Appreciating Our Social Workers

March was Social Worker Appreciation Month, and in the spirit of being thankful, we wanted to take a minute to share a little bit from a few of our social workers on staff!

Our SE Social Services Supervisor, Donnie Hampton, had the following to say about her work at Bread:

My favorite piece of working at BFC is being part of such a caring, professional team that tries every day to make a difference in the lives of the clients! Our work at BFC is important because we provide quality services to low-income residents that many times have been marginalized and disrespected due to their economic circumstances.

Stacey, Tracy, AliStacey Johnson, one of our NW-based social workers and in-house expert on DC’s various public/subsidized housing options, echoes Donnie’s sentiments:

I love that we have the information, resources, and skills to make a difference in people’s lives, be it a very short-term difference, like providing food for the day, or a long-term one, like assisting them in securing permanent housing or stable income. I also value the work environment, where our common goal is helping our clients and we are not motivated by personal success but by our shared desire to see our clients succeed.

The work we do is important because we are providing a service to those who need it. But even more important is the way that we provide those services. We treat our clients with dignity and respect, whether we are handing them a printout of phone numbers, talking through their options for making positive change, or talking with them about a mental health crisis.

We are lucky to have such a dedicated and skilled team of social workers at both our centers. They balance individual client caseloads with program management duties, and make time to be available whenever there is an emergency. Our social work team focuses on helping our clients increase stability in their lives by assisting in areas such as affordable housing access, budgeting and bill paying, employment skills development, disability benefits applications, and by providing or connecting with mental health and other supportive services.

Take a moment today to thank the social workers you know and to honor their continuous work towards change!

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Adelaide finds a new home

When Adelaide Gomes learned that her landlord was selling her apartment, she was devastated. As a retired cashier living on a fixed income, she knew it would be hard to find another apartment that rented near $600 a month in her neighborhood. After all, Adelaide (then 82 years old) had lived on 17th Street, NW in that very same studio since 1969 — 43 years.

Adelaide“I will always appreciate her,” Adelaide says about her landlord, “She understood the challenges of finding a new apartment at my age with my income and told me to take my time moving.” Adelaide was happy to be able to take her time finding an apartment that she could afford.

An affordable apartment: that was the problem. She realized early on that finding an apartment she could rent on a fixed income would require some work.

Adelaide was no stranger to hard work. She came to the U.S. from Portugal in 1958 for a better life for herself and her sister. She quickly picked up several trades from shoe cobbling, to light bulb assembly.

“I always had multiple jobs, but I guess you could say that my real career began and ended at Sholl’s Cafeteria on K Street in DC. I was a cashier there for 36 years and at 71 years old, I was ready to retire.”

Adelaide spent months looking for housing in DC, but at her budget, it seemed impossible. The apartments that she could afford had no occupancy or had waiting lists in the 100s. She was having problems navigating the application process and the fine print. A residential manager at one apartment complex recommended that she come to Bread for the City for help.

How we were able to serve Adelaide:

  • Through our Housing Access Program, Adelaide was able to find subsidized apartment buildings that were accepting applications. With our help, she was able to get on the waitlists she qualified for and ultimately secure affordable housing.
  • We were able to offer her care in both our medical and dental clinics.
  • We helped her attain Medicaid.
  • She was able to take advantage of our food program where a 3-day supply of healthy groceries was available to her every month.

The results:

  • Adelaide moved into her new comfortable, safe, and secure apartment in February of this year: a community that offers affordable housing to low-income seniors or disabled persons at approximately 49% less than the average fair market rent in the Washington local area.

“You know, I have never ever lived in a one bedroom apartment, always studios. This was such a blessing to me. Bread for the City encouraged me with every visit, every phone call. Ms. Ashley, Mrs. Stacey, Ms. Jackie — they helped me in such a wonderful way. I have a big beautiful icebox, a big stove, a window above my sink, and everything is big and new. It’s wonderful.”

  • Adelaide’s monthly social security payments were increased by $100. Because she was able to qualify for Medicaid, she no longer had to pay the $100 premium per month for her Medicare (which was deducted from her SS check every month). Her medical expenses are now available to her at no cost. The only thing she must pay is a small copay for her prescriptions, which were reduced to around $2. 50 a piece from $20.
  • She was able to get a refund for a portion of medical bills that she already had paid. Because Medicaid is retroactive by 3 months, several of Adelaide’s payments for a surgery that she had in 2011 were refunded and the remaining balance was now covered!

