Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties remains firmly committed to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, tenants and community. This week, Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1000 and 1100 Wilson (The Rosslyn Tower).
Givr started with a sermon that founder Mark Ferguson just couldn’t get out of his head.
While attending church in 2019, Ferguson said his pastor gave everyone two minutes and told them to write down the names of eight neighbors. He couldn’t, and neither could many of his fellow parishioners.
The second part of the idea came when Ferguson switched jobs and started walking to work in Arlington.
“It coincided with me changing jobs and walking to work,” Ferguson said. “For the next few months, I was thinking about [the sermon]. I downloaded a neighborhood app, I was inviting neighbors to dinner. But as I was walking to work, I realized my viewpoint on who was my neighbor changed.”
Ferguson said he began to see the same people on the streets around Clarendon, and in talking to coworkers and friends said that many of them saw the same people as well, but didn’t know their names. After Ferguson was laid off from a venture capital firm in March, he said he felt an obligation to do something about the idea that had been rattling around in his head.
With Givr, subscribers can receive two care packages per month to distribute to neighbors dealing with homelessness. The packages are $22 per month, or less with other subscription plans, and contain food, clothing, hygiene items, and seasonal needs like winter clothing or sunscreen.
Givr was started not just as a way to help people experiencing homelessness — local nonprofits like Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) are experienced and uniquely situated for that — but as a way of connecting people to their neighbors.
“When you look at us you might say ‘this is a way to distribute aid’ as the actual product or something, but we don’t think about it like that,” Ferguson said. “We will measure bags and care packages distributed, but what we really care about and track on our end is names learned. It’s less about how much aid we can provide vs how much community we can build.”
It isn’t a new idea, Ferguson acknowledged. He said his girlfriend has been packing bags like this for months with items like socks and granola bars, to be thrown into her car and distributed. Churches and rotary clubs put similar packages together. What Ferguson said he hopes Givr can accomplish is taking the assembly stage out of it and using the startup model to spread the implementation.
“What we do is we assemble these care packages and ship them on a monthly basis to givers who sign up for our service,” Ferguson said. “You sign up and we’d send you a care package, which would include items that people experiencing homelessness really and truly need.”
As he and his co-founders started putting together the project, one of the big lessons Ferguson said he learned was that food is not always the most essential need.
“A lot of times you assume ‘give them as much food as possible’ but that’s not really the most impactful,” Ferguson said. “A lot of people on the streets know where to find food. But what they don’t have is means to keep themselves warm and keep themselves clean. Our bags prioritize those items, in addition to the food that comes in them.”
As the program gets off the ground, one of the things Ferguson hopes to build on is customized packages.
“Let’s say I send you a bag and you get it and walk to work and meet Susan,” Ferguson said. “Susan doesn’t need more granola bars and t-shirts, but maybe she has kids and needs diapers. You can write back and say “I met Susan, she needs diapers” and we’ll try to partner with other organizations to try to make bags that fit the needs of the person you know.”
The packages also contain guides for the subscriber — pointers on how to approach and talk to people experiencing homelessness in ways that aren’t condescending. Some of those lessons came from ride-alongs with a woman in Roanoke who Ferguson said is locally famous for distributing items to the local homeless population.
“It encourages people to think about this in a normal way and normalize the experience,” Ferguson said. “Instead of saying something like ‘you matter so much’ [think about] the fact that you’re highlighting it, which would imply that you’d normally think they don’t matter. That’s why we focus on the name. Say ‘I got this care package, what’s your name?'”
Right now, Ferguson said he’s trying to experiment and see whether more homeless people prefer care packages in something like a tote bag or in transparent containers where they can see what’s inside.
As it gets closer to launch, Ferguson said the issue he’s been grappling with the most is running a startup that is not a non-profit but still aims to make an impact on homelessness in communities.
“We were selected by Georgetown Law’s legal clinic as a client because as I was going through 501c3 status and thinking ‘this has to be a non-profit,” Ferguson said. “But Georgetown provided guidance that said ‘you guys need to be an LLC; you’re not going to pass as a non-profit for a couple of reasons.’ We’re currently structured as a social enterprise, but still actively pursuing the 501c3 route in hopes of gaining a 501c3 status.”
COVID-19 has also had an impact on the project’s development. Originally, Ferguson said the plan was to approach churches, then businesses, and talk to them about buying subscriptions and having their church members or employees distribute those packages to the community. But with coronavirus putting fewer people in church pews and in businesses, Ferguson said their distribution model was flipped, with the focus on going directly to consumers.
The project is currently signing up subscribers and getting ready to start sending care packages in August.
Image via Givr/Facebook
Good Tuesday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 16043 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…
While last week‘s landmark zoning decision legalized 2-6 unit homes throughout Arlington’s lowest-density neighborhoods, about 136 properties will be ineligible for such projects. The exemption applies to certain 5,000-6,000 square-foot…
The “Markers Market” is coming back to Pentagon City, planned for the first Sunday of every month starting this weekend. The market featuring local artists, creators, food, and music is…
Police are investigating the death of a man found in a vehicle on a quiet residential street near Marymount University. Police say the man’s death “does not appear to be…
Synetic Theater Camps are a wildly fun, highly accessible choice for young people who love moving, playing games, and making memories. Registration is open now for Summer Camps (sessions June 20-August 25) and there are even a few spots left for Spring Break camp, April 3-7.
Located in National Landing, these performance-based camps are designed for students of all ages – no theater or performance experience required.
Led by professional teaching artists, campers learn acting, movement, and technical theater skills through the lens of Physical Theater. Physical Theater incorporates acting, movement, dance, mime, and acrobatics. If you’ve seen a Cirque du Soleil performance, you’ll find many similarities.
Most first-time campers are new to the performing arts, and teaching artists are well-versed in engaging students at all levels. Parents and campers report that one of the best parts of Synetic is the community, with many families returning year after year because they feel a strong sense of belonging.
EDBS Dental Billing Solutions is pleased to announce that it has achieved compliance with the federally mandated standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) through the use of Compliancy Group’s proprietary HIPAA methodology, The Guard® compliance tracking software, and HIPAA Seal of Compliance®.
The HIPAA Seal of Compliance is issued to organizations that have implemented an effective HIPAA compliance program through the use of The Guard, Compliancy Group’s proprietary compliance tracking solution.
Clients and patients are becoming more aware of the requirements of HIPAA compliance and how the regulation protects their personal information. Forward-thinking providers like EDBS Dental Billing Solutions choose the HIPAA Seal of Compliance to differentiate their services.
“Since the nature of our business being exclusively remote, we take HIPAA compliance very seriously. With the help of Compliancy Group, we are able to take steps to fortify our systems to protect PHI information and familiarize each employee about HIPAA and how we can further safeguard PHI data.” said EDBS Dental Billing Solutions founder Goldie De Leon.
WHS Spring Festival
Join us at the WHS Spring Festival on April 22, 2023, from 10am- 3pm at Wakefield High School(main parking lot). Come out to shop, play, and eat!
Shop local vendors, arts & crafts, new and used items, food vendors/trucks, and
District 27 Toastmasters 2023 Virtual Conference
District 27 Toastmasters invites you to its annual conference where you can hear phenomenal speakers, attend professional development and personal growth seminars about leadership, negotiation, communication, teamwork, and mentorship. Learn how to develop your personal story and how to improve