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Learn How Community Forklift Helped Bring a Gala Theatre Set to Life

Learn How Community Forklift Helped Bring a Gala Theatre Set to Life

By Community Forklift, originally published on Community Forklift’s blog

Community Forklift provided the backdrop for exciting programming and shows from GALA Theatre, one of the most vibrant arts groups in the Washington, DC area.

GALA (Grupo de Artistas LatinoAmericanos) Hispanic Theatre is a National Center for Latino Performing Arts group located right in Washington, DC. This group brings Latino arts to audiences who are both steeped in the culture as well as those who are experiencing the beauty and diversity of Hispanic heritage for the first time. Live theater, dance, and musical productions are performed in both Spanish and English, and GALA Theatre provides the space and expertise for education and enrichment in addition to entertainment.

But putting on these impressive shows and programming can be costly. Often, we think of the lighting, venue, advertising, staff, and other large expenses when it comes to running a theater company, but the cost of the set itself can be significant.

That’s why GALA applied to Community Forklift’s Community Building Blocks (CBB) program. This grant allowed them to bring their set to life for programs, plays, GALita children’s plays, ArteAmerica programs, and PasoNuevo youth performances. One of the highlights of the season was using Community Forklift finds to showcase the vibrancy, color, and provenance of their February 2024 show, Las Hermana Palacios (The Palacios Sisters).


The set for GALA’s most recent production “Mummy in the Closet: Evita’s Return” incorporates salvaged 4x4s, light fixtures, molding, and more from Community Forklift.

Materials sourced from Community Forklift added detail and authenticity to the set. Everything from wall sconces to trim, doors, hardware, floor tiles, sliding glass doors, paint, and lamps were used to breathe life into the stage. These real pieces made the on-stage scenery tangible for the audience and brought a quality of dynamism to the production. And these pieces aren’t just used once — they can be used year-after-year, reimagined for each season’s productions.


“Mummy in the Closet: Evita’s Return” is a musical blending history and fantasy. It follows the afterlife of Eva Peron, when her preserved corpse ignites political scandals and clandestine affairs.

The partnership between GALA and Community Forklift was initially borne out of the company looking to Community Forklift as a resource for affordable secondhand finds for the set. With the encouragement of the Community Forklift staff, GALA applied for a CBB grant and was accepted. Since 2011, over 500 other organizations across the area have received over $500,000 worth of materials.

Through our Community Building Blocks (CBB) program, we provide mini-grants that allow community groups and nonprofits to use warehouse credit towards a wide range of projects that serve the greater community. That could be furniture for an elementary school teacher’s lounge in an underserved neighborhood or necessary appliances for a facility that works with providing resources to the unhoused community.

Community Forklift turns the construction waste stream into a resource steam for communities in the DC region — by keeping perfectly good items out of the landfill, preserving historical materials, providing low-cost building supplies, and creating local green jobs. Learn more and support them by donating or shopping. Organizations interested in applying for a CBB grant can connect with them to find out more.

Announcing Spur Local’s 2024 Nonprofit Class

Announcing Spur Local’s 2024 Nonprofit Class

Spur Local (formerly known as the Catalogue for Philanthropy) is proud to announce the 137 organizations in our 2024 class, the 22nd class of nonprofit partners since we were founded in 2003. These community-based organizations preserve and elevate stories of local history; equip the next generation to be engaged civic leaders; cultivate vibrant regional food systems; and directly provide needed services and support across Greater Washington. Together, they work holistically to make this region more equitable, reminding us that collaboration strengthens our collective impact.

The Spur Local nonprofit review process is driven by community input. This year, we enlisted 150+ volunteers who live and work in the region to read the nearly 200 applications we received from nonprofits. In addition to this community review, Spur Local conducts a rigorous financial review and arranges site visits between all selected organizations and reviewers or Spur Local team members. The guiding principle throughout this decision-making process is to select organizations making critical local impact. The generosity, time, and expertise of our volunteer reviewers also ensure that every nonprofit applicant receives feedback — we know that such feedback is enormously helpful to improve future applications to Spur Local and other opportunities.

