Daddy & Little Me
While working at a local event to feed the community, Chris Thomas was re-introduced to a fellow volunteer who was the wife of the Panera franchises owner for the DC/MD/VA region. During their discussion, she expressed both her concerns over the waste of unsold bread and baked goods and the desire to partner with additional organizations to assist in reducing the excess. Chris felt this would be a great opportunity to redistribute these unsold baked goods to communities and organizations desperately in need.
Through our partnership with Panera Bread and their "Day-End Dough Nation" program, our volunteers visit the local Panera stores and pick up the unsold bread and baked goods that have been generously packaged by the Panera staff. The collected bread is then redistributed to local soup kitchens, food pantries, social service agencies, churches, senior assisted living developments, community resource facilities and other private organizations serving communities and families in need. With certain YOI locations, our Bread for Life program also encompasses the following two components:
- YOI Bread Bags: A clear bread bag, gently packaged with an array of freshly baked breads and baked goods.
- YOI Sandwiches: A hand made sandwich consisting of an assortment of fillers. These may include ham, turkey, cheese, peanut butter and jelly. Our sandwiches are prepared with allergen and dietary needs in mind.
As she volunteered with her older sister at Our Place Soup Kitchen in Waldorf, MD, Selah-Safina observed children her own age eating at the dinner service. While serving the crowd, she noticed her close friend and classmate sharing a meal with her family. Distressed by what she saw, Selah-Safina went home determined to make a care package that would cheer her friend up. After delivering her gift and watching the delight of her classmate, she decided that she wanted to spread similar feelings of joy and giving to other children that may also be facing food insecurities. With that, Selah's Bags was created.
Selah's Bags is a small gift bag that consists of kid friendly foods and activities which are meant to sustain a child over the weekend. These bags provide young children not only with simple healthy foods but also small activities to help them pass their days.
"To make kids happy so they can know God's love." - Selah-Safina
* Grade school chapter books
* Coloring book
* Pasta dish (individual & microwavable)
* Oatmeal (individual & microwavable)
* Soup (individual & microwavable)
* Animal crackers
* Fruit snacks
* Raisins or Craisins
* Juice Box
Contents may vary
While at the playground with his sons, Chris Thomas noticed that the networks for moms simply differed for dads. He realized that the natural bond that exists between moms and their children was something that others promoted and encouraged through a variety of resources and programs. Seeing the deficit, he set out to create a similar platform for dads that would promote the bond between fathers and children and provide various activities for them to engage in. Daddy and Little Me (DLM) is the original program under YOI and since its inception has sprouted the growth and continued presence of YOI in the community.
Through outdoor activities that are specifically designed to foster the essential bonds between father and child, DLM strives to enhance relationships that are highly important to the enrichment of our future leaders.
Baye -Jakada had multiple friends who consistently came to school without lunch. Through gentle prodding, he realized that like so many children, their families did not qualify for free and reduced lunches but were also unable to financially provide sustainable lunches on a daily basis. He found himself spending consecutive weeks not only sharing his lunches but bringing extra food to help sustain their needs. As this continued he realized that when school would end, his friends would face the summer months at risk of having very limited access to food. It is through his desire to help not only his friends but other children in similar situations have access to daily meals that Jet Packs was born.
Jet Packs is a full service lunch for kids that is provided to them daily during the summer months. This lunch pack seeks to reduce the food insecurities that are a daily struggle for many young children whose families are underserved and impoverished.
* YOI Sandwich
* baby carrots or pretzels
* granola bar or cereal bar
* fruit snacks or a small cookie
* a juice box
* a fresh fruit
Contents may vary
While discussing the expansion of YOI, we were continually reminded of the verse in Matthew 4:4 which states "..man shall not live by bread alone." The hope was to provide families with the necessary groceries to be able to sustain their households for approximately one week. We reached out to local farms, independent grocers and our partnering food pantries to come together and assist the surrounding communities. Additionally, with such a vast network of underserved, we linked with various government agencies, social service organizations, community resource centers and neighborhood schools to help identify the communities that were the most vulnerable.
Through these new partnerships we have managed to both satisfy the needs of families on an emergent basis as well as work towards providing sustenance on a weekly basis. In addition to our Bread for Life programs, we have been able to supplement our donations with fresh produce, dairy products and a variety of additional grocery items to our communities that are financially restricted yet still in need.
Mobile Food Pantry
Started over 10 years ago, Chris Thomas found himself repeatedly hearing similar stories of frustrations and sufferings experienced by the immigrant communities he was assisting. He decided that something, even if started small, must be done. Joining with a friend who is a pastor and president of a non-profit organization, Art for Humanity, they decided to partner and establish women's education in the rainforests of Honduras. Today, he has expanded his passion into becoming the co-founder and majority owner of a school in Ghana.
Nestled in a beautiful beach community in Ghana is a private school with 150 elementary students called "Living Grace Academy". Its now managed and operated by YOI organization. Its a poverty stricken area where most children can't afford to go to school. The school was projected to close down because of financial concerns has now become a school where students can specialize in math and science studies. A school where elementary students attended will be able to graduate from high school and have direct access to universities around the globe. Chris is raising money to build a new school with eco-friendly materials using only bio-degradable or organic materials.
Family & Individual
Launched in 2016, our Emergency Services program is the newest of our programs and has been a calling from above. Its origins began with a phone call and a plea for resources to assist a family of five that had been displaced unexpectedly due to domestic violence. Amongst the list of needs and lack of funds that the family faced, food was of major concern. Thankfully, with the assistance of many through our Bread for Life programs, we were blessed to supply the family with enough food to sustain them through their immediate relocation. Since that first day, the hard work and dedication by many was quickly noticed and multiple families from that point have been assisted.
Since its inception, what began as a simple phone call from one friend to another has grown through word of mouth as a key asset in the fast and efficient assistance to families in need. Through this program, our goal has and continues to be that within 24-48 hrs of notification families are able to receive basic supplies to aid them during their time of crisis. To date, we have been able to successfully supply a multitude of families with food, clothing and furniture within a 24-48 hr time period and hope to continue its growth and capabilities in serving our communities in need.