Skip to main navigation

Catalogue Blog

Around Town 8/12-20

Around town template (4)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Children of Eden

The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts

An epic musical with a large and diverse cast of characters, Children of Eden starts with the very beginning: the creation of the universe. Drawing from the Book of Genesis, its authors have examined the familiar stories of Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel and many other iconic figures through a family lens exploring themes of parenting, personal choices, the value of questioning and, ultimately, the need for “letting go” of the ones you love. With music that is at turns soaring (The Spark of Creation), foot-stomping (Ain’t It Good) and deeply moving (In Whatever Time We Have), Stephen Schwartz (Wicked) and John Caird (Les Miserables) have created a musical that is joyful, inspiring, poignant, and full of humor.

Event Information

  • When: Thursday, August 17, 2017 (7:30 PM)
  • Where: The Theatre Lab, 733 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 map
  • Fee: $15 – Adults $10 – Students
  • Volunteer Info: Ushering, concession sales, etc.
  • Contact: Dane Petersen, (202) 824-0449
  • For more information: click here

 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Macbeth

The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts

A unique vision of Shakespeare’s tragedy, this production of Macbeth will be told through the eyes of the three witches who create a story and then must deal its consequences. Always present, these witches create worlds and shape the tides of fate around the characters, birthing a tale about revenge and ambition’s terrible cost.

Event Information

  • When: Friday, August 18, 2017 (7:30 AM)
  • Where: The Theatre Lab, 733 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 map
  • Fee: $15 – Adults $10 – Students
  • Volunteer Info: Ushering, concessions sales, etc.
  • Contact: Dane Petersen, (202) 824-0449
  • For more information: click here

Developing New Solutions With Food Recovery Network

by Regina Northouse, Executive Director, Food Recovery Network

File_000 (1)Food Recovery Network (FRN) is the largest student movement against food waste and hunger in America. FRN unites and empowers college students to recover surplus food from their campus dining halls and surrounding food businesses and donate that food to hunger-fighting nonprofits who feed those most in need. With 230 university chapters across the country and growing, FRN’s goal is to support higher education in being the first sector where food recovery is the norm and not the exception. Through the power of highly motivated student leaders, FRN has recovered and donated more than 2.1 million pounds of food since 2011.

FRN positively impacts our communities. Our student leaders support over 350 hunger-fighting partners including homeless shelters, food banks and food pantries, providing them with wholesome, nutritious meals to give to their clients.

The U.S. food system is marked by an alarming paradox: nearly 40% of food produced in the US goes to waste, while 48.1 million Americans experience food insecurity each year, one out of seven of whom are children (NRDC 2016; USDA 2015).

Food Recovery Network was formed in 2011 by college students at the University of Maryland who wanted to address these issues of food waste and food insecurity, and their social and environmental impacts. These impacts include wasting 23% of potable water and 18% of valuable cropland, as well as emitting methane into the atmosphere, contributing to the rise of greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change.

What sets FRN apart, is our innovative model which empowers and educates young leaders and breaks down barriers between college campuses by helping students develop new solutions to problems in their communities, to connect with nonprofits in their area and help and build relationships with their neighbors who also happen to be in need. Through our model, our civic-minded student leaders gain confidence in their own abilities to challenge the status quo and fight for what is right.

IMG_0475 (1)

Food Recovery Network is a national nonprofit that applies local solutions to specific communities to ensure surplus food gets to those who need it most. I know I speak for my amazing team at FRN headquarters in College Park, Maryland, when I say we are continually inspired by our hard-working student leaders all over the country.

Many of FRN’s students often do more than volunteer with their FRN chapter. Our students pursue other opportunities in the food recovery movement, such as gleaning from local farms, recovering nonperishable food items during the days when students on their college campus move out for the semester, and participate in summer recoveries. The student leaders also volunteer with the nonprofit where they donate their surplus food by tutoring, preparing and serving meals and helping with cleanup initiatives.

We talk to our leaders all the time and there are so many inspiring stories. Actually, when asked about her relationship with her chapter’s partner nonprofit, one student from Michigan said, “Every time I brought food to our partner agency, I would meet one of the residents and they would be so kind and grateful! I loved being a part of this amazing organization and movement! It has made me realize that I want to incorporate more awareness and advocacy in my future career.”

Recently, we were told by an FRN alum that one of her limiting criteria for searching for which grad schools she wanted to apply to was whether that the school had an FRN chapter so she could remain engaged as a graduate student.

