By Theo Blair

Hard to believe, but it’s finally here, folks: the final A Wider Community of the year! Since we started this blog, it’s been a blast sharing a closer look at all kinds of stories, events, and excitement in and across our community. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as we’ve enjoyed sharing them. We’re looking forward to doing more in 2024!

With that said, one more time for 2023, let’s take a look at what we’ll be talking about this week:

The Journey to Home!

Every day, we work to help neighbors complete the journey from finding a place to live to settling in and making it a home. Last week, we were fortunate enough to document one of those journies from start to finish as we joined forces with volunteers from Fannie Mae to fully furnish the Gates* family’s home.

Volunteers assemble a new crib for the youngest member of the Gates Family.

We’re incredibly fortunate to have many amazing workplaces that support our work, and one of the ways many get involved is by coming together for team building… literally! Last Wednesday, volunteers from Fannie Mae joined us to assemble the furniture that would be making its way into the Gates home the next day!

Fannie Mae volunteers take a group pic with one of the many pieces they helped assemble!

Once the volunteers finished their part of the process, our Inventory and Essential Support teams took it from there, packing and prepping everything that evening so we could hit the road early the next day! The delivery was spearheaded by Essential Support Coordinator Parisa and Inventory Coordinators Leo and Miles, all of whom worked hand in hand with the Gates family to help transform their home.

Leo (Left), Parisa (Center) & Miles share an excited moment with Ms. Gates’ daughter (out of frame) as they prepare to transform her room!

The day after the delivery, Ms. Gates reached out to share her heartwarming thanks to the team who helped furnish her home:

“I woke up around 5:00 AM still in disbelief, unpacking and organizing the belongings that will travel with this family for generations to come…

Thank you and your amazing team. I shall take pics over the weekend of each moment with the brand new decor and comfort you helped us feel.”

The Gates Family poses for a family picture after receiving a whole home’s worth of furniture and holiday presents!

Thanks to your support, we can make moments like this happen every day! Between now and New Year’s, double your impact by helping us meet our $50,000 match so we can continue helping families across our region make the journey to home!

*names changed for privacy

What’s Happening in our Winter Wonderland?

Several toys that have already found new homes across our region!

Winter’s winds have blown through our Center for Community Service and left behind a stunning Winter Wonderland this year! So far, 749 toys have been given away through our Winter Wonderland! We’re thrilled that so many young neighbors can see this space and know that they’re part of a community that cares for them and wants them to have the happiest holiday season possible!

Our Director of Essential Support, Allie, shared a brief reflection on the impact of our Winter Wonderland:

“The Winter Wonderland (previously named the North Pole) is always one of A Wider Circle’s most cheerful events. With the help of some fantastic volunteers, we turned our conference-style room into a highly decorated and joyful Winter Wonderland for families to shop in. It is always a welcome surprise when families arrive for their appointment and learn that they are able to shop for and receive brand-new toys for their children (all beautifully wrapped by our Winter Wonderland volunteers).

A majority of the families we serve fall below the poverty line, with more than 75% receiving some form of government benefits, which makes it even more challenging for families to be able to afford gifts at this time of year. It is incredible to see our community come together to help support all families this holiday season by adding some holiday cheer to clients’ appointments!”

A festive fir surrounded by gifts to help make the holidays happier for so many across our region!

Holiday Highlights from Our Wider Community

Our community has given back in so many unique ways this holiday season, whether by joining us for days of service, visiting to take tours and learn more about our work, and more!

Here are some more highlights of how our community has been spreading love to all our neighbors this holiday season:

On Thanksgiving, the Capital View Park Citizens Association hosted its 8th Annual Turkey Trot for our benefit! This year, the event sold out faster than in the previous year and raised over $2,000 to support our work!

We’re immensely grateful for their continued support and their shared interest in building a more interconnected and compassionate community!

Photos taken of the 2023 CVPCA Turkey Trot.

Partners across our region have been reaching out to help us make the holidays as packed with magical moments as possible. Earlier this month, neighbors from Chevy Chase Lake collected and donated many new toys at their annual tree-lighting ceremony!

Santa and a neighbor from Chevy Chase Lake with the toys they collected!

Holidays can be a challenging time financially for many in our community, so not having to worry about having household basics can help neighbors breathe a little easier. That’s why we’re grateful to the youth of Rockville Evangelical Mission Church for helping assemble care packages of essential household items, providing a sense of security and love to our neighbors!

Members of REMC assembling care packages

We are also so grateful for the Department of Health and Human Services staff who stopped by our Center for Community Service to bring plenty of gifts for families all across our region!

Members of the Department of Health and Human Services delivering holiday presents!

Last but not least, Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church was also kind enough to highlight us in their alternate giving guide this year, helping ensure our work can continue in 2024!

We’re immensely grateful for everyone who has stepped up and joined us to impact our community this year, and we hope you know just how much your contributions mean to our neighbors!

Rounding out the circle

Upcoming events in the community:

  • 12/21/23, 1:00 -3:00 pm, A Wider Circle’s Ward 8 Hub Community Holiday Party, Ward 8, Washington, DC
  • 12/23-12/26/23, 1/1/24, All A Wider Circle facilities will be closed
  • 1/1/24 Registration starts at 10 am, Race starts at 11 am, FITDC Fresh Start 5K at Freedom Plaza, Registration Required, Ward 2, Washington, DC

Ways to get involved:

There are plenty of ways you can support the work of A Wider Circle right now!

Staff Recommendations:

This week’s recommendation is that you have a safe and happy New Year!

Furniture Finds:

Spotted just before a neighbor nabbed it, this magnificent mosaic shelf was so beautiful — it’s understandable why it went so fast!

A handcrafted mosaic shelf found in our showroom!

That’s all for A Wider Community this week and for 2023. Thank you for being a part of our vision of a community where all our neighbors have what they need to thrive. Be sure to keep an eye on our website and social media (@awidercircle on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter/X, Linkedin, and Threads) for news from around our circle between now and January, and we’ll see you in the New Year!

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