Welcome to the Fall 2023 Newsletter from A Wider Circle. We’ve put together some information you’ll need, some you will want, and plenty of tidbits to share with your own communities.
First off, THANK YOU. We could not do what we do without you! Our volunteers keep us going and help us get the word out about our work.
It’s the holiday season, so we have a few words about holiday programs you might be interested in. We’ve got our first volunteer profile, and we think you’ll find it inspiring. Plus, a few words about an exciting new program from the state of Maryland, and goings-on at the Ward 8 Hub. And, most important, volunteer opportunities.
Up top, some pointers from our volunteer coordinator, Anthony Washington:
If you have been with us for years or a few weeks, please sign in and out each time you volunteer with us. By doing so, we are able to track your hours for reporting and recognition purposes and it lets us know who is in the building at all times in case of an emergency.
Clean up, Clean up
Before you depart for your volunteer shift, please take the last 15 minutes to clean up the section you are working in. That means all unsorted items that are on a table should go back into a bin or a shelf in the section you are working in, all trash should be thrown away, and everything should look neat and tidy. The volunteer team will walk around to remind you to do so at the end of your shift. Thank you in advance for helping us keep our warehouse clean and organized.
Overflow: Bags to the left, Boxes to the right
Everything that goes to overflow should be put into a bag (clothes and linens) or a box (housewares, toys, and appliances). If the item cannot fit into a box, please do your best to place it on a shelf if there is space for it. In addition, place all overflow as far back as you can so nobody has to step over anything to get into the overflow section.
Also, remember if an item is missing parts, does not work, or is so dirty it can not be cleaned, it should go into the trash not overflow.
So much fun stuff coming for the program this year. And so many opportunities for volunteers. Here’s a shortcut email for all these programs: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chanel Giles, Operations Manager at A Wider Circle, is organizing this wonderful program.
“A Wider Circle’s Good Karma Holiday Program will be able to sponsor 300 families at Thanksgiving with lovingly assembled food baskets,” she says. “Our recipients are residents of the Washington Highlands neighborhood in Washington, DC, who participate in programs offered at our Ward 8 Hub and clients attending furniture, clothing, and career services appointments at our Center in Silver Spring, MD.”
We are collecting donations of gift cards so recipients can buy fresh food for the holiday table, and shelf-stable items to distribute. These include:
1 $50 Safeway or Giant gift card (If $50 is not within your reach this year, you can decrease the value to $25)
1 Cranberry sauce (whole or jellied)
1 Stuffing mix (Stove Top, etc.)
1 Box of Instant Mashed Potatoes
1-2 Cans of Sweet Potatoes
1-2 Cans or Jars of Turkey Gravy
1 Box of Macaroni Noodles
2-3 Canned Vegetables (low sodium preferably)
1 Cornbread Mix
1 Can or Box of Shelf-Stable Milk
Donations are being dropped off at the Brookville Rd warehouse through November 14. More details are here: awidercircle.org/holiday.
“With food insecurity as high as ever, this will make a big difference,” says Anthony.
Winter Wonderland (formerly The North Pole)
The Winter Wonderland (formerly The North Pole) is a longstanding and popular holiday event at A Wider Circle. Allie Imhoff, Director of Essential Support, is heading up the operation this year.
“Throughout the month of December, our clients coming in for appointments to pick out furniture, baby items, or professional clothing are also able to shop for some toys for their children,” Allie says. Winter Wonderland is a special section in the warehouse. “It’s decorated like a winter wonderland and there are brand new toys there. Clients are able to come in and shop and select toys, two toys per child.”
We’re looking for volunteers to help shoppers and to help wrap the presents, Allie says. You can sign up here.
A Wider Circle also distributes holiday gifts to clients in Ward 8. “We could use volunteers to deliver gifts to the Highland community in Ward 8,” says YaVonne Boyd, Director of the Ward 8 Hub. She says 200 families will receive gifts as part of this program. You can ask about this program by emailing email@example.com. “Truly neighbor-to-neighbor,” says Anthony.
Plus, Liz Anne Ganiban, Senior Director of The Partnership to Independence, is lead on the collection of 5,000 or more gifts to be distributed to youth across DC public housing programs, ensuring no child is left behind. “We definitely need toys if any volunteers want to send in or bring in toys. We have an Amazon wish list,” Liz Anne says. “We will need people to help distribute the family sponsor gifts to Highland Dwelling and Highland Additions, the community by our Ward 8 Hub. We will need a lot of help on December 15 and 16.” If you’re interested in helping, you can sign up here.
If you know of a donor who is interested in helping, please direct folks to www.awidercircle.org/holiday.
“If you know of a family in need who is not eligible for one of our programs above, please share with them these resources that Chanel and others have compiled for other opportunities in the area (and let Chanel know if you have any others to add to the list),” says Eddy Ameen, Chief Program Officer at A Wider Circle.
Here’s a shortcut to all holiday program volunteer opportunities: signup.com/go/mVyXucV
And here’s a link to the latest A Wider Community blog post: https://awidercircle.org/a-wider-community-10-30-23/
A Year of Service
Maryland’s version of the Peace Corps or Americorps has started, and A Wider Circle is benefiting. Maryland Governor Wes Moore launched the Service Year Option for recent high school graduates soon after he took office. The Baltimore Sun wrote about it here.
Rachael Buck, Director of Advocacy at A Wider Circle, is managing this program, which supplements the salary for a staffer. Noelle Ransome joined the program as a volunteer coordinator on October 25, and Trey Taylor joined the program as a fellow with the Essential Support team this week.
“This program is for young people who are looking to serve their community and wanted to engage for a year,” Rachael says.
- Thank you to Maggie Fox for writing and editing this volunteer newsletter
- Thank you to Christine Fantaskey for her leadership in the PDC and for working with Director of In-Kind Donations Janet Dailey to make our Community Connections events so special for our clients.
- Thank you to Bobbi Fagan for constantly thinking of ways in which our warehouse can be better organized and our processes can be improved.
- Thank you to all of our high school volunteers who support our work every Saturday.
- Thank you to Jen Tidwell for making frequent trips between our Center for Community Service in Silver Spring and the Hub in S.E. DC to bring professional clothing and other items to clients in need.
Volunteer Profile: Gary Friend
From the White Collar Rat Race to Blue Collar Service
By Maggie Fox
Gary Friend is concentrating hard as he shaves a small piece of wood to fit into the foot of a wrought metal chair.
“It just came in with this sign on it that says ‘broken chair,” says Friend, before he dashes over to the nearby housewares section to scavenge a broken bowl to mix glue in. It’s up to Friend to determine whether it’s even worthwhile to try to save the chair and, if so, how to repair it. … [READ MORE]
Ward 8 Hub Update
The team at the Hub in Ward 8 is plenty busy, offering career support, advice, and counseling. Plus, art therapy!
Career Development Specialists Cherie Mitchell, Career Counselor Regina Robinson, and Director of Career Support Adam Albanese hold virtual open office hours.
Leilanie Morales, an art therapy intern at GWU, holds regular sessions.
Plus: The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) helps District residents earning less than 40% of the Area Median Income who are facing housing emergencies, by providing funding for overdue rent including late fees and court costs if a qualified household is facing eviction. The program also supports security deposits and the first month’s rent for residents moving into new apartments. The amount paid on behalf of eligible households depends on a household’s income and available resources and is subject to certain limitations.
That’s it for this issue of the newsletter.
If you have ideas for future issues, please contact Maggie Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading this far, and for the time, expertise, and love you give to A Wider Circle. You are making a difference!
Email: email@example.com | Phone: 301-830-7009 | Web: https://awidercircle.org/volunteer