Blog For The City

While the turkey defrosts…

“It’s not easy working hard and still being poor,” says Ms. Brinkley. “And without Bread for the City, my grand-babies would be hungry on Thanksgiving.”

Despite having a full-time job, by the time she pays her rent and utilities, Ms. Brinkley struggles to feed her family of three.

This is why Bread for the City has Holiday Helpings–and why we need your help in these last 48 hours before Thanksgiving. Please give $10 before it’s too late.

As we turn our attention to family and friends this Thursday, let’s ensure that all of our neighbors have something to celebrate.Holiday Helpings Logo

One week to go until Thanksgiving!

Holiday Helpings LogoOne week to go until Thanksgiving and we are in the thick of things with Holiday Helpings. Can you help Bread for the City reach our goal of distributing 9,500 turkey dinners this holiday season?

Your gift today will go directly to neighbors like Mr. Carson, who works as a security guard but still finds it difficult to afford a turkey dinner for his family. He says, “I went to the supermarket to get a turkey before coming to Bread for the City, but when I added everything up, I just couldn’t afford it. Not without tapping into the rent for December. So I’m glad that Bread for the City is here to help me and my family. I really do appreciate it.”

Time is running out to make your gift of $29 in time for Thanksgiving so that all of our neighbors can share in the joys of the holiday season.

SE Center Crochet Classes still going strong!

On Thursday, October 29, The SE Center had its first ever craft bazaar to showcase the items made by clients in the crochet, sewing, and arts and crafts classes.

These classes are some of the first, truly “client led” classes in the SE Center. Since the beginning the classes have grown tremendously from two or three participants to more than 20 regular participants!

“It’s like a home away from home”, Alice Williams says of the class.Crochet class 1

“Each one teach one”, says Ms. Sylvia Ford-Scott, as she teaches a beginner to make a square for the “crochet quilt”, which consists of granny squares created by participants and sewn together. This is the second “crochet quilt” the first one (see below) was completed in 2012.

It’s exciting to see caring and supportive relationships develop among the women, most of whom were strangers at the beginning of the classes. Many of the them have been making a variety of beautiful things for years and had never had the opportunity to display them.

Many of the women who participated are also members of the Women Strong DC, which is part of Women Strong International. Bread for the City is currently the only organization in the
United States that is part of this international effort to empower women and girls.

The ladies were excited for the chance to show off their creations and are planning to hold another showing before the end of 2015. Stay tuned for information about their upcoming bazaar!

Crochet class 7 Crochet class 6 Crochet class 5Crochet class 2Crochet class 3

We got a new forklift! …er…pallet jack!

Malcolm and his new best friend

Malcolm and his new best friend, Mrs. Pallet Jack.

This past September we asked for your help getting a new forklift for our Food Program. You all responded with gusto, and now our Southeast Center food pantry has a new forklift. Thank you!

Editors Note: I was informed by my food pantry colleagues that, technically, it’s not a forklift but rather a pallet jack. My mistake. I had previously been calling it “the big thing that moves other big things” so forklift was an improvement for me.

This new pallet jack is hard at work hauling food to and from our vehicles, storage unit, and pantries– making it possible for us to feed thousands and thousands of hungry families. In fact, as Holiday Helpings hits its stride, this pallet jack will be a lifesaver as we haul 9500 frozen turkeys and all the trimmings. Whew!

You all are so nice to Bread for the City. Thank you!

We’re On Our Way With 200 Turkeys A Day!

It’s only been one week since Holiday Helpings launched and yet Bread for the City has already distributed well over 1,900 turkey dinners to DC families in need. WOW!

But now is not the time to rest on our laurels. It’s a new day and our Southeast Center food pantry alone will serve 200 families before 5:00pm today.

Charlene has seen us through 25 years of Holiday Helpings!

Charlene has seen us through 25 years of Holiday Helpings!

One of those turkeys (and all the trimmings!) will go to Ms. Jackson who lost her job this summer. Ms. Jackson is busy as a bee looking for work, studying for her GED exam, and participating in our job-readiness program. Says Ms. Jackson, “Thank God for Bread for the City! Without Holiday Helpings, I just wouldn’t be able to purchase a turkey this year. And what’s Thanksgiving without a turkey?!”

We need your help to make the holidays happen for the Jackson Family and 199 other families who will visit our Southeast Center food pantry today. Please give your $29 so that all DC residents, regardless of income, can enjoy a Thanksgiving feast with their loved ones.

Chairman’s Corner – Holiday Helpings

Welcome to Chairman’s Corner”, where our Board Chair, Paul Taskier, will write about a variety of topics that impact Bread for the City and indeed the community and nation at large. We invite you to Read, Enjoy and Share!

What does Thanksgiving mean?

