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Around Town 10/20 -11/3

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Saturday, October 21, 2017
MOMENTUM Gala
Dance Place

Celebrate Dance Place’s next stage at our annual Gala and see Dance Place like you’ve never seen it before!

Explore Dance Place’s arts campus with immersive art installations that merge performance, theater design and technology. Choose your own adventure as you journey through sensory exhibitions that envelop guests in an arts fun-house experience. Discover dancers hidden throughout the spaces, navigate a coliseum of tires, decipher optical illusions and more.

Plus, special guest performance by new Executive Artistic Director Christopher K. Morgan in our theater.

Enjoy tasty libations, bid on our silent auction and end the night with our signature DP dance party!

When: Saturday, October 21, 2017 (7:00 PM)
Where: Dance Place, 3225 8th St NE, Washington, DC 20017 map
Fee: $150
Contact: Amanda Blythe, (202) 269-1601
For more information: click here

Saturday, October 28, 2017
LMnO3
Dance Place

New York City-based trio LMnO3 shifts identities in a kaleidoscopic pageant of status and femininity. B.A.N.G.S.: Made in America uses hard rap, body percussion and a game show to repurpose how we unapologetically wear our own “Beauty, Age, Number, Goodness and Size.” Donning velvet evening wear, rip-stop jumpsuits, snack-filled purses and sensible bathing suits, the dancers explore what they are – and aren’t – qualified to do. Serious play and creative instincts rule as the trio obsesses over the ideas behind B.A.N.G.S., a mnemonic acronym frequently used by French-language learners turned into a handy feminist to-dismantle list.

When: Saturday, October 28, 2017 (8:00 PM)
Where: Dance Place, 3225 8th St NE, Washington, DC 20017 map
Fee: $15 -$30
Contact: Amanda Blythe, (202) 269-1601
For more information: click here

Sunday, October 29, 2017
Complete the Circle FOODRaiser This event is accepting volunteers
Britepaths (formerly Our Daily Bread)

It may seem hard to believe, but 60,000 people in Fairfax County don’t know where their next meal will come from. 28,000 of them are children. Britepaths and Lorton Community Action Center are joining to host their 7th Complete the Circle FOODRaiser to raise awareness about hunger and need in the Fairfax County area and to raise food and funds to feed the hungry in our midst.

Complete the Circle is a joyful service project for community members of all ages. Bring food and/or grocery store gift card donations and participate in a fun public art project called “Art for the Sky.”

The afternoon includes live music with musicians from Cancer Can Rock, children’s activities and refreshments. $10 per participant includes the event T-shirt that will color our Art for the Sky “living picture.” Proceeds and donations from the event will benefit Britepaths and Lorton Community Action Center’s families. Advance registration recommended. On-site registration available.

When: Sunday, October 29, 2017 (1:00 PM – 2:30 PM)
Where: Fairfax High School, 3501 Rebel Run, Fairfax, VA 22030 map
Fee: $10
Volunteer Info: Many volunteers will be needed on Oct. 28 and 29 to help set up and run the event, and to clean up and return donations to Britepaths and LCAC after the event. Volunteer registration will be available soon at: http://www.CompletetheCircleFx.org
Contact: Jennifer Rose, (703) 273-8829
For more information: click here

Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Joy of Motion’s Mixed Movement
Dance Place

Joy of Motion Dance Center brings you Mixed Movement: Entertainment in Motion, a series that mixes dance together with live music, poetry and theater. Join us for a humorous and eclectic night out that’s both thought-provoking and entertaining.

When: Wednesday, November 1, 2017 (8:00 PM)
Where: Dance Place, 3225 8th St NE, Washington, District of Columbia 20017 map
Fee: $15 -$30
Contact: Amanda Blythe, (202) 691-1601
For more information: click here

Measuring Success with Smiles at Tracy’s Kids

by Matt Gerson, Founder and Chairman, Tracy’s Kids

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Our mission at Tracy’s Kids is to help children with cancer cope with the emotional toll imposed by the disease & its treatment. We enrich the patient experience by embedding Masters-trained Art Therapists in hospital clinics right alongside the medical team.

