CHGM’s Shelter Plus Care Program Celebrates Their College Bound Students

At the heart of Capitol Hill Group Ministry (CHGM) is our mission of “Serving the Community, One Neighbor at a Time,” and striving to break the cyclical nature of poverty that often exists within the homeless and low-income communities which we serve. A critical part of achieving that mission centers around assisting the students within our programs, specifically those in our Shelter Plus Care (SPC) program, to achieve their academic goals and strive for higher education.

Families in the SPC program have all spent time in homeless shelters, and many have histories of substance abuse, mental illness, and chronic health issues. They all have also faced economic hardships and unemployment. Despite these hardships, in August 2012, CHGM celebrated our three high school graduates who will begin their first year of college.

Elizabeth Banner was a standout student at H. D. Woodson High School, both academically and athletically. She participated in an event hosted by the College Success Foundation, where she spoke to younger students about her path towards academic success. She was an important addition to the Volleyball, Basketball, Softball and Track & Field teams. She was even invited to an event at the White House hosted by the Athletic Women Association as a high school representative. Currently, Elizabeth is interested in studying criminology at Trinity University, and hopes to use her education to protect animal rights and end animal cruelty.

Lewis Parker is another one of CHGM’s successes. Lewis is a student at North Carolina Central University. During his time in high school, he added greatly to the McKinley School of Technology community. He was both active in athletics and recognized for his academic achievements. He also participated in the College Success Foundation event, and shared his story to help inspire younger students in the community. Lewis hopes to use his college education to pursue a degree in journalism. More specifically, he plans to cover sporting events and work in sports broadcasting.

Finally, Daniell James is a freshman attending Prince George’s Community College. Prior to beginning his first year of college, Daniell attended Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, MD, where he played varsity level football. He was also recognized for his academic success by the school’s academic honor society. Daniell is still undecided about his academic future, but hopes to someday coach football.

Elizabeth, Lewis, and Daniell are encouraging examples of the success that Capitol Hill Group Ministry’s Shelter Plus Care program can achieve when combined with the determination and hard-work of the youth in our program.

While these college students’ achievements were accomplished through their own talent and dedication, CHGM provided and continues to give stability along the way. Help was provided in the form of housing, as well as assistance through care packages that included much needed school supplies and food.

CHGM was successful in helping secure financial aid to help with senior dues during high school as well as college fees. This includes our SPC staff’s assistance with filling out FAFSA forms that allowed these students to focus on their academics and truly flourish. It is our hope as an agency to assist the next generation of students in their academic development and work towards ending poverty by ensuring the continued education of our youth.

CHGM’s 2012 Thanks-Giving Food Basket Program helps feed 1,480 community members.

Because of your generosity, support, and compassion, Capitol Hill Group Ministry’s (CHGM) 2012 Thanks-GIVING Food Basket Program was successful in serving a Thanksgiving Day Feast to more than 1,480 members of our Capitol Hill community.

In keeping with the unfortunately growing trend over the past several years, CHGM received record demand in requests from the community for thanksgiving food baskets. Starting as early as August, calls and emails from community members in need began flooding CHGM’s inboxes.

Many of the parents and grandparents reaching out to CHGM explained how unemployment and dwindling public benefits have left them with little opportunity to provide a special meal for their families. One grandmother commented that her household had 9 people living together and they simply did not know where else they could turn for help. Many calls came from concerned neighbors who were just looking for information that might help their friends who have fallen on hard times.

Throughout the October and November months our Shirley’s Place Day Center office was filled with neighbors in need submitting their requests, conducting need assessment interviews, and checking on the status of their name on the waiting lists.

Thankfully, CHGM’s congregational partners, our local community based groups, the Capitol Hill Businesses, and many individual sponsors heard the community’s call for help and were able to answer it. Longtime friends and partners such as Mothers on the Hill (MOTH), St. Monica & St. James, and Christ Church Washington Parish all made significant contributions to help CHGM keep up with this year’s demand.

Beyond the large groups that made contributions, individual sponsorships significantly increased over previous years. Well over 80% of this year’s food basket donations came from individual donors sponsoring either 1 or 2 families.

Shelah Wilcox, CHGM’s Special Events Manager, commented that “CHGM truly made an impact and difference for so many families this Thanksgiving despite the high demand.”  She added that “With the help of our partners, sponsors, and the numerous volunteers, it’s incredible to know that 1,480 of our neighbors were able to sit down to a wonderful Thanksgiving meal.”

The success of the 2012 Thanks-Giving Food Basket Program has given all of Capitol Hill something to be thankful for. For a holiday depicted by Norman Rockwell as being one celebrating our freedom from want, your contributions and participation has turned his idealistic holiday portrayal into a reality for so many. So congratulations sponsors, donors, friends, and neighbors for helping make this year’s food basket drive the best one to date.

CLICK HERE to read about CHGM’s Thanks-GIVING Basket Program in the December 2012 issue of Street Sense

CHGM Makes Season Brighter for Families in Need During Holidays

Capitol Hill Group Ministry (CHGM) distributed Christmas gifts for hundreds of local children and families from the Capitol Hill United Methodist Church sanctuary.

