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Celebrating Bread for the City Social Services: Kate Baasch, SOAR Program Manager

What do you do at Bread for the City?

I’m the SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery) Program Manager. I help our clients who are experiencing homelessness, at risk of experiencing homelessness, and who have one or more disabling conditions apply for social security benefits. Ashley Moore, who oversees our SOAR work, and I are also the SOAR leads for all of DC, which means we lead training and provide technical support for those looking to provide SOAR services, we also lead the city’s data collection on all things SOAR.

I have been working with Ashely on SOAR in DC since 2017 and this team since 2021 and have worked in social services in DC for 14 years.

Why did you decide to work in social services?

I initially trained as an art therapist, which is a non-verbal expressive mental health therapy that uses creativity to get what’s on the inside out in the context of a therapeutic relationship. While in school for art therapy, I interned and later worked at Miriam’s Kitchen, a fellow DC nonprofit. There, I saw the welcoming and community-oriented nature that is possible in our work and how important relationship-building is to the work, and how having a community to belong to, that cares about you, and that you care about matters for everyone involved.

I love doing this work because it feels rewarding to be able to actually offer solutions and make a tangible change in the lives of the people I work with. I was excited to continue this work at Bread for the City, I think as an organization we have such a good connection with the DC community and among our staff. I’m also proud to work at an organization that puts such importance on relocating power to the people we collaborate with.

What motivates you to keep doing this work?

Burnout in this line of work is real. But I keep a few things in mind to keep going even on the toughest days. The first thing is that my community is greater than myself, and I feel a duty to serve my community. Number two is I refuse to be pushed out of this field, I know I’m good at what I do, and I won’t be bested by burnout. I remind myself that there will always be good and bad days and that I would want those advocating for me not to give up, so I make it my mission to never give up.

“So many clients don’t expect you to call them back. I’m going to call you back – even if I don’t know the answer, we will find the answer or next step together.”

Our Social Services team also really prioritizes work-life balance and promotes processing and decompressing from all the emotions we feel and experience every day. It’s so important for our own wellbeing but also so we can do the best work possible for our clients.

What do you do to relax and decompress from this work?

I go for walks, make art, and try to be more present with family. I’m also learning about metaphysical energy healing as a tool to remind us of our connectedness to the earth and each other.

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