At the heart of what drives FRN to pursue the work we do is two things. First, being able to provide a source of nutritious food to those who would otherwise not have access. We’re here to be part of our communities. Second, we want to change behavior to reduce food waste at the source post production. This is one of the highest instances of food waste (versus food wasting on the vine for example). We don’t want to overproduce food in order to donate it, we want to ensure good food isn’t wasted to begin with, and when there happens to be surplus, which, let’s be honest, much of the time there will be, that food should feed our fellow neighbors in need.

In addition to recovering food from their campuses, students have the opportunity to volunteer their time with the hunger-fighting partners and the individuals they serve, highlighted by Lighthouse Outreach Ministries, “Everyone likes to see the college kids ride up! The homeless have families that they are separated from and it makes everyone smile to know they are not invisible.”

FRN is dedicated to continuing our work in the food recovery space and to expand the movement, as we continue to provide support and resources for driven, civic-minded students seeking opportunities to engage with their communities and build their leadership skills. I look forward to collaborating and partnering with individuals and other organizations to move the needle on the issue of food waste and food loss. I hope those reading this post know they can be part of the conversation with us!

Copy of gleaning 3

FRN hopes to see our network expand to 350 chapters across the country, and our ability to recover 1 million pounds of perfectly good food year-over-year. We’re working to expand our Food Recovery Verified (FRV) program that recognizes and rewards food businesses of any type that are working to fight waste and feed people through food recovery. FRV serves as a third party that verifies that food businesses are donating surplus food to hunger fighting non-profits. We list those businesses on our website, we have a communications strategy to give voice to those businesses, and each business receives a window sticker to display on their doors or on marketing materials to tell patrons their business does the right thing with their surplus food. To date, FRN has over 90 food businesses that have been verified including Adidas, Zulily, and Twitter Inc.

Success is when each point within our food system has decreased food waste by implementing better practices to avoid overproduction of food–meaning at the farm level, the producer and purchasing level, at the retail level and individual consumer level. I know that as this conversation takes hold in the consciousness of more people, FRN is part of that behavior change.

Success is having the proper logistics in place for when there is surplus food to properly and effectively distribute that food to those who need it most across the country. We also want our student leaders to be part of the full process. Our students are the future entering into literally every sector in our country as business owners, chefs, teachers, engineers, technicians and farmers who all share the FRN experience. That experience has shaped their thinking about their ability to positively impact the lives of their community members, as well as how to reduce food waste. That’s the FRN lens. We want that FRN voice to continue to speak even once our students have graduated from college.

A great day at FRN features our small but mighty team at the national office working to support and expand the national network. That includes connecting with existing chapters on the phone, social media, emails and getting them what they need to go out and recover, or move closer to achieving their newest goals for the semester.

FRN works closely with our hunger-fighting partners collecting vital information, analyzing it, and then passing along new resources to our chapter leaders. At FRN, we’re constantly refining our work–what can we do better, what have we learned from our previous projects, what didn’t we do well, and where did we knock it out of the park?

As we grow, how we scale has to change, and how are we addressing those needs? Hearing the hum of our feedback loop in the office–during our project planning meetings is important, too. Additionally, our staff works with non-university food businesses that recover food to recognize them for their efforts and inspire other businesses to begin recovering through our Food Recovery Verified program.

All of these variations operations take place in our national office, made possible by our dedicated, passionate, and collaborative staff!

Monmouth University PA

There are plenty of ways to be involved, and we need you to be involved with us!

  • FRN welcomes all interested volunteers, including non-students, to help out with their local chapters!
  • Non-student volunteers are encouraged to reach out to their local chapter leaders, as many chapters seek the help of additional volunteers as drivers or mentors, if not during the actual recoveries as well. A list of chapters by state and their respective chapter leaders, contact information can be accessed here.
  • The national office is always here to make connections, too. FRN national is setting up gleaning dates throughout the fall in and around the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia area. We would love for you to help us recover perfectly good food right at the farm!Contact our national office now to put your name on the list for more information.
  • Help us expand! If you’re alma mater isn’t on the FRN map and you know students who attend and would make a great leader, put them in touch with us! Students can start by filling out our very short application.
  • Support our second annual National Food Recovery Dialogue. This is our annual conference that brings together our student leaders, industry experts, and community members to put into context the bigger picture of our work, and is a space to roll up our sleeves to problem solve on-the-ground problems, share resources, and break bread with one another.
  • Have some fun and start a “Zero Waste Challenge” for FRN. That can mean reducing your waste by eliminating plastic straws from your daily use, or paper napkins like our national board member Jessica did, or it could mean trying to go completely zero waste like our other national board member, Claire did. Anyone can do it, and it’s quite the amazing experience!
  • If you have an expertise that you think can help FRN, please reach out to us. We’re growing and need dedicated support in several areas. Please contact FRN headquarters by emailing info@foodrecoverynetwork.org or phone +1 (240) 615-8813 with any questions, or to be involved.

