Bart Dunbar grew up in harbors and boatyards, sailing and surrounded by water, on The Cape. He served in the Navy, with a stint in Rhode Island, then returned to Newport in the late 60‘s, settled into the community and founded Bowen’s Wharf, the historically grounded commercial center and figurative anchor of Newport.
Living nearby the former home of Child & Family in colonial Newport, the Dunbar’s were familiar with the agency but it was through the company’s support of Child & Family’s Taste of Newport that their commitment began. Each year, Taste of Newport brings tourists and residents together in support of Child & Family services while it expands awareness of the agency’s multifaceted programs.
“Child & Family provides phenomenal services within the community,” says Bart, “and I like to think that Bowen’s Wharf Company is very community oriented. We want to provide an example of what it means to be community leaders.”
On land, Bowen’s Wharf draws tourists, but while travelers come and go, Bart wants his company to be a good neighbor year round. Hosting the winter tree lighting and the Seafood Festival are gifts to the city. “Supporting Child & Family and others who serve here is what it means to be a Newporter. Pulling everyone in from the community is symbolic of why people are proud of our city.”
With broad reaching community involvement, the Dunbar’s see philanthropy as a way of living. The Dunbar’s eldest son, Emmett, and Lisa started Aquidneck Grower’s Market, the first farmer’s market in Newport now with two locations, and the family has been involved in, among other things, Star Kids, headquartered at Child & Family, the Newport Tree Society, the Historical Society, the Martin Luther King Center, and Bart founded Sail Newport.
“Sailing is not just about yacht racing, there are many different aspects of learning from sailing, and there are so many kids growing up here, living around the water, who don’t have that access or opportunity.”
Inspired by this, Bart, the chair of the nonprofit Oliver Hazard Perry organization, connected OHP with Child & Family to provide valuable experiences for kids who otherwise would’t have them. Demonstrating their generosity, at last year’s gala, after donating a weeklong summer adventure aboard the Oliver Hazard Perry, Lisa Lewis bid on and won back this gift which she then donated for the benefit of a young foster child living in one of Child & Family’s group homes.
On and around Aquidneck Island, stretching over bridges and into the surrounding harbors, the Dunbar’s believe in giving back to their community setting the example for those around them and their two daughters and three sons. Living in Newport just over twenty years, Lisa states it perfectly, “It’s about place-making.”