over the years from Tonomy Hill, Sunset Hill and Park Holm. I also want to honor people who died of COVID. Miantonomi Park was what we had during that time and I want people to recognize what they have there.

What is your favorite thing about Miantonomi Park?

The fact that I can go in there. I walk there a lot and enjoy watching the animals. I have participated in cleanups and help set up the farmer’s markets on Mondays.

Who is invited to the Legacy Now & Then event?

All of the neighbors and anyone who used to live here. We want to see people, especially people who’d say, ‘I remember this park.’ We created the event so young ones will appreciate the park.

Is there a committee of people working on the event?

Barbara Winters from the

Housing Hotline is one of the organizers. She has helped to guide me and tell me how to do this. I was in heaven when the City Council granted the event license. Bari Freeman came with me to the council meeting. Phyllis Mulligan has been doing a lot of stuff to pull the event together. I have to give her daps [credit]. Rhonda Mitchell from the Newport Housing Authority, Donna at Housing Hotline and Sydney from HEZ are helping, too. A lot of my friends will jump in that day to help.

What will happen at the event?

There will be games like tug-ofwar and kickball, plus we’ll have hula hoops, markers to make a mural and face-painting. It will be a nice community gathering.

What are you most looking forward to that day?

The smiles and the happiness from the people coming to the park. This event is for everybody, and we want everyone to come with a good attitude. We want to inspire people to do more and be proud of their neighborhood. I want the kids who grow up in the neighborhood to say, ‘We are glad to be here.’

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