Is it the quintessential American holiday, unaffiliated with any religion that nonetheless expresses thanks for the gifts of life, family and health?

Is it just a hugely lavish meal accompanied by watching football on television?

Is it the sole family holiday that, as its only reason, celebrates the togetherness of family?

Why are Americans so fixated on Thanksgiving? Only a tiny minority are descended from the Pilgrims who began the celebration. The descendants of the Native Americans who welcomed the Pilgrims and joined them in that first meal surely cannot remember it with fondness. Football on television is a relatively recent innovation. The rest of us, children of immigrants at one time or another and in one way or another, have no ancestral claim on Thanksgiving. Why then does it resonate so deeply in the American consciousness? Why is that Thursday in November a sacred day in the American calendar?

Happy FamilyI think it is that America expresses a shining hope for all people, with ideals of liberty, freedom, and human rights that are the envy of most of the world. We need only look at the world around us to see how blessed we have been, even though we know there is much work yet undone. We give thanks for all that we have been given, and we celebrate that giving of thanks with our families and friends.

It is a special day in my family – my mother’s favorite holiday, celebrating for her that she was able to escape the horrors of World War II in Europe and establish a family here, surrounding herself with dear friends and surviving family. Nowadays, we celebrate with my wife’s brothers and their families, with a meal that is over the top in quantity. In fact, it’s just too much, and it’s much too much when we think of the many people who have no Thanksgiving meal at all.

Charlene Blount, Food Program Coordinator at BFC's Southeast Center

Charlene Blount, Food Program Coordinator at BFC’s Southeast Center

That is why Bread for the City started Holiday Helpings back in 1996. It was a modest beginning. I remember receiving the first flyer asking for $26 to feed a family of four with a turkey and all the fixings (vegetables, gravy, stuffing, dessert). The idea was that our clients could have the dignity of a meal in their own homes, instead of standing in line for a plate of turkey and mashed potato at a shelter.

The idea resonated with me. Bread’s clients were (and are) the poorest members of our society, living on food stamps and having an average income of about $7,000 a year. Without special help, without the turkey and fixings that Bread for the City was providing, there would be no Thanksgiving for these families. It struck me as so terribly wrong that the rest of us would go and have huge meals, celebrating with our families, while people in our same city had nothing to eat.

I made it my own cause, and did a drive to raise money. That effort brought me deeply into Bread for the City even though I had done volunteer work well before that. And Holiday Helpings still remains my favorite program at Bread, just because it touches that part of us that gives thanks and recognizes that we are not alone in this world.

The goal for Holiday Helpings in 1996 was to raise enough money to distribute about 800 turkeys to our clients and their families. Nineteen years later our goal is to distribute 9,500 turkeys. But it is no easy task. Donations to Holiday Helpings is what pays for the food we distribute. We can’t do it without our donors and their generosity. A turkey dinner is now $29 for a family of four, because we have become super-efficient in sourcing our foods.

And now, there isn’t just the one food drive with friends and co-workers, there are over a hundred drives at companies and offices around the region. It gives so many an opportunity to show what generosity means, and a hugely concrete way of making a difference, even if only for a day.

Holiday Helpings LogoA few years ago, one of the staff in my office came to me with $29 for Holiday Helpings. I knew that $29 was a lot of money for him, so I asked him why he was donating. His answer touched me deeply. He said that his family was very poor and that the only time he ever had a Thanksgiving is when his mother got a turkey from Bread for the City. So now that he was earning, he wanted to give back and help another family have a Thanksgiving.

That is the power of community, of caring, of seeing yourself in the shoes of another and sacrificing a bit so that others do not do without. Let’s make Thanksgiving a holiday where we can all truly give thanks, for what we’ve been given, what we’ve received, and what we’ve done for our fellow man. Please consider a generous gift to Holiday Helpings. If it’s one meal, five meals, ten meals or a hundred, every gift is gratefully received and put to its best use.

May each of you have a wonderful, happy Thanksgiving, knowing that as you enjoy your family’s meal, you have made a Thanksgiving possible for others far less fortunate.

Paul Taskier cropped







Bread for the City’s Good Hope Awards – 2015

On Thursday, October 22nd, Bread for the City celebrated the contributions of our volunteers at the annual Good Hope Awards! For those who were not able to join us, we wanted to share more about the extraordinary volunteers who were honored this year.

We thank our honorees and all of our volunteers at Bread for the City for their gifts of time and talent!

