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.

Langston Area Explosion

Langston Area Explosion

Pastor William Spence, board member, Breadcoin leader and neighborhood captain too (and those are only his Breadcoin jobs; did we mention he ably leads Harvest Life Fellowship?)… well he’s been busy signing up new Breadcoin vendors.

The corner of Benning Roads and 19th Street, NE now has not one but three Breadcoin vendors — Royal Rooster, Wings ‘N More Wings, and Langston Bar and Grille. Each accepts Breadcoins for payment, giving area folks a variety of options for using their Breadcoins. We are partial, respectively, to the cheese steak sandwich, the wings and the sliders, all priced for just a few Breadcoins.

Breadcoin food tokens are given to hungry folks to use at such vendors by our nonprofit partners. A particularly active partner in the Langston neighborhood is the Washington DC Police Foundation and we see 5th District Metropolitan Police Department outreach officers using coins at these vendors to help feed folks with whom they are doing anti-crime initiatives, youth mentoring, or just checking in on families isolated at home.

Stop on over to any of these places and meet the friendly staffs and eat something good. Tell them Breadcoin sent you!

Food and groceries distribution events

Food and groceries distribution events

Working together with a number of partners, we are excited to be operating in an additional way during this pandemic time.

Folks are driving and walking up to various locations in the city, with different church and nonprofit partners hosting the events, and leaving with boxes full of healthy, fresh food, milk, canned goods and sustenance for the week ahead.

Here’s how it’s been working. We are working with Jay Baylor, a priest from Apostles in the City in Baltimore, who is aggregating food through an organization called Blessings of Hope in Pennsylvania. Adding milk and eggs to fresh produce, boxes are packed and prepared for shipment. Jay works with us and other partners in Baltimore and DC to plan where a truckload will go and who will “sponsor” it, paying for and preparing to hand out the boxes that arrive.

Volunteers gather and are oriented around safety procedures and an attitude and atmosphere of hospitable welcome for the guests. They unload the truck and get ready for the folks to show up to the advertised location to get their free food.

As the parking lot empties out, everybody goes home — whether with a full box of groceries or simply with some tired but satisfied shoulders.

It’s been powerful to see all the different “players” show up each week to join our own team, whether a nonprofit with lots of people to invite, a church with a large parking lot, volunteers and long tables, or somebody with a van to deliver a few boxes to organizations that didn’t have their own vehicle.

It works! 

Recently volunteers and organizers (some pictured below) have included people from DC Dream Center, King’s Church, DC; Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church, Wounded No More, and others.

 

Mother’s Day Surprise

Mother’s Day Surprise

The outreach team from the 5th District of DC’s Metropolitan Police Department paid surprise visits to seniors and others in their area, dispensing roses, candles, and cookies and muffins from Breadcoin vendor Mission Muffins.

This Mother’s Day surprise was an encouragement to the women, especially during a pandemic!

A partnership between the Washington, DC Police Foundation and Breadcoin has provided the officers with a new tool to use in building positive community relationships, feeding people and showing up to let people know they care.

During this challenging time for small businesses, Breadcoin vendors, including Mission Muffins (which is doing its business by online orders with delivery or pickup) have stayed open. A win/win for partners like the DC Police Foundation and for vendors too!

Our First Loan Payoff

Our First Loan Payoff

Breadcoin had a glorious celebration of our three-year partnership with the Central Union Mission, DC and of the payoff of our first microloan, the lease of a food trailer for their Mission Muffins enterprise.

WGTS 91.9 was broadcasting live, and we love the wonderful work they do in the community, including their current sock drive! They interviewed Cary Umhau, one of our co-founders, about our work, introducing their listeners to the idea of becoming Breadcoin members.

Our team, friends, Breadcoin and Mission fans cheered over the key moment when our founder Scott Borger handed over the deed to the trailer to Mission President/CEO Joe Mettimano.