When nonprofits join the Spur Local network, they begin a four-year partnership with us alongside hundreds of other small, locally-focused nonprofits. In cohorts and workshops, partners share resources, uncover new ideas, and form the critical connections that allow them to further their impact. Spur Local builds collective infrastructure through this network and in organizational and professional development training so nonprofits can sustain their vital work over the long term.

We also uplift their stories of impact across the region, shining a spotlight on their incredible but often overlooked work. Partners can access opportunities to maximize the reach of their stories through media partnerships, social media, and our blog. Through our flagship print catalog, as well as its digital companion, Spur Local works to inspire and inform the community to support these local changemakers. On our website, you can find ways to volunteer or donate to support their cause and, ultimately, your community.

Meaningful transformation requires a broad mix of engaged stakeholders, including each of us. Just as every nonprofit plays a role — whether in basic needs or arts and culture — you, too, can offer your time, talent, ties, and other resources to advance this shared vision.

We invite you to learn more about the organizations in our 2024 class and join us in celebrating them by giving them a shoutout on social media, donating, or sending them a quick congratulatory email! 79 of these nonprofits will be featured in Spur Local’s yearly print and digital catalog. Add your name to our mailing list to receive a free copy when it is released in November. Save the date to meet these organizations in person at our annual Community Changemakers on October 30, 2024, at Hook Hall in NW DC.

Change a Child’s Story with Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)/Prince George’s County

Change a Child’s Story with Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)/Prince George’s County

Written by CASA/Prince George’s County

On April 24, 2024, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)/Prince George’s County, led by Executive Director, Yolanda Johnson, hosted a poignant Volunteer Appreciation Social. The event was supported by co-host Briana Thezard, founder of the Memories Foundation.

CASA/Prince George’s County trains and supports citizen volunteers who advocate for youth experiencing foster care in Prince George’s County. CASA volunteer advocates fight for their rights and needs until they are in safe, loving, permanent homes. Presently, we have 152 CASA volunteer advocates serving 163 youth.

The event aimed to honor the exceptional contributions of CASA/Prince George’s County volunteer advocates, marking our first in-person volunteer appreciation gathering since 2019. The turnout was outstanding, with nearly every seat occupied by dedicated volunteers, esteemed community leaders, staff, and Board members.

Throughout the event, CASA/Prince George’s County shared moving testimonials from volunteers, illuminating their profound individual impact and the driving forces behind their ongoing dedication. One volunteer remarked, “When I see how my youth is blossoming and evolving day by day, I cannot help but want to be a volunteer.” Another volunteer commented, “It’s absolutely hard… the more you do, the better you get at it… If you want to do something long term, if you want to have a real meaningful outcome, I would say do it.”

Particularly poignant was the firsthand account of a CASA youth, articulating the transformative influence of their CASA volunteer advocate. Regarding her CASA volunteer advocate, she shared, “She helped me move from one foster home to the next… let me know it was going to be okay… She is such a helpful person and I love her and wouldn’t trade a thing for her.”

You can contribute to CASA/Prince George’s County’s impact on the lives of local youth experiencing foster care! Currently, there are 500 youth in foster care in Prince George’s County and we serve 200 of those youth. We need dedicated volunteers and supporters to help us increase the number of kids with a CASA volunteer advocate. Together, we can change a child’s story!

Support their “Change a Child’s Story” campaign and learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer advocate.

Planning for Peace with Peace of Mind

Planning for Peace with Peace of Mind

Written by Elie Goldman, Peace of Mind teacher

My name is Elie Goldman and I am the Peace Teacher at DC’s largest public elementary school. There, I teach the Peace of Mind program to every 2nd-5th grader, nearly 600 students every week.

A few months ago, I opened peace class by posing the following question to my students: Why do we learn and practice peace?

“To give us tools to be calm in this crazy world,” said Emily.

Emily is a fifth grader. She has attended peace class once a week since 2018, when she began pre-K at this school. While only 10 years old, Emily has spent more time learning peace than me and most of us who may be reading this. I bet we can learn something from her.

Emily, what kind of tools are you talking about?

“Mindful breathing techniques. There is Gravity Hands, Take Five, Fireworks Breaths, Four Square Breathing, Rainbow Breathing, Squeeze and Release, and a lot more.”

