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Prabir and Lakshmi Dutta are two new members of the Thrive DC family, but have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into our work. Lakshmi volunteers with our emergency grocery program every Thursday, and they made a generous donation at the end of 2021 to provide new computers to the whole staff!

Now, instead of “fighting” with slow and broken computers, our staff can spend their time focused on serving clients and doing their work without restrictions. Below is a short interview with the Duttas to learn more about why giving back through Thrive DC is so important to them.

What motivates you to give back to your community?

We arrived on the shores of this country as immigrants almost 50 years ago and have been blessed with many opportunities. In turn we would like to help others, especially those who, because of circumstances often beyond their control, have been unable to take advantage of life’s offerings.

What inspired you to get involved with Thrive DC?

After retirement in 2011, Lakshmi began volunteering for a food pantry in Columbus, Ohio and found it fulfilling to serve clients who were hit hard by the financial crisis. Later, she was intimately involved as a volunteer with an organization in Ohio working with domestic violence victims. After moving to DC, Lakshmi looked for similar opportunities and started volunteering at Thrive DC. She is having a wonderful time working with other volunteers and staff every week. She’s also discovered that Thrive DC is much more than a food pantry. Thrive DC is acting as a gateway for folks to re-enter mainstream society, and giving its clients solace and a pathway for a better life.

What difference do you see Thrive DC making in the community?

Thrive DC is helping with hunger by providing healthy meals to anyone who walks through the door without any pre-judgements. Thrive DC is also helping people re-enter society as full participants by aiding them with job opportunities or vocational training. This reminds us of the maxim that “to teach a person to fish will help the person for a lifetime."

How do you see Thrive DC as part of your legacy for your kids and grandkids?

The Dutta family has always been involved in volunteer activities, with both our children serving as Peace Corps volunteers. We want our children and grandchildren to continue to be empathetic, offer material/emotional support to those less fortunate, and hopefully aspire to create and live in a society where every person has the wherewithal to lead a fruitful life and achieve their dreams. In other words, we hope that our kids and grandkids imbibe the spirit of Thrive DC and what it does for the community.

American University Public Health Scholars Volunteer at Thrive DC

At Thrive DC, we are grateful to have Public Health Scholars from American University volunteer with us every Wednesday. From sorting mail, to putting together grocery bags of food,  to organizing hygiene donations, these first-year students are making an incredible impact with their time -- all while getting to apply their theory-based education to tangible situations in the field.

Read more about their experience volunteering at Thrive DC.

We couldn’t do this critical work without your help and continued support for our clients whether that be helping Chef Terrance in the kitchen to sorting mail and everything in between, the impact is helping us better serve the community. We are sharing stories that resonate with our clients, staff, and volunteers though weekly Stories of Hope emails and our monthly Volunteer Spotlight series.

Mariah, our Communications Coordinator, sat down with Camille to learn more about why she got involved with us and how others can get started. Camille has been volunteering with us since we were still the Dinner Program for Homeless Women. She has served on our board of directors, and continues to be involved through her weekly mindfulness group and volunteering on our advisory board. She’s been a dedicated supporter of all things Thrive DC since 1995 and we’re proud to have her as part of the Thrive DC family!

Read more about her story below:

I know that you’ve been volunteering with Thrive DC for a while but I’d love to know exactly how long and how you first heard about Thrive DC.

So I believe it would be 1995 because my son was in kindergarten at Janney Elementary School and we had this program in place where we provided a lasagna dinner once a month for clients. We would come and make lasagna, then join in the kitchen and help serve. This was when Thrive DC was still called the Dinner Program for Homeless Women and we came in the evening. I’d take my son after school and we’d help serve, this was three places ago near Martin Luther King library.

All three of my kids were at Janney so when the person who coordinated that partnership left Janney, I took over as the coordinator of that partnership.

What made you continue to volunteer with us?

