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Local Nonprofit Bulletin (10.04.22)

Local Nonprofit Bulletin


Things to Do This Month

October 8, 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM or 1:00 – 3:30 PM | Learn and practice relief block printing with Art Enables at their free 2nd Saturday workshop

October 8, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM | Dreaming Out Loud presents their 5th Annual Fall Festival at The Farm at Kelly Miller, featuring delicious farm to table food, pony rides, face painting, music, and more!

October 8, 1:00 – 3:00 PM | Paint and Sip with Project Create at their Family Art Day, where Curt Cunningham will facilitate a free arts workshop

October 12, 5:30 – 7:00 PM | Meet your neighbors and get involved with the Chevy Chase community — stop by Blue44 Restaurant & Bar for Chevy Chase Main Street’s Volunteer Info Happy Hour, or sign up here to volunteer

October 13, 6:30 – 8:00 PM | Help pass a Green New Deal for Housing in DC and join Jews United for Justice’s Social Housing Sukkot Kickoff

October 13, 7:00 – 9:00 PM | Attend A Night of Immigrant Stories at Busboys and Poets in Arlington, VA with Restless Books Immigrant Writing Labs and many in the Dream Project community

October 15, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM | Collect and identify seeds in Arlington National Cemetery with Potomac Conservancy! Seeds will go to local nurseries that grow trees for reforesting efforts across the region

October 15, 6:30 – 9:30 PM | Support Nueva Vida’s Latinas with cancer at VIDART 03, their fundraising art auction?to honor cancer survivors & caregivers

October 16, 2:00 PM | Join National Philharmonic for A Very Silly Vaudeville, an original children’s show featuring magic, dancing, singing, and lots of audience engagement

October 19, 1:00 – 2:00 PM | Celebrate the 77th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month with Best Buddies at their virtual panel discussion focusing on ACCESS in the workforce

October 20, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM | Create a Community Mural with My Sister’s Place at the American University Quad and honor Domestic Violence Awareness Month at their signature #PurpleThursday event

October 20 – 23 | Watch international, documentary, short, and feature films at Reel Affirmations: Washington DC’s International LGBTQ Film Festival. All films will be available virtually, with in person screenings available too

October 21, 6:30 – 9:30 PM | PEN/Faulkner’s Literary State of the Union, a one-of-a-kind DC literary gathering just before the mid-term elections

October 22, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM | Celebrate FRESHFARM’s 25th anniversary at their Monroe Street Market Block Party

October 22, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM | Shop and learn local with The Platform of Hope pop up at the Adams Morgan Farmers Market

October 22, 12:00 – 3:00 PM | Girls Rock! DC Clothing Swap. Exchange clothes, stories, and superb tunes!

October 25, 12:00 – 2:00 PM | Lunch and Life with SCNOVA in Reston, VA: How Hope Functions as a Motivator for Healthy Behavior

October 26, 12:00 – 1:00 PM | Recognizing Domestic Violence Awareness Month with JCADA, When Gun Violence and Domestic Violence Meet: Kate Ranta Tells Her Story

October 30, 1:00 – 4:00 PM | Fall-o-Ween at Common Good City Farm, with free chili & other snacks, a costume contest, pumpkin decorating, and more!

Other Ways to Get Involved

Become a BUILD Mentor and help ignite the potential of youth in under-resourced communities! Mentors work with students as they learn teamwork and collaboration skills, create and grow their businesses, pitch to investors, and manufacture and sell their products. No prior experience necessary!

Sign up to volunteer with DC SCORES — they’re looking for support with their Fall Frenzy event on October 22 from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM, as well as for game day referees to help throughout their fall season on Thursdays between 3:00 – 6:00 PM (email Will Sutton, their Program Director for Soccer Leagues).

Nominate or apply for The Giving Square Fellowship, an intergenerational program designed to bring caring individuals together to explore the role that children play in community. This 6+ session program will run on Mondays at 5:00 PM from November 7 – December 12, with sessions conducted on Zoom and lasting between 45-60 minutes. Email nominations and requests for applications by October 7.

Volunteer with Leveling the Playing Field — they provide weekly opportunities, from organizing their warehouses to assisting with inventorying incoming donations to running a collection drive.

This Halloween, help Good Shepherd Housing & Family Services host their third annual Trunk or Treat event! Sign up to donate candy or treats, or to volunteer with them in person in Alexandria, VA.

Spread the word — children in grades K-5 can register for the Audubon Naturalist Society’s Unplug & Play and Days Off Camps, where they’ll get to learn about nature, explore the Woodend Nature Sanctuary, get muddy in the pond, and play games! Upcoming dates include: October 5, October 24, November 7, and April 21.

Build Grow@Home kits with the Washington Youth Garden. Over the last two years, they’ve provided more than 5,000 kits to students throughout the region to inspire them to learn, experiment, and grow their own food! You can also volunteer to work in the garden.

Resources to Learn From

How are we doing at building a world grounded in equity, accountability, and loving kindness? What needs to change? Explore these questions and more in Avodah’s Transformative Teshuvah: A High Holiday Resource for a More Just World, now featuring a special section on bodily autonomy.

Stay connected with local artist opportunities and area art exhibits & events with Creativity in Action, The Art League’s blog!

Check your voter registration status and prepare for Virginia’s election day on November 8 with The Arc of Northern Virginia’s plain language voting guides & other resources.

Local Nonprofit Bulletin (09.16.22)

Local Nonprofit Bulletin


In this week’s round-up, we’re presenting a Choose Your Own Fall Adventure: Social Impact edition!

For Music & Arts Lovers

Join pianist Steve Baddour for a recital-conversation tomorrow, Saturday 17, at 3:00 PM. Proceeds benefit Capitol Hill Arts Workshop‘s music tuition assistance.

Washington Bach Consort‘s 45th season begins with a world premiere of A New Song from critically acclaimed composer Trevor Weston. Get your tickets for this Sunday, September 18, at 4:00 PM.

Join Porchfest DC, Art All Night, and Hillcrest Day for a Weekend on the East End, with Penn Ave East’s Art All Night on Friday, September 23, from 6:00 PM – 12:00 AM and Hillcrest Day on Saturday, September 24, from 2:00 – 6:00 PM. Then, on Sunday, September 25, from 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM, catch the Catalogue and several of our nonprofit partners — Mamatoto Village, The Safe Sisters Circle, Alliance of Concerned Men, AppleTree Institute, Urban Ed, East of the River Steelband, Project Create, FAN, and Southeast Ministry!

The first run of the Washington Improv Theater‘s 25th Anniversary season is a music-themed performance series, Playing It By Ear. Tickets are on sale now. Check out their schedule from September 30 – October 22.

Girls Rock! DC is hosting a happy hour at Lyman’s Tavern on October 8 from 5:00 – 8:00 PM, which includes an open jam. All adult supporters are invited and children are welcome to attend with parents.

Start your day off well on Saturday, October 15! From 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM, enjoy coffee from artisanal roaster Misha’s Coffee while making beautiful artwork to take home. Proceeds support The Art League.

For Kids, Young Adults, and the Adults Who Support Them

Be a one-on-one tutor to middle and high school age youth in foster care. Volunteer with Fihankra Akoma Ntoaso (FAN) in their after-school programs.

Volunteer with Casa Chirilagua to support middle school students and more! View their opportunities, which range from one-time to year-long commitments and allow for various levels of experience.

This Sunday, September 18, from 2:30 – 4:30 PM, create some art at Common Good City Farm‘s Fall Kids Art Party. Afterward, they’ll also have a Learning about the Environment, Agriculture, and Food (LEAF) class.