Sorting Fact From Fiction in the Digital Age With the News Literacy Project

by Alan C. Miller, Founder/CEO, News Literacy Project

30971125946_fc15feb0f7_z The News Literacy Project is a national education nonprofit, founded in 2008 and located in Bethesda, Maryland, that works with educators and journalists to teach secondary school students how to sort fact from fiction in the digital age and to give those students the tools to become informed and engaged citizens in a democracy. We are teaching literacy for the 21st century.

In our first eight years, our classroom, after-school and digital programs reached more than 25,000 students in diverse middle schools and high school students in the Washington, D.C., region (including the Maryland and Virginia suburbs), New York City, Chicago, and Houston. We have formed partnerships with 33 news organizations and enrolled more over 400 journalist fellows in our online directory; our volunteer journalists have delivered more than 750 lessons, both in person and virtually.

In May 2016, we launched the checkology® virtual classroom, the culmination of all our work to date and our primary path to national and international scale. In just over one year, 7,000 educators in every state in the U.S. and in 61 other countries, with a potential reach of more than 1 million students, have registered to use this platform.

31644558804_01146459c0_z

While these numbers are gratifying, we know that there is more to do. In the United States alone, there are 26 million public school students in grades 6-12, as well as the millions in private and parochial schools and in after-school, home-school and library programs — not to mention those students in schools and other programs outside the U.S. We look forward to dramatically expanding the reach of the checkology® virtual classroom among these students.

Even as we improve and expand the current platform, we’re preparing for its next iteration, along with international and Spanish-language versions. We have plans to reach beyond the classroom with a mobile-friendly app, which will likely be a news literacy game. Finally, we are working with Facebook on a public service advertising campaign to encourage millions of the platform’s engaged users to critically evaluate the news and information they share and to share only what is credible.

A healthy democracy depends on engaged citizens who can sort through vast amounts of information, separate fact from fiction, and know what to trust. Today, misinformation, rumor and spin can overwhelm real news, and the News Literacy Project provides the tools to meet this challenge. We’re working to give facts a fighting chance and to create an appetite for quality journalism. You could say that we were the antidote to “fake news” long before the term gained its recent currency.

31566396241_d24c809965_z

We are inspired by these challenges, by the tremendous opportunity to make a meaningful difference and by an urgent sense of responsibility to move as quickly as possible to meet the growing demand for our services. Since the emergence of the field of news literacy a decade ago (a field that we helped to create), we have gone from being a voice in the wilderness to an answer to prayer for many.

We’re particularly inspired by the educators and journalists who partner with us to deliver our curriculum and by the students who find it transformative. Those students include Christian Armstrong, who said of his experience with NLP as a student at Leo Catholic High School in Chicago: “This class has definitely changed my life. We prioritize news literacy over all else. The newspaper is considered to be our Holy Grail.” And Jenari Mitchell, a recent graduate of KIPP DC College Preparatory in Washington, who wrote in an essay about her NLP experience: “Learning how to distinguish between false and factual information allows us to control the news we consume, instead of allowing the news we consume to control us.”

33474310650_d20c175da6_z

The News Literacy Project aspires to see news literacy embedded in the American educational experience, inside the classroom and outside of it. We want to teach many millions of young people how to know what news and information to believe, share and act on as students, consumers and citizens. We also hope to begin to change the culture so that people will take personal responsibility to stand up for facts and for quality journalism.

35720076796_563a4cb5f7_z

Our website is www.thenewsliteracyproject.org. Anyone who wants more information or has questions can email us at info@thenewsliteracyproject.org. We welcome volunteers, including journalist fellows who can play various roles with us. People can engage with us through social media, as educators and journalist fellows, and as financial supporters. Please let us know your interest and we will respond. Finally, educators can register for the virtual classroom at www.checkology.org.