These breathing practices from the Peace of Mind curriculum are simple and short.

Gravity Hands – lift your hands up as you breathe in, lower your hands as you breathe out.

Take Five – trace the outline of one hand with your other pointer finger. Trace up your fingers as you breathe in. Trace down as you breathe out.

With a duration of 3-5 breaths or about thirty seconds, these techniques are well-designed for a young child’s cognitive capacity. They are also destined to change our world. Just like Emily.

So, Emily, how does practicing mindful breathing help you calm down?

“It gives me time to relax. When I’m more relaxed I notice my feelings more. Then, I can manage my emotions better and avoid conflict with others.”

That sounds important.

“Yeah. It is. Mindful breathing helps so that I don’t flip my lid and do something that I will regret.”

What is your lid? And how do you flip it?

“Your lid is your PFC (prefrontal cortex). It’s the part of your brain in charge of keeping your emotions and energy calm and cool. If you feel threatened or in danger, your PFC flips and loses control of your brain. Instead, your Amy (amygdala) takes control.”

What is your amygdala? And why do we try to avoid letting it take control?

“The amygdala is the part of your brain beneath your PFC. Your amygdala is in charge of your “fight,” “flight,” or “freeze” responses. It helps us make smart decisions when we are in physical danger, like running away from a bear. But, if it is in charge when we are in emotional danger or when we feel our ego is threatened, we might say or do things that hurt others and that we will later regret. It will lead us up the conflict escalator instead of down.”

And mindful breathing helps your PFC take back control of your brain from Amy?

“Yes, it helps resolve the conflict in our brain so we can solve or avoid the conflicts on the playground or with our siblings. When our lids are not flipped, we act with more mindfulness and kindness towards others, and we can think before we speak.”

That is good. Kindness is good. So is thinking before you speak.

“Yeah, you have to make sure what you are about to say passes the THiNK test.”

What is the THiNK test?

“It is a way to make sure what you are about to say is True, Helpful, Necessary, and Kind. If it’s not all of those, it probably doesn’t need to be said. We learned about it in the book Tyaja Uses the THiNK Test.”

What does the ‘i’ stand for?

“Me! I need to think before I speak.”

Emily is one of nine hundred students at school. While each student processes Peace of Mind’s classes in their own minds and bodies, they are being trained to resolve conflicts peacefully. If students are never taught how to navigate these tensions on the playground or with their siblings, how do we expect them to address conflicts later in life?

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must use our minds as rigorously to plan for peace as we have used them to plan for war.”

Peace, especially world peace, feels impossible to achieve if it’s thought about as a utopian status quo of love and non-violence. Just as any educator scaffolds a learning goal or standard into smaller, attainable lessons, we must make peace attainable in our community through consistent and connected lessons. Programs like Peace of Mind make this possible.

Mahatma Gandhi teaches that peace begins with our ability to resolve conflict; “Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it.”

Five years ago, Linda Ryden, Peace of Mind’s founder, wrote in the Washington Post about how her job (my current job) had never felt more important. After documenting how the Peace of Mind program led to a decline in fights and bullying at school, she wrote, “All children need to learn these skills — not just the ones who are referred to the school counselor for extra help.”

Peace of Mind teaches conflict resolution: it teaches all kids how to manage big emotions, get along better with others, and solve conflicts before they escalate.

It’s not hard to tell how embroiled we humans are in escalated conflict. As we see in our own relationships with ourselves, each other, and our broader communities, it can be difficult to practice our ability to cope with conflict and “to be calm in this crazy world,” let alone develop our collective ability. If we don’t give our city’s students like Emily the tools to prevent and navigate conflict today, then when will we be able to start planning for peace?

Peace of Mind educates students about mindfulness, brain science, conflict resolution, and social justice to help them develop skills to enhance their own well-being and become peacemakers. In addition to creating, developing, and sharing the Peace of Mind program, they also provide training and community for educators who deliver the Peace of Mind program to students in elementary and middle schools in the Washington, DC area and beyond. Learn more and support their work!