“Our Adopt-a-Family Christmas project provides an opportunity for hundreds of local donors to give of their time and money to make Christmas special for our neighbors in need,” said Barfonce Baldwin, Executive Director of CHGM. “Not only will children receive toys and books to brighten their holidays, but households will be provided with basic necessities including clothes, sheets, blankets, and kitchen goods, thanks to the contributions of generous supporters of CHGM.”

CHGM’s annual Adopt-A-Family project is a unique way to harness the spirit of giving in our community to meet the needs of many neighbors at this special time of year. On December 22nd, 3,480 gifts were provided to more than 696 individuals. Participating families are vetted by CHGM staff, then their requests are provided to contributors who purchase, wrap and return goods for distribution. Gifts often include basic necessities families would otherwise go without, including baby blankets, sheets, towels, clothing, and kitchen essentials.

This gift drive, as well as an annual Thanksgiving food drive and back-to-school backpack drive, are special projects for CHGM, which provides traditional social services to thousands of DC residents in need of housing each year through a holistic approach aimed at enabling consumers to become self sufficient. Residents are referred to CHGM through DC Social Services and through CHGM’s street outreach program which distributes information about services directly to homeless individuals on the streets of DC with the help of volunteers.

“It is truly a Christmas miracle for so many DC residents to help make the lives of their neighbors in need a little easier,” Baldwin concluded. “Thank you to the hundreds of supporters who make this annual gift drive a success. These generous gifts give families throughout our area hope and joy at this special time.”

CHGM’s 9th Annual Thanksgiving Interfaith Service- Update

Capitol Hill Group Ministry (CHGM) held our 9th Annual Thanksgiving Interfaith Service on Sunday, November 18th, at Capitol Hill United Methodist Church.

The 9th Annual Thanksgiving Interfaith Service celebrated CHGM’s 45th year of faithful partnership with the community. During our celebration of service, we recognized and spotlighted outstanding neighborhood volunteers and the causes they have championed through the gifts of their time, talent, voice, and expertise to help strengthen the Capitol Hill community.

This years’ service included the recognition of 18 outstanding volunteers, the Volunteer Taxpayer Clinic, and the 2nd Annual Ruth Rappaport Wisdom award honoree Durinda O’Brien.

Volunteer services ranged from the running of local food banks and meal programs to visiting sick and shut-in neighbors in our community. Nominated by their home congregations, each volunteer has made great strides in upholding CHGM’s motto to “Serve the Community, One Neighbor at a Time”.

CHGM proudly acknowledged the 40 years of faithful and dependable service that the Free Tax
Clinic has given to the Capitol Hill community. Founded by Rick Halberstein and Former CHGM Executive Director Rev. Ed Goode, the volunteer-led Tax Clinic brought an important service free of charge to neighbors who could not afford mainstream tax companies or simply needed
the extra care and attention of a friendly professional.

Finally, the Ruth Rappaport Wisdom award, which honors volunteers who have displayed remarkable warmth, wisdom, and commitment to the Capitol Hill Community, was awarded to Durinda O’Brien. When Durinda O’Brien joined CHGM’s Board of Directors in 2006, she immediately joined the Executive Committee and the team that led the search to hire our current Executive Director, Barfonce Baldwin.

As Board Treasurer, she was instrumental in putting “best practices” into place to get CHGM financially fit. She later took over as President, where her leadership and expertise led the organization to greater community recognition, including as a finalist for the 2011 “Hilly” award for outstanding non-profit.

Rindy finished her Board term at the end of 2011, but she still actively participates and consistently gives of her time. CHGM is just one of her many passions—she has been active in numerous non-profits and is a prolific writer and photographer. She has been an asset to CHGM, the Capitol Hill community, and a friend to all.

10th Annual “Hope for the Homeless Golf Tournament Results

Capitol Hill Group Ministry (CHGM) is proud to announce that this year’s golf tournament was a smashing success raising just over $27,500 and hosting more than 75 golfers making it one of our largest and most successful tournaments to date.

CHGM’s annual charity raises necessary funds to assist homeless and underserved families in our Capitol Hill community. By sponsoring and golfing in the tournament, individuals and businesses help provide services for homeless families not just on September 24th but all year long.

Congratulations to this year’s “Hope for the Homeless” golf tournament winners Matt Emmel, Mike Connelly, Ken Johnson, and Frank Andracchi of Team Exelon Industrial Services who posted an impressive score of -10 at Bay Hills Golf Club!

CHGM would also like to offer a special Thank you to this year’s Platinum Sponsor National Capital Bank and all of our 2012 sponsors and golfers. Please take a look at our CHGM Facebook page to check-out some of the tournament pictures.

Thanks for supporting CHGM and we look forward to seeing you next year!

CHGM’s Annual Back-to-School BackPack Distribution Helps 278 Children

Each August, hundreds of children throughout our Capitol Hill community begin the school year unprepared due to their family’s financial difficulties. To assist with this need, Capitol Hill Group Ministry (CHGM) hosted its Annual Back-To-School BackPack Distribution on August 18th, 2012.

