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A Day in the Volunteer Life: Food for Others

1 warehouse + 2 hours + 20 middle schoolers + 7,700 pounds of food = my morning spent volunteering for Food for Others, a nonprofit partner of Catalogue for Philanthropy. The mission of Food for Others is to distribute food to their neighbors in Northern Virginia who struggle with food insecurity. They rely upon food donations — a lot of donations. In 2018 alone, they distributed 2.2 million pounds of food. My task was to help sort some of those donations.

Signing up online for a volunteer shift was easy and painless. Despite being a food-focused nonprofit, the real bread and butter of Food for Others is their volunteer force. Since they rely upon so much free labor (up to 1200 volunteers a month!), they ensure that their sign up process is as convenient as possible. At 9:30am, I arrived at their warehouse, which was already bustling with activity. After being welcomed by the receptionist (another volunteer), I signed into a computer (10 seconds tops) and I was ready to go.

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The atmosphere of the warehouse was informal, yet industrious. Everyone was friendly, but no one had much time to chit chat; they had mouths to feed, trucks to fill! My supervisor for the morning was Jenn. Prior to joining Food for Others, she used to work in an Amazon warehouse. In other words, she knew her stuff.

Jenn was accustomed to managing large and diverse batches of volunteers: individuals, retirees, corporate teams, school groups, etc. My team of co-volunteers consisted of eighth grade students from a local private school. Twice a year, these students participate in service activities at various nonprofits in the region.

In a succinct, 2-minute orientation Jenn explained our job. We would sort the massive bins of donated food into three categories: dry goods, cans, and breakables.

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A few of the donated items were already partially consumed, which meant that they had to be thrown out. Unfortunately, one such item was an open bottle of maple syrup, which soaked through and ruined other otherwise acceptable donations in a sticky disaster. Note to readers: if you donate items to food pantries, thank you, but please do not include open or expired items!

Although most of the food were standard staples that you would expect, there were also occasionally some surprises in the mix, such as Polish luxury jams, dog food, maraschino cherries, and even mail.

Working with a pack of middle schoolers was fun. They brought a positive and enthusiastic energy to the morning. What’s not to love about a teenage boy tossing a pack of ramen into a bin and yelling “KOBE!”?

The kids treated me like an authority figure. This amused me since I was hardly an expert, being just a fellow first-time volunteer like them.
Kid: Ma’am, should this be considered a “dry good”?
Me: Sure?
Kid: Should we start placing cans in this empty bin?
Me: Why not! Sounds like a plan.
Kid: This is a box of a can. Should it go in cans?
Me: Follow your heart!

Spurred on by the spirit of innovation and efficiency, the kids formed an assembly-line which involved throwing and catching food items. Although this seemed like fun, I was concerned about them potentially dropping and damaging donations. Even as this thought was going through my head, my own plastic bag of donations split open from the weight and my glass jar of tomato sauce smashed onto the ground. How embarrassing! Unlike my own clumsy self, the students never broke anything (although Jenn did ask them to please pass the food instead).

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Overall, my two hours at Food for Others was a great experience. It was convenient, enjoyable, stress-free, and rewarding. Despite the legions of new volunteers cycling through every day, the warehouse is a well-run machine in getting donations to the people that need it. The work can be whatever you want to get out of it; you can either get to know new people or just as easily zone out to a podcast.

The warehouse position is just one opportunity at Food for Others. For example, they also have gleaning events at farms (well-suited for families) and food distribution jobs (good for people who like directly interacting with clients). Volunteer relationships can be as involved as multiple hours a week or as noncommittal as once a year. You can learn more about individual and group opportunities on their website.

Written by Nancy Erickson, Communications Coordinator at Catalogue for Philanthropy

Summer Outdoor Theatre by Traveling Players Ensemble

Traveling Players Ensemble trains actors like no other theatre in the DC metro region. Their programs are innovative, inclusive, and super fun! And transformative, too.