We Strengthen Communities by Investing in People

We Strengthen Communities by Investing in People

Co-authored by Danielle M. Reyes, President & CEO of the Crimsonbridge Foundation and Matt Gayer, Executive Director of Spur Local

At the beginning of every year, Spur Local surveys the Executive Directors in its network of local nonprofits operating with small budgets and teams to gain insights into their personal, professional, and organizational well-being. In 2023, more than half of the 95 leaders surveyed were currently, on their way to, or were recently feeling a sense of burnout. They reported a lack of staff capacity as one of their top two challenges. Across the rest of the year, difficulties with staff and leaders running at or over capacity continued to emerge as a foundational problem for our sector and our partners.

Many headlines mention “fighting” or “struggling” to characterize local nonprofit efforts to provide and advocate for stronger safety net services; efforts which increasingly involve meeting growing needs, without the growth of funding. As part of this narrative, we must recognize as a sector that people power this work. The effects of nonprofit leadership burnout can further exacerbate an already acute workforce shortage, and are inextricably tied to the health of our society.

Strong and successful organizations are well-led, and it is leaders who build this sustainable infrastructure. Investing in the nonprofit sector requires an investment in its people.

This is why Spur Local partners with the Crimsonbridge Foundation and its LeaderBridge initiative to provide local nonprofit leaders access to leadership development, with an intentional focus on creating programming and space for leaders of color. As the Washington Area Women’s Foundation recently reported, Black women and Black gender-expansive leaders in our region face a fundamental and pervasive absence of trust in their leadership.

Recognizing that leaders of color require spaces within our sector to connect, support, learn from, and share resources with each other, Spur Local designed two cohort offerings for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Executive Directors and emerging leaders. Across six sessions, local leaders of color engage in facilitated peer conversations about topics that are relevant to them, forming meaningful connections.

“At this point, we know the data about nonprofit leader burnout and exhaustion, and that it is even higher amongst leaders of color in our sector,” says Matt Gayer, Executive Director of Spur Local. “Our cohorts seek to offer a safe space for learning, connection, support–and the room to have conversations that nonprofit leaders often do not have access to.”

Historically, declines in charitable giving–the predominant trend of late–have affected smaller nonprofit organizations more significantly than larger ones. Similarly, issues with accessing institutional funding are particularly pronounced for organizations with small and one-person teams, many of which are led by Black women and leaders of color. When a commitment to racial equity in philanthropy includes funding leadership development, it improves equity of access for leaders of color–to networks, resources, and relationships that they can use not just to sustain themselves and their organizations but to thrive.

“For funders considering strategies that build equity in the nonprofit sector, increasing investments in leadership development and network building are essential,” says Danielle M. Reyes, President & CEO of the Crimsonbridge Foundation. “LeaderBridge was drawn to Spur Local because of the community building work they have done and their intentionality to create spaces for nonprofit leaders of color and underrepresented communities in the Greater Washington region.”

Screenshot against a blue background of Chiara Frechette, Spur Local's Nonprofit Programs Director, kicking off the 2024 BIPOC Executive Director Cohort virtually.

The latest 2024 BIPOC Executive Director Cohort kicks off its first session, led by Chiara Frechette, Spur Local’s Nonprofit Programs Director.

Since our partnership began in 2022, over 100 leaders have participated in Spur Local’s BIPOC Executive Director and Emerging Leader cohorts and joined the LeaderBridge Network. Of recent surveyed cohorts, one hundred percent of respondents agreed that the topics discussed in the cohort were relevant to their work and that their conversations helped identify practices or approaches to help them better overcome challenges in the future. Respondents also agreed that this programming specifically addresses concerns as a leader of color. These early results demonstrate interest, demand, and value of this work.

As a sector, let’s ensure the resilience and sustainability of nonprofit organizations with investments in people power. By removing barriers to access and increasing the availability of leadership development programs, leaders, organizations, and the communities they serve will thrive.

