It is officially two weeks into our internships, and everything seems to becoming more comfortable. During the time passed, we all began at our places of service. I had not heard from my supervisor about showing up on June 1st, and so I was nervous going into the agency. Withen 5 minutes of meeting Tracy, that had all changed. Just talking with her and meeting the others made me realize how welcoming and fun the people I am going to be working with are, which got me excited about working there. Tracy took me on a tour of Bread For the City, showing me where my desk was, the two staircases are, the intake rooms, the medical clinic, the conference and lunchroom, and my mailbox. She set me up with my mentor for the next few days, Kaitlyn.

What I have learned so far is this: As an “advocacy intern” I am automatically assigned to two programs, RepPayee and Intakes. However, I have come to find that I do so much more than these two things and that this agency is genuinely interested in training me and informing me about all of their programs, not just the ones I am assigned to.

RepPayee is a new program for Bread For the City, and they are the only ones in DC that provide this service “to the capacity that (they) do.” From what I understand, when people are deemed incapable of correctly budgeting their own money, Social Security gives the disabled their money through a third party. Usually this party is a relative; however, some people do not have relatives that will do this for them. This is where Bread For the City comes in. Through the RepPayee program, the organization sets up budgets for its clients that disburse their Social Security money in different ways. All the clients in this program are referred to it at BFC through mental health organizations under the Department of Mental Health (DMH). Persons that are mentally disabled have a high comorbitity rate with drug use, and so this budget also aims to help drug users avoid loosing all their money to their addiction.

Very different from RepPayee is the Intakes. Intakes are necessary for all clients who come into BFC requesting services. We meet one on one with them, and go through two computer programs that prompt us to gather certain information. Once this information is inputted, the computer spits out what that client is eligible for, and what other programs should be brought up outside of the programs available at Bread for the City. From what I can tell, this is quite a thorough process.  So far majority of the intakes have been to try to get into the food program at BFC. There has also been some people who are seeking medical aid, and others who need to see a JA (Jane Addams: they call social workers this after a woman who is believed to be “the mother of modern social work”). In the latter case, we make appointments for them during intake.

Through a series of 5 computer programs, scanning systems, email, AIM, and the social set-up of our offices (we are essentially in a big “fishbowl” together), BFC lends itself to communication. It is interesting to sit in on office meetings and see how they are working to make this communication more efficient. Right now they are leaning towards a “specialization” method, where instead of having everyone working with all clients, they are separating by alphabet. I wonder to myself about the stereotype of non-profits being unorganized; BFC seems like they are doing very well in this arena, and I wonder, how differently do other non-profits function? Perhaps it is the outsider’s perspective onlooking multiple non-profits that makes it hard to see a pattern.

I look forward to exploring all the programs BFC has to offer, and comparing their methods within the organization.   As for the rest of the “For Real World DC,” we all seem to have hit a quick rhythm, balancing exploration of the City’s museums and free events with our budgets and schedule. Lets see if we can keep that up.

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