Well, because I think it’s an amazing program! I just think it’s a great program and I wanted my kids to stay involved. After Janney they still came occasionally and sometimes we’d come on Thanksgiving together to volunteer. My daughter has come a few times with CREW DC (Commercial Real Estate Women). I just wanted to lead by example for my kids and say, hey this is important. There are people less fortunate than us and we need to help out when we can. Shortly after Fiona left Janney in 2012, we were at a Gala and my husband said to Alicia: “You should get Camille on the board!” and I was like, “Oh, thank you Larry.” I’m joking, it was great! So then I got on the board!

Sometimes I still come to help with meals. I mostly do my mindfulness and meditation group now. I’ve transitioned from the board because my term was up but we started an advisory board so we’re getting that going right now. I’m really happy to be on the advisory board and to have served on the board but glad I had a connection to the work before that so I knew I would continue to come and help in a different way. I like the fact that I can still be hands on too. Everyone has a different skill set to offer. I’ve gotten to know the clients quite a bit so I like when I get to see them and touch base. When I don’t see a client for a while, I get worried.

I wanna hear more about your mindfulness and meditation group. When did you start it and how did you see it fitting in to client needs?

It was already started by another board member. Gracy was teaching yoga and I remember talking to her when she was pregnant with her son. A lot of the times when people hear yoga they think of difficult poses so I wanted to help change the perspective. I said I’d be happy to take over it and I may have a different spin on it. I think it’s been over a year now!

We meet Wednesday mornings for a half an hour so they can get downstairs to eat breakfast. I call it mindfulness, meditation, and movement practice which is yoga too. Yoga is a little bit of everything: mindfulness, meditation, breathing, and it’s spiritual. We meet in the sanctuary and the most we’ve had is 7 participants and sometimes it’s as small as two people joining. I really liek it because I’ve really gotten to know clients.

We do a mini sangha, a community of people who meditate together and share. We start with a sitting meditation, sometimes we’ll do a walking meditation and I’ll guide us through it. We follow that with a welcome, we go around the circle and welcome one another. Then we do a little movement. I’m afraid to call it yoga in case it may turn some people away. When I first get to Thrive on Wednesday I’ll usually walk around the dining room area and talk to people, encourage them to join us.

We mostly do movement that you can do in a chair but sometimes we’ll do movements that you’d see in a typical yoga class but it’s not challenging and I always offer modifications. After the movement, we usually do readings and I’ll bring in a book. I’ll bring in books that are inspirational and non-religious. Teachings of loving kindness and freeing yourself fro pain and suffering. Right now, we’re reading pieces of every step and it’s just a book about mindfulness and how to be present in the here and now. We read a little section the other day on how to be with what you are in that moment. There’s also a section on sitting meditations and eating meditations, letting your body enjoy it and slowing down.

Sometimes I bring in cards. I found these cards that are called, ‘who have you come here to be’. They’re really cool. Everyone picks one and there’s always a special word and picture on the card.  For example, it might say: ‘I have come here to be patient or I have come here to be energetic.’ We share each person’s card and they may not feel whatever that card says that day or they may want to feel that way.

I always give time to share whatever is on your mind and it’s a judgement free zone. I want it to feel like a safe place. There was something that a client shared and I asked if I could share. They said yes to bring awareness to it. A client had gone into Starbucks and was arrested because they were resting there, they weren’t feeling well and didn’t buy a cup of coffee. The client came in to our meeting that day really shaken, especially because they had been in the hospital earlier that week and their blood pressure was high from that encounter. Sometimes people will share that it feels really good to be here today so we always have time for that. We have a bell and then do a hugging meditation.

It’s great that people can share those things with you, have that time to unwind and not think about the outside world.

Yes! One day, a gentleman in the dining room told me, “Ya know, these guys don’t know what that group is. You should have a video or something to explain what the group does and more people would be going.” I’d love to share a video clip or something on what it’s like to practice mindfulness and being present.That way, the yoga portion is not as intimidating.

