Some of our Awesome Volunteer Partners

Last week, Bread for the City welcomed in some amazing volunteers to help with our Holiday Helpings campaign. Among them were the enthusiastic students from Center City Public Charter School – Brightwood Campus, MCN Build, Navigant Consulting and Clark Construction.

At BFC, our volunteers and donors are the ones that make it possible to do what we do. We are most appreciative of your help and support!

Navigant Staff

Navigant Consulting staff

Clark Construction Staff

Clark Construction staff

MCN Build staff

MCN Build staff












Center City Brightwood

Center City Charter School students

It’s not too late to donate to our Holiday Helpings campaign! Our goal is to feed 9,000 low-income families in Washington, DC this holiday season, and just $58 provides a complete holiday meal for TWO families! Please consider joining our superb volunteers in their support. Donate here:

Sewing Classes at Bread for City!

Did you know there are sewing classes at Bread for the City?  Every Tuesday at 10:30 AM a group of seamstresses (and seamsters) gathers at our NW center to share ideas and inspiration for everything needle-and-thread related.Sewing photo 4

Lead by longtime volunteer and 2014 Good Hope Award Winner June Wilson, the class is informative, fun, and lately, packed! All skill levels are welcome – some have never sewn before, some are eager to brush up on rusty skills, while others want to share their knowledge with their peers. “I can sew by using a pattern, but if I don’t have a pattern I can improvise as well,” says Hilda Dozier.

At Bread for the City we recognize that fostering wellness isn’t just about making sure people have things like food and medicine, but addressing all the needs of a complete human life. Are people creatively satisfied? Do they have a time and space for socializing and camaraderie? Events like sewing class let people explore these options for enriching their lives.

Sewing photo 2People sew for all kinds of reasons – for practical need, creative expression, and fun! But sharing your sewing knowledge with others is a way to share your whole life, as well. These skills come to us often from older generations. As Hilda Dozier can recall about her childhood, “…My brother was able to fit my father’s pants, but they had to be hemmed at the bottom. Once my mother would hem the bottom of the pants, I’d ask her for the materials and use it to make clothes for my Barbies- and the rest is history!”

Sewing is a great way to make new things out of old, which is not only good for your wallet, but for the environment as well. “I use items like pants, shirts or so on and fold them in half to make my own”, says Hilda. Sewing is also proving to be a popular class- just this last week there were four new members and the conference room was packed with enthusiastic craftspeople of all genders. Exciting though this is, it also means that the materials needed (fabric, thread, pins, needles, and machines) are stretching thin. Please visit our “Wishlist” if you would like to help out with a donation! photo 1

Don’t believe us about the value of this class for our clients? Hear Carolyn Wright tell it in her own words -“Last year, I came to Bread for the City for something else, and I seen the sign about a sewing class. All I want to do is to make stuff and do something with my hands. Thanks to Ms . June W. I learn how to make bags, pajamas, aprons, blouses shorts and now I’m quilting by hand, not by sewing machine. Ms. June W. also taught me how to crochet a throw blanket, cow neck scarfs, and dishcloths. And don’t want to forget about the SE crew at Bread for the City! I like to thank them too, and the fellowship we have with one another. Thank you Bread for the City for having this for people.”

Good Hope Awards Honorees!

Every fall, Bread for the City honors the engine that keeps our organization running: our incredible volunteers! This week, we’re learning more about the honorees of our 2014 Good Hope Awards, which took place on October 23rd. Drum roll, please…

AWARD: Housing Access Program Volunteer

HONOREE: Carolyn Peery

ACCOLADES:  Carolyn provides valuable support in the sometimes-chaotic environment of our Housing Access Program. She excels as a volunteer because she has a very caring personality and easily builds rapport with clients. Even in difficult situations, she comes from a place of understanding and she does not judge. She is dedicated, compassionate, and is always willing to stay until the job is done. When Carolyn is not assisting clients in the Housing Access Program, you can also find her helping out in our food pantry. It is clear that she enjoys the work she does with us, and we appreciate her even more!

Carolyn Peery 3 (2)

AWARD: Medical Volunteer

VOLUNTEER: June Wilson

ACCOLADES: June is a wonderful addition to our medical volunteer team!  As the instructor of our sewing class, she has been sharing new skills and offering a therapeutic learning environment to class participants. With June’s assistance we have been able to broaden the services of our “medical home” environment. Through her sewing class, June has developed relationships with a core group of patient students who enjoy the collaborative and creative process of sewing. We thank June for sharing her skills and passion with Bread for the City and helping us expand our services!

