June 23, 2010

Client Achievement Ceremony: Let's Recognize!

Last week, Bread for the City (with a little help from our friends at the Kennedy Recreation Center) proudly hosted our annual Client Achievement Ceremony, celebrating the hard work and accomplishments of our clients over the past year.

NW Social Services Supervisor Wendy Guyton, in opening remarks, explained that for clients and staff alike, “this is a chance to pause and reflect on the journey that brought us where we are today, the journey that lies ahead, and the community that joins us in that journey.”

We’ve already mentioned the
remarks prepared by West, as transcribed and published here. Robyn, Bread for the City Rep Payee Client Liason, accompanied West to the front of the room and read his remarks aloud. When Robyn read West’s declaration that “I’ve been clean for 21 years,” the room broke into sustained applause. (In his speech, West announced that he has recently started paying his cable and phone bill himself; it’s an achievement that makes him feel proud of his independence, though he is still glad to have Bread for the City helping to manage his rent.)

After West’s emotional address, each client came up to receive a certificate, a t-shirt and some goodies -- and a chance to address the room. Several clients spoke to the group, expressing their gratitude and often their surprise at being recognized for achievement.

Some of the stories told would be familiar to readers of
Beyond Bread---like
a client of Hannah’s who waited for affordable housing for years, and has recently moved off the wait list and into his own apartment. (Stay tuned for an exciting update on his story!)

Donna is another shining example of what our clients accomplish every day. Formerly homeless but now living in her own apartment, Donna calls herself “an oldie but a goodie”; she has been a client with BFC since 1993 and credits us with helping her move into her own apartment. (See a great video of Donna here.) Donna is very happy to see that 17 years later, BFC is still growing--literally. “I used to go to the medical clinic and thank God they got a new one coming! It’s crowded in there!”

Brenda, a client who had been coming to BFC for decades, said the ceremony was a celebration of her recovery. After struggling for years with her drug addiction, the 49-year-old Washington native is clean and proud of it. Now fighting cancer, Brenda credits Dr. Randi, her case worker Hannah and all the staff at BFC for her progress. She is hoping to move out of her current apartment complex, into a safer, more supportive environment. But until then, she hopes others can learn from her experiences. “We all have a story to tell, whether it’s good or bad.”

One man proclaimed our executive director, George Jones, to be “an asset to the Shaw area, an asset to the whole city, and an asset to the whole community.”

The outpouring of gratitude and good faith was mutual. Wendy concluded the ceremony by saying: “We [the staff] would like to thank you [the clients] for being willing to share your lives with us and allowing us to take these steps alongside of you. Congratulations to each of you for your hard work and commitment to your own personal journey.”

See more photos from the ceremony on Flickr!

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