Youth-Led Social Innovation at Home and Abroad

by Emma Strother, Development Manager, LearnServe International.

LearnServe is creating a culture of youth-led social innovation in the Washington, DC area. We believe in the power of young people to affect social change, and in the power of social change work to shape young leaders. We provide in-school, extracurricular, and abroad trip-based social entrepreneurship training to middle and high school students from public, charter, and independent schools in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
learnserve2

[I] recently had a debate about whether or not Washington, DC had the same genuineness as Paraguay. Andrenae -rising Junior at Ballou High School-having just returned from a LearnServe Abroad trip to Paraguay.

In a blog post, she urges her readers to let new experiences put their lives in perspective. Here’s my opinion, if you haven’t opened up your thoughts, your heart, and your mind to new people and new things, you will never fully experience the opportunities given to you.
learnserve

Andrenae is one of 54 students and teachers who returned on Wednesday from LearnServe Abroad trips to Jamaica, Paraguay, Zambia, and (for the first time!) South Africa. Her insights remind us why LearnServe International takes young social entrepreneurs abroad. Our students build the courage to travel far outside their comfort zones, and the strength to grow as leaders through these experiences.

This year for the first time, LearnServe is proud to partner with Eastern High School, the DC Public Schools, Empowering Males of Color initiative, and the organization Empowering Men of Excellence to send 14 students and 1 teacher on a LearnServe trip to South Africa. The group explored the vibrant social enterprise scene in Johannesburg and Cape Town, conducted a human-centered design workshop with their South African peers, and volunteered with local organizations.

Across the trips, our students worked with dynamic community leaders and entrepreneurs to deepen their understanding of local solutions to global issues. On the LearnServe Blog, they reflected on the implications of their experiences for their communities back home and their personal growth.
learnserve3

As Jayme-rising Junior at Eastern High School-put it, “I want you to think about how your presence can affect the lives of others who may not have the same opportunities as you. Think about how whenever you meet and spend time with new people, you are creating memories.”

You can access an in-depth look at our students – and teachers – experiences in Jamaica, Paraguay, Zambia, and South Africa on the LearnServe Blog (learn-serve.org/blog) and in our online photo albums (flickr.com/people/cie-wis).

Around Town

Around town template (7)

Monday, June 19, 2017
The Young Playwrights’ Workshop Presents…
Young Playwrights’ Theater

The Young Playwrights’ Workshop is YPT’s award-winning student theater ensemble. Members work together to create, develop, rehearse and perform an original play. A professional teaching artist helps the ensemble develop a foundation of theater skills that form the basis for creating new work. Students learn a diverse set of skills: improvisation, stage combat, clowning, solo performance and playwriting. The final performance is presented as part of CulturalDC’s prestigious Source Festival. This performance is free and open to the public. 6:30pm Reception 7pm Performance

Event Information

When: Monday, June 19, 2017 (6:30 PM – 8:30 PM)
Where: Source Theater, 1835 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 map
Fee: all tickets are Pay-What-You-Can
Volunteer Info: Volunteers will help check in guests, set up and run the reception and clean up after the event. All volunteers are welcome to watch the performance.
Contact: Laura Wood, (202) 387-9173

“It’s Pay It Forward Time . . . “

Aerospace Engineer Charles Cisneros Gives Back as a RESET Volunteer
Reset

Charles helps students set up the “wheel and axle” experiment, using his granddaughter’s tricycle.

By Charles Cisneros

A couple of years ago, I began volunteering with RESET, an education nonprofit that introduces children to real scientists and provides hands-on science-technology-engineering-math (STEM) learning opportunities to children between the ages of 4 and 12. RESET is an ideal match for my background and my desire to “pay it forward” in a meaningful way.

I am a former aerospace engineer. I worked for 33 years as an Air Force officer and 13 years for SAIC as a system test planner for the National Missile defense program. I retired in 2009. I had done other kinds of volunteer work over the years, but when I ran across a RESET recruitment ad in The Washington Post, I was instantly intrigued. After chatting with Executive Director John Meagher, I liked what I heard about the program. I felt RESET’s investment was well focused and that it did a great job of fostering an exchange of ideas and in providing resources and STEM curriculum support for schools in the DC area.

RESET’s work is so critical for our country’s future. We will always need highly trained scientists and engineers to solve complex technical, health, and engineering problems. When I first started with RESET, I volunteered at Moorefield Station Elementary School. At the time, I had also been doing a lot of local charity golf tournaments. One of the charities we supported was Sugarland Elementary School, a low-income school, located in Loudoun County.