The new Arts Institute for Creative Advancement (AICA) is looking for young adults interested in their paid technical theater job training program. If you’re a young adult or a community organization who might know some prospective candidates, connect with them in-person on Monday, September 19, from 5:30 – 7:00 PM at The Theatre Lab or on Wednesday, September 21, from 7:00 – 8:00 PM over Zoom (hosted by Life Pieces To Masterpieces).

Join Vernee Green, the CEO of Mikva Challenge, and their youth and teachers for an interactive town hall on Tuesday, September 20, at 5:00 PM, where they’ll also share their upcoming strategic plan that will drive their work moving forward.

Dive into Generation Hope’s latest report exploring the post-graduation experiences of their alumni — all former teen parents — and the impact of their college degree on their employment, economic status, and more. RSVP for their special webinar on Thursday, September 22, at 2:00 PM.

Participate in Raffle for Rainbow by October 15 and help raise funds for Rainbow Place Shelter as they expand to serve transitional age youth 18-24.

Not only will the Children’s Science Center have a Haunted Lab all October, but they’ll also be hosting a Costume Party on Saturday, October 22, from 5:00 – 7:00 PM. Prizes will be awarded for creative and original Halloween costumes and the spooky fun includes a 3-D printed frog dissection and a view of a sheep brain dissection!

For Gardeners, Plant Parents, Environmentalists, and Food Justice Advocates

Help fill Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services‘ food pantry shelves by either dropping off donations at their office (view their grocery shopping list) or by donating so they can bulk-purchase food.

Volunteer with Earth Sangha this fall! There will be opportunities to help at their Wild Plant Nursery and restoration sites. Volunteer slots begin as early as this Sunday, September 18, from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM, so be sure to check out their full schedule.

Stop by the Olive Lounge in Takoma Park on Thursday, September 22, at any time during the day to enjoy Mediterranean favorites while raising funds for the Crossroads Community Food Network.

The National Parks Conservation Association and Prince William Conservation Alliance is hosting a day of service at Prince William Forest Park on Saturday, September 24, from 8:30 AM – 1:00 PM. Sign up to help with trail maintenance and repair, and historic cemetery restoration.

Enjoy a lovely 8-course lunch at a unique country French restaurant and support the work of Legacy Farms. Their fundraiser on Sunday, October 2, from 11:30 AM – 3:00 PM also includes musical entertainment and a silent auction.

For DC Lovers and Neighborhood Advocates

Volunteer with the Mother’s Outreach Network (MON) and aid families in claiming their rightful tax credits to increase their family income and overall well-being. Though regular tax season has ended, many families have yet to claim their Child Tax Credits, so MON is hosting community-based tax workshops with brief advice clinics. Sign up for volunteer tax training today! No legal or tax background required.

District Bridges is celebrating Petworth this Sunday, September 18, from 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM with a free neighborhood festival featuring kids’ programming, music, dance, a Dog Show, oral history storytelling, and so much more. Sign up to volunteer! They’re also organizing Georgia Avenue Open Streets on Saturday, October 1, from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM, which you can sign up to volunteer for as well.

Christ House is hosting a virtual Speaker Series on Homelessness and Health Care on September 29 at 6:00 PM, where you can learn more about the causes of homelessness, the challenges individuals experiencing homelessness face, as well as solutions and organizations working to support this population.

We’ve partnered with Game Genius on the 2022 District Hunt, their 4th annual puzzle hunt in DC that promotes local organizations by solving a fun mystery. This year’s game, The Wordsmith’s Wriddle, is a fun, literacy-themed event that celebrates local literacy organizations, including many of our nonprofit partners like the DC Creative Writing Workshop, Story Tapestries, Reading Partners, and more. Participate as a team on October 1 or finish the hunt at your own pace through October 10!

Event Tips & Tricks

Event Tips & Tricks

Planning and executing successful events, especially on the relatively smaller budgets that many local nonprofits have, can be a stressful experience. This is why the Catalogue for Philanthropy has put together some suggested practices that we’ve tried and found helpful that you can consider implementing when planning, hosting, and closing out your events — whether it be virtual, in-person, or hybrid.

Before diving into the tips and tricks you can use six months before, three months before, during, and after your event, we recommend starting with the following basics:

  1. Determine the type of event you’re hosting. While this article will primarily cover fundraising events, such as an annual gala, most of the recommendations we offer are adaptable for smaller-scale community events, too.
  2. Decide on your ideal target audience based on the type of event you’re planning. In addition to focusing your guest list, your ideal audience will also help guide most — if not all — of your event planning decisions.
  3. Finalize the budget for your event, which is both dependent on, and will help you determine, your event format and whether it should be in-person, hybrid, or virtual. Your event budget will also inform your capacity for marketing your event, so do keep your ideal target audience in mind. If you’re largely trying to reach people outside of your existing base, you may need to spend more to acquire that new audience. Finally, if your event is a fundraiser, it could be helpful to determine what your revenue goal is when considering your budget as well.
  4. Create a marketing plan so you have a working calendar ahead of your event. This is particularly critical if you want to reach a new, or relatively new, audience. While your marketing plan can change, we recommend having one early.

While you want to aim to have these fundamental decisions in place nine months ahead of your event date, the timeline for executing your event also depends heavily on the event itself and on the capacity of you and your team. You can certainly adapt any of our suggestions based on what would work best for you! With that in mind, let’s dive into our recommendations when preparing for your event.

6 Months Before Your Event

At this point in your planning, it probably feels like you’ve still got a lot of time to prepare… but time will fly! If you’re planning an in-person or hybrid event, make sure to secure your venue and caterer, if using a caterer. You’ll also want to consider making any additional niche assistance you might need for a hybrid or virtual event and gather quotes to start making those decisions. These components are an investment in your event, so if you’re planning to underwrite it with sponsorships, now’s the time to put that packet together and engage your board and others to support this effort. Finally, start thinking about your program and/or other components of your event.

Selecting Vendors

Securing a venue and caterer for your event will help you further define and develop the look and feel of your in-person or hybrid event. Selecting your venue might seem daunting, but knowing how many guests you’re planning to invite, as well as the overall type of event you’re planning, will help you narrow down venue options. Your venue may already have a list of caterers they’ve worked with, which could be helpful as you gather those quotes as well.

Ideally, if you have the capacity to do so, gather at least three quotes when you’re starting out to help you compare different options. Each caterer’s offerings may be different, so do sketch out your needs ahead of time so that you can equitably compare the quotes and menus. The Catalogue has created a crowd-sourced, editable venue and caterer directory for the DC area, so feel free to use that resource to get you started and learn what’s available.

If you’re planning for a virtual or hybrid event, consider hiring additional support to run and coordinate the technical pieces and production. Over the past few years, many of us have gotten good at working with and adapting to new technology. Nowadays, in some cases, audiences can be less forgiving when it comes to technical glitches. A hybrid event is just that — it combines in-person components with virtual components — and outside support may be helpful to make sure your organization has covered all the bases. If you’re livestreaming an in-person production, this is key. However, it is most important to know your audience when weighing this decision with what you’ve determined to be your organization’s or event’s needs. If you’re streaming a panel on Facebook Live, for example, you might not need as much outside support in this area.

Securing Sponsorships

Your venue, caterer, and other needs all come with a price tag. It’s helpful to consider these items as investments to help you create a great event, rather than expenses. If you’re planning to seek sponsorships to underwrite these and other costs, start thinking about creating a sponsorship packet that you can share with corporate and individual prospects. Your packet should address not just the event itself, but also how it fits with your mission, as well as include attractive benefits for your sponsor prospects. If possible, try not to think of sponsorship as a one-time deal, but as a partnership between your organization and the donor or funder.

