In 2008, Leslie Bray came to Bread for the City looking for an opportunity to give back to the community. Leslie is the owner of Leslie Arnelle, a fashion styling service. Leslie believes that everyone regardless of income or ability deserves the opportunity to “Live Well and Live Fabulous.”
It’s no secret that individuals walking through our doors are not at the highest point in their lives. Experiences of poverty, hunger, illness, unemployment, and homelessness make living well and living fabulous seem like a distant memory or a far away hope. And yet, the individuals and families we serve are strong, resilient and refuse to give up. It is this perseverance that Leslie honors.
Leslie created the “Live Well and Live Fabulous giveaway” as a way of uplifting and encouraging individuals not to give up. Each month, Leslie solicits, or personally donates, a gift card to a restaurant, a movie theater, a book store, a retail store, a grocery store or some kind of special event. But Leslie doesn’t just stop there. She recognizes that when every single cent is a valuable resource, even transportation can be a barrier – so she also donates a Smartrip card to go with the gift card.
We then give these “Live Well and Live Fabulous gifts” to individuals in our case management program who are working hard toward their goals and could use a lift in their spirits. The past couple of years, we have given many of them away at our annual client achievement ceremony.
Here are just a few ways that Leslie has touched the lives of individuals:
Mr. X has two young children, and since they do not live with him, he values every moment he is with them. Through Leslie’s giveaway, he received a gift card to The Cheesecake Factory. He tells us that neither he, nor his children had ever been before and that the “grandiose dinner” was a special treat they will always remember.
Ms. J was taking classes toward an IT certification. And while this doesn’t sound so “fabulous” to me, she used her bookstore giftcard to purchase Calculus for Dummies; a book that will help support her on her journey.
Ms. S received a mother’s day boat cruise on the Potomac. She took her teenage son and the two enjoyed a relaxing day on the river and quality time with one another.
When Mr. R moved into a new apartment, he received at Target giftcard. He bought “luxuries” with it, like a new bathmat and other bathroom accessories he would have otherwise skipped.
Thank you. Leslie, for your generosity, vision, and commitment to bringing fabulous to the lives of vulnerable DC residents!
-- Thanks to Wendy Guyton, LGSW, our Northwest Social Services Supervisor, for contributing this post.