So what makes Jeannine an Unsung Hero? In short, she is able to get things done that we have never done before, or in some cases that no one has ever done before. In fact, that’s how Jeannine first came to Bread 19 years ago.
You see, our medical clinic kept seeing patients with no income who were clearly disabled, yet their SSDI applications had been inexplicably rejected. The providers knew they needed lawyers to step in and represent these patients in court. Enter Jeannine. Jeannine was Bread’s first staff attorney and she ran our legal clinic until 1999 when she then became our very first COO.
Jeannine’s first project as COO was outlining the steps necessary to build a new facility and medical clinic in Anacostia. Her steps were the right ones and the project was a smashing success. I was impressed, that I asked her to manage an $8.25 million project to expand our medical clinic and build a new dental clinic at our 7th Street location. Jeannine did so without disrupting daily operations, she stayed under budget, and because she was coordinating all details, Dr. Randi (our medical clinic director) got to spend her time seeing patients. In true Jeannine fashion, the needs of the patients had come first.
While this mammoth project was in full swing, Jeannine continued to foster growth throughout the organization; most notably, green-lighting our fresh food efforts. In the past two years alone these efforts brought forth a vegetable garden on the roof of our medical clinic – the largest urban agricultural project in the DC Metro area, and City Orchard, the first ever orchard operated by a food pantry that will provide 40,000 pounds of produce annually for our clients. As they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Today, Jeannine’s fingerprints can be felt throughout Bread for the City—in both our organizational structure and physical environment. I fondly recall once passing by her desk and seeing her surrounded by doorknobs. When asked what she was doing, she responded that she was contemplating which doorknob would best suit the various needs (for both staff and clients alike) of our new facility. Doorknobs. It’s just one of thousands of decisions that someone has to make in order for an organization to grow to a size like ours. And somehow, Jeannine finds the time each day to make those decisions in addition to overseeing many staff and programs.
I consider it a privilege just to witness Jeannine in action. I’m proud to call her both a colleague and a friend. And I am delighted to see her tireless efforts on behalf of Bread for the City’s clients and staff acknowledged publicly — recognition that is long overdue. Warmest congratulations, Jeannine!