As you develop your prospect list, which may be a combination of previous and new sponsors, engage your board and other major donors to support you. They may be able to sponsor the event themselves or through their employers, make connections to prospective sponsors, and/or join you in brainstorming creative ideas and prospects based on your neighborhood and mission.

Sketching Out Event Components

Finally, as you work to secure your venue and explore the look and feel of your event, consider your event flow and program. What is your goal? If your event is a fundraiser, will you include a live appeal or auction component? Are you looking to connect new people to your organization and get them excited about your mission? Will you encourage networking and smaller group conversations, or do you want to address the whole group of guests at once? Will you include entertainment?

All of these pieces are also helpful to include in your conversations and outreach to sponsors, so you can help them know what to expect. While these might seem like a lot of components or questions to consider, keep your event simple! You don’t need to orchestrate a huge number of moving pieces for it to be a good event and accomplish your goals. Make a plan for your visuals and have a clear goal for the gathering.

3 Months Before Your Event

Now that you’ve nailed down the essential details for your event, such as the date, time, format, and venue (if you’re hosting it in-person), this is your chance to start promoting it! Three months before your event begins is the ideal time to send out save-the-dates, especially for larger events like a gala. As you continue to have conversations with vendors and finalize these contracts, as well as conduct outreach to sponsors, make sure that you begin channeling some of your energy to marketing your event.

Telling Your Current Supporters

The best place to start is by informing your existing audience that your event is happening. Collate all the channels you use to reach your supporters and create a schedule of content so that you have a clear idea of what you will be telling them and when. If you have an email list, send out a save-the-date invitation and don’t forget to time your social media posts with your emails to coordinate a bigger push. When creating your schedule, ensure that you’re giving your audience enough room to breathe by balancing the frequency of your promotion with your content — farther out from the event, for instance, you don’t have to post or email about it weekly. Follow your audience’s cues to figure out how often you should be sharing about your event and pair your asks with stories or information so that not every email feels solely like an ask.

Feel free to get creative with your content, especially if you have a theme for your event and/or if it ties into a larger fundraising campaign for your organization! Are there recent client testimonials you could highlight on social media or interesting staff and volunteer stories you could weave into an email about your impact? If you host this event annually, could you share snippets from your last event to give your audience a taste of what to expect?

You can also get creative with segmenting when sending event invitations to your audience. For example, if you’re celebrating an organizational milestone or anniversary, perhaps you could send an exclusive and early save-the-date to your most loyal supporters emphasizing their commitment to your mission. When inviting donors who are newer to your organization, consider providing them with more information about how their last donation has impacted your work.

Reaching New Audiences

A good way to reach new audiences is by promoting your event in local media sources and event calendars, such as 730DC, Washington City Paper, Washingtonian, DCist, DCTV, and more. Closer to your event, research the local papers and neighborhood listservs around your organization and reach out to ask if your event can be highlighted! We also recommend thinking outside of the box by brainstorming where your ideal target audience learns about upcoming events — are there small businesses you could flyer or neighborhood libraries with community bulletin boards? Is your target audience likely to be part of existing membership organizations you could invite to your event? Could you partner with a micro-influencer who your target audience is likely to follow on social media and host a raffle or giveaway to raise awareness about your event?

If you can spend some of your budget on advertising, we have also found success with running ads on social media. This doesn’t have to cost very much — especially if social media advertising is new to your organization, you can try budgeting just $2 a day and seeing if the ads generate new audiences for your event. Doing so will also allow you to reach more specific audience segments on those platforms.

During Your Event

You’ve made it! By now, you’re just following through with all the planning and preparation of the last year or so. Even so, there are some things that might come up in the last few weeks prior to the event. Here are several last-minute tips:

  • Develop a staffing plan and communicate with your team their roles and responsibilities for the duration of the day. A big event, whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid — is truly a team effort.
  • Regardless of whether your guests are joining you in-person or virtually, be sure to consider accessibility for your venue and your virtual space. For example, will you need interpretation or language translation services? Ensure all your guests can fully participate in your event.
  • Your caterer may be able to provide extra coordination day-of, such as coat check, or help with registration/check-in.
  • Designate a photographer/videographer (if that’s something you want), as well as a point person for any social media coverage you want to provide to those who might be following along there.
  • Consider any signage or other materials you’d like to have — you don’t need much! You can repackage other footage, copy, photos, etc. for your event materials.
  • Finally, HAVE FUN! Make sure you get something to eat and have a drink. You’ve run the race up to this point and now you just need to coast to the finish line.

Immediately After Your Event

Congratulations on completing a successful event!

The last thing you need to do when wrapping up is to send a thoughtful follow-up to everyone who helped make your event a success. This includes your event attendees — thank them for showing up! Don’t forget to segment your email list so you’re not sending a note of appreciation to people who weren’t there. Most importantly, make sure you have a pipeline in place for this event audience so that you know how you want to continue cultivating them to be your organization’s supporters and advocates. Will you be subscribing everyone who attended to your newsletter email list? Will you be including them in your future fundraising appeals? These answers depend on the purpose of your event and your audience, but they are questions to consider when clarifying how you will continue stewarding them.

Lastly, close out any vendor contracts and then take some time off! You deserve to rest and rejuvenate after all that hard work.

Talking Accountability, Trauma, & Healing with Network for Victim Recovery of DC

Talking Accountability, Trauma, & Healing with Network for Victim Recovery of DC

Since 2012, Network for Victim Recovery of DC (NVRDC) has been empowering survivors of all crimes by offering them a continuum of advocacy, case management, and legal services. Their work is community-driven and guided by the belief that survivors deserve respect for their dignity in the aftermath of a crime. Recently, they launched the TraumaTies podcast and the Trauma-Informed Education Project — two of their latest efforts to educate the community about survivor-defined justice, and about the underlying and systemic ties between trauma and our daily personal experiences.

On the heels of their podcast’s season finale, the Catalogue for Philanthropy had a chance to speak with their Executive Director Bridgette Stumpf and their Head of Services Lindsey Silverberg about their experience creating TraumaTies, how they approach their work at NVRDC, and more.

Catalogue: How would you describe survivor-defined justice?

Bridgette: Survivor-defined justice is the core concept that someone who experiences harm from violence knows and understands their lived experiences, their needs, and what will make them feel safest moving forward better than anyone. Regardless of our experience and expertise, we trust and recognize that the person we’re trying to support is the expert of their own lives, instead of us being the ones defining what will move them through the process of healing.

We also know that survivor-defined justice recognizes that the traditional sense of justice — the criminal legal system — has not brought healing or equitable healing to survivors of violence, so it creates this understanding that the traditional notion of justice may not be safe for everyone.

Catalogue: What are some of the barriers preventing survivors from achieving survivor-defined justice, and how is NVRDC changing them?

Lindsey: There are lots of things that prevent survivors from achieving survivor-defined justice. Some of it is what society tells crime survivors they’re “supposed to do” after experiencing violence and harm. Some of it is systems in this country being racist and sexist. (Instead of valuing) survivors’ or victims’ involvement in the outcome when harm is caused, it’s much more about focusing on — in my opinion — retribution for the folks who have caused harm (rather than) actually healing the people impacted by violence and trying to repair that harm. Broadly, those things impact a person’s ability to achieve survivor-defined justice.

But I (also) do think it’s individual — depending on who the survivor is and if they’ve interacted with those systems before, they may not trust (the systems) or believe in engaging with them. And because we don’t have a system that really values their experience and puts them at the center, some people don’t even view it as an option.

The other hard thing with survivor-defined justice is that (society) only values certain survivors, whether that be based on race, age, socioeconomic status, or the type of violence someone experiences. As a society, we look at things like power-based violence with much more importance than someone who experiences community violence, and all of these things are very tied together.