Their mission, to bring great theatre into the great outdoors, means high school actors perform ‘Shakespeare in the Park” in Shenandoah National Park while backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. These actors don’t just create a show, but have adventures they will remember for the rest of their lives.

You may not have heard of Traveling Players, but people who know about actor training do. The National Endowment for the Arts named Traveling Players one of the nation’s 25 Summer Schools in the Arts and recommends that others follow their comprehensive curriculum as a model. Most other summer programs are simply too short to make the same kind of deep impact, or too large to offer the same level of individualized attention and challenges.

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The Washington Post called them “a summer gem.” Artistic Director Jeanne Harrison has taught at Interlochen Center for the Arts, Folger Shakespeare Library, and various universities. By focusing on classical theatre (Shakespeare, Moliere, and Commedia dell’Arte), Traveling Players trains performers who are bold, resourceful, and skilled. It’s said that if you can act Shakespeare, you can act anything. If this is true, a summer at Traveling Players Ensemble trains you to act not just anything…but anywhere.

All the world is a stage, and this company travels with its oldest students. The tours perform all over Virginia and beyond, combining high-profile venues like Colonial Williamsburg and Lime Kiln Amphitheater with state parks, summer camps, retirement homes, and children’s hospitals, giving the actors unforgettable experiences – and community service hours!

Traveling Players specializes in the immersive experience, which is when transformations happen. Working in small ensembles of only 13 students, a trio of directors stage a classic, supported by a design team. Directors craft their rehearsals around their cast to ensure they build skills on stage — and off. The ensemble nature of the program allows students to practice life skills that will allow them to be successful no matter what career route they ultimately choose. This holistic approach is unique in theatre circles.DSC_2072 (smaller file size)

The camp offers a range of programs for grades 3 to 12. Their High School Ensemble is a four-week program that teaches students the ins and outs of Shakespeare. This year, they will produce Much Ado About Nothing, one of the bard’s most iconic comedies. Their Middle School Ensemble performs hilarious farces by the French playwright Moliere, filled with colorful characters, lightning wit, and slapstick physical humor.

Did we mention that Traveling Players is local to the DC metro area? Its day camp is in residence at The Madeira School in McLean, VA. They provide transportation -on purple buses! – which is included in tuition. Campers are picked up and dropped off behind Dulles Town Center, at 8am and 5pm respectively.

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Once a week the actors pitch tents, cook over an open fire, and sleep under the stars. Whether bonding over s’mores or bringing 400-year-old Shakespearean stories to life, friendships are kindled, confidence nurtured, and actors transformed.

For more information, visit www.travelingplayers.org, call 703-987-1712, or email info@travelingplayers.org.

For Youth in Foster Care, Mentoring Makes a Meaningful Difference

Our very first mentee, Michael, was matched in our program in 2005. He entered into foster care at the hospital on the day he was born, and aged out of care on his 21st birthday. Throughout those 21 years, he was in and out of foster homes, lived off and on with different relatives, and experienced homelessness as a teenager. He constantly faced instability because of his time in the foster care system.

One day Michael, who had just recently aged out of care, called us at BEST Kids in a lot of pain. He had injured his shoulder at work, and after spending the entire day in urgent care, the doctors wouldn’t prescribe him any pain medication or offer him any relief. I went to meet Michael outside his apartment, and while he was calm and in stable condition, he was still in a lot of physical pain. I decided to ride in the ambulance with him to help him get his shoulder checked out at the hospital.

At the emergency room reception desk, they ran through all the routine questions with Michael: his name, insurance, address, etc. I’ll never forget what happened next: they asked him for his emergency contact information. His face dropped and he fell silent. Upon seeing the look on his face, my heart dropped as I saw him struggling to think of a family member or friend in his life that he could list. After about 10 seconds of visual and nearly palpable hopelessness, his face perked up a bit and he spurted out, “My mentor, Lyle.”