What has stood out to you the most throughout the years as you’ve volunteered with us?

Most recently, there’s a woman who comes to the group and she said that coming on Wednesday morning really makes her day. She told me that she looks forward to coming and sharing time with us. She’s had a brain injury but she’s really smart and happy to be there. I shared that it’s just as meaningful to me as it is to her. It’s important for clients to know that too. We’re in this little community together! That felt really good. When I’ve served in the dining room, I love when people are smiling and enjoying Chef Terrance’s food. How it brings joy and community. It’s fun to see people chatting it up and meeting with friends at their tables. Sometimes someone will stop me and thank me for being there.

What advice would you give someone who’s interested in volunteering with us or just maybe getting started?

I would just say, come and volunteer! Come in and see what it’s like. I think the website is a great place to go and read about what other volunteers are doing. Come with a friend or even bring a couple of people!

We couldn’t do this critical work without your help and continued support for our clients whether that be helping Chef Terrance in the kitchen to sorting mail and everything in between, the impact is helping us better serve the community. We are sharing stories that resonate with our clients, staff, and volunteers though Stories of Hope emails and our Volunteer Spotlight series.

Mariah, our Communications Coordinator, sat down with Amogh to learn more about why he got involved with us and how others can get started. Amogh dedicates his time to helping with in kind donation sorting and distribution, aiding in administrative tasks, sorting and distributing coats during our winter warmth days, and everything in between. He’s a strong supporters of all things Thrive DC, read more about his story below!

How did you first hear about Thrive DC?

I heard about thrive from Rebecca my friend in Grad school who was also previously a volunteer at Thrive. I was looking for a way to get involved in my community when I decided to work and live in DC and she was very helpful in providing me the resources to reach out and get involved

What made you interested in volunteering with us?

My interest started with my trips to DC for my internships and informational interviews. While in DC I noticed the issue of people experiencing homelessness in the metropolitan area and found myself asking what can I do to help and contribute my skills to work towards ending homelessness.

What have been some highlights or a moment that has stood out to you so far?

A moment that stood out for me was when I was working to hand out mail to a client and we ended up striking a conversation about the catalog of shoes she received in the mail. The conversation shifted from me letting her know to have a nice day to us bonding over the fact that we both love to shoe shop and our favorite kinds of shoes and what we wanted to get our loved ones for Christmas. It was a humbling experience as an outsider, because we tend to forget people experiencing homelessness are human too and we all share that common bond of wanting to socialize and be loved. It was one of my favorite moments where I could make a difference in someone’s day by sharing my love for shoes.

What does a typical volunteer shift look like for you? What areas or tasks do you usually help with? 

A typical volunteer shift for me is helping with administrative tasks. I come in on Mondays at 1pm-3pm to help sort and organize mail. I then help distributed mail to clients as they come to check if they have received any new packages etc. Depending on the day, I help with filing intake folders, shred documents, organize and file in-kind donations that people drop off or help with distributing and organizing the in-kind donations.

What are your passions in life and the broader community? 

My passions in life are to work towards creating a more prosperous community for all. Having lived and traveled in South Asia and South East Asia, I was introduced to a wide variety of human suffering but also saw inefficiencies in institutions or the lack of institutional powers to help people. This sparked my passion to take up developmental economics to learn about what economies need and how markets work to deliver those goods. This passion then evolved to me pursing a Masters to approach solutions through sound policy work. Having a background on how markets and economies functions, I wanted to understand what are the political levers for social and economic changes that occur at the policy making level and what are the impacts many of these policies have on people and institutions.

What advice would you give someone who is interested in volunteering with us or just starting out?

I would say come in with an open heart and mind. Greeting someone with a smile and a positive attitude can make an impact, even though it is small. Change in incremental and smile and positive attitude in a step in the direction of progress. 

We couldn’t do this critical work without your help and continued support for our clients whether that be helping Chef Terrance in the kitchen to sorting mail and everything in between, the impact is helping us better serve the community. We are sharing stories that resonate with our clients, staff, and volunteers though our Stories of Hope and our Volunteer Spotlight series.

