By Theo Blair

Welcome back to A Wider Community, A Wider Circle’s ongoing blog exploring the goings-on in and around our circle!

This week, we’re diving into:

Let’s get rolling!

Johns Hopkins hops in to help bolster the inventory of A Wider Circle!

In the past few years, A Wider Circle has explored a new avenue of inventory procurement: bulk donations. By partnering with hotels, universities, and retail businesses from as far away as Boston, we are now keeping tens of thousands more gently used furniture pieces from landfills. Instead, these items are finding second lives in homes across our region. This week, we look at an ongoing series of donations from our neighbors in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins University.

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore has been a staple of the Maryland community for nearly 150 years. This year, the university began an update of its student housing, finding itself with close to 2,500 pieces of gently used furniture they no longer had space for. That’s where we come in!

A Wider Circle’s 15,000 sq/ft satellite warehouse is just down the road from our Center for Community Service in Silver Spring and plays a major role in our ability to accept and store these types of bulk donations.

“This warehouse space supports not only our work at the Center, but serves as a way station for other nonprofits as they serve our community,” our Director of In-Kind Donations, Janet Dailey shared.

A Wider Circle staff and volunteers unloading a truckload of couches and armchairs from Johns Hopkins directly to our showroom.

When asked how the In-Kind Donations team was adjusting to this increase in bulk donations, Janet shared these thoughts: “We have an amazing partner in Turbohaul, who are delivering the furniture directly to our satellite warehouse. But even with delivery, the impact on our operations is significant. We must shift resources to our satellite warehouse to unload several 53′ trailers. This places a burden on the remaining staff at our Center for Community Service, and we rely on volunteers to help fill in the gap”.

When asked how the broader community could help, Janet said that awareness is key and that those interested in volunteering as a “lifter” to assist in receiving large donations can contact our Volunteer Team at volunteer@awidercircle.org.

Additionally, if you know of or work for a business or organization interested in making a bulk donation, please encourage them to contact Janet Dailey, Director of In-Kind Donations, at janet@awidercircle.org.

DASHing into new career skills with our Career Support team

This week marked the conclusion of a series of group workshops put on by A Wider Circle’s Career Support team in partnership with District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH). Together, we offered job seekers practical tools and professional expertise across a number of topics, including strategic job searching, communicating about your skills and talents effectively, and career development.

DASH is a DC-based nonprofit focused on helping survivors of domestic and sexual abuse by providing low-barrier access to safe housing options and holistic services. While sharing how this partnership came about, A Wider Circle’s Director of Career Support, Adam Albanese, said this: 

“DASH has been an incredible partner with our Essential Support program, not just referring their clients for furniture support, but working hard to ensure they are able to get to the appointment. This partnership arose as an opportunity to expand the holistic support our shared clients receive from both DASH and AWC.”

When asked how neighbors from this program and beyond could receive similar services, Career Counselor Regina Robinson encouraged any who were interested to reach out to one or all of the members of the team: 

Cherie Mitchell, MHS
Career Development Specialist
Regina Robinson, M.Ed, CWDP
Career Counselor
Adam Albanese
Director of Career Support

In closing, Adam and Regina shared some advice for those looking to take a new step in their career journey: 

“Be patient with the process, celebrate the small victories and lessons learned, and stay plugged into a supportive network!” Regina

“Please stop minimizing your talents, skills, and abilities! Sometimes it’s easy to overlook or undervalue our greatest strengths because they feel easy and come naturally to us. Sometimes we don’t value our past work because our broken ‘labor market’ vastly undervalued jobs that we all know are truly essential, especially after the pandemic. If you can truly recognize your own inherent talents and acquired skills, trust that new connections and prospective employers will too.” – Adam

Existing partners or organizations interested in exploring a deeper partnership with our Career Support program are encouraged to reach out to Adam directly at adam@awidercircle.org.

A Wider Circle attends 2023 Summer RISE closing ceremonies

Summer RISE, a yearly program from the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Department of Partnerships, is designed to give rising juniors and seniors hands-on, career-based learning opportunities during the summer.

The program held its closing ceremony on July 28, and AWC staff members Chris Tobias and Scott Buchan attended to celebrate the successes of these students and share information about our work with younger generations.

Community Partnerships Manager Chris Tobias (far left) with fellow attendees of the closing ceremony.

A Wider Circle has been a long-time partner of the Summer Rise program, providing professional attire to students in the program and offering internships to those who show a strong interest in social justice and building a more equitable community.

Are you a student interested in getting more involved in our vision of a community where all who have what they need to thrive? Check out our available internships!

Rounding out the circle

Upcoming events in the community:

  • 8/14/23 6:00-7:00 pm: In-Person Yoga at Brigadier General Charles E. McGee Library (DTSS)
  • 8/16/23 11:00 am-2:00 pm: Ward 8 Hub Community Appreciation Day (Rescheduled)
  • 8/19/23 3:00-5:00 pm: Volunteer Ice Cream Social at the Center! Episodic volunteers who served this summer and all Core volunteers (personal shoppers, furniture shoppers, warehouse, admin, data entry, etc.) are welcome to join!
  • 8/24/23 1:00-2:00 pm: Career Support workshop — Taking Care of Your Business with Intentional Self Care: Personal Development Tools for Inspiring Entrepreneurs

Ways to get involved:

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

Staff Recommendations:

This week, Inventory Coordinator Miles Bucci recommends Oppenheimer, the 2023 Christopher Nolan Film based on the 2005 biography American Prometheus.

Furniture Finds:

These stylish matching cabinets are sure to stand out in any entryway or living room!

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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