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I was diagnosed with cancer as a ten year-old and appreciate the challenges and disruptions that the illness imposes on a child as well as his siblings and parents. Our Art Therapists help families work through their concerns and fears. Today, some 80% of children diagnosed with cancer will beat the disease and spend the overwhelming majority of their lives cancer free. Our goal is to help them navigate this chapter of their lives and not let having been sick define who they are.

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Recently a parent of one of our kids — an oncologist himself — had tears in his eyes when he told us,

“Tracy’s Kids saved our family. The chemotherapy drugs are essentially the same in every hospital — what makes a difference to families is the type of care they receive. The therapeutic boost that Art Therapy provides is invaluable.”

We measure our success with smiles at Tracy’s Kids. Our Facebook page has picture after picture of kids looking happy despite the fact that they are enduring painful treatments, and having their lives disrupted. Parents tell me all the time that their children look forward to going to the clinic because our Art Therapists make it a safe space where kids can be kids — not sick kids — just kids sitting alongside others getting similar treatments. Many of our kids paint such a rosy picture of their clinic experience that their healthy friends sometimes accompany them to their treatments. That sentiment is inconceivable to me — and is proof positive that we are making a real difference.

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This coming March marks our Twentieth Anniversary. Tracy’s Kids started at Georgetown University Hospital and we are now in seven clinics in five states and have provided over $5 million in Art Therapy programs. We estimate that we work with 80% of the kids in the DC metro area who are battling cancers and blood disorders.

One of the things I am most proud of is that we are a lean operation that is laser focused on our programming — which is provided free-of-charge to those we serve. In 2016, 83% of our spending went to Art Therapist salaries and art supplies.

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We appreciate any and all support people are willing to offer. Whether it is spreading the word about us during the Combined Federal Campaign (#21655) or #GivingTuesday, hosting Art Supply Drives, or organizing any kind of fundraiser that helps sustain our wonderful program. Find us online at www.tracyskids.org

Hope for the Future with Woodley House

By Linda Meixner, Development Director, Woodley HouseIMG_0675

Woodley House is a community-based organization dedicated to helping men and women struggling with persistent mental illness live full and healthy lives with dignity. We offer the opportunity to heal within a safe and comforting residential community as they work toward recovery and reclaiming their lives.

Woodley House serves over 300 adult men and women each year who have been diagnosed with severe mental illness, many of whom are lower-income and at risk of becoming homeless. We provide a residential housing program and supportive services needed to achieve greater independence. Mental illness cuts across all socio-economic and ethnic groups, but is often ignored or overlooked due to the entrenched stigma surrounding it. Woodley House exists to help our residents attain the stability and life skills needed to recover and reintegrate into their community.
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One in five of us will experience a mental health issue in the coming year — this affects us all. For some, this may be a temporary period of intense anxiety or depression, while for others, the reality will be much more severe and long-lasting. When your mind is working against you, it can be very isolating and the challenges of just living each day can be truly overwhelming.

Woodley House takes a whole-person approach, viewing our residents as individuals, not simply as clients with a diagnosis. We know that having a home with a welcoming, family-like environment is critical to achieving stability and hope for the future.

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We offer a range of housing, from short-term crisis stabilization, to longer-term group homes and finally, shared apartments throughout the city as part of our Supported Independent Living Program, so we are there – through each step of their journey to recovery. But simply providing a home, while very important, isn’t enough. People need to have the ability to maintain that home to be truly successful.

Woodley House offers personalized support through our Life Skills Trainers who meet with each resident, both individually and in groups, multiple times per week. They work together on issues particular to that resident, from basic hygiene and room/apartment maintenance, to budgeting, nutrition, communication skills and job readiness. We work with, not for, our residents and this very personal approach has proved successful for nearly 60 years.

Celebrating our 60th anniversary in 2018, we have succeeded by offering essential, life-changing services for a very vulnerable population.

  • “Success” for Woodley House means the ability to continue to provide our residential and supportive services long into the future for the men and women in the District who struggle each day with mental illness.
  • “Success” is also when our residents, helped by the daily support of Woodley House, overcome the vagaries of their mental illness and “graduate” to a bright, secure future by achieving and maintaining their stability in the most independent lives in the community that they can manage.
  • Many residents move on to greater independence in shared, semi-independent apartments, or to total independence. For others, their best success is achieved in a more structured environment helping them maintain a stable, full life.