Embracing Healing as a Joyous Experience with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, DC

Embracing Healing as a Joyous Experience

An Interview with Kymberly Wolff, President & CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, DC (RMHCDC)

RMHCDC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families with a sick child stay together and close to the medical care their child needs at leading local hospitals. RMHCDC programs not only provide access to quality health care; they enable family-centered care, ensuring families are fully supported and actively involved in their child’s care. RMHCDC helps families struggling with problems like how to stay near and support a hospitalized child, how to afford to stay together in another city while a child is undergoing treatment, or even how to get basic medical care in a vulnerable community.

Below, Spur Local speaks with Kymberly Wolff, who joined RMHCDC as President & CEO in November of 2021, bringing more than 25 years of leadership experience in the global and national nonprofit sector. Her experience includes a decade of serving the global nonprofit sector and leading international development teams at Habitat for Humanity International and CARE.

Q: What led you to RMHCDC?

KW: My very first job was working at my local McDonald’s, and I had the pleasure of volunteering at a Ronald McDonald House for ten years before I accepted the incredible opportunity to lead RMHCDC as President & CEO. Informing the innovation and collaboration I bring to my current role is more than 25 years of leadership experience in the global and national nonprofit sector.

I am passionate about increasing access to family-centered healthcare and community program support; and as a mom, I have a special place in my heart for children, so it has truly been a natural and fulfilling fit.

Q: Can you share a little more about RMHCDC’s focus on family-centered care?

KW: Family-centered care is an approach to healthcare that is viewed as critically important in providing health care to children, especially those with serious medical conditions. In the family-centered care of children, the patient’s family members are fully involved with health care providers to make informed decisions about the health care and support services the child and family receive.

The McFadden family have been with us for 330 days and counting. Chloe is eight years old and staying with us while doctors treat her Farber’s disease. Her mom, Zondria, says that Chloe is 1 in 20 in the United States with this ultra-rare disease for which there is no known cure. We have been able to provide her family with the ability to be close to her as she receives treatment at a nearby hospital.

Q: How have you seen things change since RMHCDC was founded?

KW: RMHCDC started in 1980 with a single Ronald McDonald House program in Washington, DC. We have since expanded to add the Ronald McDonald House of Northern Virginia, and other programs to meet the unique needs of the communities we serve.

From 16 guest suites to 56, we continue to grow to better deliver our mission to ease the hardship of childhood illness on families and children being treated at nearby hospitals.

Q: Where do you find meaning and impact in RMHCDC’s work?

KW: We believe in building a global community that finds strength, hope and courage in embracing healing as a joyous experience. It never ceases to amaze me that most of our funding comes from individual donors giving as generously as they can to help lessen the burden and ensure thousands of families a year have the stability and resources they need, when they need it most.

When a child is facing a life-threatening diagnosis, nothing matters more than precious moments with their family. It takes a special person to comfort sick children and their families, and I am so grateful for all those in the DC, Maryland, Virginia area who show up for the families we serve. You may never meet the children and families you help, but they are so grateful for you.

The Yarsiah family wanted us to share, “We are appreciative of the lodging, staffing, and all of the services rendered to families like ours who find themselves going through some of the most trying times and yet have to be focused and strong. Thank you.”

Learn more and give at RMHCDC’s website, or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. They also have a year-end Share A Night campaign that allows you to help a family stay at Ronald McDonald House while their child receives critical care.

“Mother Power” Half a Century Later, with the Mother’s Outreach Network

“Mother Power” Half a Century Later, with the Mother’s Outreach Network

On the 5th Annual Basic Income Day of Action, the Mother’s Outreach Network (MON) organized a screening of Storming Caesars Palace, kicking off their latest learning and action series around DC women and guaranteed income.

We last spoke with MON’s Executive Director, Melody Webb, ten months ago. Since then, their DC Guaranteed Income Coalition project — now in its third year — has presented its work on narrative change and building intersectional coalitions at a national guaranteed income conference; partnered with the Fair Budget Coalition to advocate for a human needs-focused FY24 DC budget; and supported the study evaluating a tax credit for families proposed at the Council-level earlier this year.

Moving into October, and ahead of their first Stand with D.C. Moms! Fundraiser, MON is focused on empowering women and mothers “to know their rights,” as Melody wrote in a Ms. Magazine op-ed, and “to tell their stories in rooms where decisions are made.”