Those 10 seconds were an emotional roller coaster for me. To see Michael have to vocalize that he did not have someone to call on in emergencies broke my heart. It opened my eyes to just how difficult that realization is for our youth in so many everyday situations. But the fact that he had a mentor, and that he felt he could count on his mentor during an emergency, gave him hope and reaffirmed for me that the work we are doing is powerful and imperative.

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We hear about the challenges youth in foster care, like Michael, face all over the country. These stories and statistics undoubtedly demonstrate the need for increased resources to help these youth succeed, and the various ways in which we as individuals and communities can support this particularly resilient, yet vulnerable population.

This is where BEST Kids one-on-one mentoring program comes in. Experiences for youth during their time in foster care are quite different. Some youth come into care at birth and spend the entirety of their young lives as wards of the state, while others spend just a few months in care while systems of support are put into place for families. Some youth come into care because of various forms of abuse, while others experience some form of neglect or a tragic occurrence. Youth in foster care experience so many adults and service providers constantly coming in and out of their lives, most of which are paid to do so. Besides voluntarily giving of their time, what makes mentors any different?

Mentors open up opportunities and provide assistance, but aren’t social workers. Mentors are listening ears that aren’t therapists. They inspire a love for learning, but aren’t teachers, and they motivate and encourage, but aren’t coaches. They guide and support, but aren’t parents. Above all else, mentors are there consistently and voluntarily, as they cater to the individual needs of the youth, including creating space for our youth to be kids and have lots of fun.

Lyle has supported Michael as a mentor for over 10 years now. Throughout the years, they participated in many activities like biking, canoeing, picnics and ballgames. Lyle also practiced interviewing skills and supported Michael when he got his first job. He helped Michael get his first apartment and taught him how to fix a few things around the house. Lyle most recently mentored Michael as a new father to a beautiful little girl.

Lyle didn’t swoop in and make Michael’s life perfect or heal all of his trauma; and as a mentor, he was never expected to do so. We train and individually support our mentors to simply spend time with their mentees consistently, to care for them, and help them to keep the hope they need to become successful adults, while overcoming obstacles youth face together.

I urge you to learn about the various ways you can support youth in foster care in your community. There is an ever present need for foster homes throughout the country. You can volunteer with or mentor with organizations that help youth in foster care to thrive, or you can advocate for systemic change to improve services impacting youth in care.

BEST Kids is a nonprofit organization that provides one-on-one mentoring for over 150 youth in foster care in the Washington DC Metro area. We match caring and consistent adult mentors with youth to provide them not only the guidance and support they need to grow up, but also to help them navigate challenges specific to growing up in foster care.

Written by Krislyn Mossman, Executive Director of BEST Kids

Meet the 2019-20 Catalogue Class!

It’s the most wonderful time of year! Well, for the Catalogue team at least. We love each May when we get the chance to unveil to you our brand new 2019 class of nonprofit partners. We hate keeping them secret, so always are looking forward to shouting their names from the mountaintop, exclaiming to all these “best of the best” local nonprofits working to make positive change in our communities.

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All 112 partners in this year’s class went through a rigorous vetting process. We are proud to be able to tell you, with confidence, that your support of these organizations will be well used and leveraged to make a difference in the places we live, work, and play. All organizations went through a three-step process that involved 150+ volunteer reviewers, a financial review, and an in-person site visit. They’re legit, and you can donate, volunteer, or advocate for them with confidence.

Our nonprofit partners cover a range of issues. From preserving the rich history of jazz in DC, to providing a safe and nurturing out-of-school time for young girls, this class is working in a variety of ways to move our community closer to the community we want, need, and deserve. Stepping in to fill gaps in the safety net, working on systemic issues, and enriching our cultural opportunities. Holding hands, making meals, and advocating for change. Regardless of the mission or the specific work, all of our partners have in common their passion, expertise, and focus on using their efforts to strengthen our community.