I went home and did a little research on schools in the area. I checked out some government sources on scholastic performance and discovered that Sugarland, a Title 1 school, was one of the lowest performing schools in the county. Sugarland is not an affluent school, so it can be challenging for them to compete in a high-income county like Loudoun. Having come from a low-income background myself, I felt a strong pull towards bringing RESET programs to these students. I contacted John and offered to expand my volunteer work to Sugarland. John very quickly set up a meeting with school officials. They accepted our help and we will soon complete our first school year there, leading RESET programs for a diverse student body that includes many Hispanic students. Now, I volunteer at both schools, working mostly with third-graders.

Reset2

Charles’ class at Sugarland Elementary during a session on renewable and non-renewable energy sources. Following a scavenger hunt where the class was divided into “coal miners” and “wind millers,” Charles surprised his students with lab coats, to their obvious delight. One of RESET’s primary goals is to get children to think and behave like real scientists.

I was fortunate to have had several adults in my life who believed in me and encouraged me. That’s why I was so eager to work with students from less advantaged backgrounds. I thought, “Now it’s time to give something back.” From personal experience I know it just takes one spark to ignite an interest and a passion for science, one that can grow into a future career and life path. My own inspiration came from two sources: As a child in the 1950s, I used to watch Walt Disney TV programs about the challenges of breaking into outer space. This, along with the national alarm after the Soviet Union launched the world’s first satellite, Sputnik, motivated me towards a science or engineering career.

reset3

Students at Moorefield Station Elementary School confer on an experiment on a block and tackle pulley.

My experiences with my students have been wonderful. The one thing I am always delighted and amazed to discover is how bright and precocious they are. Young minds are naturally curious and open, no matter where they come from or how much they have. They are limited only by resources and opportunity.

And some classroom experiences are definitely more memorable than others. For example, during one session with my third graders, I intended to demonstrate the pull of the moon’s gravity on the oceans using a balloon filled with water. Typically, the normally spherical balloon would be pulled out of shape by the force of gravity, thus illustrating my point. I’ve performed this demo many times, but this time I allowed a student to hold the water-filled balloon by the top end. Unexpectedly, he bounced the balloon up and down. Not surprisingly, it burst, dousing him, me, and the floor with water (and there may have been some additional collateral damage). We all had a good laugh and achieved a much better appreciation of the force of gravity than if the experiment had gone off without a hitch.

Gail Brady, Principal at Sugarland, and STEAM lab teacher Darielle Robinson recently shared with me what RESET has meant to Sugarland students this year:

“Working with RESET has been such a valuable experience for our students. Through RESET our students often have had the chance to be exposed to individuals that share their ethnic background and have had careers in the field of science. Charles has given our students the chance to see an individual that has overcome certain circumstances and used education has a means of living a full life. It’s been especially helpful having Charles bring to life the concepts that our students learn in class. He has been pivotal in providing our students with learning experiences that they may not otherwise experience outside of school.”

RESET serves Pre-Kindergarten through 8th-grade. We offer in-school, after-school, and summer and weekend programs. There are many options for volunteering, including working as a team through your workplace. Volunteers are working and professional scientists, engineers, and technologists, ranging in age from 18 through 90. Our volunteers have a professional background or educational interest in STEM professions, and we represent a wide range of fields, from forensic anthropology to computer science, but you need not have teaching experience to volunteer with us. RESET does an excellent job of providing training, resources, and feedback so you go into the classroom confident and prepared.

To volunteer for RESET, please contact John Meagher at 703-250-0236. Have a fundraising idea? Contact Development Director Lyndi Schrecengost at 202-365-5963.

A great way to engage with RESET is to “like” and share our posts on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/RESETDC/
https://twitter.com/ReSETonline
https://www.youtube.com/user/resetonlinevideo
https://www.linkedin.com/company/reset-organization
http://resetonline.org/blog/

Expanding our DC Leadership Team

IMG_2416
The board of directors of the Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington, celebrating its 15th year, is pleased to announce the selection of Bob Wittig as its first executive director. The Catalogue recognizes the region’s best small charities, is a leader in developing their capacity, and has helped raise over $37 million since its inception in 2003.