Sewing Class (2)

AWARD: Sustainable Agriculture Volunteer

HONOREE: Marline Coughman

ACCOLADES:  Over the course of each season in the Sustainable Ag Program, we have the opportunity to work with hundreds of volunteers and community members–but seldom do we have the opportunity to work with people from the beginning to the end of the season! Marline Coughman has been one of those volunteers who could always be counted on to enthusiastically attend events, rain or shine, with a positive attitude and unstoppable curiosity. The whole team appreciates her contributions to the SE Garden, to the Client Retreat and our Crop Mobs. We are thankful for Marline’s cooperative spirit and all she has given to the Sustainable Agriculture Program!Marline Coughman (2)

AWARD: Legal Partner


ACCOLADES:  DLA Piper has been involved with Bread for the City’s Kenilworth-Parkside Legal Clinic project for the past two years as the financial sponsor of our Equal Justice Works Fellow, Taylor Healy. The clinic, part of Bread’s Community Lawyering Project, provides legal services to people living in the DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative footprint in Ward 7. This neighborhood is part of the Department of Education’s national Promise Neighborhood pilot project that aims to develop a “cradle to college” continuum of services to improve the outcomes of children and families.

DLA Piper has gone above and beyond providing generous financial support to the project by also dedicating hundreds of hours of pro bono time conducting legal intakes and representing clients in Landlord and Tenant court. The firm’s support has allowed more people to receive high quality representation in a court where over 95% of tenants do not have a lawyer. Furthermore, recognizing the importance of continuing our joint commitment to the neighborhood, DLA Piper recently went a step further; committing additional funding and pro bono attorney time to allow Taylor to continue and expand our scope of work in the community.

DLA-Piper-Logo (2)


Holiday Helpings Is HERE!

The turkeys are here!

Holiday Helpings has officially kicked off and we’re going BIG this year. Our goal is to make the holidays happen for 9,000 families this season. That’s 9,000 turkeys and all the trimmings for our neighbors in need – wow!

9,000 turkeys is almost 1,000 more turkeys than last year, so we need you to help us meet the demand. Will you donate $29 to feed one family?

Your gift will help people just like Margie Jennings.margie

“The price of food is so high,” Margie says. “We can’t buy enough for the month.”

Bread for the City is hearing this refrain from clients more and more, which is why visits to our pantries are up 9% this year. It’s also why we set a higher goal for Holiday Helpings: 9,000 families. We need your help!

And so does Margie.

Margie had been working as an in-home care aide until the arthritis in her joints became so painful that she had to stop. She gets by each month with the help of Bread for the City, but in a few weeks she would like to invite her daughter over for a Thanksgiving dinner. Can you help?

To make Holiday Helpings successful, we need thousands of donors to give whatever they can, and then ask their friends to do the same. (Like I did!)

Can we count on you? Will you sponsor a family (or two!) this Thanksgiving? Your kindness will give a family – like Margie’s – the gift of a holiday meal.

Make a secure online donation

We are all in this together

Why are we wearing purple?
We are doing so in solidarity with domestic violence survivors — survivors like Sofia.

Today is Purple Thursday! Follow us all day on Twitter and Facebook to see pictures of staff and volunteers showcasing their purple pride!

Today is Purple Thursday! Follow us all day on Twitter and Facebook to see pictures of staff and volunteers showcasing their purple pride!

Sofia came to Bread for the City after fleeing from her abusive boyfriend when she was five months pregnant with their third child. A Bread for the City attorney successfully negotiated Sofia’s permanent custody of all three children, and after fighting long and hard in the courtroom, helped her to obtain a child support order critical to establishing financial security for her family.

This outcome was life-changing for Sofia and her family, and was only possible because of the financial investment we received from our community. You too can invest in Bread for the City and our free legal services for domestic violence survivors by making a gift of $25. The demand is so great and we need your help.

Please give today, and then wear some purple. We are all in this together.


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Standing with Isabella

“I needed to escape from him,” said Isabella. “No matter what.”

Bread for the City helps hundreds of clients like Isabella find safety and stability. As part of our holistic services — food, clothing, medical care — we also have attorneys on staff who help domestic violence survivors get Civil Protection Orders, divorces, child custody, child support, and public benefits. This work takes a really long time, but is critical to helping families get out and get safe while continuing to meet their most basic human needs.

A Bread for the City attorney took on Isabella’s case almost a year ago to help her figure out how she and her child could safely leave their unstable home. On her own time, the Bread attorney even found furniture for Isabella’s new home, drove the delivery truck, and unloaded the furniture.