Now, this announcement isn’t just about our brand-new, awesome, community-changing partners. It’s about you. And us. All of us. We don’t announce this class just because we love announcing things we share and lift up these changemakers so you can find an organization that you can become passionate about. Whether it’s sharing your time, or wealth, or influence, our partners need your support.

We’d love to give you a challenge today, to do just two things. This might be your first time “meeting” many of these organizations, so we aren’t asking you donate or volunteer just yet (but if you do that’d be great!). All our team asks is that you:

  • Pick one (or more) organization to shout out on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter and say thank you for the great work they’re doing in the community. Do it today if you can!
  • Choose one friend/partner/colleague/chatty person next to you to tell about this organization, or to share this announcement with today.

That’s it. You’ll have plenty of opportunities over their four-year partnership to get to know these organizations, support them, and become passionate about their dedication, knowledge, and impact. For now, just help us celebrate and spread the word about these local nonprofits, working with small teams and limited resources to make a real difference, close to home.

Sincerely,
The Catalogue Team

A Day in the Volunteer Life: Anacostia Watershed Society

An innovative, environmentally-friendly workout idea: cleaning up a garbage-bag-worth of cigarette butts. A single butt only weighs about 1 gram, but once you pick up hundreds of them, they start to add up to some serious bicep strengthening. That’s how I celebrated Earth Day 2019 with the Anacostia Watershed Society on April 13th.

As a fellow with Catalogue for Philanthropy, I have the honor of working with and learning about over 400 locally-based nonprofits in the Greater Washington Region. So when my school’s community service committee asked me to arrange a volunteer opportunity for myself and other American University students for Earth Day, I knew where to look. Time to join the #Trashtag Challenge!

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Anacostia Watershed Society’s annual event engages nearly 2000 volunteers for 44 sites around the Anacostia River. My site’s neighborhood in Anacostia was not directly next to the river but in the river’s wider watershed area; whenever it rains, all of the trash in the residential area flows into the river, hurting wildlife and the ecosystem.

Fellow volunteers and I met at We Act Radio Station, a hip local institution and de facto community center. I sat among piles of books from their ongoing book drive. We were welcomed by Stacy and Aroni, two friendly and enthusiastic Anacostia Watershed Society staff members and our team leaders for the day. They gave us gloves to protect our hands, picker-uppers to prevent back strain, and matching t-shirts to look cool and groovy.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning to go for a stroll and pick up garbage. We made a circle around several blocks, carrying a blue bag for recyclables and a white bag for general trash. About 70% of what I picked up were cigarette butts. In public discourse, we acknowledge how cigarettes choke our bodies, but not enough about how they choke the environment too. What made me saddest were butts littered on the ground not 3 feet away from public trash cans.
It was rewarding work. Quite a few residents stopped to thank us and a few even added some trash to my bag. I was pleased too by how social it was; the steady and relaxing pace of our walk through the neighborhood easily facilitated conversations with new and interesting people. Our crew even had a beauty queen! If you want to meet new people, explore a new neighborhood, and make a difference in the environment, I strongly recommend signing up for clean up events. There’s no better way to celebrate the new springtime weather with friends than going and picking up a bag of butts.

 

Written by Nancy Erickson, Nonprofit Programs Fellow at the Catalogue for Philanthropy

Independent Movie Theatres are the Stuff Community is Made Of

I’ve always loved movies. I come by it almost genetically. My father taught film production at various universities during my childhood, and I grew up on a steady diet of indie, niche, and foreign films: The Last Unicorn and The Point probably being the two most memorable and most watched in our household.

But it was in Argentina, on an academic research grant, that I fell in love with film. Not “movies,” but film itself as a medium.

I went to Argentina with a single, albeit complex question: how does a society heal from trauma on a massive scale? Argentina suffered a brutal military dictatorship from 1976 until 1983, during which time over 30,000 “leftist rebels” were “disappeared” by the regime. In 2007, when I was doing my research, the nation was still grappling with the fallout. For a while after my arrival, I posed that single question to everyone I met, and at first the answer surprised me, until I’d gotten the answer so many times it couldn’t be coincidence. Most Argentines I spoke to directed me to a single film: La historia oficial (The Official Story).