Some of the ways NVRDC is trying to transform the system is by creating alternatives outside of the criminal legal system like restorative justice. We strongly believe that restorative justice and transformative justice are real options for folks who want to engage and have conversations around accountability and recovery. We want those to be widely available to all survivors.

Bridgette: One of the ways we specifically thought about barriers is applying survivor-defined justice that focuses on the intersection of racial equity and victimization. We have a partnership with the (Community Violence Intervention program at Medstar Hospital). a lot of the data shows that when we intervene with someone who’s experienced community violence at the hospital, we can not only give that person healing and the opportunity to not have retaliatory violence, potentially, but we can also move towards real and community healing.

One of the things we’ve done is place a crime victims’ rights lawyer at the heart of how that patient comes in (to the trauma bay) with a life-threatening injury, so that they can access supportive services and learn about their rights. Treating them as a crime victim has historically not been the case — the vast majority of people presenting with gunshot wounds to the trauma bay are young men of color. There is often an assumption by law enforcement or others who are involved in a potential investigation and treatment of that individual that they somehow did something to cause what happened to them, and that’s deeply rooted in racism and other oppressive ideas and beliefs. But giving that individual access to the same crime victims’ rights that a sexual assault survivor would get walking into the same emergency room is really a concrete way that we’re trying to infuse equity into healing, so that someone based on their identity is not experiencing different options and resources as a crime victim simply because of that identity.

Catalogue: How have you seen the conversation around trauma shift since COVID and what are some changes you feel more positively or more cautious about?

Lindsey: From the standpoint of people knowing that trauma is a real thing folks experience, that’s a positive cultural shift we’ve seen since COVID. I see a lot more people out there with social media content talking about the collective experience we’re going through, (which) is a trauma for a lot of individuals. The places we’re hoping to create and see change are in these broader sectors, so that folks recognize that when they interact with someone who’s having a reaction that they don’t understand, or that doesn’t feel balanced with what’s going on in the situation, it might be due to a trauma. We want people to know that you’re going to intersect with and potentially impact how somebody is experiencing trauma in all sorts of sectors. There’s a lot more as a community, in general, we could do to help support folks experiencing trauma.

Bridgette: Trauma is both common and unique. As we normalize it and start to recognize it as a common experience, we fail to see that it’s also a unique experience. People often expect others to respond in the same way we did. We don’t have the education or awareness to know that people might be very different. Often, without further and deeper understanding of the uniqueness of trauma, we unfortunately can go to a bad place — we will question the validity of someone’s trauma experience when it doesn’t mirror ours. That’s the danger of commonality.

The second danger is we can become desensitized. If people think trauma is just a buzzword, then we don’t take it seriously.

There’s a distinction in healing from trauma when it’s a shared community trauma versus an individual trauma. For me, the value of COVID is we now all know what it feels like. We were connected. And that’s why shared healing is a little bit easier because we feel understood. But when we talk about unique traumas like sexual violence, those can be more isolating. When we only know about trauma through a shared community trauma experience, we may not understand the framework of unique individualized trauma where you’re not able to seek help or where you don’t feel believed. And I think that disconnect can almost widen the current gap in shared language that we now have with trauma, even though we might be better at understanding what our own experience was.

Catalogue: What were some of the challenges with creating TraumaTies and the Trauma-Informed Education Project?

Lindsey: It’s a very niche topic. It’s also a very hard topic, and one of the reasons people often don’t like talking about or acknowledging trauma is — at least in the U.S. — we don’t talk about shared hardship. We like to create distance. So, for people to be engaged or want to learn more, there’s vulnerability there. We’re asking them to come along on this journey with us (when) it might be hard to listen to or hear about.

Bridgette: For me, there’s this sort of initial barrier. We love the name TraumaTies because it really captures the spirit of what we’re trying to do, that we’re all connected, but it just won’t be for (some people). So, how do we connect people who don’t know or who don’t want to know? We’ve created a culture where it’s shameful to be vulnerable and authentic, and that’s because we’ve attached weakness to this concept of trauma that’s absolutely not true. We talk about (trauma) being our bravest moments as a human species — not only do we keep ourselves alive, but our brains are (also) smart enough to know and predict places where we might be in danger again.

Another thing that has been challenging is the timing of how the podcast works. We often talk about mass violence because Lindsey’s time responds to mass violence, but it’s one of the key examples where we think about trauma in our youth and how conditioned they are to doing school shooting drills. We talked about that and then the Uvalde shooting happened. How do we give folks a warning that we’re having these conversations when they may have been directly impacted by something that we didn’t even know about? So, being trauma-informed in the actual production of the podcast was a challenge and something that we have to continue thinking about.

Catalogue: How have things changed since NVRDC was founded?

Bridgette: For me, (it’s) the intentionality about how we approach the work and clearly identifying the direction of the problem we’re trying to solve. Our Theory of Change was a four-year-long process of using our staff, stakeholders, and board to look at all our different services and the scope of our services, and think about what we’re actually trying to fix. We know the existing response to harm from violence is not adequate to create true healing in our community, particularly not for those who are marginalized. How do we solve that really big problem? We’re not going to stop crime, but how do we create a dignified and empowering experience any time someone experiences violence from crime?

We crafted that into three intentional pathways of where we do our work. Empowerment includes a lot of direct services — legal support, crisis response, advocacy. We also have transforming systems, so restorative justice and building out these partnerships. In addition, we really want to talk about culture shifting, so actually changing (people’s) hearts and minds and attitudes and beliefs. How can we change the way anyone and any sector shows up when they’re interacting with someone who has a trauma history? That thought process and approach was the impetus for our TraumaTies podcast and Trauma-Informed Education Project.

Lindsey: The way I’ve seen us transform is really from being actors within the system to recognizing and building the power and places at the table where we feel like, now, we can shift that. That’s been the most exciting and the most impactful, besides our day-to-day work with survivors.

Bridgette: Thanks to Lindsey’s leadership and the leaders who have stepped in under Lindsey, we’ve (also) changed a lot internally and that shows up in our Theory of Change as well. We’re really being aligned in how we live those values beyond the words on the paper. I’m intentional with naming that I’m a white leader and that we serve a lot of women of color. We publish the demographics of our staff and board on our website and we try to be transparent with the community who seek our services, so they know who they’re going to interface with. We recently had a staff member (on the second podcast episode) build out an entire therapeutic program grounded in cultural responsiveness for Black women seeking therapeutic services. We’re really thinking about how we can (embody) those core values, not just with our external stakeholders, but internally with our staff so we can sustain the passion of the folks doing the work that makes survivors’ experience better and strengthens the sustainability of the whole organization.

Catalogue: Where do you find hope in your work, and what’s coming next for NVRDC?

Bridgette: One thing I’ve found hope in — recently, I went on a trip with my friend (who) has really struggled in her life around shared family experience in a faith community. We were listening to the first episode of TraumaTies and she paused it and said, “I finally realize that was traumatic for me. Having that experience was trauma.” Just seeing that moment when someone accepts that something they’ve carried their entire life, which has been extremely painful and damaging, actually wasn’t them and was this trauma experience was really beautiful.

Lindsey: If we can get that to one person, then for us it’s a success.

I had an elderly dog that I was taking to the vet to get acupuncture, and I was talking to the vet about how much trauma they see. They have one of the highest death-by-suicide rates out of any profession. When we were talking about this, the places where trauma shows up, so many people don’t think about that. We want people to make connections and we want them to feel like their experience matters and they are seen in the ways in which this might impact them.

That’s what we’re going to be doing in season two. We’ll be getting into the unsung heroes of people who are impacted by trauma.