Storming Caesars Palace shows Ruby Duncan joining a welfare rights group alongside other mothers after losing her job as a hotel worker in Las Vegas. Together, they organized a massive protest that shut down Caesars Palace in 1971, igniting “Mother Power” to demand dignity, justice, and an adequate income.

More than 50 years later, we continue to see that “mothers of color confront not only the lower-wages and restricted access to well-paying jobs but also an undersupply of affordable childcare and the additional burden of child care responsibilities.” These conditions undoubtedly affect women’s health. The Economic Security Project shows that while guaranteed income is not the sole solution, a federal guaranteed income would be a timely, critical, and necessary public health intervention.

Here in DC, 18.8% of Black women workers lost their jobs between February and April 2020 due to COVID-19. During that time, 20% of Latinx women were unemployed — and both Black and Latinx women are disproportionately essential workers who also possess disproportionately greater caregiving responsibilities. Even pre-pandemic, 35% of Black families headed by single mothers were impoverished, as were 34% of Latinx headed households, and 22% of Asian-women headed households.

In Melody’s words, “We as a society have been taught to believe that asking for support implies some sort of moral flaw. The system has somehow led us to believe that to have the bravery to ask for support to provide for your kids means you are a bad person. We at Mother’s Outreach Network say, that’s not true.”

Locally, MON is advocating for direct cash payments to all regardless of income. Support them at their fundraiser on October 11, where you can hear directly from local leaders and moms.

Can’t make the fundraiser but want to learn more? Visit their website to read about their work, support them, and sign up for upcoming meetings and get involved!

Finding Your Community with Loudoun Cares

Finding Your Community with Loudoun Cares

If you are one of the 400,000+ residents living in Loudoun County, Virginia, how do you start to find your support network? Loudoun Cares makes it simple.

For everyone who needs some help, you can call the Loudoun Cares ConnectLine to be directed to the resources you need. As a hub that can refer individuals, businesses, and nonprofits to nearly 500 local programs, the ConnectLine has helped residents access basic necessities like clothing and rental assistance, as well as more specialized support like home repairs, job coaching, and holiday toy drives.

Photo of three Loudoun Cares staff and volunteers giving bread and pastries spread out over a large table.

This July, Loudoun Cares celebrated 20 years of caring for and connecting residents — responding to between 2,000 and 2,500 ConnectLine callers each year and having helped distribute more than $1.78 million in rent and utility assistance to families since 2020.

“When I was a single mom of two children at 19 years old, it was very difficult to have to choose between things like, do I feed my children or do I pay my electric or water bill,” resident Amber Valentine shared. “It would have been amazing to have a resource like Loudoun Cares to help take part of that confusion out and send me in the right direction.”

Dozens of clear glass trophies lined up on a table, each recognizing a 2022 Loudoun Cares volunteer

Founded in 2003 to provide affordable office space for small nonprofits across the county, Loudoun Cares continues to strengthen the critical operations of local organizations. Beyond providing rent-stable physical space, we connect over 260 local nonprofits with local volunteers, onboarding and managing them through the Loudoun Cares Volunteer Center. An average of 80-100 new volunteers access the Volunteer Center each month looking for opportunities. Since 2020, Loudoun Cares has seen residents volunteer an impressive 34,000 hours of their time by participating in service opportunities with nonprofits in their neighborhoods.

Loudoun Cares Executive Director Valerie Pisierra, wearing a pair of glasses, black blazer, and red top, speaking in front of a crowd“Our volunteers are a driving force in our community supporting our nonprofits and the populations they serve. This support allows our nonprofits to serve more people and stretch the funding they have, which we all know never seems to be enough,” said Valerie Pisierra, Executive Director of Loudoun Cares.

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, roughly 30% of nonprofits cease to exist after a decade. As Valerie told Loudoun Now, “Given these statistics and the significant changes in Loudoun’s landscape in the last 20 years, we really do have reason to celebrate this milestone anniversary.”

Graphic with a purple background that highlights some impact statistics from Loudoun Cares' ConnectLine efforts in the last three years. Key stats include: over 9,470 unduplicated calls fielded, over 11,300 residents impacted, and $1.85 million total given in emergency financial assistance to families.