Adelaide says that Bread’s comprehensive services have impacted her life in a big way. “Being able to play bingo with new friends in my beautiful apartment, seeing Dr. Myles’s loving face at my dental appointments at Bread for the City, and going to bed without stressing over my medical bills — those are all priceless things. I thank God for Bread for the City.”

Forty incredible years celebrated in one amazing night

Last Thursday, Bread for the City celebrated 40 years in a BIG way… a REALLY BIG way. How big? $740,000 BIG! Together, we defied all expectations at our largest event to date. We are so grateful for the generous support of the entire BFC family and the 500 friends who joined us at Thursday’s 40th Anniversary Gala.

Our gala attendees took a trip down memory lane as we reflected on our storied history. We’ve come a long way since our beginnings in rowhouse basement on 14th Street! But none of it would have been possible without you: our friends and neighbors. You are behind every bag of groceries we distribute, every patient we treat, and every person to whom we provide guidance and support. Thank  you for standing with us!

Learn about our history by checking out our gala video:

Please join us in extending a special thank you to our 40th Anniversary Gala sponsors, whose support is so essential for funding our critical services here in the District. Thank you, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

Check out the photos from the event here. Thanks a million to Jessica Del Vecchio for documenting this amazing event!

We can’t wait to see each and every one of you next year!

Spring cleaning: Donate your gently used items to our clothing room

Spring_CleaningAre you cleaning out your closet this spring? Don’t throw away your old clothes! Keep Bread for the City’s Clothing Room in mind. We accept gently used men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing. We’re especially in need of plus-sized items, and due to limited space, we ask that the clothing be seasonally appropriate.

We also accept miscellaneous items — like children’s books and household goods!

Donate your gently used items to our Southeast Center at 1640 Good Hope Road, SE. We’re open Monday through Thursday from 9am to 5pm and Friday from 9am until noon.

For more information, see our guidelines for clothing donations.

Thanks for thinking of Bread for the City this spring!

Three cheers for our volunteers

Happy National Volunteer Week! This week, Bread for the City is celebrating the priceless contributions made to our organization by our dedicated corps of volunteers. We have a lot to celebrate…

City YearDid you know that Bread for the City relies on over 1,500 volunteers every year to deliver our programs and services? Not only do volunteers help us deliver direct services, such as distributing food to clients, sorting donations in our clothing room and providing medical care, but they also assist in advocacy efforts, support administrative projects, and provide ideas to move our mission forward. This is by no means an exhaustive list!

Beyond the precious gift of time, each and every one of our volunteers contributes a spirit of goodwill that provides hope to our community and positive energy to our staff. Yes, we can measure the number of meals distributed by volunteers or the number of hours they contribute. However, volunteers also contribute many intangible qualities, such as hope, that can’t be measured, but should most certainly be recognized.

To all of the volunteers who have dedicated time to Bread for the City, thank you. We appreciate you and hope you’ll continue to partner with us in this work for many years to come!

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Thank you, US Airways!

While we’re counting up the totals raised through our 40th Anniversary Gala, we can’t tell you how grateful we are for the more than 100 corporations and individuals throughout DC and across the nation that have come forward as sponsors of our largest event to date.

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Deserving of a special shout out are our good friends at US Airways, who helped to make our 40th Anniversary Gala live auction a huge success. With US Airways gift certificates donated for all of our long-distance domestic and international vacation packages (exciting destinations like Rio de Janeiro and Las Vegas!), our auction winners have everything they need for an amazing vacation.

Through corporate philanthropy and employee volunteerism, US Airways helps to make our communities better places to live and work. As a US Airways representative puts it, “By giving back to organizations like Bread for the City, we can help our neighbors in need find a chance at a better life.”

US Airways has long been the sole airline sponsor of Bread for the City. We’re so grateful for their continued support!

100,000 reasons to celebrate Bread’s 40th

Bread for the City is celebrating a special milestone tonight with our 40th Anniversary Gala. Forty years of feeding the hungry. Forty years of treating the sick. Forty years of providing guidance and support to the District’s most vulnerable residents. It’s been quite a journey.

mbTo help us celebrate, an anonymous donor has pledged $100,000 to match, dollar for dollar, any gift made to Bread for the City for today only. Join the celebration by making a $40 gift in honor of our 40th — and know that it will be instantly doubled.

Bread for the City has come a long way over the years, and so too have the people we serve — people like Michael Blue. Because Michael’s courier job didn’t offer insurance, he came to Bread for medical care. And when his wife, Marnette, fell seriously ill, we treated her, too, and got her on the path to recovery. Today, both Michael and Marnette are thriving, and it’s all because of the support of people like you.