“In addition to her professional responsibilities, she does things that no other lawyer in the area will do – such as driving a U-Haul truck herself to deliver secondhand furniture to my new home.”

As important as that assistance was, leaving a domestic violence situation isn’t just a matter of a new address. There are the complexities of employment, child care, income supports, health care — the list goes on and on. This is why an attorney is so crucial, and can make the difference between a survivor remaining independent or returning to her abuser.

Isabella explains, “With all the legal complications involved in my case, my attorney patiently explains the legal options, appropriately offers advice and respects my decisions. This assures me that I am doing the right thing. At court, when I have to face my husband – who continues to try to blame and intimidate me – my insecurity rises, but with my attorney by my side, I regain strength to stand against unfairness.”

A year later, Isabella and her son remain safe, but Bread’s work is not yet done. Isabella still needs to finalize her divorce, and work out a custody and child support agreement. All this would be nearly impossible if Isabella did not have an attorney on her side.

Isabella only has an attorney because donors like you chose to support Bread for the City. Please help this good work continue by making a contribution today and then asking others to do the same. Your gifts cannot come soon enough.


Make a secure online donation


Wear purple on Thursday and show your support of domestic violence survivors

Wear purple on Thursday and show your support of domestic violence survivors

Holiday Season Volunteer Opportunities!

Holiday Helpings Logo

Bread for the City’s Holiday Helpings campaign provides low-income DC residents with a turkey and all of the trimmings so that they may enjoy a celebratory holiday meal at home with their families. You can help us meet our goal of providing over 9,000 holiday meals this season by organizing a group of colleagues, family members or friends to volunteer!

Holiday Helpings volunteer groups help us to pre-pack our holiday meal bags so that we can quickly and efficiently distribute them to clients. The activity is fun, fast-paced, and provides the opportunity for volunteers to make a tangible difference.

To learn more or to sign up, please contact a volunteer coordinator at or call 202-595-7865.



Guest Post: Applying for low-income housing is a pain. Code for DC is building a hack

This is a crosspost from Lalita Clozel with about Code for DC‘s cool project that they are working on with Bread for the City.
Marcus Louie (center, white shirt) enlisted "people who are deeply fascinated about PDFs" at a Code for DC meeting Aug. 13.

Marcus Louie (center, white shirt) enlisted “people who are deeply fascinated about PDFs” at a Code for DC meeting Aug. 13.

Filling out a form. Easy, you say. But imagine this: you have little time and resources to spare, spotty access to the Internet, a tenuous knowledge of English and an avalanche of papers to fill out.

In D.C., the subsidized housing application process can be downright painful.

The 100 or so buildings that provide Section 8 subsidized housing — a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program that can cover up to 70 percent of rent for low-income residents — each require filling out a different form.

The waitlists are sometimes so long that buildings stop accepting applications, which is not indicated on HUD’s list of eligible housing. They may also require applicants to drop off the paperwork in person or fill it out on site.

This situation begged for a hack.

The ‘Mega App’ hopes to save applicants weeks of tedious work.

So, in 2013, a local community group that helps low-income residents pierce through this bureaucratic maze went to Code for DCwith a plan: create a common application that could streamline the process and make life easier for low-income applicants.

“Instead of filling out several applications by hand,” Stacey Johnson, a senior social worker at Bread for the City said in an email, “we’ll be able to enter in the information once and have it pre-populate into several applications at once.”

When Johnson and Matt Leasure, a former Bread for the City housing case manager, presented the idea at a Code for DC meeting in 2013, the civic hackers were soon on board. The project kicked off on the national day of civic hacking, June 1, 2013, said Marcus Louie, who is leading the project.

Enticed by Louie’s offering of “bottomless PDFs,” a core team of half-a-dozen coders and activists came together regularly after work to develop the Mega App.


It turned out that creating a streamlined program that could populate the applications of even 30 buildings — the number Code for DC is currently working with — was a complex enterprise. “The technology is relatively straightforward to build,” said Louie. “The hard part is coming up with [the] data modeling.”

Johnson herself had taken a stab at streamlining the process in a single PDF to help applicants — who often cannot read or barely speak English — during Bread for the City’s free weekly workshops. But, she said, “I got stuck when it came to coding.” She tried to make her own app, but the maze of forms was too topsy-turvy for Live Cycle.

“Instead of filling out several applications by hand, we’ll be able to enter in the information once and have it pre-populate into several applications at once.”