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La historia oficial tells the story of Alicia, a high school history teacher who is leading a comfortable life with her husband, Roberto, a businessman with ties to the military, and their adopted daughter. When Alicia begins to wonder about the identity of her daughter’s birth parents, she finds herself suspecting that she may be the child of people abducted or killed by the government. She is faced with an impossible choice: live knowing her child is missed by her real family or give up the thing she loves most in the world.

The film came out as Argentines were first learning that, during the dictatorship, children had been abducted from rebel parents and given as rewards to those loyal to the regime. As a country, they were struggling to cope politically and legally with the issue. But the film gave the country a glimpse into the individual, personal heartbreak obscured by the headlines: that real mothers, both biological and adoptive, were being faced with a no-win scenario. And in making the political personal, the film kick-started a national healing process.

What made me fall in love with film was understanding that it is so much more than entertainment or even education. Film is, to my mind, the most visceral way to tell stories, and humans need to tell stories. It’s how we understand ourselves, our families, our communities, and ultimately, our entire society. Stories define our nation, our religious traditions, and even our most intimate unit: the family. Those stories tell us who we are.

While I have been, from my youth, a great believer in the power of film, after my time in Argentina, I see it as a vital necessity to any community.

But film in the U.S. today has a problem. Our media is evermore mediated, and the stories that need to be told aren’t getting out there. Six companies own almost all media: and that’s not just film, that’s news, television, online portals, and more. The barometer they use on funding film projects is what will make the most money, not what stories need to be told. So they put their faith in what they know: the same old directors and regurgitated plotlines. And since the studios hold all the cards, they can charge gigantic licensing fees, ask for 90 or 100% of a theater’s ticket sales, and even take a cut of concessions sales. The only way to survive in that context is to be a giant corporation with pull of your own, and even then to survive, the multiplexes charge prices so high that film is becoming increasingly out of reach for the average American (whose income is decreasing).

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That’s why, in 2015, when I met Dr. Caitlin McGrath, I was immediately hooked on her vision to turn the Old Greenbelt Theatre into a nonprofit, arthouse cinema. Revitalize this a historic gem of a theater by: showing films that make people think; creating a space where the community can come together to digest, unpack, and process these films; and do everything possible to make these films accessible to everyone?regardless of age, income, or ability. It’s what every community needs, and we are beyond lucky to have this resource in Prince George’s County.

The Old Greenbelt Theatre is run as a nonprofit because we are mission-driven, not profit-driven. As a nonprofit, we can solicit the support of our community so that when we lose money showing a film (which we regularly do since studios can demand such a deep cut of our profits) we can still exist to screen more films that our community wants or needs to see. If we were worried about a wide profit margin, we wouldn’t have brought you Transit, If Beale Street Could Talk, Boy Erased or even First Man.

Independent movie theaters are closing down all across the country. They can’t compete in a corporate world that is cannibalizing the very locales that show their films. But there are important movies being made that need to be seen and not on a smartphone (as much as I applaud Netflix and Amazon for picking up the mantle of independent filmmaking). Film is at its most powerful when witnessed in community.

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That’s what we’re doing here at the Old Greenbelt Theatre. As a nonprofit, we bring you films from screenwriters and directors outside the mainstream. We provide a place to experience these films in community, and I truly do mean experience, because we follow up so many of our screenings with guest speakers and Q&A sessions. It doesn’t pay to do guest speakers. It’s something we do because it’s important.

We’re a nonprofit because we serve a vital role in our community. We aren’t providing bread or shelter, that’s very true. But in many ways, we are creating a safe haven. A place where people of all walks of life can come, see themselves on the big screen, and have their experience understood by the community. We’re helping tell the stories our community needs to hear, and stories are the very stuff of which community is made.