Want to plug in and help your neighbors? Visit Loudoun Cares’ website — they’ll give you a great place to start.

You can also support their work at the 5th Annual Loudoun Cares Art Auction on October 14, their largest annual fundraising event that features the work of local artists in the Virginia, West Virginia, DC, and Maryland regions.

A Place of Belonging with BroadFutures

A Place of Belonging

Written by BroadFutures

Since 2013, BroadFutures has worked to transform the workforce into a more equitable space for neurodivergent young people. We believe that young neurodivergent people have limitless potential and represent a significant untapped labor source for employers. By connecting young people to internships across different fields and utilizing our innovative support model, we help unlock that potential.

Photo of Christian Souvenir, a young Black man who is neurodivergent and participated in BroadFutures' internship program. He is wearing glasses, a suit and tie with a purple shirt, and is speaking into a microphone at a podium.

BroadFutures alum Christian Souvenir’s journey with us is an incredible testimony to the transformational power of our programs. Christian has ADHD and is autistic. Growing up, he also experienced other learning difficulties, including a speech delay and challenges interpreting social cues. Christian went on to earn a degree in Information Technology from Lawrence Technological University. Despite being highly qualified for a number of positions, Christian found himself unemployed after searching the job market for months. Eager to utilize the skills he cultivated during his undergraduate experience, Christian turned to BroadFutures, where he took the first step down a path towards great success.

With BroadFutures’ support, Christian was able to complete two internships. One was with American Institutes of Research (AIR) where he assisted in upgrading technology, managing systems and processes, and logging inventory. Impressed by his work ethic and adaptability, AIR offered Christian a full-time position as Management Assistant. He has now been happily employed at AIR for almost three years.

When asked about his time with BroadFutures, Christian shared, “Before I came to BroadFutures, I didn’t know about neurodiversity. As I learned more, I realized that Autism, ADHD, ADD, and others all count as neurodiversity. BroadFutures gave me a place where I belonged.”

Team photo of Christian Souvenir with his coworkers, all of whom are smiling at the camera.

Vicky Geis, Senior Human Capital Partner at AIR shared her perspective as an employer partner. “There are organizations that want to participate but don’t know how… Once you experience these young people, your company benefits. There’s no reason you wouldn’t. BroadFutures provides the entire template and schema.”

“In a world where there is a labor shortage, there is such benefit to having the perspective (…) these individuals can bring to an organization,” Geis added. Without BroadFutures, Christian said, “I would still be looking for a job and wouldn’t have the community that I do now.”

Christian and AIR’s story of convergence is a testament to the exceptional outcomes of BroadFutures’ programs for hundreds of participants. As we reflect on ten years of programming, we remain committed to our mission of ensuring accessibility and sharing stories like Christian’s.

Learn more about BroadFutures by visiting their website, where you can find information about their programs for neurodivergent young people and for employers looking to partner with them. You can also support their mission and work by joining them for their 10th Anniversary Celebration on October 21.

Quality, Accessible Health Care for the Whole Family with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, DC

Quality, Accessible Health Care for the Whole Family

An interview with Craig Rice, VP of Community Engagement at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, DC (RMHCDC)

Q: What led you to get involved with RMHCDC?

CR: As a former elected official, this truly is a full circle moment, as one of the reasons I ran for office was my family’s personal experience with long-term hospitalization and specialized treatment.

My cousin Trevor was born prematurely and received in-patient treatment at Children’s National Hospital for a year while he grew strong enough to go home. Fortunately, my family and Trevor’s mom, my Aunt Millie, lived locally. Everyone helped by taking turns staying with Trevor at the hospital, giving my aunt the time she needed to work and care for my other cousins. If my family had not been close by, the year-long treatment could have had devastating financial and psychological impacts.

A desire to ensure everyone has access to quality health care drove my role in local government and continues to fuel my passion for the mission of RMHCDC.

Q: Are there myths or narratives around care and health equity that RMHCDC is working to change? If so, what are they and how are you working to change them?