Listen to the TraumaTies podcast and learn more about the Trauma-Informed Education Project. Visit NVRDC’s website to view their other programs and offer your support. You can also stay updated on their work through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and over email.

St. Ann’s Center: Creativity to Infinity

St. Ann’s Center: Creativity to Infinity

Written by Sister Mary Bader, CEO of St. Ann’s Center for Children, Youth and Families

Earlier this week, I was near our entranceway at St. Ann’s Center for Children, Youth and Families when I noticed three of the young mothers in our transitional housing programs returning after an evening stroll around our Hyattsville, MD, neighborhood. The women were laughing with each other as they walked in the balmy weather, their little ones safely tucked into their strollers. As so often happens at St. Ann’s Center, it seemed these young mothers were truly enjoying each other’s company. Witnessing this happy scene lifted my heart and filled me with gratitude.

These sorts of moments have happened often lately; seemingly minor gestures, glances, or smiles can generate surprisingly big emotions within me. Given all that we have lived through since 2020, I am sure that I am not alone in this experience. We all know that small acts of kindness and love have always mattered — they just seem to matter even more now.

Sister Mary in St. Ann?s Center?s auditorium with a young resident during their recent back-to-school supply drive for St. Ann?s Families

In August, the Catalogue for Philanthropy reported on their membership survey assessing the pandemic’s impact on nonprofits (and their staff) in the Greater Washington region. This article reminded me once again of the numerous recent challenges faced by nonprofit and social service agencies — challenges which have had historic impact on St. Ann’s Center and the clients we serve.

We were founded in 1860, when three Daughters of Charity opened St. Ann’s Infant and Maternity Home (as we were then called) to assist single and widowed mothers in Washington, DC, affected by the outbreak of the Civil War. Just three years later in 1863, President Lincoln signed a charter incorporating and expanding our mission of caring for the region’s most vulnerable citizens.

St. Ann’s Center and the Daughters of Charity have never wavered from President Lincoln’s charge, even through many subsequent wars, economic crises, and yes, even a previous pandemic in 1918. That being said, our community has rarely faced a challenge like COVID-19, which continues to impact our world.

We know there is much healing work to be done. Still, we can now see sunlight breaking through the clouds of uncertainty, illuminating the many blessings we have experienced during this unusual time. It would require an entirely separate blog post to adequately name the practical, financial, and emotional supports we have received from our generous staff, board, and supporters.

Suffice to say — because of our caring community, St. Ann’s is still here and still able to fulfill our mission of supporting pregnant and parenting mothers and their children who are facing housing insecurity. Throughout the pandemic, we have never had to turn away a family in need.

A quote we cherish at St. Ann’s Center is “Love is inventive unto infinity,” by St. Vincent de Paul.

When I examine the recent course of events at St. Ann’s Center — and indeed, when I meditate upon St. Ann’s Center’s 162 years of mission-based service — this is the story I see: loving people of ordinary means exacting extraordinary and meaningful change in the lives of others.

Material and financial support sustains the mission; this is as true in 2022 as it was in 1860, when our founders had to begin their work in a cramped space adjacent to a downtown Washington, DC parish building. However, I believe St. Ann’s mission continues today primarily because of the loving relationships that others have gifted us along our journey, rather than materials supplied.

Through these loving and creative relationships, St. Ann’s Center has been able to build a nurturing and holistic environment in which mothers and their children can heal from the past, make plans for the present, and achieve their future goals of independence and stability.

Our mission has never been about “what St. Ann’s does” but rather “what families can do” in a setting where they know they are cared for and supported. Part of this work has always been the shared goal that families who stay with us will one day spread their wings and soar into a future of their own creation. I think this metaphor is a fitting illustration for how I hope we will all transition into a future beyond the momentary challenges we face today.

Learn more about and support the work of St. Ann’s Center by visiting their website and subscribing to their email list. Additionally, you’re invited to join their Fall Social on October 5 at the Irish Inn at Glen Echo to celebrate St. Ann’s families and all they have achieved this year! They’re also celebrating 162 years since their founding by the Daughters of Charity in 1860.

Copy of Fall Invitation 21 (1)

Local Nonprofit Bulletin (Labor Day Edition)

Local Nonprofit Bulletin

09.05.22 (Labor Day Edition)

Happy Labor Day! We hope you’re having a restful and rejuvenating weekend.

Check out some upcoming ways to learn more about, support, and get involved with our nonprofit partners!

What’s Happening these next four weeks?

September 7, 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM | Swing by the Council for Court Excellence’s Open House to sign “thank you” cards for D.C. jurors, participate in their 40th Anniversary Oral History Project, grab their community guides, and more. RSVP by email

September 8, 6:30 – 8:00 PM | Hear about the many art forms that come together in the IN Series’ “The Nightsong of Orpheus” at their Director’s Salon, “Now I Know About Noh”

September 10 | Craft Japanese paper lanterns with Art Enables from 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM or 1:00 – 3:30 PM, then stay for their opening reception for “Outside Forces” from 4:00 – 7:00 PM

September 13 | Learn about Safe Streets for All: A Safe System Approach at the 2022 Washington Region Vision Zero Summit with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, including a post-summit meetup at Buena Vida Gastrolounge from 7:00 – 9:00 PM

September 14, 7:00 – 8:30 PM | Join the PEN/Faulkner Foundation and acclaimed authors for a conversation about representations of reproductive choice in their work

September 14, 8:00 – 9:30 PM | Get a refresher on what the DC Council does and how it works before they’re back in session with Jews United for Justice’s DC Politics Crash Course 101: DC Government

September 15, 5:00 – 6:00 PM | Hear from guest speaker Taylar Nuevelle, Executive Director of Who Speaks for Me?, at the next Guaranteed Income Coalition meeting

September 15, 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM | Catch in-person screenings of “Boy Culture: The Series,” presented by Reel Affirmations XTRA

September 17, 12:00 – 6:00 PM | Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at the Potomac Riverkeeper Network’s RioPalooza, a free and family-friendly fun day

September 21, 7:00 PM | Honor trafficking survivors and the community that stands with them at The Human Trafficking Legal Center’s 2022 On My Side Awards

September 23 – 24 | Art All Night! District Bridges will be organizing Mount Pleasant’s first Art All Night on September 23 from 5:00 – 10:00 PM, as well as U Street’s Art All Night the next day on September 24 from 6:00 – 11:00 PM

September 24 – 25 | Don’t miss CapitalBop’s NEXTfest ’22, a free music and arts festival at Malcolm X Park, with a focus on D.C. statehood this year

September 29, 6:00 – 9:00 PM | Join the DC Justice Lab’s inaugural Movement Mixer at the Ivy City Smokehouse during the Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Legislative Conference

October 6, 6:00 – 9:00 PM | Join Senior Services of Alexandria’s Oktoberfest at the Port City Brewing Company for an evening of award-winning brews, traditional German foods, and music while helping support their programs that help older adults continue to live independently

October 8, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM | Celebrate the end of farm season at Dreaming Out Loud’s fifth annual Fall Festival behind Kelly Miller Middle School

Save the Dates & Fundraisers

September 17, 6:00 – 10:00 PM | C&O Canal Trust’s Park After Dark

September 23, 6:30 PM | 2022 So What Else Outdoor Palooza

September 29, 6:30 – 9:00 PM | New Endeavors by Women’s Moving Out of Homelessness Fall Fundraiser and Auction

October 1, 6:00 PM | Grassroots Health’s 2022 Grassroots Gala

October 5, 5:30 – 7:30 PM | St. Ann’s Center’s Fall Celebration

October 8, 6:00 – 10:00 PM | Potomac Riverkeeper Network’s Party on the Pier Annual Gala

