December 29, 2010

2010: a Year in Review

As we wrap up this crazy holiday season, let’s take a moment to reflect on the year that was 2010. It was a busy one for Bread for the City, filled with challenges, loss, innovation and growth. Have a look:

For most of the year, we watched the ongoing construction on our new Northwest Center facility (which includes a major expansion for our Medical Clinic). The expansion was finally completed in November, and we’ve moved in this month. (The Grand Opening is next Friday - you should come!)

But even before the move, our Medical Program was busy innovating - developing health-oriented literacy classes for both kids (with childrens’ books) and adults (with computer classes). Our cooking and nutrition classes ventured into ethnic cuisines, and even launched weight loss support groups.

Meanwhile, our Legal Team won some major victories for tenants that resonated across the city - like pressuring the Powers that Be to create a docket for tenants to file complaints about housing conditions in Landlord/Tenant court, and successfully representing the rent-striking tenants of Marbury Plaza as they demanded improvements to one of the largest housing complexes in the city. Other Big Wins included the Jerrold Scoutt Prize (Lord High Legal Director Vytas V. Vergeer) and Jeopardy (power-blogger Stacy Braverman).

Our food pantry saw both great steps forward and a devastating loss this year. Our Southeast Center introduced a whole new model of distributing food called “Client Choice,” which we've subsequently worked to improve, and ultimately permanently adopt, to widespread approval from staff, clients, and volunteers. Our second annual Glean for the City season was such a success that we actually had to put surplus fresh veggies out for anyone to take as much as they wanted; we even hosted a Free Farmers Market (which we hope to reintroduce and expand next summer). Amid all this, however, we said goodbye to our Food Pantry director, Ted Pringle, who built Bread for the City’s pantry into what it is today, and whose legacy will stay right with us in the future. Rest in Peace, Ted.

Even as we dealt with loss in our own family, we also took note that this was an especially difficult year for many of our clients. As the Great Recession trudged on, this blog recorded the dramatic rise in the need for utility assistance, the diminishing stock of affordable housing, and the devastating impact of budget cuts to critical programs such as disability benefits. Our social services staff worked furiously to meet new needs; for instance, Southeast’s Sherita Evans developed specialized protocols for working with low-income veterans who are increasingly turning to us. We also took more active advocacy responses to rising poverty, helping to launch the Save Our Safety Net campaign, and championing the expansion of food stamps in the District. You could even turn to the blog to hear it directly from our clients themselves, like Patty Anne, who is becoming something of a Beyond Bread regular.

That’s just a sampling of the year behind us; and, of course, we considered many issues that we’ll have even more to say about in the future (like our seedling rooftop garden program!). Here’s a huge thank you for everyone who helped us over the course of the past year. Your support makes all of this work possible.

If you haven’t yet, please consider making a year-end donation -- and share that with your friends and loved ones. And to all of us, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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