HONOREE: Terri Acker, Advocacy & Community Engagement Volunteer: Terri Acker continues to be one of the strongest client advocates that we have at Bread. From her leadership on the Client Advisory Council (where she serves as vice-president), to organizing in her community to bring about change, Terri is exactly the sort of strong person we think of when we talk about client leadership here at Bread for the City. She consistently goes above-and-beyond what is asked of her, and does not hesitate to volunteer her time whenever she can–including being one of two clients serving on our Racial Equity Action Planning team, serving as an interviewer for BFC staff positions and facilitating listening sessions that will serve as the foundation of our housing advocacy campaign. – Aja Taylor

Awardee Terri Acker (left) and BFC's Aja Taylor

Awardee Terri Acker (left) and BFC’s Aja Taylor

HONOREE: Cathy Kello, Development & In-Kind Volunteer: Cathy Kello is our fairy godmother of office supplies. Anytime she sees an ad for a sale at an office supply store, she calls me up and asks what we need. Not only does she save us thousands of dollars annually on our own supplies, but she gifts us with dozens of backpacks full of school supplies for us to raffle off to our clients at the beginning of the school year. She considers our needs as an organization, but more importantly, she thinks of the people we serve first and foremost. As a long-time volunteer in our legal clinic, medical clinic, and development department, she’s always looking to lend her support. Every organization should be lucky enough to have a Cathy on their side. – Emily Torruellas

Awardee Cathy Kello (left) and BFC’s Emily Torruellas

HONOREE: Ms. Morgan, SE Social Services Volunteer: Ms. Morgan is a warm spirited individual; her smile will light up the room. She is always willing to help people. She says, “Anything to help, and I will do it.” She is very determined, even when she is in pain, she pushes herself. Her determination is admirable and contagious.

Ms. Morgan has overcome many obstacles in her life. Through hard work, she has achieved many goals and continues to set new ones. I admire her bravery and tenacity. She is very dependable and reliable. Ms. Morgan is a valuable resource to the community and to Bread for the City’s Women Strong DC program. She brings great ideas and is always encouraging new participants to come to Bread for the City. – Melissa Palms

Awardee Ms. Morgan and BFC's Melissa Palms

Awardee Ms. Morgan (right) and BFC’s Melissa Palms

HONOREE: Venable LLP, Legal Clinic Partner: The law firm of Venable LLP, through their commitment to increasing access to justice, helped found Bread for the City’s legal clinic 25 years ago. Venable took a further step this year and launched the Gerry Treanor Pro Bono Fellowship. Bread for the City was honored to be the first host organization for the Venable Pro Bono Fellow. Through this fellowship, a Venable attorney volunteers full-time with our Legal Clinic for a 6-month period. The Venable Pro Bono Fellows have worked alongside our dedicated housing attorneys to assist tenants in protecting their right to safe, affordable housing. Bread for the City is grateful to Venable and the Venable Pro Bono Fellows for their support. – Su Sie Ju

Awardees from the Venable Legal team (left) and BFC's Su Sie Ju

Awardees from the Venable Legal team (left) and BFC’s Su Sie Ju

HONOREE: Gloria Abney & Hilda Dozier, Wellness Volunteers: As part of our medical home, we talk a lot about being healthy. Good health means everything, from good blood pressure to good energy to do the things you want to do – just generally feeling good. We are always looking for new ways to improve the health of our community. And Gloria and Hilda make that happen every Monday at 11 am.

With crochet needles and yarn, a few chairs and a table, people begin to gather. They learn new skills, make new friends, and make amazing hats, scarves, socks, and more. Their welcoming spirit is the driver of this. Around the table you will find men and women, old and young, and many languages spoken. But everyone is busy and smiling and proud of what they have accomplished.

So thank you Gloria and Hilda for bringing your good energy and talents to the Bread community. – Dr. Randi Abramson

Awardees Gloria Abney & Hilda Dozier (left and right) and BFC's Dr. Randi (middle)

Awardees Gloria Abney & Hilda Dozier (left and right) and BFC’s Dr. Randi (middle)

HONOREE: Randolph Greene, SE Food Program Volunteer: Mr. Greene was chosen for the SE Food Program volunteer award because of his hard work and dedication. Mr. Greene has been volunteering in the food pantry for almost five years now, and he’s very consistent. Not only is he a people person, he’s reliable, trustworthy, honest and he gets the job done in a timely manner. We in the SE Food Department are grateful to have Mr. Greene here as a volunteer. – Keith Lemons

Awardee Randolph Green (right) and BFC's Keith Lemons

Awardee Randolph Green (right) and BFC’s Keith Lemons

HONOREE: Andres Urbina, NW Food Pantry Volunteer: Andres is definitely one of the greatest volunteers our food pantry has ever had! He’s such a sweetheart and you can see just how much joy it brings him to be able to give back to the community. We really enjoy Andres’ presence and appreciate his hard work and dedication. I think I speak for everyone when I say we are very fortunate to have Andres volunteering at Bread for the City. – Jennifer Castaneda