Colleen, our Communications Intern, sat down with Cassandra to ask her a few questions about her experience with Thrive DC. Cassandra volunteers with Thrive DC on a weekly basis, and sometimes even brings her son along with her! Thank you Cassandra for all that you do to make Thrive DC a great place for our clients!

What made you interested in volunteering with Thrive?

I volunteered since I was your age in college. My college had a little literacy program for their staff, so when I was a sophomore in college I started tutoring, he was actually one of the gardeners on campus, and I just loved it. And then I have a masters in social work, and I’m not working, and I miss that connection to people and this fits everything I want. Working with people, Ward 1, DC focused. I mostly work with the women in the women’s program but I have also done the employment program, my son and I volunteered for a year in the dinner program before the hours got changed, so it’s just  … it feels right. It feels like home to me.

How long have you been with us?

I think 2.5 or 3 years

How has your experience been with Thrive?

I love it. It’s a great place to volunteer!

What has stood out to you the most when volunteering at Thrive?

The relationships between the staff and the clients, you see a lot of love there. You see a lot of teasing of each other back and forth in a loving way. You just, I think that what makes Thrive a wonderful place is that the clients are pretty consistent so because of that consistency people are able to forge relationships and it doesn’t feel transactional, it feels like part of a family and people are just trying to help each other out. It’s just...it’s great, it’s a great place to be.

What roles have you played as a volunteer?

I’ve done a lot. Well my son and I did the dinner program when he was in the third grade. That’s another thing, Thrive is one of the few places kids can volunteer starting when they’re 8 years old. So Allister volunteered for a year, every week, after school, but then the funding got cut and the hours changed so he can’t do that anymore because he’s in school from 2-4, but from 4-6 we come once a week. So he and I did the dinner program, I’ve helped out in the employment program, I’ve more frequently been getting pulled to do the front desk, which I like, it’s fast paced. And then the clothing drive, I’ve done a bunch of coat distributions, and through my son’s school, Janney and Thrive have had a 20 year relationship so on the Janney end I coordinate the gift drive for the clients for Christmas and now am the Thrive liason from Janney.

How was your experience volunteering with the clothing drive?

It was great. It was a lot of fun, it’s well organized! I was really impressed with how everything flowed, how the development team came together and they had a lot of fun with it and the clients seemed to be pretty happy. It was just a good experience.

Is there a moment with a client(s) that has stood out to you?

I don’t feel like there’s a moment, I feel like every day that I come here somebody is happy. Whether it’s the woman who’s super excited that it’s mashed potatoes for dinner and she gets a big scoop of them. Or last week, a man came in he  and he had been to four different agencies trying to get funding for a pair of glasses. I was at the front desk that day and i was able to very quickly fill out a check request and he was just so grateful that it was so painless when he got here. So every day something happens. With so much negativity in the world, and all of these things we can’t control, it’s nice that every day you come here and something, someone, you can make their life or their day just a little bit better. And what might not seem like a big deal to some of us, like new reading glasses, was huge to this guy. Another thing that stands out is just how embraced my son was when he was a volunteer here. For his ninth birthday, we volunteered here the day after, and he wanted to bring cupcakes in for all of the women in the program. They were all so sweet to him. So I don’t know, everything stands out.

What is the most rewarding moment you have had at Thrive?

Every day you leave feeling like ‘you know what, I hope I helped make someone’s life or their day a little better.’ You get to do that here.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested or just starting to volunteer with us?

You can’t be shy. This is not a place for people who need a lot of hand holding. You just have to jump in, introduce yourself to people, ask how you can be useful, and get to know people. The staff here are lovely and wonderful. See how you can be of service that day. You’re here to volunteer your time, well what can you do that day to be helpful?

Anything else you’d like to add?

