Interview with George Jones, Executive Director
Can you tell me what distinguishes Bread for the City from other similar nonprofits in Greater Washington?
There are several nonprofits in DC, and we're grateful to have them as our partners. But what I think sets us apart is the myriad services offered, all under one roof, all at no cost to the clients.
I think Michael Blue, a patient of ours, said it best just the other day:
"How you guys work in this sardine can so efficiently, I don't know. Other organizations don't have half the services and they have four times the space. I can get medical, legal, counseling, food, and it doesn't take forever. It's standing room only but the bathrooms are always spotless. And it's a rough clientele - people are sick, and they're frustrated. But the people working here aren't just there for a job. They're here to help. And you're not just a problem to be solved, or put aside somehow. You're a human being and they're here for you."
What is your greatest fear for your nonprofit and for the people you serve?
I am fearful of the state of housing in the District. We need real, effective and enforced housing policies in the District that will result in increased access to affordable housing. Without safe and secure housing, our clients will always be pushing the ball up the hill; trying to find stability. People cannot be healthy and productive citizens when they're on the streets.
What is/are your greatest success(es)?
I am most proud of the opening of our Southeast Center in 2002. It has been a real beacon of service in one of the most disadvantaged communities in America.
How would the community be poorer without the work that you do?
Bread for the City is a fundamental safety net for thousands of families. I really don't know where else they would turn to keep their heads above water.
What are you seeing now, witnessing with this downturn, that is unlike anything you've witnessed before?
I have never seen such extreme poverty in Washington. And I also don't think I ever fully realized just how critical all aspects of our community are to sustaining Bread for the City's services--our neighbors, foundations, law firms, corporations, government agencies--we rely on them all to do what we do.
What are the three most critical things you'd like someone to know about Bread for the City?
- Bread for the City is growing--we're breaking ground on an 11,000 s.f. expansion in June.
- We've got an amazing and dedicated staff. In fact, the average tenure for our managers is almost 12 years.
- We need our community to support us now more than ever.
You've had to make the difficult choice of cutting back hours recently. Any ramifications from that?
It's too soon to tell. But the supportive response from our partners, staff, donors and community has been inspiring. And we are approaching this time of difficulty with an innovative and hopeful spirit.