Miriam's Kitchen serves 4,000 of DC's homeless individuals annually -- providing a hot meal, social services and housing support primarily to chronically homeless men and women -- people living on the streets.
Why do we exist?
The mission of Miriamís Kitchen is to provide individualized services that address the causes and consequences of homelessness in an atmosphere of dignity and respect both directly and through facilitating connections in the Washington, DC community. Miriamís focus is on those who are chronically homeless. Our services are designed to meet the needs of individuals hardest to serve: those living on the streets.
Miriamís Kitchen provides a hot, nutritious breakfast in a warm and supportive environment to over 200 men and women who are homeless in Washington, DC. Because we are located away from shelters and other service providers, 75% of our guests are actually sleeping on the streets (as opposed to in shelters or in transitional arrangements), and for many we provide their only hot meal of the day, and their only contact with service providers. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments estimates there are almost 2,000 people in DC who are chronically homeless: nearly one out of every ten of these individuals turn to Miriamís Kitchen every weekday. Thus, Miriamís serves a unique segment of people who are homeless, the majority of who struggle with serious mental illness, addiction issues or both.
At the heart of Miriamís Kitchen is the breakfast we serve. Each weekday morning, groups of volunteers arrive at 6:00 a.m. to prepare a hot, nutritious breakfast for our guests. Miriam's has over 1,500 volunteers including individuals, monthly volunteer groups, and one-time volunteer groups. Volunteers cook and serve breakfast to over 200 homeless men and women on weekday mornings, sort food at the Capitol Area Food Bank, and help with special projects. In 2005, volunteers put in over 13,000 hours of time for Miriam's Kitchen Ė the equivalent of six full-time staff.
In addition to breakfast, we also provide a range of general social services including on-site case management to assist individuals in addressing the causes and consequences of their homelessness. Our social services include access to legal services, a podiatry clinic, Veteranís Administration Outreach, a post office box and voice mail, assistance with transportation and obtaining identification, a lending library, clothing and toiletries, and a space where case managers from other agencies may come to meet with clients. We also provide 15 weekly creative and therapeutic groups, and our own transitional housing program, Arnoldís Place, aimed at securing permanent housing and employment for residents.
At Miriamís Kitchen, our approach of coupling meal programs with the delivery of our case management services uniquely positions us to serve our clients most effectively.
What have you accomplished?
Every weekday, one out of every ten of the Districtís nearly 2,000 chronically homeless individuals turn to Miriamís Kitchen for a hot, nutritious meal, comprehensive case management services, therapeutic groups, and transitional and permanent housing support.
In 2005, we welcomed over 3,000 guests and expect the number of people we serve to grow by another 10 percent in 2006. Our Breakfast Program provided over 50,000 meals. The Case Management Program worked with over 1,300 individuals Ė a dramatic 30 percent increase over the previous year. Our After-Breakfast Program increased to an average of 23 guests per day, participating in one or more of our 15 creative and therapeutic groups. And our Case Managers moved 21 people into transitional and permanent housing, including Miriamís own ďArnoldís PlaceĒ transitional house.
The story of one of our first case management clients, who weíll call Jim, illustrates what a tremendous difference individualized support can make. Jim was one of our breakfast guests who was often overlooked or misunderstood because of his inability to properly understand or communicate with others. Jim suffers from speech and hearing defects that have been with him since birth. As a result of these challenges and the death of his mother, Jim became homeless, and came to Miriamís Kitchen to find breakfast. Jim became one of our first case management clients, and a Miriamís case managerís worked closely with him for 10 months. We helped Jim to apply for benefits, to visit a doctor for the first time in 5 years, to get enrolled in a drug recovery program at La Casa, and then to search through over 200 housing properties to identify a stable living environment once he had completed the 6-month treatment program. After an impressive search and series of waiting lists, we assisted Jim into moving into his own apartment. Seeing the joy on Jimís face is truly a credit to the change that is possible in peopleís lives when they have the support that they need.