By Kelly McLaughlin, Director of Marketing & Development, Friends of Greenbelt Theatre

Lucky Dog Animal Rescue: My Story

People often ask me how I got involved in dog rescue. The story is surprising, even to me. Dog rescue was not something I had planned on doing, and was not something I grew up wanting to do. I fell into it while living in DC because I was lonely – I wanted a friend, even if that friend had four legs instead of two.

I found Sparky after a lot of googling. His photo showed him trotting along with a pink ball in his mouth. His bio said he loved playing fetch and soccer with his family. It was love at first sight (at least, for me).

Sparky - Formatted 2Sparky was living in Richmond, and it wasn’t important to me that there were rescues to be found in my own backyard. Sparky was it – my dog. But after coordinating a time to pick Sparky up, I began to have second thoughts: was I really up for caring for a living being? I couldn’t even keep plants alive.

Sparky was clearly overwhelmed when I first picked him up. His tail was tucked, and he was shaking with nerves. If I had known then what I know now, I may have not moved forward with the rescue. Nervous Sparky deserved better than a first-time dog owner: he needed someone who knew what they were doing, or maybe someone who had other dogs to give him confidence. But he got me.

I loaded Sparky, along with his pink ball, dog food, and crate, into my car and drove back to DC. Despite Sparky’s nervousness and my own hesitations, I was getting excited. Sparky and I would have a great time together. We could go on hikes and walks. We’d play fetch. It would be perfect.

Nothing is ever perfect.

For the first 24 hours, we went on multiple long walks, but he didn’t pee. Not once. I called the Rescue frantically, asking if something was wrong with him. They told me to “Just wait. He’ll pee when he’s ready.” Well, he did. On my carpet. Standing next to me.

Later, I decided to take Sparky to a dog park. We were playing fetch and bonding a little, until a car nearby backfired and Sparky bolted. He ran all the way home-crossing two streets with traffic–with me crying the whole way behind him.

After some time had passed, I was ready to give up. My relationship with Sparky was characterized by things I had not anticipated: I was sneezing at home, I had to get up earlier and stay up later, and I was running home at lunch and running back to the office. Everything was different.

Different was scaring me.

Not long after I brought Sparky home, I sat on the floor and called my mom. Trying desperately to hold it together, I told her that I had failed: I wasn’t able to care for the dog, I just couldn’t do it. My mom listened to my litany of troubles. Then, she asked: “Where is Sparky?”

I told her, “He is lying down across from me. He is staring at me. I think he knows I failed.”

“No,” she said, “he is telling you he needs you.”

When I looked back at Sparky, I saw an animal who needed me as much as I needed him. Who, like me, was afraid of “different”, but who, with me, could learn to love it. After some time together, I began to feel Sparky’s unconditional love for me, too.

And that started my journey into rescue.

- Mirah Horowitz
Founder and Executive Director – Lucky Dog Animal Rescue

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La Cocina VA: Eliminating the Barriers to Better Futures

On any given night when you go to a restaurant in the DC metro area, take a quick look at who is preparing your meals, cleaning your tables, or maintaining the restaurant’s facilities. There is a high probability that those individuals are of Hispanic descent. That is because the U.S. restaurant industry is comprised of roughly 2.3 million foreign-born workers. According to the findings of a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data, U.S. eating and drinking establishments in 2014 employed more foreign-born workers than almost any other industry, second only to the construction sector. One of the biggest challenges for many of these workers is the lack of relevant training and limited English proficiency. This often leaves them stuck in dead-end work with very little room to grow financially. It’s quite a contrast to imagine the trendy vibrant front-end of some DC restaurants versus the ‘back of the house’ where folks are putting in long hours of hard work in the kitchen unable to earn enough to support their families.