October 12, 6:30 – 8:00 PM | Family & Youth Initiative’s Establishing Roots: A Fundraising Reception

October 19, 6:00 – 9:00 PM | FRESHFARM Feast

October 20, 7:00 – 8:30 PM | Community Reach of Montgomery County’s Resilience, Rebuilding, Rejuvenation: Mansfield Kaseman Health Clinic Virtual Celebration 2022

October 23 – 31 | Homeless Animals Rescue Team’s Pups ‘N Pints 2022 Virtual 5K with a kickoff party on October 23, 12:00 – 5:00 PM, at Dogfish Head Alehouse

October 24 | SafeSpot’s 2022 Champions for Children

October 24, 12:00 PM | Mercy Health Clinic’s 19th Annual Golf Classic

October 28, 6:00 – 9:30 PM | Toast to Hope: a blue tie gala benefitting SCAN of Northern Virginia

November 3 | Network for Victim Recovery of DC’s 11th Annual Benefit: Rise & Reimagine

November 4, 6:00 – 9:00 PM | Community Youth Advance’s 2022 Unleashing Brilliance Gala

November 13, 5:00 – 9:30 PM | The Theatre Lab’s Cabaret Benefit Dinner + Auction

November 14, 7:00 PM | Only Make Believe’s 23rd Annual Gala: Back on Broadway

December 9, 6:00 – 10:00 PM | The National Reentry Network for Returning Citizens’ 7th Annual Fundraiser & Awards Celebration

The Local Nonprofit Bulletin is compiled biweekly — have a shoutout, event, volunteer opportunity, or something else you want to share? Reach out to Amanda Liaw, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, to collaborate!

Moving in this City

Moving in this City

A sepia-toned old map of Washington, DC

Source: Library of Congress

We were recently reminded by City Cast DC’s newsletter that there is something familiar and unfamiliar, joyous and challenging about mapping a city. From maps showing every single cherry tree to maps that tell the stories of Black DC residents’ displacement over the 20th century, both the concept and action of mapping defines place while outlining potential journeys one could take between those places.

Numerous contradictions overlap in DC’s versions of personal, communal, societal, and national histories — most of which can be recognized and felt just by walking around. DC is one of the most walkable cities in America, but all three of its most walkable neighborhoods are situated in NW. Despite roughly 22% of the city’s population having disabilities, according to Washingtonian, “many of DC’s restaurants are housed in historic buildings” that may not be readily accessible.

As Ron Thompson wrote in Greater Greater Washington earlier this summer, “We need to think about the safety of our streets in a holistic way.” In considering how we move around the city, the Catalogue for Philanthropy expanded upon this framing and asked several of our nonprofit partners: How can we make our city a joyous place to move around in?

“DC can become a more joyous place by embracing the idea of saying “yes,”” Mark Chalfant, Artistic Executive Director of the Washington Improv Theater, told us. “Too often, Washingtonians get stuck in our silos, whether it’s related to our work lives or our neighborhoods. When we say yes to new things, we welcome personal growth and new connections with other people.”

A group of four women laughing while taking an improv class

Source: Calvary Women’s Services

Guided by the belief that improv can counteract the isolating factors of modern life to form bonds between people and multiple intersecting communities, Washington Improv Theater creates spaces where shared laughter and joy are possible for all. In partnership with fellow Catalogue nonprofit Calvary Women’s Services, for example, they worked to provide empowerment and catharsis for women experiencing homelessness through improv sessions. “I truly believe that we resign anyone at the poverty line to a life devoid of delight, saying that once you fix all your problems only then you can be delighted,” said Calvary’s Education Coordinator, Elaine Johnson. “(But) delight is what gets our women to do the hard work.”

No matter where we are at, connection and joy are vital to welcome into our lives. “At Washington Improv Theater,” Chalfant continued, “we aspire to facilitate this spirit of yes through an art form that relies on positive collaboration and a spirit of saying “yes, and.””

Just as Washington Improv Theater uses artistic movement to center and embrace our humanity, fellow nonprofit partner Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN) Greater DC-Baltimore uses physical activity to empower young people with disabilities and, in so doing, fosters a real sense of community. From bowling to Tae Kwon Do, yoga to basketball, they offer more than 1,300 hours of recreational and fitness programming at no cost every month, serving over 500 children, teens, and young adults.

KEEN “lets special needs families know that there is a larger community that cares about our kids,” a parent shared in their latest annual report, “and are willing to invest in their success.” Across KEEN’s programs, children with disabilities like autism and Down syndrome can feel accepted and find joy. For 30 years, they have been training volunteer coaches and pairing them with KEEN’s program participants — who they call athletes — to take part in different sports activities and have a good time. Every year, volunteers also team up with athletes to participate in an instructor-led sports festival, where the whole KEEN community comes together to celebrate as a single group.

A person wearing all black and a cap playing with a hula hoop at an outdoor sports festival

Source: KEEN Greater DC-Baltimore

Girls on the Run – DC (GOTR – DC) is another incredible nonprofit partner who uses an experience-based curriculum to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident. Through physical activity and interactive lessons, girls meet with trained volunteer coaches in small teams, gaining critical life skills on their journey to complete a 5K together. Since 2006, they have engaged more than 300 volunteer coaches a year, serving more than 21,000 girls locally.

“At the end of the day, I just want to be someone who feels good about herself AND who makes others feel good about themselves,” one of their participants said. The ways in which we move in this city and, conversely, the ways in which this city permits us to move, shape our memories and understandings of this place. As GOTR – DC’s Executive Director Devoria Armstead told us, “Over the years, running outdoors has been something I love to do to clear my mind and bring thoughts into focus.” Movement helps to free us, focus us, or connect us — all of which impact how we feel about ourselves, our neighborhoods, and each other.

This echoes a statement made by one of Phoenix Bikes‘ Earn-a-Bike program graduates: “When I think of Phoenix Bikes, I don’t just think of the mechanics and bike riding. I think of a safe haven where I was free to be myself amongst my friends.”

Phoenix Bikes harnesses the power of bikes to help youth build passion, purpose, and a place in the community. Their Earn-a-Bike program teaches youth bike repair skills while they work towards earning their own bike. Through additional opportunities like overnight bike camping trips and weekly Saturday bike rides, they engaged over 220 youth who covered nearly 3,000 miles on these group rides. Youth also refurbish bikes that they then give to people in the community, including refugees from Afghanistan and a man rebuilding his life after homelessness.

Joyous movement is inextricably tied to safe, healthy, and vibrant forms of living. In stressing the importance of the vehicle for movement, Phoenix Bikes states that “Bicycling… is also a means for social justice. Providing access to a bicycle can have significant positive economic and health impacts for all.” Similarly, Armstead shared with us that “As I get into the groove of my run, it brings me joy when I see areas of DC, that at times are filled with litter and debris, looking spruced up and manicured. I enjoy seeing bright pockets of color, creativity and sustainability through murals, art installations, playground structures, dog parks, and vegetable gardens.”

To this list of things that make DC beautiful, we would like to add open streets and outdoor festivals, such as the DC Funk Parade. Held earlier in August, the festival gives “artists who perform on U Street and all bus (stops) and who perform a chance to really be seen,” David Oliver, the parade’s host, told WTOP News. It is one of the events stewarded by nonprofit partner The MusicianShip as part of their ecosystem of music-based projects, which reach more than 70,000 people altogether. They leverage each of these community engagements to serve nearly 2,000 youth, changing their lives through music lessons, experiences, and opportunities.

Two people dancing with each other apart from the crowd at the DC Funk Parade outdoors on U Street

Source: AJ Gwynn, DC Funk Parade

This year’s Funk Parade theme was “The Magic of Music” and it continued to honor the spirit of the U Street Corridor — historically known as Black Broadway — while celebrating DC’s distinct musical identity.