“This is an important step in ensuring the Catalogue’s longevity,” said board member Lauralyn Lee. “As the Catalogue expands its reach, and adds popular Learning Commons training and development programs, Bob’s 25 years of experience working in philanthropy and with small nonprofits makes him an ideal fit for our work going forward.”

After 15 years of overseeing the exceptional growth of the Catalogue, founder Barbara Harman has decided that it is time to move to the next phase of her presidency. She will focus on the Catalogue’s creative work, on partnership development, external relations, and future initiatives. “During this anniversary, it seems particularly important not just to celebrate the past but also to ensure the Catalogue’s future by strengthening its leadership team. As a founder-led organization that represents and supports nearly 400 community-based charities, we want to be a model for how nonprofits can remain vital and how transitions can be effective and powerful,” Harman said.

Wittig has a long record of leadership and commitment to the nonprofit community in the DC region, including a 14-year history as a reviewer of Catalogue applicants, and a facilitator in its training programs. He has been executive director of the Jovid Foundation in Washington, D.C. since 2002. Prior to that, he served as executive director at Academy of Hope, Development Director at Joseph’s House and Direct Marketing Manager at Special Olympics International, all D.C.-based organizations. In 1992, he was part of the first group of Peace Corps volunteers to serve in Ukraine. Wittig is an author and expert on nonprofit capacity building and board governance.

“I look forward to working collaboratively with Bob to ensure that the Catalogue continues to serve the needs of donors who want to invest in our community and nonprofits whose strength and passion we admire and seek to support,” said Harman.

“I am thrilled to join the Catalogue and its talented team, both to continue and to build upon its impressive achievements,” Wittig stated. “I look forward to working with Barbara, with the Board, and with the donor and nonprofit communities that the Catalogue so successfully brings together.”
The executive search firm LeaderFit worked with the board of directors on this search.

National Foster Care Month with Barker Adoption Foundation

Mason- Mothers Day2015

The Barker Adoption Foundation is a nonprofit, private adoption agency that provides comprehensive adoption-related services for birth families, adopted persons and adoptive families through ethical adoption programs and post adoption support services.

Since 1945, we have provided adoption services and our programs today include a Domestic Infant Program, International Programs in China, South Korea, India, and Colombia, as well as extensive Post Placement and Family Support services including support groups, therapy, and educational programming. We also have a program called Project Wait No Longer (PWNL) which facilitates older child adoptions from foster care programs.
059

At Barker, we believe that every child deserves a stable, loving, forever family and this is especially true of children “stuck” in the foster care system. Today, there are an estimated 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system. Tragically, over 100,000 of these children are legally eligible for adoption, yet remain in temporary and often transient foster care situations – waiting for the love and stability of a “forever family.”

By age ten, a child’s likelihood of being adopted goes down by 50 percent and an estimated 22,000 children “age out” of foster care every year with no family ties. In late 2005, The Barker Adoption Foundation launched Project Wait No Longer specifically to find adoptive families for the older children in foster care who often have the greatest need, yet tend to be the most difficult to place due to the scars of impermanence.
Tran-Larson Family 1In October of 2007, PWNL placed its first child and, as of 2016, PWNL has found permanent, safe, loving families for 117 older foster youth. PWNL heavily invests in the front-end of the adoption process, which results in a much greater chance of success for the new families. PWNL’s goal is not just to place a child with any family, assuming anything is better than foster care. The goals are to stop the cycle of disruption in the child’s life and find the right fit with the right family and achieve permanency and stability for the child. Having a program dedicated to finding families who are passionate about providing forever families for children in need is a huge part of the important work that we do.

I'm a Moody Family PicWe are inspired every day by the resilience of the children who come through our programs and the birth and adoptive parents who choose to embark on adoption journeys. We are inspired by the willingness of parents who are able to open their homes and their hearts to parent an older child with a history of trauma, neglect or abuse. We are inspired by those make “forever homes” possible for some of our neediest children. Finally, we are inspired by those people whose lives have been touched by adoption or the foster care system who have used their experience and fortitude to reach back to the next generation of children coming through the system to support them.

At Barker we are always seeking innovative ways to better meet the needs of the individuals and families that we serve.?Outreach, education and post-placement services for prospective parents and children in this program are going to be the keys to continued success. In addition, we continually develop new groups or services to provide support to our birth parents, prospective adoptive parents and families who have already been formed through adoption and are in the post-placement period.