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La Cocina VA has seen the dire need to confront this challenge for the workforce in the food and hospitality industry. Since its founding in 2014, La Cocina VA has harnessed the power of food to transform lives and create change for the low-income communities in the Washington D.C. region. We are a nonprofit organization that generates workforce and economic development opportunities for unemployed immigrants, minorities, low-income individuals, and veterans. We provide structured training that helps these individuals obtain real living wage jobs in the food and hospitality industry where they can create a career and become financially independent. At the same time, we are looking to the future of a growing industry, where there’s a huge gap for skilled, motivated, and dependable workers.

During our 4 years of operation, over 100 La Cocina VA graduates have completed the organization’s bilingual culinary training program. Moreover, 85% of those graduates have been placed in steady jobs within the restaurant and hospitality industries. Our vocational and technical training program provides students with instruction in the culinary arts, English language skills, industry certification, and a paid internship that often results in a full-time job.

Consider Karina Herrera, who is presently a line cook at a Hyatt Regency Hotel in the D.C. area. She is a shining example of the program’s success. Five years ago, desperate to find a way to take care of her three young children, she came to La Cocina VA and enrolled in our bilingual culinary program. She currently earns $22/hr and has enrolled in a college culinary arts program subsidized by her employer with the goal of becoming an executive chef. Like most La Cocina VA participants, Karina has overcome extreme hardships.”It’s been a huge help having a bilingual program like this,” Herrera said. “My English has improved a lot and La Cocina VA has given me financial independence. It’s an excellent investment in a better future for me and my kids.”

Before joining La Cocina VA’s training program, 70% of our students were unemployed and 30% were under-employed. Over 90% of our training participants have been women from challenging circumstances, survivors of domestic abuse, human trafficking, chronic unemployment and/or poverty who have now obtained financial independence through our unique training programs.

Our work uplifts those often left behind by our economy–individuals full of potential and capable of incredible transformation when they are provided the appropriate resources and opportunities. There is enormous capacity within our local communities that has gone untapped for far too long.

While La Cocina VA’s roots have been to work closely with the Hispanic community, La Cocina VA is now expanding its programs aggressively in 2019 to serve even more immigrant and minority communities, refugees, and veterans. We are also increasing our efforts to support and train entrepreneurs to create their own small culinary businesses.

As part of a recently announced partnership with Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH), we will establish the Zero Barriers Training and Entrepreneurship Center (TEC). TEC will be a new 5,000 square foot facility designed to offer services, resources, and support to help eliminate the many barriers our clients face, such as access to child care, financial advice, and counseling. The new facility will also include a culinary small business incubator, a catering service, and a community cafe. TEC will be located in Gilliam Place, APAH’s new affordable housing development in the vibrant Columbia Pike corridor in Arlington, Virginia. La Cocina VA expects to open TEC in late 2019. Through our capital campaign, we have already raised $1.6M of our $2.5M fundraising goal for the construction of the Zero Barriers Training and Entrepreneurship Center, and we are working to raise the remaining amount by the spring of 2019.

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We aim to continue to tap into this undiscovered pool of talent, entrepreneurs, and leaders that exist within our communities, all while helping to solve social issues like unemployment, lack of access to entrepreneurship opportunities, and food insecurity. What are we waiting for? The time to make a change is now.

To learn more about our work and how you can get involved, please contact our CEO Patricia Funegra at patyfunegra@lacocinava.org or visit our website at www.lacocinava.org.

 

Catalogue for Philanthropy Expands Resources to All Nonprofits With Online Learning Commons

Check out the latest news from the Catalogue:

Washington-Jan. 7, 2019: The Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington, which is beginning its 16th year as the only locally-focused guide to giving, is growing its efforts to help the entire nonprofit community, no matter the size or location of the organization.

The Catalogue is launching the online Learning Commons to further its belief in the power of nonprofits and the need to invest in effective professional development in order to increase their impact.

The online Learning Commons builds on the Catalogue’s existing in-person training sessions for nonprofit leaders. The web-enabled version is a capacity building and professional development program that covers five core topics important to nonprofit management: Board Development, Communications, Development, Program Evaluation and Volunteer Management.

