Pizza with a Side of Dignity with Baltimore’s 10:12 Sports

Pizza with a Side of Dignity with Baltimore’s 10:12 Sports

Jeff Thompson is a man with a vision, and adolescent boys are blossoming in the care of his 10:12 Sports organization. Thirty-two mentors are serving 208 adolescents, using the training and joy inherent in basketball, flag football and weight training to share life lessons, discipline and relationship. They’re now using Breadcoins as another way to love these guys well by being able to feed them… definitely the way to an athlete’s heart.

Jeff says, “We are a discipleship ministry that really came out of listening to the community. We are in West Baltimore, notoriously known for lacking resources. They generally get the short end of the stick, the area that the resources don’t trickle into. A lot of the residents expressed that there aren’t a lot of folks who are reaching out to adolescent males… so that’s who we serve, young men from 13 to 18, mentoring through sports and also job development and leadership training. We can be a bridge too for the church, giving them a way to love on these young men, the demographic that’s largely not tied to the church in any way.”

Breadcoins are given out by what we call “distribution partners” like 10:12 that give them out in the context of ongoing relationships. So 10:12 will use them for mentors and the young men they work with to get meals together; for the adolescents to use to serve the homeless they reach out to as a group; for events when many folks gather; and the guys can even take some home to families.

Thompson says, “It’s good to give things away but we like for them to be able to do something valuable to serve, and then allowing them to advocate for and bring something home for their families — whether some chicken or pizza or something else they can get with Breadcoins. That would be the best win for us. It’s always a good conversation to say, ‘Did you spend this on yourself or was your mindset that you wanted your family to know you were thinking about them and wanted to serve them in this way?’

“Our guys don’t always get that opportunity. It helps family relationships and gives them the dignity of knowing ‘I made the right choice to serve when I gave my family some food.’ We talk about this all the time. We go serve the homeless, and talk to the guys about how we were meant to serve others; God allows us to have that opportunity. When you tap into that, you want more of walking in how God has created you. I think Breadcoin can play a huge part in that!”

Jeff continues, “My guys are always asking me for money but if someone, like a panhandler or a ‘squeegee boy’ asks them for money, they’ll always give them a dollar. It’s one of the most humbling things. It’s an aspect of ‘I know where they’re coming from, so here’s a dollar.’ So I would love for Breadcoin to stand in the gap there so the guys could say, ‘I have Breadcoins to give’ and to make that connection about being able to help.”

As always the work in Baltimore is funded by the generous monthly donors we call members. Folks can certainly specify that we direct their coins to 10:12 Sports. That would be money well invested.

We’re in Baltimore Now!

We’re in Baltimore Now!

Breadcoin has moved into its second major city with our spread into Baltimore, a natural next step and easy fit in a city where so many are working together to alleviate hunger and to care for those experiencing homelessness too. Just like in DC we are not only a coin for the homeless. All hungry people (and those who simply want to support the network) are welcome to use or give Breadcoins. They are truly a stigma-free way to be sure all are fed.

Our first Baltimore vendors are Crazy John’s and Natural Choice Deli, both on “the block,” the 400 E. Baltimore Street block downtown. Mainstays of the area, both give good value for the Breadcoins submitted for payment, with the possibility of a hearty breakfast or other sandwich or several large chicken tenders for just a couple of Breadcoins. Long hours, a huge variety of food — these vendors immediately began accepting Breadcoins. 

We are grateful to have a Baltimore Captain, William Spruill, formerly of DC and working with us in Anacostia, who will oversee neighborhood distributions and vendor relations. We are thrilled to be working with a local nonprofit BeMoreCaring as a significant distribution partner, and are also gaining other partners, involved churches, faithful volunteers and potential vendors in Baltimore, which really adapted to this quite fast.

Pastor Jay Baylor, of Apostles in the City, is working linking churches and others who want to sponsor food distributions through a partnership with Blessings of Hope in Lancaster, PA. Those churches are hosting drive-up/walk-up opportunities for folks to come out and get big boxes of fresh food. That’s another way Breadcoin is involved, particularly during this Covid-19 crisis, in Baltimore as well as in DC.

A team of interested and involved folks is growing, and you are welcome to join us for our monthly Baltimore Breadcoin Zoom call. Email us for more information or to volunteer.

As always the work in Baltimore is funded by the generous monthly donors we call members because they truly do belong to something special and help this community response thrives. Join us, will you? Every $25 monthly membership puts 10 Breadcoins into the hands of a nonprofit that can give them to hungry folks to use for meals.

Membership Model

Membership Model

Much of Breadcoin was obvious from the beginning:

  • We certainly knew the “why” (people are hungry, and we all can and should meet one another’s needs).
  • We knew where we would start (where our team was, in Washington, DC). We knew that there are many good-hearted people who want to feed and care for others (and that sometimes they don’t know quite how).
  • We knew that the government isn’t meeting all the needs.
  • And we knew that almost all of the most meaningful work happens at a local level, neighbor-to-neighbor, through invested relationships and not “us and them” thinking where one person is always the giver and another is always a receiver.

What has evolved is our methodology. That has been a matter of trial-and-error and of learning from those on the ground, seeing what plays out in reality vs. in theory in the most efficient, humane and dignified way.

Where we have landed is a membership model.

Yes, Breadcoins are (still) a great tool for someone walking down the street  who encounters a person asking for money for food. We have always appreciated and prioritized having a physical token that one person could hand to another, hand to hand, eye to eye, and that could lead to meaningful conversation and, should the recipient want it, also lead to them receiving a mea at a vendor of their choice.

But there are far more people who want to help feed everyone, folks who don’t necessarily encounter the hungry directly in their day to day lives. And that’s where “membership” comes in. People commit to monthly donations of $25/month which puts ten Breadcoins in the hands of our neighborhood precinct teams. These teams are responsible for building a network of care within their area, linking the hungry with nonprofits that serve them (but that don’t necessarily have hunger as the main issue they are addressing), churches, and the food vendors that are at the heart of our model in a neighborhood (the place where the magic happens and a hungry person is fed and treated without stigma and with dignity, like any customer).

So people can purchase coins to use themselves or, through membership, can fund the coins that the on-the-ground folks distribute (with distribution based on prior months’ redemption rates). The teams that are most effectively getting Breadcoins into the hands of those who actually use them are the ones who get more coins to give.

Join us, will you? There are so many people who are hungry, and YOU can feed some every month.


Photo: Sharon Gustafson