A Wider Circle: “Not charity work, but justice work”

Three circular clothing racks with suits.

A Wider Circle’s new professional development center, to outfit clients with business attire. Photo courtesy of Rachael Buck // A Wider Circle

Editor’s Note: Donté Turner worked with Rachael Buck from A Wider Circle to produce this feature story about the work of this nonprofit.

A Wider Circle is an organization that provides clothing (and much more) for people experiencing poverty. Now usually when people see the words “organization” and “clothing” together they picture the setting of a thrift store. It’s not the case at AWC.

AWC’s organization has the layout of a place like Macy’s or JCPenney. They have high-quality clothing for both men and women — all free of charge. They have suits, dress shirts, shoes, ties, dresses, jewelry for women that want to feel extra beautiful, even a dressing room so you can check out how the attire looks on you. Not only are they well kept, clean, and organized, they greet you with a smile and open arms for whatever it is that they can help you with and are always eager to help, making you automatically feel like you have a trusted friend you’ve known for years.

AWC doesn’t have just a wide variety of clothing for people experiencing poverty, but they are also achieving goals to end poverty. They provide home furnishings (including baby beds/cribs/strollers) in good condition, non-perishable food (including baby food), mental health therapy and career support. All programs are free and anyone can sign up. For furniture appointments, individuals will need to bring their own transportation (U-Haul, pickup truck, etc.). 

AWC also has long-term programming like its Partnerships to Independence (P2I) program. P2I was launched in September, 2018 as an intensive five-year pilot program for 18 families, with the goal of attaining economic stability. This initiative supports participants via direct service in employment, health and wellness, and financial management alongside network and support system building. Participants are matched with an advocate, a volunteer job coach and a volunteer financial coach. Each participant develops a customized plan with goals and outcomes.

According to Rachael Buck, the Director of Advocacy, “AWC is not charity work, it’s justice work. It’s about making sure that everyone has an opportunity to thrive.” Rachael Buck almost lost a loved one due to homelessness and that sparked her life-long commitment to this work. 

A Wider Circle was founded by Dr. Mark Bergel in his apartment in 2001. He was a professor at American University at the time. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Northwestern University, and then received his Master’s and Doctoral degrees from American University.

Dr. Mark Bergel has left A Wider Circle to start another nonprofit called The Shared Humanity Project and AWC’s new President and CEO is Amy Javaid.

From my view, AWC is an organization that makes you feel like you have a better tomorrow and a God that still cares! If you could benefit from any of the programs they provide, give them a call at 301-608-3504.

Author’s note: I wrote this article because someone told me about the place because I needed clothes for an interview. When I got there, it was nothing but positive energy there and the people that helped were more than eager to help and even went out their way to find matching attires for what I described that I wanted. So I decided to find out more about the place and do an article on them since a lot of people aren’t familiar with them.

Issues |Nonprofits

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