Woodley House serves the full spectrum of people needing our help and we applaud them all.

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A basic tenet of Woodley House is that each person is viewed as an individual and will be treated with the dignity and respect that we all deserve. The goals of one resident might differ from those of another, but they all share the desire to remain stable and work toward fuller, more independent lives. Our residents come to us in varying stages of recovery, so success for some might mean appreciating a stable, caring home after years on the streets, while others may be further along on their journey, and a new job might be the highlight of their year.

One resident of Holly House recently got a part-time custodial job at Howard University and is so excited that she is always waiting by the curb at 6:30 in the morning for the van that picks her up at 7 to ensure that she won?t be late! Success for our residents is individual, but all share the goal of learning to live with their symptoms so that they can achieve the fullest, most productive life possible.

Woodley House has been serving our community for nearly 60 years, but has remained a secret to far too many over the years. We welcome the opportunity to introduce ourselves and share the critical role we play to those who turn to us each year. For more information about Woodley House, please contact development director, Linda Meixner lmeixner@woodleyhouse.org to arrange a tour or simply to find out a bit more about our program. Donations are ALWAYS welcome and can be made online at www.woodleyhouse.org or mailed to: Woodley House, Inc. 6856 Eastern Avenue, NW – # 300 Washington, DC 20012.

Determination and Resiliency with Housing Up

by Julian Peters, Resource Development Associate, Housing Up

Housing Up is the premier non-profit homeless services and affordable housing provider in the District of Columbia. Established in 1990 as Transitional Housing Corporation with one 14-unit building under our belt, we have since expanded to five properties located around the city where we provide our support services to low-income, homeless and at-risk families. We currently serve more than 600 families throughout the District.

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2017′s point-in-time count revealed there are currently 7,473 people experiencing homelessness in the District of Columbia, 3,890 of whom are parts of families and 2,268 of whom are children. There are currently 1,166 families experiencing homelessness in DC, and the lack of affordable housing in the city has been a huge driving force behind the homelessness crisis. The U.S. worker must earn an average of $21.21 to afford a two-bedroom apartment; in DC, that average is $33.58 per hour, the second highest in the nation. There is a clear need for the affordable housing that we provide, as well as the comprehensive support services made available to our clients and their children. The combination of stable, affordable housing and support services enables families to become economically self-sufficient and break the cycle of poverty.

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Year after year our residents serve as living examples of determination and resiliency; we’ve seen people in our programs bounce back from the worst situations and turn their lives around. They are the definition of the human potential latent both in our client population and in the underserved in general; a potential so powerful yet so fragile, that it can go to waste if not properly supported and encouraged. Without organizations like Housing Up, our families can so easily slip through the cracks and become statistics, and we are motivated to support as much of their potential as we possibly can.

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Housing Up’s mission is to end family homelessness by 2020, and we work toward that goal daily through the services and housing we provide to our families and through advocacy work to make affordable housing and solving homelessness a priority for the city government. As part of the Coalition of Non-Profits for Housing and Economic Development (CNHED), we advocate for homelessness and housing solutions to be included in DC’s budget, and our work in that regard is paying off: the District government’s budget this year includes very generous provisions for housing and homelessness. There is progress being made, but there is also much more work to be done.

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We are currently looking forward to the renovation of our Partner Arms 2 building, one of our oldest properties. We are in the process of converting Partner Arms 2 from transitional housing to Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), which serves chronically homeless families with mental or physical health disabilities. Our PSH program is based on the Housing First model, which focuses on quickly moving families experiencing homelessness into permanent housing with leases in their own names, and then providing support services. The conversion of Partner Arms 2 aligns with the federal government’s priority for PSH programs based on Housing First. We’re excited to kick off development of senior housing and our future office headquarters at The Parks at Walter Reed, former home of the Walter Reed Medical Center. We can also look forward to the Mayor’s plan to build eight shelters for families experiencing homelessness in DC, which will be an important step in our city’s collective efforts of ending family homelessness in the District.

housingup1We love volunteers! We have volunteers come in to tutor both children and adult residents. We also have community gardens at most of our properties, so anyone with a green thumb may participate in the gardening at any one of our sites. We do yoga, backpack drives and food drives as well, and will allow for anyone with a particular set of skills or interests to come in and hold a class for our residents. There are opportunities for groups and individuals, for one time events and regular volunteering. Please contact Emily Koppel at ekoppel@housingup.org if you’re interested in volunteering with us.

