The Year of Giving has given me a renewed appreciation for so many organizations in the DC area that provide tremendous social good. Several people who have been daily recipients of the Year of Giving have sung the praises of organizations such as: American Coalition for Fathers and Children, Bread for the City, DC Cares, DC Central Kitchen, Food and Friends, Green Door, Martha’s Table, Miriam’s Kitchen, SOME, Street Sense, etc. Today’s recipient possibly owe’s his wife’s life to a physician at one of these organizations.
Started in 1974, Bread for the City is a front line agency serving Washington’s poor. The agency began as two organizations; Zacchaeus Free Clinic began in 1974 as a volunteer-run free medical clinic, and Bread for the City was created in 1976 by a coalition of downtown churches to feed and clothe the poor. The two entities merged in 1995. Today, we operate two Centers in the District of Columbia and provide direct services to low-income residents of Washington, DC. All of our services are free. Our mission is to provide comprehensive services, including food, clothing, medical care, legal and social services to low-income Washington, DC residents in an atmosphere of dignity and respect. – Source: www.breadforthecity.org
I have been aware of Bread for the City for many years, however, haven’t had the chance to get to know their services first hand. So I decided to attend their Parking Lot Picnic and got to meet several of the staff members there and even got a tour of the facility which is currently being expanded (Thanks Kristin!) Some of their staff worked hard all afternoon to provide hot dogs and hamburgers for everyone. I grabbed a burger and sat down at a table next to Mike. I had no idea how he and his story would impact me.
Mike has been volunteering at Bread for the City for the last three years, but his relationship with the organization goes back much further. You see Mike was a bicycle messenger and used to do a lot of deliveries for an insurance claims center. He would go to Bread for the City and pick up claims for their clients and then deliver them to the processing center. He was there all the time. “Of all the places that I had to go and make a pick-up, this is the only place that had all their forms ready and organized” he said.
Well during the time that he was picking up forms at Bread for the City, his wife was struggling with a mysterious illness. “No one could figure it out. She couldn’t hold anything down” he said. “No fluids, nothing!” She got down to 98 pounds and was deathly ill. “About once a week we would have to call an ambulance and she’d go in and they’d give her an IV and she’d be better for a while, but then when she would get home it’d start again.” They stuck her so many times that they had to resort to her neck in order to find good veins.
Finally one day he was at Bread for the City and met Dr. Randi, the organization’s medical director. Dr. Randi agreed to take a look at his wife’s situation and noticed she was on all kinds of medications. Dr. Randi ordered her to stop taking all the medicine for a while so that she could start to understand what was going wrong and then carefully prescribe medicine to correct the issues that she discovers. Well guess what happened? After Marnette, Mike’s wife, went off all the medicine, she started getting better. She was holding down food and putting on weight. It wasn’t long before she was perfectly fine. I met Marnette, who works in food service at Powell Elementary School, and she looked healthy and said she couldn’t feel better today. They are both extremely thankful for Dr. Randi’s dedication and compassion.
Fast forward to the present. He and his wife are happily married and healthy. Mike no longer is a bike messenger. “The bike messenger business has completely changed.” According to Mike after 9/11, the anthrax scares and the increased exchange of electronic files, the number of bike messengers in DC plummeted. Now he drives tour buses and limousines. “Instead of taking envelopes from Point A to Point B, I take people!”
Mike said that he was going to use the $10 to buy groceries for him and his wife.
If you would like to volunteer or support Bread for the City, go to their website and click on “Get Involved.”