I think it’s sad that a place like Thrive is needed, especially in a city as wealthy and a country as wealthy as this. I know that Thrive wishes they could do more to help people, but the need is so great the supplies are so limited. But, the fact that it is needed and in Ward 1 where so many of their services have left, Thrive just does the best they can do. People just don’t seem really stressed out, it seems like every is trying to do the best that they can.

Colleen is a junior at the George Washington University double majoring in English and journalism with a minor in creative writing. Originally from Allentown, Pennsylvania, Colleen hopes to enter the world of communications post graduation and hopefully work in the nonprofit field. Colleen is passionate about housing in D.C., and previously interned with Street Sense Media, a D.C. newspaper dedicated to reporting on issues relevant to the homeless community. On her campus, Colleen is the Political Affairs chair for Voices for Choices, GW’s reproductive justice advocacy organization, and is a member of the Feminist Student Union.

We couldn’t do this critical work without your help and continued support for our clients whether that be helping Chef Terrance in the kitchen to sorting mail and everything in between, the impact is helping us better serve the community. We are sharing stories that resonate with our clients, staff, and volunteers though our Stories of Hope and our Volunteer Spotlight series. 

Mariah, our Communications Coordinator, sat down with Karen to learn more about why she got involved with us and how others get get started. Her and her husband are both volunteers and strong supporters of all things Thrive DC. Karen dedicates her time to both our morning program and helping us with administrative work at the front desk. She has a passion for helping our clients, thank you for your time and dedication!

How did you first hear about Thrive?

From my husband, Brian. He started volunteering at Thrive in January of 2017 and at that time he was living in DC and I was living in Alabama. One day during the week I came here with him to help serve breakfast and that was my very first experience with Thrive.

What made you interested in volunteering with us after your first time here with Brian?

I just saw the need and I saw what Thrive does and what Brian had told me about the organization, how all of these serves that are offered to the community make an impact. I thought, I would like to be a part of this!

How long have you been volunteering with us?

It’s been over a year! I started in February of 2017, I’ve been here in DC almost a year and a half. This is my first experience in a city of this size.

What has stood out to you most while volunteering at Thrive? You’ve been with us for over a year, what makes you keep coming back?

Simply enjoyment! I enjoy my interactions with the clients. I love watching the staff interact with the clients, I’ve learned a lot. Just knowing that a lot of the clients who come may not have a strong support system and to see them, learn their names, I think it means a lot.

Are there any moments with clients that have stood out to you?

Recently, there’s been a client that I’ve seen here on and off for months. I’m here once a week but I think she comes here pretty regularly. I usually see her in the computer lab in the afternoons and it’s always a delight to see her. A few weeks ago, I saw her at union station and she was like, “hey!” It was like meeting up with an old friend, I got to see and talk for a few minutes so that was neat!

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to volunteer with us?

Come volunteer! Keep an open mind and know that your interaction with someone may be the highlight of their day. How you treat them can impact the rest of their day from then on. We all have unique personalities. There is power in kindness. There’s a book that I read recently called Everybody, Always by Bob Goff and it’s all about love. Loving others and especially your neighbors and even strangers. He talks about building relationships three minutes at a time, relationship building is so important.

We couldn’t do this critical work without your help and continued support for our clients whether that be helping Chef Terrance in the kitchen to sorting mail and everything in between, the impact is helping us better serve the community. We are sharing stories that resonate with our clients, staff, and volunteers though our Stories of Hope and our Volunteer Spotlight series.

Mariah, our Communications Coordinator, sat down with Chioma Iheanacho to learn more about why she got involved with us and how others get get started. She is a strong supporter of all things Thrive DC. Chioma dedicates her time to both our morning program and helping us with administrative work at the front desk. She has a passion for helping our clients and is an incredible young leader in the community, read the full interview below!