Our newest program, CONNECT, is a mentoring program for children adopted by families through our older child program. Through this program we match adults who themselves have had experience with foster care and/or adoption with youth adopted through our older child program. We are looking forward to the growth and development of this newly launched program! So far, these unique connections have had a great impact on the youth we serve.

Nat's game pic 5
Each individual that we work with is unique, and success is defined differently in every case. Success for us, especially in the PWNL Program, is supporting a child in finding a permanent and “forever home.” At the center of our work is always the best interest of each and every child – and we work tirelessly to find a loving and supportive family for as many children as we can and then supporting that placement with post-adoption services that help heal, share and celebrate families.

Some of our greatest days, can be our toughest days as well. Adoption is borne out of loss, and as such, a placement day can be a day of celebration for one family and a day of great loss for another. We are sensitive to this and therefore consider any day that we can make the right decisions on behalf of a child, or advocate for a birth or adoptive family a great day. While, there is no one “great day” at Barker, we will admit that staff has been known to “dance” in the hallways on the days that we make matches of our older waiting teenagers with loving and permanent families.

Families can reach us by visiting our website at www.barkeradoptiondfoundation.org, or by calling 301-664-9664.

We need volunteers! One of the biggest needs we have at Barker is for people who are willing to help us recruit families for older waiting children. Even if older child adoption is not a good fit for your family, there are many things that anyone can do to help us spread awareness of the needs of children in foster care. You can:

  • POST flyers, brochures and posters anywhere you’d like!
  • CONNECT PWNL with any adoption friendly organizations, community groups, or companies.
  • HOST an informational get together at your home for PWNL staff to share adoption information with people in your life who are interested in learning more about older child adoption.

We are also recruiting volunteers for our CONNECT mentoring program. We are in need of adults who are passionate about helping and supporting our adoptees adapt to their new family situations. All mentors are required to have foster care or adoption history in their own lives.

For more information about volunteering with outreach or through our mentoring program, please contact Alex Williams, PWNL Outreach and Program Support Specialist at awilliams@barkerfoundation.org or by calling 301-664-9664.

Motherhood is a Sisterhood with DC Diaper Bank

By Corinne Cannon, Founder and Executive Director, DC Diaper Bank
33593131875_ca921b159b_oNext month, DC Diaper Bank will distribute our 5 millionth diaper to a little one in the metro area. If you had told us that we would reach this milestone in six years we would have laughed! But we’ve gotten there because so may people have come together to make supporting vulnerable families a priority.

DC Diaper Bank was founded to ensure that all moms — all families — have what they need to thrive. Through our network of 40+ partnerships in Maryland, DC and Virginia, we distribute diapers (150,000+ each month!) and other necessary essentials, like formula, period products, adult diapers, and breastfeeding supplies, to families with young children experiencing poverty.

Diaper need is an issue for 1 in 3 families in poverty in this area and nationally. Government support like WIC or SNAP does not cover diapers, and as any parent will tell you — they are expensive, especially when you aren’t buying them in bulk. Diapers at a corner store can cost up to $.50/diaper, when a child goes through 10 diapers a day, that expense adds up quickly! Lack of diapers can lead to a host of problems, from diaper rash for babies to employment issues for grown-ups, since a supply of clean diapers is required by most child care providers.

22145996609_59c82c6a53_o

The moms out there doing their best in tough circumstances inspire us! At DCDB, we’ve come to realize that motherhood is a sisterhood — we help a mother out when we can, we are helped by other moms when we need it, and that’s how we raise healthy, strong, thoughtful members of the next generation.

We’re also inspired by our partner organizations, who every day find new and creative ways to engage families in their programs and support them through challenges. Finally, we’re inspired by the families that volunteer with us (1,500 each year!)– folks that are demonstrating to their children that it’s never too soon to help someone out, and that your time, and dollars, can have a real impact on someone in need.

We are excited to be broadening our definition of essentials right now — in addition to diapers, we are able to offer our partner agencies formula, wipes, period products, hygiene items and feeding supplies, and the list grows! Success for us is every child having everything they need in those critical first years of development, and every family having the support they need.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities and other was to get involved at dcdiaperbank.org

27986746486_83a05a88a9_o

Getting to Know Thanks USA

ThanksUSA provides college, technical and vocational school, need-based scholarships for the children and spouses of U.S. military personnel from all five branches of the Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves.

