Friday, March 25, 2016

Last Full Day in DC: Resources for people going through poverty

Friday-03/25/16-: Last Day of Service 

Bread for the City (Round 2):

We enjoyed hanging out with Bread for the City too much yesterday and had to go back for more. Right away when we got there at 10am this morning we split up into two different groups. One group began bagging food in preparation for our farmers market. The second group was collaborating with the legal team on site, doing some spring cleaning of the files in their office. When we circled up, we met with the person organizing the farmers market. After explaining the logistics of the work, they wanted to make sure we remembered the most important thing, saying something along the lines of "These are people that we are interacting with. They matter the most. Make sure to show them respect." That rang through our heads as we served. We set up the farmer's market outside the building to make it easier for distributing the food. Our array of consumables today consisted of: sweet potatoes, red potatoes, onions, and bananas (sourced from ECUADOR!!!...where Jackie is from). The bananas seemed to be the big hit of the day. Everyone was pumped about them. The whole market was a big team effort. As one of our fellow volunteers kept saying, "Team work makes the dream work!" Two of us met the lines of clients and asked them some questions for data entry that we send back to the people who donate all the food. Then the people go through the line and choose the foods that they would like. To spice up the whole experience, the sky sent us intermittent rain as we worked. We didn't get too cold or anything though, and some of the clients that came were prepared with umbrellas. It was cool to see all the volunteers working with such good attitudes, and especially cool to see how the Bread for the City staff members knew a lot of their clients and had a really connection.


Because we had to go directly from Bread for the City service to A Wider Circle, we ended up (illegally-ish) eating our bagged lunches on the bus. It was a pretty long trip there and we had the opportunity to catch up on some sleep we missed in the passed few days. Overall, we probably spent 3 hours on public transportation today. Whoo hoo! It's tiring, but we're proud to be leaving a small environmental footprint here.

A Wider Circle:

A Wider Circle we met with the Volunteer Coordinator there and she gave us a quick tour before we started working. Their services are really intriguing. A Wider Circle takes in furniture donations from a lot of different people and businesses. They try and give out the best quality of furniture to people who need it. A word they used for this was dignity condition which means that they are giving out furniture of a quality that any human person deserves. Giving people bad quality furniture gives a message that the people receiving the furniture aren't cared about or don't deserve nice things. So to make sure that they are communicating a sense of respect and dignity for their clients, they make sure that the furniture available to them is of good quality. Our job for the day was moving furniture from their storage space in the basement up to the show room on the main floor, which is where the clients would look at the items they may potentially want. We all got to wear super stylish back support things so we wouldn't strain our backs carrying furniture.  We looked bit funny but it was a sense of safety. A Wider Circle has a very humble purpose, where they want to take the resources that are available from a lot of different places, and get it into the hands of people who need it. A Wider Circle recognizes that having furniture helps families to be able to have meals together, help kids have a space to do homework, and provide the necessary stability that gives people confidence in their jobs.


Today was a day where we got to learn a lot about services that exist in DC/Maryland to help people in poverty. Most of the clients of the organizations that were working with were not people experiencing homelessness necessarily. They were people with homes, but a lot of them were living off of food stamps and didn't have much furniture. Both organizations were really inclusive in that they didn't want to exclude people who were not technically bellow the official poverty line. With living expenses in DC, people can be well above the poverty line and still be struggling. Words that kept being brought up in all the work that we did today were "respect" and "dignity". Those are really important values for any company that works with people to have, especially when those organizations work with people in poverty. People in poverty are often looked down upon, and treated as a lesser sort of person, but these things need to be combated. Each person deserves dignity and respect. Snaps to Bread for the City and A Wider Circle for the work that they do. It was an honor to partner with you today.

Jacqueli (Jackie)

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