Tell me a little bit about yourself & what made you interested in volunteering at Thrive

I’m a Strategic Communications Major at Howard University and I was really into it because I’m from Jersey. I knew I was going to be here for the summer at school and I’m the Freshman leadership Academy so there’s an emphasis on doing community service, we’ve done work with Kip who helps kids with mental disabilities, we’ve worked with DC Central Kitchen, and gardening activities.

I didn’t want to sit in DC for 3 months and not do anything. I found Thrive and thought it was really cool. I do something similar back home and thought, this is more my game and what I really like to do so I just kinda showed up!

I don’t like it when group activities turn into a big photo shoot, we don’t have to do that. I like doing work by myself, feeling really productive and it’s just better for me. You can be truly present.

What area of Thrive programming do you usually volunteer for?

Usually I do the Morning Program but I also do admin work in the office, it’s really cool getting to know people and see everyone while working at the front desk!  

What have been some highlights from volunteering with us?

I’ve noticed that a lot of the guys would come in and since there’s more during the women’s program, they wouldn’t necessarily have a lot of things for guys so being the person that I am; I helped run a clothing drive at my school and I’m still seeing the impact of that. My friend donated a bunch of his professional clothing and I was able to give that to someone. I thought, wow; this could help him be prepared for an interview and get a job.  

Do you have any advice for someone looking to volunteer with us?

I would definitely start with the Morning Program and be a greeter. It’s simple, get people’s names and give them their number but it’s a great way to get to know people and talk to people. If you’re looking to be around for a while it gives you that initial face to face interaction where as admin you get more people who are focused on getting their mail or talking to a case manager. People will talk to you and it’s a really great way to tie yourself to the community, especially if you’re not from here.

There’s a client here who’s around my age, maybe a year older than me. It was really cool talking to him, there was another volunteer next to me then straight out of nowhere he breaks out into speaking full Mandarin Chinese. Then we were talking some more and I found out this guy knows three languages and he does Tai Quan Doe. I was like wow. There’s another client here who is a YouTube star and I was talking to another volunteer and she was telling me about him. He has a whole fan base, he has a website, and has been traveling the world. He went to somewhere in South America and then got deported back here, he’s a super motivational speaker. There’s a whole interview with him on YouTube where he’s talking with someone in a park about everything from astrology to politics. That’s so cool to me.  

What have you personally gotten out of volunteering and what do you want to see more of in terms of volunteer support?

One thing that I personally got out of it is that this gets me out of bed. On Fridays, I don’t have classes but I do have work. If I don’t get out of bed early then I don’t get up til 4pm and that’s ridiculous! If I have to be up at 7am then I’m up at 7am. Howard is right near Thrive and a lot of students don’t know about it. There can be more student outreach so we can get more involved and we’re only one Metro stop away. So many students don’t know and they’re always looking for community service work but they’re going halfway across the city. Some of us do go to Maryland to do it plus we’re always doing clothing drives and food drives.

My friends and I from all over, raised a bunch of money and made sandwiches for over a thousand people. We went to Pathways, walked around Anacostia, did some walking around Columbia Heights. We could have donated to Thrive but we didn’t know about you guys at the time. There’s so much you can do and so many students want to do service work. We’re looking for places to volunteer for an upcoming day of service.

What’s one thing you’re looking forward to this summer

I am still trying to get to know people here and recognize clients by name. If I can name everyone who comes in, that would be my goal by the end of the summer.

Why do you volunteer?

We sat down with Denise Woods, one of our long-time volunteers, to see what got her involved with our homeless clients, what has been a powerful moment for her, and what she is most proud of. Read on to see her answers!

What is your background outside of Thrive DC?

I am an activist, advocate, consultant, mother, baker, interior designer and more. Did you notice yet that I hate boxes?

What got you interested in volunteering?

A neighbor told me about Thrive DC. For a long time I had wanted to volunteer with an organization that supports people in homelessness; when I found out I could bring my kids here I thought “Bingo!”