We consider our partnership with the Mission a match made in heaven.

Kipp DC, Partner

Kipp DC, Partner

Breadcoin and KIPP DC, a charter school, have an exciting new partnership.

Our donor-funded Breadcoins go into the hands of the counseling staff at each of the three schools that serve Pre-K to eighth grade on the KIPP DC: Webb Campus in the Ivy City neighborhood.

They in turn have the opportunity to give Breadcoins to families that find themselves with “too much month at the end of the money” or to use them to incentivize behaviors (in this case attendance and punctuality) that will improve learning.

Catch the enthusiasm of the KIPP DC: Spring Academy staff that created this video to explain the “On Time” challenge that rewards kids who are on time with Breadcoins to spend on a hearty treat at one of our newest vendors, Texas Chicken and Burgers, just down the block.

A “community response to hunger” is how we describe Breadcoin, and this partnership is the epitome of that.

Breadcoin and Ben’s Chili Bowl Team Up

Breadcoin and Ben’s Chili Bowl Team Up

Breadcoin partnered with DC legend, Ben’s Chili Bowl during the government shutdown in January, 2019 to ensure that workers without paychecks could receive a meal.

Founded in 1958, Ben’s Chili Bowl is a landmark DC restaurant that has provided meals and much more to the community for over 60 years. We’re launching our partnership on MLK Day, Monday, January 21st in the spirit of Dr. King and Ben’s long history of giving back to the community.

Breadcoin and Ben’s Chili Bowl are excited to be among the people and businesses engaging the community to meet its needs.

Feeding Feds During Shutdown Initiative

Feeding Feds During Shutdown Initiative

Join us in making a difference! Breadcoin Foundation, a DC-based nonprofit, is providing a way for the community to feed unpaid TSA and other government employees and support staff during the shutdown.

Breadcoins are a food token that you purchase and give to someone in need.  They can also be given to nonprofits meeting needs.  In this case, your donation will help make an impact by providing funding to immediately feed and encourage beleaguered government workers, who have just missed their first paycheck.

We are raising $7000 to provide a meal for any TSA or other government employee working without pay.  In conjunction with committed, participating food vendors, your funds will go toward putting enough Breadcoins in the hands of these workers, with about five coins ($2.20 value each) providing a complete meal at the airport.

Government employees can receive food tokens valued under $20 under the governmental ethics guidelines.  We want to thank them for their service and let them know that the public appreciates their work under stressful conditions and without pay.  This is but one example of Breadcoins being used as a tool to link community needs with generous folks wanted to meet those needs.

Thanks in advance for your contributions to this cause that means so much to the team that serves to make Breadcoin happen.

https://www.gofundme.com/breadcoin-feeding-dc-during-shutdown

Anacostia Community Clean-up Day

Anacostia Community Clean-up Day

Community has always been at the heart of Breadcoin’s mission. The community food tokens are designed to foster engagement, generating face-to-face connections between people of all walks of life who call the same city home. That’s why it felt natural to team up with some other local community organizations to help spread the word about Breadcoin, and to help Breadcoin better know and understand our community here in the DMV area.

Recently, we gathered at the steps of Kramer Middle School in Anacostia on a chilly Saturday morning for a community clean-up organized by Code 3, a nonprofit started by retired police officers to help build better relationships between the police and members of the communities they serve. Armed with rakes, brooms, and sturdy work gloves, we walked the streets picking up trash and clearing debris, chatting with curious neighbors along the way.

Afterwards, we warmed up together over burgers and hot dogs grilled outside and shared by all who walked by. There was a small farmer’s market offering fresh oranges, tomatoes, lettuce, and sweet potatoes, along with canned goods and other dried foods, all of it generously donated by Serve DMV, an outreach arm of McLean Bible Church, which shares Breadcoin’s mission to ensure that none of our neighbors go hungry. We were also joined by Captain Cookie – one of Breadcoin’s newest vendors – whose baby blue food truck filled with mouth-watering homemade cookies and ice cream in classic flavors proved to be the hit of the day.