Awardee Andres Urbina (left) and BFC's Ms. Jeanette

Awardee Andres Urbina (left) and BFC’s Ms. Jeanette

HONOREE: Henry Maury, NW Social Services Volunteer: Henry Maury started volunteering with Rep Payee in October 2013. At that time, we desperately needed to catch up on an urgent administrative project that had fallen through the cracks. Henry jumped in feet first spending four hours a week crunching numbers and churning out reports to help us not only clear the backlog, but complete the current reports as well. He is reliable, great to talk to and always has a smile on his face. We are grateful for his help and don’t know what we would do without him. – Susanne Horn

Awardee Henry Maury (left) and BFC's Susanne Horn

Awardee Henry Maury (left) and BFC’s Susanne Horn

HONOREE: Regina Jackson, Clothing Program Volunteer: Regina Jackson was chosen for the SE Clothing Room Good Hope Award because of her willingness to help. She shows up to her shifts every week with a wonderful spirit and ready to work. Ms. Jackson has the attributes of a great volunteer and anyone would be excited to have her on their team. – Charity Barr

HONOREE: Perkins Coie, Corporate Partner: We are pleased to recognize Perkins Coie LLP as our Corporate Partner of the Year. With Bread, Inc. Board Member Don Friedman leading the charge, Perkins Coie has grown to be an indispensable supporter of our work and mission. In addition to the firm’s financial contributions through our Corporate Partnerships Program, the staff rallies together each holiday season in support of BFC–during last year’s Holiday Helpings campaign, the staff and attorneys of Perkins Coie raised a whopping $20,000 to help us provide holiday meals for our clients. Additionally, the firm has served as a generous host of BFC’s meetings and events, including our staff holiday party. We’re so grateful to the Perkins Coie team for staying late into the evening so that we could enjoy our celebration. Thank you, Perkins Coie! – Amanda Nover

Perkins Coie legal partners

Perkins Coie legal partners

Our New Eye Doctor is Here!

Hey, look! That's our new eye doctor!

Hey, look! That’s our new eye doctor!

Remember when we asked you to lend your support so that we could hire an eye doctor? Well, you gave and we hired Dr. Choi. Thank you!

Rosan Choi worked at Kaiser for years before learning about Bread for the City and then volunteering here through the Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington.

Since starting a few weeks ago, Dr. Choi has been busy with all the ins and outs of getting a new clinic off the ground. Her goal is to start seeing patients three days a week in November with hopes to grow the clinic from there.

Bread for the City’s medical clinic has experienced exceptional growth over the past few years: We opened a brand new dental clinic, expanded behavioral health services, became a Federally Qualified Health Center, and are now offering vision services for the first time. This growth is only possible because of the generosity of our community– you all are AWESOME!

Check back soon for more updates on Dr. Choi’s work and an invitation for a ribbon cutting. Trust me–this will be a sight to see. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

Dr. Choi with Board Member Michael Blue

Dr. Choi with Board Member Michael Blue

Bread for the City’s Vision Clinic is made possible by a community of donors, including the Aid Association for the Blind of the District of Columbia, The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and CareFirst BlueCross Blue Shield.

This new clinic is possible because of BFC’s 2011 Medical Clinic expansion, which was primarily funded by a generous grant from the District of Columbia Primary Care Association through its Medical Homes DC Capital Projects initiative, which was funded by the DC Government.

Holiday Helpings is Almost Here!

It’s Holiday Helpings season here at Bread for the City, and there’s excitement in the air!

Beginning November 2nd, we will distribute free holiday meals–a turkey, rice, cranberry sauce, vegetables, stuffing and more!–to our clients through our NW and SE Center food pantries.  Why? Because Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a tu6303592326_7f85abcdbd_zrkey!

At Bread for the City, we believe that everyone, regardless of their income or background, deserves to enjoy all the joys of the holiday season. That’s why we’ll distribute over 9,500 free turkey dinners before the end of the year.

You’re probably wondering…how on earth do we make this happen? Good question!

During Holiday Helpings, we put the FUN in fundraising! We call on our friends and neighbors to host their own Holiday Helpings fundraising drives to help sponsor our Holiday Helpings dinners. Last year, nearly 100 groups and individuals throughout DC rallied together to support Bread for the City by organizing their own fundraising drives!  These fundraisers raised over $300,000 to ensure that BFC could distribute healthy holiday to families facing hunger across DC.

Now it’s time to d6303571042_aaaeb770cf_m (1)o it all again!

Organizing a Holiday Helpings fundraising drive in your office, place of worship, or within your social network is a super special way to rally people together to give back this holiday season.  It costs Bread for the City $29 to provide one holiday meal, so it’s easy to make a big impact with your fundraiser. Will you commit to raising $290 so that 10 families can enjoy a holiday meal this year? Visit to get started!

Questions? Contact Amanda Nover at for more information.