“Most people who are applying for these buildings,” she added, “have limited resources in terms of phone use and tech savvy or access to computers.” With the app, they could be able to fill out their forms in one session, sparing them weeks of work.

To push out the app by year’s end, Louie will be using the three-week civic engagement sabbatical awarded by his employer Socrata, an open-data consulting firm.

The work is far from over, Johnson cautioned.

Buildings could make the application process easier and safer, for instance, by streamlining identification procedures which often require applicants to traverse the city carrying precious documents.

And there is still a long way to go to reach Bread for the City’s ultimate goal. “People need living wages, affordable rents, and for public-benefit amounts to adjust for the real cost of living,” she wrote. “I would be ecstatic if we can use technology to help push any of that forward.”

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Guest Post: Volunteers Rocking it at City Orchard

This is a guest post from volunteers from xScion Solutions. We thank them for their service, and their writing!
Volunteers from xScion harvest fruit at City Orchard

Volunteers from xScion Solutions harvest fruit at City Orchard

Last week our team ventured out to Beltsville, MD for a unique volunteering opportunity with an organization called Bread for the City. Bread for the City provides food, medical care and other services to those less fortunate in the DC area. They have a 2.75 acre organic orchard called City Orchard that produces over 45,000 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables. All of the crops that are harvested are distributed to DC residents in need through two different food pantries.

We arrived at City Orchard not quite sure what to expect. After learning a little more about the organization, we got right to work. Our first project: apples. We quickly learned the difference between a good and bad apple (not as simple as one might think). The produce is all organic and therefore looks different than the fruits and veggies you might find at the grocery store. After we were finished with the apple trees, we moved on to harvesting strawberries, pears, peppers and eggplant.

After all of the harvesting was complete, we weighed the fruits of our labor (see what I did there?) and the bins were loaded up to be taken to Bread for the City’s two pantry locations in DC. We had a great time supporting such a fantastic cause. All of the employees from Bread for the City were extremely helpful and it was clear that they are passionate about what they do.

Bread for the City is a truly inspirational organization and it was an honor to spend the day with them. They offer many ways for individuals and groups to get involved. You can check out their volunteering opportunities here.


harvesting1 harvesting4


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Now Hiring: Communications Manager

Do you like this blog? Do you like to see posts? We do too! That’s why we’re hiring a Communications Manager. Apply! Help us write stuff!

Position Profile:
Bread for the City seeks a full-time Communications Manager to lead the communications arm of the Development Department. This is a new position at Bread for the City, and one that the qualified candidate will enjoy molding into their own.

The Communications Manager is a fundraising position that strategically plans and executes BFC’s mail program, email and online fundraising program, social media strategy, and all engagement with traditional and nontraditional media. This position will work closely with both the development and executive team to raise funds and increase Bread for the City’s local and national profile through these communications platforms.

The ideal candidate has five years of proven experience, is creative, and is a self-starter. He or she will be able to work in a fast-paced — yet casual — environment, will be flexible, and will excel at managing up. The Communications Manager will be based at our Northwest Center and report to the Chief Development Officer and Associate Director of Development.

• Lead the organization’s strategic thinking, planning and execution on marketing and fundraising communications;
• Increase the visibility of the Chief Executive Officer in local and national media as Bread for the City’s leader, spokesperson, and industry thought leader;
• Manage all online communications;
• Manage BFC’s robust mail program;
• Work with the Board of Directors’ Branding Committee to meet communications’ goals as identified in the organization’s strategic plan;
• Other duties as assigned.

Bread for the City seeks candidates who are creative, results-oriented, and have strong project management skills. The Communications Manager will have:
• 3-5 years of media and PR experience;
• A strategic mindset about communications and marketing;
• Experience working with WordPress;
• Outstanding written and oral communication skills;
• Excellent attention to detail and organizational skills;
• Ability to think strategically, meet deadlines, and to work within a team;
• A clear, intelligent and playful voice able to convey our vision and culture in communications;
• A demonstrated commitment to social justice.

Bread for the City is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, sexual orientation, family responsibility, physical or mental disability, medical condition, status as a veteran, or any other category protected by applicable federal, state, or local law, except where a bona fide occupational qualification applies.

Salary will be commensurate with experience and overall qualifications and competitive in the non-profit sector of Washington, DC. Bread for the City offers full benefits, health & dental insurance, 403(b) plan, 15 paid vacation days, 2 personal days, and federal holidays.

To Apply:
Please email your resume with a cover letter that speaks to your interest and qualifications to: with “Communications Manager” in the subject line. Only qualified candidates will be contacted. No phone calls, please.