We’re also actively seeking new members for our Board of Directors. For more details on our board, please contact Christina Peay, Senior Manager of Communications & Development at cpeay@housingup.org.

Around Town

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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

Volunteers and Tutors Make a Difference at Bridges to Independence

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Bridges to Independence has been working with and for people experiencing homelessness since 1985, when we were founded as the Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless. In 2016, Bridges served a total of 460 individuals: 248 through our housing programs (emergency shelter and rapid re-housing) and 212 in other programs and services (financial literacy, employment services, etc.).

Our mission is to lead individuals and families out of homelessness and into stable, independent futures. We offer aid and support for all family members, helping them attain financial security and move forward into self-sufficiency. As homelessness is often episodic, we work not only with people who are currently experiencing homelessness, but also with former participants to ensure they are able to remain securely housed and do not fall into homelessness again.

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Former client Mohammed, his wife, and their 5 daughters invited us to their home for a visit. It was wonderful to see the family thriving!

Our vision is to end the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Two-thirds of the people we serve are under the age of 18. We provide youth with opportunities to increase self-esteem, gain leadership skills, and improve their overall health/well-being. We strive to give older students the confidence, skills, and tools needed to pursue and complete post-secondary education or vocational training, providing them with a pathway to economic security.

After many years of helping people move into their own homes, we’ll soon get to experience a homecoming of our own! In September, we will move into a brand-new 4,700 square foot training center, directly adjacent to our Sullivan House emergency shelter. The new space will be a hive of activity and will include a children’s room for youth activities, classrooms for job training, a personal counseling suite, and offices for our staff to continue their crucial work to support families in need. We’ll be able to serve more people, carry out programming more effectively, and explore new and innovative solutions for reducing homelessness.

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Gather a team for our Kickball Tournament or volunteer at the event!

Our 12th annual SAFE AT HOME Kickball Tournament will be Saturday, August 5, 2017. Teams, sponsors and volunteers can sign up now at https://bridges2.org/kickball/. We also need volunteers to serve as mentors or tutors, represent Bridges at events, help with office work, and more. For details, see www.bridges2.org or contact Lawson Craighill at lcraighill@bridges2.org.

 

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.
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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.

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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.

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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

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Around Town 4/14-4/23

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Earth Day Cleanup & Celebration!

Anacostia Watershed Society
Each year, the Anacostia Watershed Society hosts thousands of volunteers at more than 20 sites throughout the watershed for the largest annual Anacostia River cleanup! After the volunteer event, a celebration with free food and drink and live performances is hosted.

When: Sat Apr 22, 2017 (09:00 AM – 2:00 PM)
Where: 4302 Baltimore Avenue, Bladensburg, MD 20710
Volunteer Info: Volunteers remove trash, plant trees, and help clean up the Anacostia River.
Contact: Emily Castelli, (301) 699-6204 ext 6996204

Earth Day Chicken Coop Raising and Organic Garden Event

Crossway Community
Join volunteers of all ages, including 40 Fulbright Scholars, to build a chicken coop, and prepare and plant an organic garden in celebration of Earth Day! A celebration of Crossway Community Montessori School, Family Leadership Academy and the Intergenerational Center summer farm-to-table programs.

No skills or tools needed, just a desire to work and learn. Age-appropriate activities for all.

When: Sat Apr 22, 2017 (09:00 AM – 11:30 AM)
Where: Crossway Community, 3015 Upton Dr, Kensington, MD 20895
Fee: None. Free. No advance registration required
Volunteer Info: Volunteers help with construction, site preparation and planting.

Contact: Hannah Sloss, 301-929-2505 hsloss@crossway-community.org

Artful Living: Resilience Volunteer Opportunity

Britepaths (formerly Our Daily Bread) will host our 3rd annual Artful Living: An Evening of Art, Wine and Strengthening Community, on Saturday, April 22 from 7-10 p.m. at the Sherwood Center in Fairfax City, in association with the Fairfax Spotlight on the Arts Festival.

