For the first time in over 2 years, we are thrilled to announce that Thrive DC will once again be hosting in-person congregate meals!
We will be offering in-person dining for up to 50 people on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:30 - 9:30 AM starting on June 27th!
For clients who aren't able to join us for a sit-down meal, we will continue to serve to-go meals on Monday-Friday. We will also reserve Thursdays for our grocery pantry, as it has grown to serve hundreds of people each week and is one of our most successful programs.
Since the pandemic, we haven't stopped serving hot meals to clients in need. But we have missed the sense of community and support that our in-person morning program offered -- and we are thrilled to gather together once again, over 2 years later!
But we can't do this alone. Here are two ways you can help:
We are beyond excited to to gather together again in just a couple of weeks!
At Thrive DC, our primary strategy to prevent and end homelessness in DC is providing clients with the ability to meet all of their basic needs in the form of a “one-stop shop.” This is a big mission - we could not exist without partners who support us and increase our capacity to serve. Capital Area Food Bank is one of those partners, helping address our clients' needs of hunger and health.
With a mission to help their neighbors thrive by creating more equitable access to food, CAFB has been a consistent partner of Thrive DC since the beginning of the pandemic. Their strategy has three main pillars: gathering food donations from their community, organizing and preparing these donations in their distribution center, and utilizing both their own food programs, as well as other nonprofit food assistance partners, to ensure that food gets to where the community needs it most.
Before COVID-19, food insecurity in DC was less an issue of coverage and more an issue of alignment. CAFB and organizations like it weren’t necessarily focused on acquiring enough food, but ensuring that the food gets to where it needs to go.
That changed in March 2020. All of a sudden food insecurity became a huge concern for families who had been living on the edge and were now uncertain how they were going to make it. Thrive DC began seeing hundreds of people lining up for groceries outside of our door as people all across the region were unsure where their next meal would come from.
In response, CAFB pivoted their strategy and began packaging emergency boxes containing enough shelf-stable food to feed a family of four for up to 5 days. At the same time, Thrive DC began their partnership with CAFB in an emergency effort to distribute these boxes to members of the community as quickly and safely as possible.
Now, two years later, Thrive DC is meeting a critical need of CAFB's as a sub-distribution center.
Because many smaller organizations in the district don’t have the proper facilities to receive donations from CAFB, Thrive DC acts as a “middle man” of sorts. Each week. CAFB drops off hundreds of emergency boxes that Thrive then distributes to smaller nonprofits, allowing healthy food to penetrate the communities that need them most. At the height of the pandemic, Thrive DC was serving thousands of people this way with over a dozen small group community groups like Ward 1’s Mutual Aid Society, the Alliance for Concerned Men, and Blessed Sacrament.
This partnership not only allows a greater linkage between community-based organizations in DC, but it ensures that there is better alignment of resources to the neighborhoods that are in the greatest need.
[Our] partnership with Thrive DC is extremely important to our neighbors in Ward 1. Thrive has also become a hotspot to immigrant families to secure their groceries. They continuously up their numbers to feed more and more families every single day. We’re grateful and appreciate our partnership. - CAFB.
CAFB shares a similar mission as Thrive DC: to see community members flourish. The pandemic may have brought challenges, but it has also encouraged organizations to find common ground, partner up, and help each other fill gaps. As the old adage goes, two is better than one!
As authorities work to address this unprecedented public health crisis, everyone is frightened and unsure in their heart. Those of us who have the security of jobs, health insurance, homes, friends, and family can rest a bit more assured knowing that these blessings can help us stay buoyed. But, imagine if your life was already in a state of chaos; if you did not have a safety net to draw upon; and you if felt things spiraling out of control as those services that were keeping you afloat began to gradually disappear.
The place where you would usually go to take a shower and do a load of laundry is now closed. The dining hall where you could have a hot meal is no longer serving food. The office where your case manager or mental health worker would normally meet with you is shut down until further notice. The place where you would collect your mail, make a phone call and use the computer now has a sign that reads, “Closed Due to Corona Virus.”
This is not fictional. This is what our clients are already experiencing across the nation’s capital and the country. As I watch the disoriented faces of our client community today, my heart aches. I see fear in their eyes as they feel the only rug under their feet is being snatched away. Some are dazed and moving around aimlessly. Others are asking a million questions that we don't have answers to. I am getting e-mails where people are saying, "I just don't know what to do!"
Several weeks ago, when things still seemed normal, a gentleman we will call Jack came into Thrive DC. He was about to lose his housing. He needed to work and wanted to work. We enrolled him in our Job Readiness program. We helped strengthen his resume and do a targeted job search. To our delight, he got two offers: one part-time job in a restaurant kitchen and one as a full-time bartender. We got him shoes, pants, and a white shirt. We provided transportation for his first few weeks until he got paid. He was thrilled to have things going in his favor. He completed his training for the full-time position last week only to find out that there is no more bar service now and that the restaurant is putting all new hires on hold. In one day, both of his job prospects were gone. They vanished. A week ago Jack’s life was full of hope, positive things were happening. Jack felt like he was finally breaking through a dark place and seeing the light. Now, through no fault of his own, he is back in the dark.
This is just one of the thousands of stories that homeless people and those with unstable housing are experiencing at the moment. As one of the most disadvantaged, overlooked, belittled and vulnerable communities, their fear and anxiety are palpable. And rightfully so. We cannot just do the right thing for the most wealthy and visible. What about those who live on the margins of society? Our current response for this incredibly vulnerable community is to herd them into shelters and wait for the worst to happen. There are no effective policies or real plans for those with the least among us. One client told me," I am just waiting, waiting for this thing to knock me over and drag me through the S*&%$. I know it is coming.” My heart sank.
Despite our best intentions, I feel like we have failed a huge segment of our society. Affordable housing has continued to diminish. At the same time, over-incarceration, unemployment, and broken systems (i.e., mental health services) have fueled a miasma of social ills that have penned people to a life of poverty that may even cost them their lives. Last month, when I felt like there was nothing else I could do for a client, at the very least I could at least offer them a hug. Now, in the era of social distancing, I can't even do that. When we come up for air and this tragic time is behind us, I hope that we can do the hard work to create a proper safety net for the most vulnerable. Our national lack of planning, resource allocation and adequate response will hopefully spur new levels of action so that we can be better prepared to protect the lives of the most vulnerable during the next crisis.