“I hope that when you give to Bread for the City, you get a certain sense of God, of faith, or even just of love,” says Michael. “And I want you to realize that your actions are cherished. We’ve never met, but you are in my prayers.”

Even if you can’t make it to our 40th Anniversary Gala tonight, you can still support Bread for the City and the next Michael who will come through our doors by making your gift of $40.

Double your impact by making a $40 gift before midnight tonight!

Bread for the City Community Cookbook Project

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This month, Bread for the City hosted undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate students from George Washington University’s ISCOPES program for a week-long community cookbook project.

ISCOPES (Interdisciplinary Student Community-Oriented Prevention Enhancement Service) is a health focused service-learning initiative that places GWU students from various fields of study in communities to address bigger picture health challenges through service.

For 8 hours per month September through April, students serve on project teams within these learning communities and tackle these health issues with multi-dimensional projects.

Bread for the City clients and friends were asked to share their favorite recipes and they did not disappoint!

Screen shot 2014-03-26 at 12.58.03 PMWhat was the outcome? Fifty bound copies (and more to come) of an incredible collaborative cookbook that we are able to share with clients in our diabetes group and at other nutrition work shops.

Many thanks to everyone involved in this project! We’ve happily collaborated with GWU and the ISCOPES program for several years. This is just another example of the good that can come through community building.

 

Beautiful pictures courtesy of GWU!


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Crochet classes begin again in the SE Center!

It’s official!  The Crochet Class in the SE Center is back and it’s completely client-led.  Two long time client/volunteers are partnering together to make sure that clients at Bread for the City have the opportunity to learn the art of crochet.

Sylvia Ford-Scott, 2010 recipient of the Bread for the City’s Good Hope Award, local artist and craftswoman, cancer survivor and, a woman of faith has been crocheting for many, many years.  Her beautiful artwork has been featured at several art shows in the Washington, DC area.  Her motto is “each one teach one.”

Carmella Cobbs, who assisted me with building the curriculum and teaching  the initial crochet classes in the SE Center which ran April 2012 to June 2012, is also a skilled craftswoman and a woman of faith.  Ms. Cobbs is also an author. Her book Creation to Destination can be found here.

Several of the students had never crocheted before, but under the expert tutelage of Ms. Ford-Scott and Ms. Cobbs they were creating gifts for their friends in no time. Hope made a small flower at her first class and later made a monogrammed scarf for a friend.

Check out the video of the class in action!  Art and community go hand in hand. If you’re ever in Southeast on a Thursday morning drop in our our class at 10:00 am at Bread for the City!

Amanda and Robin give thanks

Believe it or not, we are still blown away by the outpouring of support from the local community for our 2013 Holiday Helpings campaign. One of our favorite efforts this year came from Stacey Johnson, Bread for the City’s Senior Social Worker, who enlisted the help of her adorable daughters… raising $2,500 to feed families in need in the process.

As Stacey recalls, “It all started with my Holiday Helpings page on Razoo, where I made a video with my kids called “Talking Turkey”. They talked about Thanksgiving and their ideas on the importance of helping others in need.”

According to Amanda (age 7), Thanksgiving is important because people who have little or no money cannot afford to buy a turkey… and Bread for the City helps those people.

However, the response from Robin (age 4) on the topic of Thanksgiving was considerably different. After expressing a resounding YES to the question of whether or not she liked the holiday, Robin buckled under pressure when faced with the hard hitting follow-up — why? <long pause> “I don’t know. I don’t even like Thanksgiving, even. Why are you asking me why I like Thanksgiving? I DON’T EVEN LIKE IT!” The camera was turned off just before she stomped upstairs. No more questions!

Kids… kids are weird.

Stacey adds, “I got a lot of positive feedback from the video, so as an added incentive to potential donors, I promised a follow-up video to thank them. In the follow up, the girls tell us that for which they are thankful.”

In the number 1 slot, Amanda is thankful for “electricity.” ??? This is followed by “heating and air conditioning, and everything we need for living.” Almost as an afterthought, she mentions “my sister and my parents… and books.” Not quite a snub… but close.

Whereas Robin was thankful for “my silly Daddy, my pretty Mama, my sister, my friends at school… crystals.” Huh. Didn’t see that last one coming.

Like we said, kids are weird. But they are also AWESOME. Stacey says, “Amanda and Robin LOVE being a part of Holiday Helpings and all things Bread for the City!”

Check out Amanda and Robin’s thank you video. We’re definitely thankful for these girls and their help feeding families in need this past holiday season!

 

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