The theme is “Resilience.” The evening will include a juried art show with works by local artists for sale, live music by local Latin-Jazz band Batida Diferente, a live charity auction, appetizers, wine and craft beer tastings.

The event supports Britepaths work to provide emergency and self-sufficiency services to working families in the Fairfax County area who are struggling to make ends meet. A portion of proceeds will also benefit the Spotlight on the Arts Scholarship Fund.

When: Sat Apr 22, 2017 (7:00 PM – 10:00 PM)
Where: Stacy C. Sherwood Community Center, 3740 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22030
Fee: Yes $45 by 4/21; $50 at the door
Volunteer Info: We will need many volunteers to help run this event on the afternoon and evening of April 22. A registration will be posted closer to the event on our Volunteer page at britepaths.org. Email info@britepaths.org if you would like to be notified of volunteer needs for the event.
Contact: Jennifer Rose, (703) 273-8829

A Creative Learning Community Where the Sky is the Limit!

By Kathleen Guinan CEO, Crossway Community

kidsCrossway Community promotes learning creativity and community for all families in the greater Washington area since 1990. As a local organization with a global mindset, we have had the privilege of supporting hundreds of children and families while building an innovative model that we try to share with policymakers, educators, and leaders around the world.

Our model of social change is rooted in Montessori philosophy and principles. Maria Montessori was a physician and teacher who was working in Italy in the early twentieth century. Using her method, viewing people as naturally curious and motivated by practical life and beauty, what we are really doing is creating the environment to nurture and support learning– for every child, parent, and community member who walks through our door.

When we started, we had a vision of becoming a local resource, and a national model. That has held true over time. On our suburban campus in Kensington, MD, a once an abandoned elementary school is now our three learning centers: The Crossway Community Montessori School, The Family Leadership Academy, and The Intergenerational Learning Center.
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These three centers, which are all integrated and Montessori-infused, represent our model children learning, parents thriving, and community connecting. Some families participate in just one of the learning centers, and others are engaged in all three. But it’s because we’ve got them all operating together that the magic happens. That’s how immigrant families are learning to feel at home. It’s how children of working poor parents are gaining the education foundation for a future that includes college. It is why the volunteers who join us tell us they learn as much as they teach.

My hope for the future is the families that continue to show up, wanting to learn, wanting to grow, wanting to contribute. I have seen the resilience, the dignity, and the compassion that they come through with, even when there is so much negativity and conflict. Witnessing the transformations that happen calms my soul and motivates me to keep dong this work. We approach what we do with a constant desire to learn, to get better, to understand more… there is always hope.

One of the most exciting initiatives we are getting involved with comes out of our Intergenerational Learning Center. In the fall, in partnership with a nationally recognized trainer, we’ll be offering a wonderful workshop for professionals and family members of people living with dementia. This is a perfect example of our model in action. The goal of the workshop is to support people living with dementia by creating a prepared environment, filled with cues and memory supports, that enables individuals to care for themselves, others, and their community so that they may live as independently as possible. More information about the workshop is here.

No two days at Crossway Community look quite the same. But, a really great day often begins with the sounds of singing in the Crossway Community Montessori School. We watch the comings and goings of the families who live on-site in the Family Leadership Program, many of whom are new to this country. The parents are working hard to make progress on their work and education, while establishing routines and relationships that support healthy development of their children.

I am always inspired to see the growth in our organic gardens as the weather warms up. And when the senior citizen volunteers show up to do cleanup projects or mentoring their energy is a force to be reckoned with. I am so lucky to be surrounded by a professional team that “gets it” that wants to be part of something big and positive and real. And volunteers whose generosity knows no bounds. But most of all, it’s about the families.

Obviously, as close as we are to DC, we have a view up close and personal of the political landscape. I think the most useful thing we can do is to try to maintain our position as a calm, principled advocate for families, for education, and for social justice. We have to just stay the course, true to what we know matters for the children and families who have entrusted us to be their partner. That keeps us focused.

We love to give tours, and in 2017, our Event Spaces (including a Cafe with a full commercial kitchen, and the Great Room) are available to the public for family, corporate, and community events. New ideas and visitors are always welcome at Crossway Community. As we like to say, the sky’s the limit!