by Tim Regan December 14, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

Photo courtesy of District Mugs

A new organization is helping District residents in need find a new hobby and make money at the same time.

That organization, District Mugs, started in August with help from nonprofit Streetsense. The idea, according to duo Shreya Bhargava and Lise Courtney d’Amico, is simple: Give people who are homeless or who have experienced homelessness the knowledge to build a sustainable small business.

“There really are no economic opportunities for the homeless,” d’Amico said. “We wanted to create a program where they could build something for themselves.”

Once a week, participants meet at the Streetsense headquarters downtown to paint coffee mugs.

“Our participants make as many mugs as they can during the class,” d’Amico said. “They actually sign the bottom of the mugs so we know who created each one.”

Then, at a later date, the artists, Bhargava and d’Amico set up a booth at a local business and dole out mugs for donations. A drinking vessel can be yours for a suggested price of $10 or more.

“When we get a donation, we keep away a small fraction of that toward our supplies, ” Bhargava explained. “The rest of it goes toward the artist whose mug was sold.”

Last weekend, District Mugs set up a booth at Mellow Mushroom in Adams Morgan and distributed nearly 30 mugs. To date, the group has sold about 280 mugs and raised nearly $2,000.

The process has been “incredibly rewarding” so far, d’Amico said.

District Mugs also sets up shop at West Elm (1728 14th St. NW) or at the Pottery Barn in Clarendon. Locals who want to see where the organization will pop up next can follow the group on Facebook.

Photo courtesy of District Mugs

by Tim Regan February 12, 2016 at 3:30 pm 0

HER_htsyod (1)An upcoming reception at Hemphill Fine Arts (1515 14th St. NW) is set to help raise money for a new nonprofit for women.

The reception will be held in conjunction with an exhibition from artist Colby Caldwell and will help benefit HER, a resiliency center aimed at helping women in need.

During the free event, patrons will be able to purchase a limited-run Caldwell print (pictured on the left) for $100. All proceeds from sales of the prints will be donated to HER.

When it launches later this month, the center will provide guidance, life skills and employment readiness training to young women between the ages of 18 and 25. (more…)

by Tim Regan October 29, 2015 at 12:00 pm 0

HIPS volunteers, photo courtesy of HIPSVolunteers from a D.C. nonprofit will visit homes throughout the District to collect candy this Halloween.

Workers with HIPS, an organization that advocates for sex workers and intravenous drug users, will travel to donors’ homes as requested to pick up the leftover treats as part of its yearly Halloween candy drive.

HIPS volunteer Emily Hammell said the nonprofit’s army of candy collectors are usually able to nab dozens of pounds of donated candy.

“The volunteer community of HIPS is really active,” Hammell said. “I’ll probably spend Saturday and Sunday with my old lady grocery cart and a backpack collecting candy.”

The organization, located at 906 H Street NE, hordes the candy to distribute to its clients throughout the year. Though Hammell said the organization will take almost any kind of candy, lollipops and Jolly Ranchers are usually clients’ favorites.

“The candy is used for when staff or volunteers are out in the van doing outreach,” Hammell said. “Also, people are sometimes hesitant to approach the van for the first time.

“If you can come away with a piece of candy, then perhaps your friends or your peers don’t have to know that you went and got condoms or had questions about HIV testing or needed help filing your employment or health paperwork,” Hammell added. “And most people love candy.”

To donate leftover candy, D.C. residents can e-mail HIPS or swing by the nonprofit’s headquarters on H Street. The organization will also welcome candy donations during its happy hour at Asia Nine (915 E Street NW) at 6 p.m. tonight.

Photo courtesy of HIPS

by Tim Regan August 31, 2015 at 2:00 pm 0

BloomBars, photo via Facebook / BloomBarsMore than two dozen D.C. residents have offered support and donations following a break-in that left Columbia Heights art nonprofit BloomBars with a broken window and missing hundreds of dollars earlier this month.

BloomBars founder John Chambers launched a GoFundMe campaign last Thursday to help recoup some of his organization’s losses. So far, residents have raised more than $1,220.

“There’s been an outpouring of support,” Chambers said. “The things that people have written have really pulled at your heart.”

Chambers added that 26 people have contributed to the fundraiser since it started. Sweet Honey in the Rock co-founder Dr. Ysaye M. Barnwell is among the people who have donated so far.

“Some have lost the art of discernment while some have used art to discern essential truths of what we have lost, what we have gained and who we truly are,” Barnwell wrote. “Thank you BloomBars. I regret what happened, but am glad that I can help art to conquer.”

“I want to frame that quote,” said Chambers.

Chambers hopes to use the raised money to replace the broken window and donation boxes and invest in a new security system.

“It’d be great to knock it out in the next week,” Chambers said. “Then we could get moving.”

Image via Facebook / BloomBars

by Tim Regan August 25, 2015 at 2:10 pm 1 Comment

The founder of a Columbia Heights arts nonprofit had plenty to curse about earlier this month.

BloomBars founder John Chambers says a thief broke into his organization’s art space at 3222 11th Street NW and stole two donation boxes and change from a swear jar on Aug. 9 around 2:25 a.m.

“He threw a rock through the window,” Chambers says. “That guy must be a pitcher or something because he really wound up.”

The organization’s surveillance cameras filmed the alleged crime.

In a video Chambers uploaded to Youtube yesterday, a man can be seen donning a ski mask and gloves, then hurling a chunk of pavement through a glass window. The man then appears to scoop up loose change from an overturned jar and nab two metal donation boxes.

“He probably made away with and three hundred dollars, and the window was about three hundred and fifty to four hundred dollars,” Chambers says. “We’re coming up onto Columbia Heights day, we need to get brochures printed and there’s a lot that needs to happen. That’s seven or eight hundred dollars we don’t have now.”

Chambers says he reported the theft to police, but hasn’t heard if any arrests were made.

A spokesperson for D.C. Police was not available to provide more information about the crime.

In the time since the burglary occurred, the chunk of cement thrown by the burglar and the window it broke have both been turned into art installations on display at the gallery.

BloomBars will launch a crowdfunding campaign to recoup some its losses later this week, Chambers says.

Video via BloomBars

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