“Making concepts such as these a priority in our city and seeing ongoing, consistent visual cues of neighborhood improvements and well-being is a huge part of what can make our city a joyous place to move around in,” Armstead noted.

We agree — investing in our city requires deep intention and sustained commitment, which drives the efforts of every nonprofit featured here. We invite you to channel your own joy as you consider how you want to move in and around our city! In the spirit of collaborating with local community-based organizations, you can also learn more about the work of our nonprofit partners and support them in making our region a wonderful place, where everyone can wander, have fun, and express themselves fully.

Volunteer Fairfax: Celebrating Inclusive Volunteerism

Volunteer Fairfax: Celebrating Inclusive Volunteerism

“Inclusive volunteerism is this kind of shift to meet you wherever you’re at,” Hollie Gordon, Manager of Communications and Public Engagements at Volunteer Fairfax, told the Catalogue for Philanthropy in a recent conversation. “Your time is also treasure — you don’t have to necessarily have the financial means to go out and make big purchases, but giving your time, knowledge, and energy to something is just as valuable.”

A young volunteer with shoulder-length blonde hair wearing a gray sweater smiling at the camera with homemade dog treats baked for Homeward Trails Adoption Center

Volunteer making homemade dog treats from Homeward Trails Adoption Center, Fairfax Station

Volunteer Fairfax is the region’s central resource for community engagement for the last 48 years — pre-pandemic, they attracted close to 14,000 volunteers yearly serving more than 41,000 hours. “(We) emphasize the work nonprofits are doing and pair volunteers with nonprofits,” said Hollie. Though there is interest in engaging civically, with Virginia Service reporting 34% of Virginians volunteering in 2018, “sometimes we just need someone to make that extra connection,” especially since it can be challenging for people with families and jobs to find the time.

One of Volunteer Fairfax’s signature annual events is VolunteerFest, a yearly county-wide day of service event that engages people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. During the pandemic, they were able to create more inclusive volunteer opportunities by developing projects for volunteers to participate in at-home, such as putting together kits that address the donation needs of various nonprofit partners (i.e. toiletry kits to serve people experiencing homelessness and snack packs for kids in after-school programs). VolunteerFest allows members of the community to connect with each other while serving and learning about local nonprofits. “Through this at-home, virtual model,” Hollie noted, “we were able to bring volunteerism to people at home so they could define for themselves the specific place and budget they felt comfortable working with,” thereby allowing older residents, families with kids, teens, and busy professionals to get involved.

VolunteerFest will begin on September 11 with the launch of at-home projects and continues throughout the weekend with projects occurring in-person on Saturday and Sunday, September 17 and 18. This year’s opportunities range from baking and packing homemade treats for pets to litter clean-ups, storm drain labeling, and refreshing an outdoor classroom at a local elementary school!

Three volunteers, all wearing bright orange vests and black face masks, posing for the camera on the sidewalk with clipboards in hand

Volunteers labeling storm drains for Northern VA Soil & Water Conservation District

Despite the challenges that COVID-19 presented, Volunteer Fairfax’s new model of embracing volunteers where they’re at is worth celebrating. “I think that people (often) feel like they don’t have the time to (make a long-term commitment),” Hollie continued. “But we try to lower the bar to let people know that you can show up and drive someone to an appointment, and even if you do it three times over the year, you helped.” For them, engaging the volunteer community is a yes/and. Yes, volunteers who can show up week after week are critical.?And volunteers who aren’t currently able to do so are also making an important contribution. “When volunteers show up, they learn about the needs in our community and all the ways (big and small) they can serve,” Hollie emphasized.

Something she’s excited about is seeing more engagement from younger people. “There has been a shift in political activism and civic engagement in younger people,” she added. “A lot of our growth in numbers (is because of) teenagers, who come on to do one or two projects and become really engaged with the organizations they touch.” This increased involvement mirrors her own personal experience and echoes the stories they’ve heard from the volunteers they celebrate through their annual Volunteer Services Awards, which recognize the people who do important work with their nonprofit partners.

“We heard from volunteers who’d been on the frontlines bringing vaccinations to people when we were doing mass vaccine clinics in Fairfax County,” she said. “We heard from volunteers who were at Dulles Airport (helping) Afghan refugees get settled, including someone who worked a full-time job and would set their alarm at midnight to go to Dulles.”

These inspiring stories and experiences get to the heart of why volunteerism matters and how much of an impact volunteering really makes. Volunteer Fairfax believes that we can only build a better community when we work together. This September, share your time and talent with nonprofits across Fairfax County and join them in meeting the needs of your community!

Group photo taken by a forested area with everyone wearing face masks and some holding shovels in hand

Clean-up project for VolunteerFest

Participate in VolunteerFest and learn more about the work of Volunteer Fairfax at Make sure you follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and subscribe to their newsletter to stay in the know about their volunteer opportunities.

What Can Blossoming Look Like? On Youth Entrepreneurship with City Blossoms

What Can Blossoming Look Like? On Youth Entrepreneurship with City Blossoms

“I have watched seedlings transform into healthy food that sustains my community and provides much needed nourishment to many people who would not otherwise have access to affordable, healthy food,” Eden Amare, Mighty Greens Youth Staff Member, wrote in the foreword to City Blossoms‘ latest publication, Cultivating Youth Leaders: A Workbook for Growing a Youth-Led Cooperative Garden Business.

A person wearing braids and a gray tank top holding a bunch of red and pink flowers, smiling at the camera in a garden

Created in collaboration with the U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG), this free resource offers almost a decade’s worth of City Blossoms’ experience working with young people in DC to develop creative and kid-driven green spaces. Through the Youth Entrepreneurship Cooperative (YEC), one of their five interwoven programs, they provide a safe space for high school-aged youth to cultivate skills, take chances, and receive coaching on how to start, manage, and grow their own environmentally-driven business. Their first group of youths formed the Mighty Greens business in 2014 — youth staff grow seedlings and produce, as well as create value-added products (such as herb salts, teas, and more) to sell to the community at farmers markets and holiday pop-ups. Profits from their sales are paid out to youth staff and a portion is reinvested back into Mighty Greens, allowing participants to continue growing their business. On average, they donate over one-third of their produce and seedlings annually to churches, community members, and food banks.

“Mighty Greens teaches people how to cook and make profitable products, such as dried herb salts, teas, and body lotions,” wrote Amare. “These trade skills help to prepare people for careers in the gardening and farming industries.” Beyond skill-building, Mighty Greens Youth Staff members have also received invitations to present at regional conferences, sit on panels, and advise policy makers. But perhaps most importantly, such garden-based entrepreneurship “(allows) us to interact with the community that we are serving.” This summer, for instance, City Blossoms’ programming included special visits and workshops with professional entrepreneurs and local activists. The Mighty Greens team also sold their delicious produce and products at the Petworth Farmers Market.

A group of high school Mighty Greens youth staff posing for the camera by their booth at the farmers market, which is filled with fresh produce

Now, with the Cultivating Youth Leaders workbook, City Blossoms has combined years of stories from their team and from the Mighty Greens’ Youth Staff with their strategies and lessons learned, as well as useful tools and templates to guide others who want to develop their own unique adaptation of this program. “This resource offers an accessible model that prioritizes centering youth voices, as they are the ultimate change makers,” said Rafael Woldeab, executive director of City Blossoms. “We encourage users to be creative and utilize components of the YEC to meet the unique needs of their own communities.”