This year, CHGM partnered with local schools, recreation centers, and churches to identify families in need. Thanks to the generous support of local organizations, churches, and individual donors, CHGM was able to supply 278 fully loaded backpacks to children in our community. That is a full 125 more backpacks than those provided in 2011!

Without the incredible support from both individuals and organizations such as St. Monica & St. James, Christ Church + Washington Parish, Emory Fellowship, Capitol Hill United Methodist Church, and Unity of Washington DC this year’s Backpack Event would not have been as large of a success. Thank You!

If you would like to see more pictures from the event please CLICK HERE to view the Facebook photo album.

CHGM’s May Family Night with Care Company & Friends

On May 21st, 2012, Care Company hosted Capitol Hill Group Ministry’s “Summer Fun Family Night” at Christ Our Shepard Church in Capitol Hill.

For years, CHGM has partnered with local congregations and organizations to help provide the families in our programs an opportunity to share a meal and an evening of fun and fellowship with their neighbors and friends.

While the events themselves are simplistic by design, their transformative properties and lasting impact on the families have made CHGM’s Family Nights an essential element in our work with homeless families in our community.

These unique and powerful community events allow CHGM to express our deep connection toward community and to all who live in it.

If you are interested in learning about how you can partner, volunteer, or make a tax-deductible donation, please contact Jacob Wilkins at 202-544-3150 or via email at


Volunteer Transformation with CHGM

One of my greatest joys in working with Capitol Hill Group Ministry has undoubtedly been watching the power of transformation our Street Outreach Program has on the way our volunteers think about our homeless neighbors on the street. The saying that people receive more than they give through volunteerism holds especially true for the special groups from across the United States that have spent an afternoon providing bottled water, sandwiches, blankets, and fellowship to the chronically homeless on the streets of Capitol Hill.

Each Sunday before our Street Outreach coordinator Dan Randazzo, or myself, leads our rag-tag groups of volunteers out to serve the community, we take a few moments to cover the basics of who CHGM is, our mission, what is street outreach, and what jobs they will be doing as Street Outreach Volunteers. We then open ourselves up to any questions the volunteers have and without doubt begin to dispel the innocent ignorance and prejudices the volunteers bring with them against the homeless. Most commonly questions focus on the safety of engaging with the homeless, and if they should be worried about catching any diseases, or robbed, or swindled, or worse! It is clear to me that while they feel called to help this marginalized population, they also truthfully believe that the homeless are individuals to be feared.

Where my greatest joy comes in though, is in watching those innocent ignorance and prejudices break down through the conversations and engagements between our volunteers and homeless neighbors. While the first interactions are awkward and hesitant, they lead to ones full of joy, friendship, and fellowship. In the matter of a few hours, our volunteers become truly transformed through the opportunity being provided for them to see that the homeless are people just like themselves who are in need of friendship, laughter, conversation, dignity, and respect. While we pride ourselves on our ability to distribute countless snacks, lunches, and bottles of water, I know that the fellowship provided to the homeless and the transformation in the volunteers are truly the most valuable aspect of our Street Outreach Volunteerism. I am proud to be a part of that transformation.

2011 Capitol Hill Group Ministry Thanks-GIVING Food Basket Results

Well it looks like Thanksgiving has come and gone and once again we did it! No I’m not referring to eating nearly our entire weight in turkey and stuffing or even that part about consuming our entire recommended daily caloric intake in sweet potato pie. Those are still hopefully our “little” secrets.

What I am referring to is that once again the Capitol Hill Group Ministry (CHGM) with our Thanks-GIVING Food Basket sponsors and donors have succeeded helping provide more than 1,432 members of our Capitol Hill community with a wonderful Thanksgiving Day meal with all the trimmings.

This year CHGM received record demand in request from the community for thanksgiving food baskets. This increase totaled to just over 600 individuals over last year with the bulk of the increase coming from our senior citizens. Throughout the October and November months our Shirley’s Place office was full to the brim with neighbors in need submitting their requests, conducting needs assessment interviews, and checking on the status of their name on the waiting lists.

Thankfully, CHGM’s Congregational Partners, local Community Based Groups, and individual sponsors heard the communities call and were able to answer it. Longtime friends and partners such as Mothers on the Hill (MOTH), St. Monica & St. James, and Christ Church all made significant contributions to help CHGM meet this year’s demand.

Beyond the large groups that made contributions individual sponsorships significantly increased over previous years. Many of these individuals indicated that they had found out about the Food Basket Drive from the November issue of the Hill Rag and would like to help in any way they could. Volunteerism with this year’s distribution event significantly increased.

Shelah Wilcox, CHGM Special Events Manager, commented that “One of the best parts of our Thank-GIVING Food Basket Program is contacting each of the families and hearing how relieved and excited that there family would be able to have a Thanksgiving meal.” She added that “With the help of our partners, sponsors, and everyone who gave of their time, energy and finances, 1,432 were made able for families on Thanksgiving.”

Indeed the success of the 2011 Thanks-Giving Food Basket Program has given all of Capitol Hill something to be thankful for. So congratulations sponsors, donors, friends and Hill Rag readers for helping make this year’s food basket drive the best one to date… and the rest of our Thanksgiving celebration shame can remain our “little” secret.