“It’s going to be wonderful!”
You can hear the excitement in Terri Acker’s voice when she talks about plans for Bread for the City’s new Southeast Center. And she should know!
After all, Terri remembers when Bread for the City was operating out of a trailer on 14th Street, NW. That was more than 30 years ago when she was pregnant with her oldest daughter and needed help. She’d come for maternity clothes and was grateful to receive food as well.
Bread for the City was there for Terri through five daughters and many of life’s ups and downs. “There were times when I got laid off from a job. I’d think, ‘Here we go again.’ But Bread was always there.”
And now, Terri is there for Bread for the City—as a staff member! After going through our community organizers training, she was hired as a community organizer. Today, she helps individuals who are struggling—very much like she was—to find their voices and advocate for their rights. Specifically, Terri is passionate about fighting for affordable housing for residents of the District and has even testified at a District of Columbia Housing Authority commissioners meeting.
“When I started, I didn’t know what organizing was. I thought it had to do with shelves! But I’ve fallen in love with it. I’m teaching people how to go to government meetings and testify at the Wilson Building. I’m teaching people how to tell their story.”
And with the new Southeast Center, Terri can already see the possibilities abound.
“There will be so much more opportunity for clients to get help. We’ll be able to collaborate more with other organizations, and bring more people in to learn—not just for organizing, but all sorts of things. And the wellness center! People with troubles and stress will be able to come and work it off.”
As someone who used to receive clothing from a Bread for the City trailer, Terri understands how much things can change. She also knows that disaster can strike at any moment. Terri had only just started working at Bread for the City when a fire in her apartment left her without permanent housing for over a year.
But no matter her life’s challenges, Bread for the City has been there for Terri, and Terri is determined to use her experiences to help others.
“What I tell people is that there is hope. It’s right here at Bread.”