From thoughtful questions on building a safe and joyous space for youth to grounding the history of cooperatives in communities of color, this workbook exemplifies their approach to healthy living and community building by seeing youth as the inspiring changemakers they are. “City Blossoms and the USBG recognize the need for equitable and community-led resources that can inform and inspire opportunities nationwide for youth to engage in garden-based entrepreneurship,” said Saharah Moon Chapotin, USBG’s executive director.

Group of summer youth staff posing with masks on outside the Food Justice exhibit at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum

Green spaces can be places of opportunity to build stronger relationships with the natural environment and connect with each other as creators and stewards. The seed for City Blossoms was first planted back in 1997 when 18-year-old Rebecca Lemos-Otero and the kids she was leading a summer camp for transformed an abandoned plot into a lush garden with food, flowers, and art installations. With attention and care, this radical project became a nonprofit organization that has touched hundreds of green spaces throughout DC and nationwide, all through the lens of investing in the holistic wellbeing of kids and their communities.

So, what can it look like to “blossom”? We’ll end with a youth-led vision for the future. In the words of Eden Amare, “Knowing that my community is being educated, getting jobs, and staying healthy drives me to serve them even more.”

Mighty Greens Youth Staff smiling and chatting around a table during a team business meeting in a greenhouse

Learn more about and support City Blossoms! You can also stay updated on their work by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Local Nonprofit Bulletin (08.19.22)

Local Nonprofit Bulletin


Learn More & Get Involved

“Warehouse space has been in high demand since the pandemic,” Jacob Fenston writes in DCist. Now that landlord Washington Gas is forcing Community Forklift out of their current space in Edmonston, Maryland, the nonprofit and salvage business is looking for a new location. Not only does Community Forklift rescue items from the waste stream for reuse, but they also provide well-paying jobs with benefits for people who might otherwise have a hard time finding work. Additionally, they donate supplies to schools, community organizations, and low-income households. As Nancy Meyer, chief executive of Community Forklift, told Daniel Wu in the Washington Post, they’re “part of this dynamic, grass-roots economy in the local community.” Their warehouse will remain open as they search for a new home and have launched the “Forklift Forward” campaign — if you are able, help provide financial support, assistance in identifying funding resources, and/or connections in the commercial real estate, public relations, political, and nonprofit fundraising spheres!

Nominate an individual or organization for the Council for Court Excellence‘s Justice Potter Steward Award! This Award is presented annually to leaders who exemplify the very best in the pursuit of justice, with former Award winners including individuals whose work with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, DC Volunteer Lawyers Project, Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop, DC Affordable Law Firm, Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, and more have made a significant contribution to the law, the legal system, the courts, or the administrative process in our community. Submit your nomination by Friday, September 23!

The Shepherd’s Center of Northern Virginia is looking for office volunteers to help with answering the phone, scheduling rides, and taking messages for fundraising activities. Able to help for four hours on Thursday or Friday afternoons? Call them at 703-281-0538 or email to let them know!

Congratulations to the National Philharmonic‘s Summer String Institute 2022 musicians! These talented middle school and high school students spent an intensive week in rehearsals, lessons, and more, culminating in final performances that you can now watch.

Calling youth performers! The Young Artists of America is now auditioning for its 2022/23 “Season of Premieres.” Singers, actors, and dancers in grades 9-12 or taking a gap year can audition for their YAACompany; instrumentalists in grades 9-12 or taking a gap year can audition for their YAAOrchestra; and singers, actors, and dancers in grades 6-8 can audition for their YAAjunior. BIPOC students can also apply for their new BIPOC performing arts scholarship.

The schedule for Improvapalooza 2022 is live! Help make the Washington Improv Theater‘s last Palooza at Source a success. They’re looking for volunteers to greet patrons, check vaccine cards, and videotape shows. Fill out this form to learn more about volunteering or email their Operations Manager at

Capitol Hill Arts Workshop‘s vestibule at 545 7th St SE is open daily for contact-free donation drop-offs to Serve Your City and the Ward 6 Mutual Aid Network! Take a look at the list of needed items. They are also collecting new art supplies for art kits distributed through the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project in the vestibule.

The Theatre Lab is looking for people ages 14-24 who identify as a member of the LGBTQIA community to join a group of participants ages 25-70 for QUEER STORIES, a free 13-week class designed to give participants a unique platform to develop and share stories based on their lived queer experiences in the DMV. Participants will use their personal stories and experiences as fabric to construct and perform an original work in December. Seasoned performers and those with no previous acting experience welcome! Learn more and apply. The class runs from September 14 – December 14.

Vote for Byte Back to get to SXSW 2023! In partnership with the Urban Alliance and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, they submitted a proposal for a panel on digital equity, education innovation, and sharing their impact with a national audience. Voting closes at 11:59 PM ET on August 21.

Volunteer with Generation Hope this fall. They are looking for people to provide childcare at their Family Dinners starting September 15 and 29. If you’re interested in mentoring, individuals and groups can also apply now to support and build lasting bonds with young parents in college. You can also sign up to tutor Scholars virtually, especially if you can help with nursing classes, engineering, and other STEM-related topics.

Attend an Upcoming Event

August 20, 12:00 – 5:00 PM | Bread for the City’s annual Good Hope Family Community Day at their old Southeast Center on 1640 Good Hope Rd SE. This back-to-school block party will have a moon bounce and game zone, along with free book bags, food, clothing, school supplies, hair cuts and braiding, and more!

August 21, 2:00 – 3:00 PM | The Art League’s Artist Talk with August Solo Artist Andrea Cybyk about her exhibit “Wild Suburbia.” Hear about her artistry and how her exhibit finds beauty in common weeds.

August 23, 7:00 PM | Community Voices & Visioning: Collaboration After Harm. Join Network for Victim Recovery of DC, Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop, and Community Mediation DC as they explore the impact of restorative justice practices and discuss how DC as a community can better respond after harm.

August 24, 6:00 – 7:30 PM | Navigating Holistic & Western Medicine through the Pandemic with Hamkae Center. A virtual discussion about the values of practicing both western and non-western medicine in exercising best health and wellness!

August 25, 6:30 – 7:45 PM | Rainbow Families’ Legal Talk Series: Impact on ART & Adoption. Join this virtual chat with two attorneys and a reproductive physician on how legal changes are affecting Assisted Reproductive & Adoption.

August 27, 12:00 – 4:00 PM | Great and Small’s 2022 Summer Open House at 17320 Moore Rd in Boyds, Maryland. Catch a therapeutic riding demonstration, occupational therapy demonstration, Q&A, tours, learning opportunities, and more! No RSVP needed.

August 27, 7:00 – 8:30 PM | Spirit of Summer Series: Pan Masters Steel Orchestra at Joe’s Movement Emporium. Catch Pan Masters’ outstanding musical repertoire that reflects the unique musical arrangements of its members — from Calypso to Jazz, Soca to R&B!

August 28, 3:00 – 4:30 PM | Jews United for Justice’s Montgomery County Summer Meetup. Family-friendly event with relationship-building and postcard-writing!

August 29, 6:30 PM | Art Drives Statehood with Art Enables and DC Vote at the Atlas Theater. Join Washington Nationals Pitcher Sean Doolittle, Pie Shop owner Sandra Basanti, and more at the launch of this project, which interprets the iconic “Statehood” license plate that has been used for years as a symbol of the fight for equality.

August 30, 6:00 – 8:00 PM | Potomac Riverkeeper Network’s Alexandria Coal Tar Pollution Public Forum. Get an up-close look at an active pollution source in Old Town, Alexandria, and learn about how to take action for clean water.

The Local Nonprofit Bulletin is compiled biweekly — have a shoutout, event, volunteer opportunity, or something else you want highlighted? Reach out to Amanda Liaw, Communications and Marketing Coordinator, to collaborate!