What felt most remarkable about the event was the sense of unity among the various groups represented, and the ease with which we melded together our shared commitment to community. There was no battle for prominence, nor any attempts to outshine one another in the overpopulated arena of non-profits operating in the DC region. Everyone played their part with enthusiasm, graciousness, and humility, recognizing that when it comes to community, we are each, at best, only one small piece of a complex, living puzzle.

That’s how we see ourselves at Breadcoin. That’s why we welcome partnerships and outreach events and the chance to team up with others to talk about our common hopes for our city. It’s a modern-day echo of the words of the prophet Jeremiah, reminding us that when we seek the welfare of those around us, we too will prosper.

We’re excited to keep spreading the word about Breadcoin, and to see more and more tokens in circulation on our streets. But ultimately, we’re most excited about how this incredible community of retired cops, pastors, teachers, mentors, students, economists, authors, ice-cream truck vendors, and so many others are working together for the shared prosperity of us all.

Story: Colleen Borovsky; Photo: Yuri Borovsky

Jerry Gill

Jerry Gill

Jerry Gill is not the type of man you’d expect to have served 40 years in prison. Now in his mid-60s, Jerry has large, gentle eyes, and his short hair shares the same salt-and-pepper seasoning that President Obama developed in his last years in office, nature’s badge of recognition for men who have weathered trials in life.

Jerry’s trials began at age 13 when he landed in juvenile detention for the first time. Born in Northwest D.C., he grew up just two blocks from the U Street community that birthed DC’s Black Renaissance – coined as Black Broadway – in the height of the Jim Crow era. He dreamed of a life of Cadillacs and beautiful women, but the path it led him down was anything but glamorous. Jerry spent nearly four decades behind bars, serving most of his sentence in solitary confinement.

Yet, the most interesting part of Jerry’s story is what happened after his release, less than two years ago. His case manager sent him to Central Union Mission, a faith-based nonprofit that serves the needs of the homeless and underprivileged, for a two week stay. Rooted in old habits, he immediately began looking for a new place to rob – but never found one. Instead, he discovered the opportunity to become a new man. A better man. Central Union Mission helped lead him through a spiritual transformation that changed his heart and showed him that his past no longer defined him.

Today, you’ll find Jerry in a rather surprising place – inside an industrial kitchen, baking muffins. He works for Mission Muffins, a ready-to-work program of Central Union Mission with retail and wholesale operations. Though he had never baked anything in his life prior to his first day on the job, he was trained to bake over 10 types of muffins, scones, and breakfast pies from scratch, along with three other men. He enjoys the work, and beams with pride when someone tries one of his muffins for the first time. He’s grateful for a steady job, new skills, and the ability to pay his own bills. He’s also grateful for Breadcoin, because it gives him an opportunity to give to others.

Mission Muffins was the first vendor to partner with Breadcoin, accepting the coins as payment for food items. Breadcoin provided a loan which enabled them to expand – hiring more staff, baking more goods, and distributing them further and wider. Some Sundays, Jerry and his team set up shop inside local churches and sell hundreds of muffins to hungry congregants.

If you ever get to meet Jerry, you’ll be struck by his sincere gratitude and generosity. When he’s not busy baking or volunteering at the Mission, he hands out breadcoins on the street, and considers it a blessing that he’s able to help people in need.

So next time you’re near Union Station, head to 65 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, and look for the muffin mobile. For just a couple of bucks or a breadcoin, you can try one of Jerry’s muffins (he recommends the Singin’ The Bluesberry), along with a steaming cup of “mud” – an affectionate nickname for their potently-brewed coffee. The guys on the team will be glad to see you and to share more stories of redemption, transformation, and hope borne out of the simple idea that no one in our community should go hungry.

Written by Colleen Borovsky.