Wilkins (1)

Roughly 2.9 million military family members in the US don’t wear the uniform but “serve” too; 560,000 service members claim 1.1 million children as dependents. And there are more than 100,000 military children ages 17-22 in active duty households.

Scholarship applicants are eligible for grants if their military family member has served 180 days since September 11, 2001, and preference is given to spouses and children of the wounded and fallen. Since 2006, ThanksUSA has awarded nearly 4,000 scholarships totaling $12 million in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Frances (1)

College affordability is one of the greatest burdens facing military families who largely depend on a single income — an average annual salary for an E9 over 20 years of service is $46,000 plus variable housing and cost of living allowances. According to Blue Star Families 2016 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, military families are 27% less likely to have dual incomes than civilian families.

ThanksUSA seeks to lift part of this burden with the gift of scholarships. Each ThanksUSA scholarship is for $3,000, which may not seem like a large amount but most military spouses and children receive some form of tuition assistance because of their family finances. An additional $3,000 goes a very long way — enabling the scholar to drop a part-time job; to pay for travel expenses, books and fees; or to close the gap between affording and not affording a more expensive school.

insta_april 1 2017 (002)

ThanksUSA began as the “brain blast” of two sisters, Rachel and Kelsi Okun of McLean, Virginia, while on a family vacation in August 2005. They became fascinated with the appeal of treasure hunts. The girls wondered about using the appeal of treasure hunts to inspire children and their parents to support a national goal. Asked what that mission should be, the girls said they wanted to help the families of military troops. They were inspired by their neighbor, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Lanier Ward, who had been severely injured in Iraq. Although the girls had already sent care packages to soldiers overseas from school and church, and had written letters to soldiers, they wanted to do something more.

ThanksUSA’s military family scholarship program was born out of compassion and a simple idea, and over a decade later, ThanksUSA is still inspired by Rachel and Kelsi’s passion for helping military families.

One of ThanksUSA’s most exciting times of the year is the opening of its scholarship application, April 1-May 15, and the subsequent awarding of scholarships to these applicants. Year-round we work hard to get the word out about our scholarship program and to raise awareness and funds to award as many scholarships as possible to deserving military spouses and children. We look forward to learning about our new scholars – their journeys, their ambitions, and their passions – and following them throughout their schooling and beyond.

33323727545_6e5289873b_o

ThanksUSA is also extremely excited about our weekly Wounded Veterans Adaptive Tennis Clinic at East Potomac Tennis Center in Washington, DC. In February, we kicked off this clinic as a way to give back to wounded veterans by providing a sport that acts as rehabilitation, as well as a fun way to stay active and socialize.

The clinic is taught by PTR Adaptive Tennis Certified, USPTA wheelchair certified and 2015 PTR Maryland Member of the Year, Brenda Gilmore. Brenda says: “It’s been quite rewarding for me to see not only the progress of the participants but to see how much they enjoy each other’s company as much as they do learning to play tennis. I think this is truly one of the highlights of their week!” And it is truly the highlight of ThanksUSA’s week as well! Getting to know the veterans and their stories, and watch as their passion for tennis grows off the court, is a rewarding experience.

ThanksUSA has plans to continue this clinic into 2018, and there is growing interest in beginning clinics in additional cities.

A great day at ThanksUSA is spent at one of our events – including our military appreciation days and our golf and tennis tournaments – where our military and their families are appreciated and thanked for their service. Getting out and about in such active environments with our supporters, who meet and get to know our troops and their kids and spouses, all while raising money to boot, is a great reminder of why ThanksUSA works hard every day!

America’s troops and their families deserve our respect and our thanks for their selfless service. Members of the United States Armed Forces have borne significant burdens to protect this country, and we can’t let their contributions be forgotten.

Anyone can reach us by visiting our website, www.thanksusa.org, or by messaging us on Facebook. Any questions or comments can also be directed to ThanksUSA Executive Director, Michele Stork at MicheleStork@thanksusa.org or (703) 855-4108.

We happily accept volunteers for our events throughout the year. We know there are many people who also have a passion for serving members of our Armed Forces and their families, and we look forward to working with them! Here are some of our upcoming events in the Washington DC region:

May 8: ThanksUSA Charity Golf Tournament
May 27: Tennis Thanks the Troops All-American Family Day Bash
October 25: Treasure our Troops Gala

Another way to engage with ThanksUSA is to like and share our posts on social media:

Facebook: ThanksUSA
Twitter: @ThanksUSA
Instagram: @ThanksUSA