CR: There is a myth that treatment starts and ends at the hospital and only involves the patient. At RMHCDC, we know that treatment includes the whole family and ongoing support is needed where our families live and work. RMHCDC enables and facilitates family-centered care by ensuring a diverse population of familes with ill or injured children are fully supported throughout their health care journey.

“The support we received went beyond a warm meal, or a comfortable bed. Everyone saw us as the Bailey Family, not just a family with a critically ill child. Staff, families, and volunteers got to know us as individual people, not just a cancer family. It provided a sense of normalcy and strength that we wouldn’t have otherwise gotten.” — Alia Bailey

Our core programs help meet a family’s psychosocial and basic daily needs, so they can focus more fully on their hospitalized child and be actively involved in their child’s care. Through our Ronald McDonald House programs, we make it possible for families to be near their hospitalized child and the care they need, without the financial burden that’s often associated with traveling to be near an ill or injured child.

In line with our commitment to achieving health equity, our Ronald McDonald Care Mobile programs provide underserved communities with access to healthcare at no cost to the families. We work closely with families, ensuring that they have access to ongoing treatment as needed.

Photo of a mother posing with her three young children by the Ronald McDonald House Charities Greater Washington, DC sign, all of whom are smiling at the camera

Q: How does RMHCDC define family-centered care and why does it use this framework to approach its work?

CR: Family-centered care is an approach to healthcare where the entire family is supported, engaged, and involved in the care and support services provided to their child. Families with access to Ronald McDonald House Charities programs can better participate in their child’s care and have a better hospital experience.

Q: How have things changed since RMHCDC was founded in 1980?

CR: Starting with one 16-bedroom house in 1980, we have since expanded our services to include two Ronald McDonald House programs with a total of 56 bedrooms, two Ronald McDonald Care Mobile programs serving underinsured and vulnerable children in the District, and our Hospitality Cart, “Cart with a Heart,” operating at Children’s National Medical Center and Inova Children’s Hospital, providing bedside amenities and comfort to parents and other caregivers while they remain with their hospitalized child.

In recent years, we have also removed the mileage requirement, allowing more families in our community access to our programs. Newly opened oncology treatment units and the creation of specialized disease centers at two major area hospitals have increased the number of families in need of our services annually, as well as diversifying the population we serve.

Q: How does RMHCDC collaborate with other stakeholders — individuals, organizations, etc. — to better serve its community?

CR: In pursuit of our mission to ease the hardship of children’s illness on families, community, individual, and corporate partnerships are critical to meeting the unique needs of the population we serve. From clinical service providers that deliver care in our Ronald McDonald Care Mobile programs and hospital partners that welcome our Cart with a Heart on their pediatric units, to the thousands of donors that give their time, talent, and treasure, we are truly Built by Love.

Parents posing next to their daughter by the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, DC sign. The daughter, Natalia, is sitting in a wheelchair and holding a chalkboard sign that reads "Natalia is going home after 83 nights."

Q: What makes you feel optimistic about your work and/or this sector?

CR: Seeing the impact that our work has made on the families we support makes all the difference to me. I’m humbled by the many individuals and organizations that come together to allow us to support these families.

Q: Is there anything you aren’t often asked about your work that you’d like to share?

CR: A question many have is about our relationship with McDonald’s. We are grateful to call McDonald’s Family Restaurants our Founding & Forever partner since 1974. The generosity of time, funds, and in-kind services provided by the entire McDonald’s community have positively impacted millions of children and their families.

Although McDonald’s is our largest corporate partner, no single individual or partner can fully support RMHCDC as a nonprofit serving thousands. We rely on the support of our entire community to help deliver our mission. Donations from individuals and other corporate partners are critical to providing the services our families need.

Q: What can interested readers do to support RMHCDC’s work?

CR: Everyone has something to offer and we have a place for you. There are numerous ways to get involved and we encourage you to visit our website to get started!

For our upcoming 13th Annual Red Shoe 5k at National Harbor on October 8th, we encourage folks to register and create a team, fundraise, sponsor, or simply help us to spread the word to friends and family. Join us to Raise Your Feet To Raise Hope For Families and help us raise critical funding that will support our mission and the families we serve.

Photo of the Ronald McDonald House building