March 04, 2015 by BFC in Healthcare
After many months of preparation, enrollment is now open for Bread’s text-message based smoking cessation program called “Partners in Quitting”.
A month ago I had a powerful experience. I spent two days with 45 mostly-young people in a training workshop on “Undoing Racism”. Almost 30 of the 45 were Bread employees or Board members – black, white, mixed, and Asian-American – and were there as part of Bread’s commitment to racial equity.
February 27, 2015 by BFC in In the Community
Guest Post by Patrick Sullivan, Director of Field Operations at Nest DC
Believe it or not, I’m the only Nester that was hired with any property management experience. The field is full of folks overwhelmed by the daily drama and, to be honest, the (mostly) unrewarding nature of the work. It’s hard to be stellar under those circumstances. But hey, I was told I didn’t have a choice. I was the kid who slipped through the cracks. Poverty, foster care and an educational system that didn’t know what to do with me. I was pretty sure any job was almost out of reach. Never mind a good job. But a blend of hard work, perseverance and luck led me to a happy marriage and a career(!). I genuinely love working at Nest. With all that, I am even more sensitive to those who have less. That’s why when I get to work, it’s like coming home.
February 25, 2015 by BFC in Social Services
Darlene is a 60-year-old DC resident who came to Bread for the City to seek assistance applying for Social Security Disability Benefits through BFC’s SOAR program.* With help from case workers in our Social Services department, Darlene applied for and received her benefits within a few months.
Social Security disability benefits have made a significant difference in Darlene’s life as she grows older – allowing her to pay rent and utilities in her apartment. Darlene’s experience is not a rare case – out of SSDI beneficiaries across the country, seven in ten are age 50 and older, and three in ten are 60 and older. The average monthly payment of SSDI benefits (benefits based on work history) is $1,017.30, and for many recipients, disability benefits constitute their only income and they are already living close to or below the poverty line.
Recently,there has been political debate on how to handle the long term preservation of these funds. Some advocates fear that proposed measures in Congress could result in decreased benefits for recipients.
Sargent Shriver, President Johnson’s personal choice to lead the War on Poverty, was once asked which anti-poverty program he considered the most important.
“My favorite is Head Start because it was my idea,” he answered. “But I am proudest of Legal Services because I recognized that it had the greatest potential for changing the system under which people’s lives were being exploited.”
The human service world is full of gatekeepers – individuals or organizations that control access to resources. Gatekeepers manifest in countless ways: they can look like staff who determine eligibility criteria, place people on wait lists, or restrict days and hours that someone can access services.
We recognize that some of this is unavoidable and at times important. We are all working with limited resources that make structure and guidelines necessary. However, for individuals using services, the gates can feel restrictive, endless, and oppressive. We have been thinking about the role that social service providers inadvertently play in perpetuating these systems of oppression. We think that folks accessing services deserve better. We think that as providers, we have a responsibility to do better.
For years, the Language Access Coalition, on which I serve as Bread for the City’s representative, has been talking about amending the Language Access Act to give it more “teeth.” Under the current law, a person who has been denied language access can file a complaint with the DC Office of Human Rights (OHR). The problem is that even if OHR determines that the government agency violated the Act, OHR has no power to force the agency to make changes or to compensate the complainant. As a result, we’ve seen agencies violate the Act over and over again with no sign of changing.
Bread for the City hosted 60 volunteers on Monday’s Day of Service in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
We welcomed volunteers from Blank Rome, Skadden Arps and Wiley Rein, as well as other community members at our centers in NW and SE, DC.
Living up to the purpose of the day, the volunteers worked hard to sort and process three pallets of fresh produce, including onions, potatoes, and carrots, into family-sized servings that Bread will distribute to clients through our two food pantries this week.