Friday, July 18, 2014

Request to help restock our food pantry shelves

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Guest Post by Tiffany Tan, Program Manager for our McCarrick Family Center
The McCarrick Family Center of Catholic Charities in Silver Spring, MD seeks your assistance in restocking our food pantry shelves. Approximately one year ago, we revised our food pantry system from giving clients pre-packaged bags of food to allowing clients to shop in the pantry and pick out their own food items.

As consumers, we have the choice of what to purchase at the grocery store, and we wanted to give our clients the same right and dignity. The outcome a year later has been a success as we’ve been able to serve a larger number of individuals and families, connect low-income residents with our services and additional services in the community, and our clients have appreciated the opportunity to shop for their food. 

Each new client who comes for food first meets with a case worker to assess his/her situation to see if we can address needs around housing, medical/mental, social, family, legal, and/or financial. Having a choice food pantry has become a great anchor program to attract new clients. 

However, the number of clients continues to grow and, particularly during the summer months, the food donations decrease. You can see in the chart to the right we experienced an increase in the number of households who have come for services (blue line) and the number of visits to the food pantry (red line). In June 2014, we had 181 clients shop in the pantry. While we receive food from the Capital Area Food Bank and are committed to picking up fresh produce from them once a week, many of our staple items are gone. Some shelves are bare. We are now even out the basics such as pasta, spaghetti sauce, and cereal. 

We ask for your help if you are able to give food or a monetary donation for us to shop at the Capital Area Food Bank (at $.19/lb.) one-time, monthly, quarterly, or annually. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. You can donate in-person or via our secure webpage.

Our staple items most in need include:

  • Beans (canned & dry)
  • Canned fruit
  • Canned potatoes
  • Cereal & oatmeal
  • Chef Boyardee
  • Instant cups of soup
  • Jelly
  • Mac & cheese
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Muffin/cake mix
  • Pasta
  • Pasta & rice side dishes
  • Rice (white and brown)
  • Snacks (crackers, kid’s snacks, puddings)
  • Spaghetti/pasta sauce

We can pick up donations from you or food can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm and until 8pm on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month. We are located at 12247 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20902. Please contact me with any questions at 301-942-1790 ext. 131. Thank you in advance for your donation.

God Bless,

Tiffany Tan
Program Manager

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hammers, Nails, Solar Panels: the journey to a new career starts here

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Guest Post by Allysha Sneed

On Saturday, June 7, Robert Lancaster, along with 18 other students walked across the stage to receive certificates of completion from Catholic Charities Pre-Apprenticeship Green Construction Program. He wore a bright blue cap and gown and walked in to Pomp & Circumstance playing for the assembled family and friends.

For Robert, the moment represented another step in his journey to a full-time career. He had been unable to find a steady job for months, despite having his HVAC and plumbing certifications. His goal was to become a certified general electrician, but he needed a start. The Green Construction Program provided that opportunity.

For more than 10 years, the program has provided intense 12-week training classes to equip students with the fundamentals of starting a career in construction. Taught by bilingual teachers and offering a 15:1 student to teacher ratio, the program sees 70 percent of its graduates either gain employment or pursue further education from each class in the first month after graduation.

Robert, with tools, ready to work.
Celia Sterling, the program administrator, credits the success of the program to both the teachers and her students for their dedication to starting a new career. Several years ago, the program expanded its curriculum to incorporate more environmentally sustainable practices in an effort to stay competitive in the job market. Students now learn solar panel installation, weatherization techniques and more to help buildings minimize their energy usage.

Through a partnership with Montgomery College students are able to attend hands on workshops including a 20-hour electricity training course and a 14-hour job readiness course, “Communication Skills and Fit Relationships.” The soft skills of succeeding in a modern workplace can be just as valuable to the students as some of the hard knowledge they obtain.

Just two weeks after graduation Robert had the opportunity to see how prepared he was for the workforce. He landed a four-month internship with Mona Hill Contracts where he now works with a team of electricians.

“The class really helped me in the workforce because it taught me the core skills needed to be successful in the construction business,” Robert said. “Now that I’m on the job, I am able to see how those skills correlate between trades. I’m really glad I came to the program, it really taught me a lot.”