I wanted to make sure my that daughters experienced life outside our bubble and learned empathy for the people who don’t share our economic circumstances. Ever since I noticed that their first reaction to seeing homeless people on the street was fear, it’s been my goal to humanize our neighbors living on the edge.

I felt that Thrive DC could be transformative if my girls learned their stories and understood that people are so much more than their circumstances.

How has your experience been?

Terrible. Just kidding! I have volunteered with similar organizations and couldn’t leave quickly enough. At Thrive I feel like I leave better than when I enter.

I might come to Thrive in a bad mood, worried about the world’s problems or frustrated with my family, but I leave encouraged and emboldened by the hugs I receive and the conversations I have.

The people here show me the strength of the human spirit and I know my frustrations are tiny by comparison.

A powerful moment I've had here was when a client told me she spends three hours a day on the bus to eat at Thrive DC. She said this is the only place she knows where she will be seen and treated as a whole human being.

What do you like best about volunteering with Thrive DC?

Toss up between staff and clients! The clients have often given me great advice about how to handle a family situation they themselves have faced, and the staff could not make this a more welcoming place to volunteer. Seriously!

From Alicia, who is as real as an Executive Director comes, to all the staff who treat their clients like they truly matter – not only do they make what could be an embarrassing and humiliating experience for the clients enjoyable and affirming, they also make sure to know all the clients names and mine.

What has been a funny moment that stood out to you?

I walked up to Thrive recently and one of the clients who I know and admire was outside.

As I walked up he began to sing about letting go of stress and finding the blessings in life while playing air guitar, and I couldn’t help but laugh and join in!

I wanted to make sure my that daughters experienced life outside our bubble and learned empathy for the people who don’t share our economic circumstances. Ever since I noticed that their first reaction to seeing homeless people on the street was fear, it’s been my goal to humanize our neighbors living on the edge.

I felt that Thrive DC could be transformative if my girls learned their stories and understood that people are so much more than their circumstances.

What has been an emotional moment that stood out to you?

We had a fire drill one cold day and we all ran outside without our coats – except for those who hadn’t taken them off yet – and I started talking to one of the clients and complaining about the temperatures. To my surprise she immediately opened her coat and let me get inside!

I felt like she was a mother duck sheltering her duckling, even though I was 20 years older than her. And even though she is black and I am white there was no hesitancy at all in her generosity.

Another powerful moment was when a client told me that she spends three hours a day on the bus to eat at Thrive DC every day. She told me this is the only place she knows where she will be seen and treated as a whole human being.

I was floored, and it made me realize just how significant Thrive is for her and many others.

What service or program are you most proud of Thrive DC providing?

I am so proud of all of the above and Thrive DC's capacity to connect clients with housing resources. When someone has a home it means their life can be moved from the edges to a stable foundation.

 Is there anything you wish the city was doing differently for the homeless now that you’ve been working with them?

Funding for families. Funding for crisis services. Funding for affordable housing. Need I say more?

Volunteer With Your Family

Would you also like your family to volunteer with the homeless?

Thrive DC accepts youth as young as 15 to serve in our Morning Program, and as young as 10 to serve in our Dinner Program.

To get started, sign up for a Volunteer Orientation using the button below; you can also contact our Volunteer Coordinator directly at volunteer@thrivedc.org or 202-503-1533.

Brian has been volunteering with Thrive DC for about six months, and has become a valued member of our team while he's been here. We caught up with him after one of his shifts at the front desk to ask him about his experience at Thrive DC.

What is your background outside of Thrive DC?

I work for the Architect of the Capitol on Capitol Hill here in DC. I am originally from Alabama and still have property and family there.

What got you interested in volunteering here?

I was looking for somewhere to volunteer with the homeless in DC. After researching a few of the programs I decided to give Thrive a shot.

What is something new that you learned by volunteering at Thrive DC?

I will not say a task…for me the new things learned are the relationships with staff and clients.

What do you like best about volunteering with Thrive DC?