The Learning Commons, created by nonprofit professionals, offers a whole set of services, ranging from a thank you letter template and a short video refresher on the key elements of a thank you letter, to an entire workshop about how to steward donors. It’s free to nonprofits vetted and featured in the Catalogue and offered at minimal cost to other nonprofits.

Bob Wittig, executive director, Catalogue for Philanthropy, says, “Our number one goal is that our content and support is realistic given the other demands and resource limitations nonprofit leaders are facing. The online Learning Commons is action oriented and designed to drive real change.”

Tamela Aldridge, executive director, Only Make Believe, says Catalogue support in the past has made a difference. “Our organization has changed because we’ve been able to attend Catalogue workshops and have taken on better practices that have increased our day-to-day work strategies.”

The Catalogue seeks to create visibility for its network of charities, fuel their growth with philanthropic dollars, and create a movement for social good in the region. The Catalogue has raised over $40 million for its network of small, community-based charities in the Washington region and provides capacity building programs to support the mission and growth of the nonprofit community.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Adam Shapiro
202-427-3603
Adam.Shapiro@ASPR.bz

The Grassroots Project Coach Spotlight

Lucia Rose is a senior Track and Field & Cross Country athlete at American University and a volunteer at The Grassroot Project (TGP), part of the Catalogue for Philanthropy. While balancing school work and her practice schedule, she facilitates sexual health and nutrition education programs in 4 DC middle schools. She has also served as a key contributor to TGP’s new nutrition curriculum. In this blog, she reflects on what she has learned through her work with TGP.

As a student-athlete, and a runner in particular, I often experience a difficult relationship with nutrition. On important workout days, I will often catch myself not eating past a certain time in the day, morning runs are often completed without any fuel in my body, and often the number of calories I burn throughout a day are not replaced throughout my daily meals. Often it is not malicious, rather there may not be a suitable amount of time to eat full meals between practices, classes, meetings, weight room, etc.

unspecified-1While I intellectually understand the importance of healthy eating, especially for competitive performance both on the track and in the classroom, I still struggle with nutrition. I remember learning about food groups in school, have had access to team presentations regarding nutrition, and have done plenty of my own research regarding the best types and combinations of food to put in my body to help me run faster, but I still struggle with providing nutrients to my body.

I believe that having the tools that Grassroots teaches to middle school students is something that all college athletes (and individuals generally) could have greatly benefited from when we were in middle school.

As Grassroots coaches, my fellow athletes and I often reflect that very few of us were ever exposed to the in-depth, interactive, and unique sexual health literacy that we provide to 6th graders that focuses on empowering students with the ability to make informed, healthy, and confident decisions about their health. This semester, we have expanded the “Grassroots pipeline” to pilot 7th grade nutrition and physical health. The curriculum provides students with the facts: what nutrients your body needs, what constitutes “healthy,” and why certain foods like Takis are unhealthy.

However, what makes Grassroots different is its ability to bridge the gap between understanding information and applying it to personal autonomy. Not a single one of our coaches can stand up in front of kids and preach that they should never have a bag of chips or an extra cookie at dinner; it would be unrealistic and hypocritical. Rather, we teach students about balance and what steps you can take to level out an unhealthy decision. Most importantly, we link every nutrient with the function it provides in the body, and we show what really happens when you are missing that function. In Practice 3 of our new nutrition curriculum, for example, we play a relay game in which students connect the ways protein, carbs, and vitamins and minerals fuel your everyday actions, and the students see what happens when you are missing any single one.

As an athlete and a college student, I still am learning some of our curriculum pieces and making those connections for myself. I am grateful that I get to be a part of an organization that is equipping young people to hold more agency in their lives, especially when I see what I hope to be budding female athletes that will be better equipped to confront the challenges of being a female athlete? it’s incredible to think of what records they may break.