By Theo Blair

Despite the disappointment of last week’s false fall coming to a quick end and ushering in another heat wave, we’re still burning with the desire to do great work here are A Wider Circle! This week we’ve got another two-tale edition of A Wider Community for you, exploring:

Keep cool and enjoy a brief read about all the cool things happening around the circle and beyond in this week’s A Wider Community! Let’s go!

Connecting with our community in a major way, thanks to a generous donation!

Recently, A Wider Circle signed a five-year lease on the off-site warehouse we use to store bulk donations and host our Community Connection Events! We celebrated this milestone by hosting an absolutely unforgettable event made possible by a generous donation from a long-time supporter of our circle, The Honorable Ann Brown!

A Wider Circle is on track to host twelve of our Community Connection Events this year, serving an average of 40-50 families per event. To date, these events have helped us serve an astonishing total of 388 neighbors! Thanks to Ann’s donation of 375 brand-new bed sets of various sizes, we have a sizeable increase in inventory to ensure our ability to serve remains strong in the months to come!

Inventory staff members Danny M. (Left) & Jon S. (Right) in front of dozens of new mattresses purchased with funds donated by our most recent event’s sponsor, The Honorable Ann Brown!

Let’s take a step back though, as you may be wondering, “What exactly are Community Connection Events?” A Wider Circle’s Community Connection Events (CCEs for short) are distribution events centered around providing our neighbors with some most commonly requested items for families looking to establish a new home in the area, at no cost and with as few barriers to attendance as possible.

These events are becoming a significant resource for neighbors across the region. At the event hosted in tandem with Neighbor to Neighbor Day in June, we heard from 400 neighbors who were interested in these events in the future.

These events inspire neighbors to work together and find ways to share resources, like a group of three families who attended our most recent event together and used a tow truck to transport all of their mattresses and box springs!

CCEs go beyond offering just mattresses though, thanks to efforts from our volunteers, staff who help us unload bulk donations of furniture of various types, and partner organizations who join us for the events to provide a variety of resources.

Staff members Danny M. (left), Leo S., (right), and Jim, an amazing volunteer, (center) enjoy a brief pause between loading clients’ vehicles!

Groups like So What Else? and Manna Food Center have helped provide food, Suburban Hospital has provided information on medical services and classes they offer, Worksource Montgomery has offered job search assistance, and many more have joined us for events in the past!

If you are a member of or know of a nonprofit organization or agency whose goods or services might be a good fit to offer to individuals and families attending the monthly events, email janet@awidercircle.org to learn more about partnering for future CCEs.

Team Members from So What Else unloading a truckful of food items at a community connection event hosted in February.

When looking to the future of what might be possible as we settle into this new space and explore ways we can improve the space and alter our service model, Director of In-Kind Donations, Janet Dailey, shared these aspirations:

“As we continue to receive bulk donations from area hotels, universities, and businesses, we would benefit greatly by outfitting the space with pallet racks, specialty hand trucks/carts, and a forklift.” Janet also shared that she’d love to see our capacity to deliver items to clients increase, as transportation is one of the most significant barriers our clients face.

Fostering an inclusive community with Partners like SEEC!

A community of inclusivity where all have what they need to thrive is not just a standard we as an organization apply to the services we provide our clients, but to all who come through our doors! So when Seeking Employment, Equality, and Community (SEEC) approached us with an idea for a pilot program offering those they serve the opportunity to volunteer with us, learn about and engage with their community in a new way, and hone job readiness skills, we were excited to try it out!

SEEC is a Silver Spring, MD-based non-profit agency focused on providing community support to help people with developmental disabilities live lives of their choosing!

Participants of the pilot program participated in various volunteer opportunities, such as helping sort and fold baby clothes, inspecting, cleaning, and organizing kitchen items, greeting and accepting dropoffs from donors, and more!

Going forward, we are exploring ways in which we can potentially offer Career Support to participants in the program, future plans for the next cohort of on-site volunteers, and beyond!

Our thanks to SEEC and each participant of the pilot program for their time and interest in building a more equitable community for all our neighbors!

We interrupt your regularly scheduled story time!

To you, dear reader, we’d like to say a massive thank you! Whether this is your first edition of A Wider Community or you’ve read each and every story, we’re glad you’re interested in learning more about what’s going on in our community! We hope these peeks behind the curtain have been informative and inspired you to seek ways you can engage with your neighbors.

Our Communications team will be taking a brief but well-deserved break from this form of story-sharing next weekend before we dive into some of our busiest and most exciting months! While there will be no new edition of A Wider Community next week (9/17), there’s plenty of great news to share on the horizon!

We’ll be back to help you start your week off with good news on Monday, September 25!

Rounding out the circle

Upcoming events in the community:

Ways to get involved:

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

Staff Recommendations:

This Week Call Center Associate, Mike Hill, Recommended Trevor Noah’s Between the Scenes segment from his time as The Daily Show’s Host. Each episode is a short clip of Trevor engaging with the show’s live studio audience discussing a question they ask or a topic that was relevant for the time.

Mike shared the series because he feels Trevor is very good at explaining difficult social and political issues in an informative yet succinct way. You can find a whole playlist of Between the Scenes on YouTube!

Furniture Finds:

This well-loved chair and adorable bear are ready to head home with a family as they start a new chapter!

That’s all from us this week! We’ll see you again when we return on Monday the 25th!

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