By Theo Blair

Welcome to A Wider Community, a new weekly news blog exploring the goings-on in and around our circle!

This week, we’re diving into:

Let’s get rolling!

We asked for help, and Community Forklift answered the call!

You may have seen that we’ve recently had challenges meeting the needs of our neighbors. Still, we know there are enough resources in this region for all to have the items they need to create a comfortable home. And thanks to the power of partnership, we’ve had a much-needed restock of key furniture items this week!

Tom from Community Forklift, a longtime friend of the Circle, recently stopped by with a MASSIVE donation of living room furniture to help us furnish the homes of dozens of our neighbors. When asked if they’ve been experiencing similar challenges in stocking, he shared that they, too, have been seeing a slower donation flow in the summer months. Even in the slowest times, though, there’s never a shortage of unique donations — like the 20’ gold-painted Emmy statue replica they recently received!

Community Forklift utilizes portions of their donated items to help stock their programs, including the Home Essentials Program (HELP) and Community Building Blocks (CBB), which has most recently helped provide materials to a refugee resettlement organization as well as local schools. 

When asked about how the organization connects with partners to promote resource sharing, Tom stated: “Community Forklift works with a wide variety of local groups, donors, and municipal entities to divert materials away from landfills and into the hands of people who can use them, acting as a hub for redistribution, sharing resources, and collaborating with other nonprofits to maximize our impact.”

Tom P. From Community Forklift, A Wider Circle staff & volunteers unloading a truckload of couches & armchairs.

As we navigate these slower months in terms of donations, it’s important to take a moment to express our gratitude for our partners and for this community whose continued support makes our work possible. 

(And if you’re looking to do some home improvement, be sure to check out Community Forklift’s shop to see some of the unique pieces they have on hand!)

The Ward 8 Hub launches weekly substance abuse support group

A Wider Circle’s Ward 8 Hub rolled out another new service this week in its continuing commitment to place-based support: a weekly substance abuse support group. Launched on Thursday, the group is facilitated by addiction therapist Michael Henson.

Addiction Therapist Michael Henson

“I hope that one day this group will be known as a catalyst that helps mend the pain, the trauma, and the deep dark secrets that have plagued our community,” Michael, who first got involved with the Hub as the instructor of our weekly hand dancing class, shared. 

The group will meet every Thursday at the Ward 8 Hub (400-A Atlantic Street SE, Washington, DC) from 11 am – 12 pm. There are no requirements to join, and attendees aren’t required to speak if they aren’t comfortable.

Michael and neighbors from the Ward 8 community during a hand dancing class.

This is another step in our Ward 8 team’s efforts to work together with the community to address struggles related to substance usage. Other existing services include distributing fentanyl test strips and Narcan (Naloxone HCI), as well as providing information on their usage and the warning signs of an overdose.

If you’re interested in learning more about this support group or any of the other services offered at the Ward 8 Hub, contact us at 202-891-7894 or ward8hub@awidercircle.org.

An open discussion for interns

At A Wider Circle, we know how valuable professional development is — both for our neighbors but also for members of our team. Recently, a panel of our staff from across various programs sat down with interns to share personal experiences from their time with the organization, their professional journey, as well as advice and insights.

Panelists sharing their career journeys with A Wider Circle interns.

When asked why this panel was organized, our Director of Advocacy, Rachael Buck, shared, “I am deeply excited about the impact that interns who serve at A Wider Circle will have on the world. …when they are with us, I want to make sure that they get the most out of their time — I want them to know about the many ways they can engage in social justice work in their lives.”

Current AWC interns Michaela and Cole shared some of the insights they took away from the panel discussion. Both found that the individual career paths of the panelists came together to weave a cohesive lesson — that the most important asset one can bring to their work is passion.

Both also had some advice for fellow and future interns:

“…reach out! It doesn’t hurt to reach out and send an email showing your interest and passion for ending poverty and helping those in the community.” – Michaela

“As long as you come prepared, with a desire to do great work, you will. Everyone has their own talents and strengths, so I would also encourage you to think about what contributions you as an individual can make.” – Cole

Interns joined the panel in person and virtually.

We’re always looking for community-focused individuals to help advance our mission. If you’re interested in joining our team for a job or an internship opportunity, be sure to check out our Careers page!

Six months later, how is our new needs assessment tool performing?

Did you know we changed the intake process for our Essential Support program this year? In fact, we’ve been using our new needs assessment tool for six months! Recently, the staff who created the tool and now use it daily took some time to share how this innovative new system has been working.

“Since we began taking the time to understand clients’ individual needs, the average wait time for an appointment decreased from about ten months to three months,” A Wider Circle’s Chief Program Officer, Dr. Eddy Ameen shared in a recent meeting.

“We’ve been able to gather more helpful information about the clients. Most clients feel comfortable providing the level of information we are requesting, and caseworkers seem satisfied knowing that clients are scheduled based on need,” added our Director of Essential Support, Allie Imhoff.

The needs assessment tool goes through a review period every 30-60 days to ensure it’s meeting our standards of equity and is working as intended. 

We’re always looking for ways we can enhance our service model. More recently, we have been exploring ways in which we can address transportation barriers through distribution events centered around key high-need items, building partnerships with organizations that can help with transport, and, in some high-risk or rare cases, offering deliveries using our own trucks and our dedicated In-Kind Donations team!

As we pursue the vision of a community where our neighbors have what they need to thrive, this innovative intake system acts as another step on the journey to improve the rate at which we help and the quality of service we provide.

Rounding out the circle

Upcoming Events:

Tune in!

  • On Thursday, Montgomery Municipal Cable MMCTV Channel 16 aired the first episode of Solutions, a new show that highlights the work of noteworthy organizations in Montgomery County. We were honored to be the first local group given the spotlight. Check out the episode on YouTube, featuring interviews with President & CEO Amy Javaid and Chief Program Officer Eddy Ameen!
  • Greater than Zero Percent is a podcast that’s dedicated to finding and sharing the stories of people and organizations that are changing the world. The next episode, dropping on Thursday, 8/3, will feature A Wider Circle President & CEO, Amy Javaid!

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 comes from Amy, our President & CEO:

  • Big Bets by Rajiv Shah is a forthcoming book that’s half career examination and half insightful roadmap. Big Bets explores decision-making, leadership, and how one can change the world one bet at a time.

Furniture Finds:

This recently donated pristine vintage lamp is sure to add some personality to its next home!

That’s all for this week’s edition of A Wider Community. Be sure to check back in next week for more news from around our circle!

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