A Wider Circle: JDSA-ing Their Way To End Poverty

While searching for folks who Just DO Something to make a difference, we came across A Wider Circle.  Its founder, Mark Bergel, was just named a 2014 CNN Hero.  Mark and his team are on a mission to end poverty…and just how, exactly, they’re doing that will astound you!  We’ll let them tell you who they are, what they do, and how they’re JDSA-ing their way to make a difference!  

Hundreds of thousands of mothers watching their children go to sleep each night in beds rather than on the floor. Children picking out their school clothes each morning from dressers rather than plastic garbage bags. Low-income, pregnant adolescents receiving the care-taking skills needed to raise healthy babies. Recently-homeless parents learning – and putting into practice – the basic life skills needed to obtain and maintain employment. Children and adults having the dignity and opportunity that everyone deserves.

This is why we are here, to create what is possible. The mission of A Wider Circle™ is to end poverty. We work in partnership with those we serve and with other agents of change to ensure that every child and adult has the opportunity to realize their potential and the support they need to rise out of poverty. A Wider Circle’s holistic approach focuses on the following three areas: 1. The provision of basic need items; 2. Comprehensive education and job preparedness support; and 3. Creating connections for long-term support. These three components work in concert to create lasting change in the lives of those we serve.
Who We Are
A Wider Circle says no to nobody! Anyone in need of help can find it here. In addition to all of the individuals and families that call us, more than 300 social service agencies regularly contact us for help in serving their clients.

In 2013 alone, A Wider Circle furnished the homes of more than 17,000 children and adults and delivered more than 400 educational programs. We also recycled more than 3,000,000 pounds of furniture and home goods – collecting these items from those who had more than they needed and distributing them free of charge to those who had nothing. More than 10,000 volunteers came to serve at A Wider Circle in 2013.

A Wider Circle has twice been named “one of the best” charities by the Catalogue for Philanthropy. The organization has also received the Washington Area Women’s Foundation Leadership Award. Its founder, Dr. Mark Bergel, has received the Dr. Augustus White III Award for Civic Engagement and Service, the Greater DC CaresEssence of Leadership Award, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region’s Linowes Leadership Award, and the Andrea Jolly President’s Award from the Montgomery County Corporate Volunteer Council. In 2010, Dr. Bergel was also chosen as one of People Magazine and Major League Baseball’s “All Stars Among Us.”

A Wider Circle has also been honored to have the Examiner describe the organization as “an all-inclusive reservoir of support for those in need… an example of the grassroots movement at its best.

World’s Richest 1% Control Half of Global Wealth

From NPR’s Scott Neuman

Just 1 percent of the world’s population controls nearly half of the planet’s wealth, according to a new study published by Oxfam ahead of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting.

The study says this tiny slice of humanity controls $110 trillion, or 65 times the total wealth of the poorest 3.5 billion people.

Other key findings in the report:

— The world’s 85 richest people own as much as the poorest 50 percent of humanity.

— 70 percent of the world’s people live in a country where income inequality has increased in the past three decades.

— In the U.S., where the gap between rich and poor has grown at a faster rate than any other developed country, the top 1 percent captured 95 percent of post-recession growth (since 2009), while 90 percent of Americans became poorer.

“Oxfam is concerned that, left unchecked, the effects are potentially immutable, and will lead to ‘opportunity capture’ — in which the lowest tax rates, the best education, and the best healthcare are claimed by the children of the rich,” the relief agency writes. “This creates dynamic and mutually reinforcing cycles of advantage that are transmitted across generations.”

In other words, Oxfam says that if trends continue, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.

“[People] are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown,” the report says.

The World Economic Forum is scheduled to hold its annual meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, beginning Jan. 22.

The Oxfam report largely mirrors findings of several other studies in recent years that have documented growing income inequality in the U.S. and across the globe.

In September, a University of California, Berkeley study found that the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans saw their incomes grow by 31.4 percent over the period 2009 to 2012, while the other 99 percent experienced just 0.4 percent growth. Last month, the Pew Research Center published a study that found income inequality in the U.S. was at its highest since 1928, the year before the start of the Great Depression.

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