Without question it is the same answer as above. Interactions with people that are genuinely appreciative for your service is a reward each time I walk through the door. From building ongoing friendships with staff and regular clients to helping the new face that is unsure of what they need…I really appreciate being there for them in that moment.

What has been a funny moment that stood out to you?

That moment happens on a regular basis… me standing over the women's underwear drawer trying to figure out what pair to offer a client that has asked for some. Lessons learned… always ask for a size and never assume!

If you could pick only three adjectives to describe Thrive DC, what would they be?

Caring, compassionate and grounded in the community.

Has Thrive DC changed how you view DC? If so, how?

To some extent. Now when I travel around DC I attempt to look for those I feel that could use information about Thrive and I pass out a trifold info card.

What service or program are you most proud of Thrive DC providing?

Serving meals… I know all the programs are important and many are the ones that will help individuals get themselves back on their feet to self-support. However, giving someone a good meal is an act of love.

It is hard enough to battle homelessness and the challenges that come with that. Doing it hungry is impossible.

What would you like to see Thrive DC do more of?

I would like to see more push toward affordable housing solutions. Not to say that Thrive would drive all of that but work with the DC gov’t to find solutions; maybe even have a Thrive representative that worked with the local government boards and went around to different parts of the city to interact with clients where they are.

Is there anything you wish the city was doing differently for the homeless now that you’ve been working with them?

I also deliver meals through a local church on Sundays and expanding on the answer above we need to do more for housing alternatives.

There are many proven gov’t led programs across the country that are working. DC needs to be proactive and not just go sweep tent encampments periodically. That does not fix the issue it only drives those that don’t want to stay in a shelter to move from one encampment to another.

Want To Volunteer?

If you want to be a volunteer like Brian, we always need good volunteers to work with our clients. Sign up for a Volunteer Orientation by clicking the button below!

Thrive DC is proud to have committed, engaged community members go above and beyond to help our clients escape homelessness. Below is Jocelyn's story about why she couldn't stay just a volunteer - and had to do more.

Why did you start volunteering with Thrive DC?

When I moved to DC last May, I was looking for ways to become more involved. I stumbled upon Thrive DC simply by chance and really liked what I saw on its website, but it took me a long time to finally commit to volunteering. It felt like much bigger of a commitment in my head than in reality.

Ultimately, it was just a matter of making the decision and taking action on it, and I haven’t regretted it since!

What attracted you to Thrive DC?

There are two things that I love the most about Thrive DC. The first is their holistic approach to addressing homelessness. All of their services are interconnected and they help get people back on their feet with as much independence as possible.

But the most valuable thing they offer is a sense of community. I believe that no matter the circumstance in life, a lively and supportive community always has the power of bringing hope. The ladies I see every Friday both encourage and have fun with each other and there is so much joy in the room; it’s a good reminder for me to know that even those who have little can make so much life out of the little that they do have.

What makes you most worried for our homeless clients?

There are some clients I see every week in the dinner program but you can tell their minds are somewhere else. I am worried their negative circumstances in life will bring some clients to lose hope, because hope requires a willingness from within to believe that things could get better and to keep fighting.

Why did you decide to join the Next Step Team (Thrive DC's monthly donor program)?

I joined the Next Step Team because I would like to see Thrive DC’s services expand to more clients and its community be made available to more people who need it. Volunteering is valuable as it helps make the programs happen and run more smoothly, but money, at the end of the day, ensures that these programs remain afloat.

I wanted to contribute, even just a little bit, to this organization that I have seen make an impact in the lives of the ladies I work with and in my life, too.

Why do you think it’s important to do more for our clients?

I don’t know where the ladies I see every Friday will be if programs like this don’t exist anymore.

Join The Next Step Team

Want to be a part of the Team? Click the button below. You'll join other concerned community members helping people in need take the "next step" out of homelessness.

1525 Newton St NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 737-9311

Client Hours:
Tuesday - Friday
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM | 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Staff Hours: 
Monday – Friday
8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
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