Britepaths: Empowering Our Struggling Neighbors to Long-Term Success
Though Our Daily Bread's name changed to Britepaths on July 22, 2016, our mission remains the same: To provide our Fairfax County area neighbors in need with short-term safety-net services and empower them to work toward long-term self-sufficiency.
In 2019, Britepaths is celebrating 35 years of providing help and hope to struggling residents in the Fairfax County area and helping them Thrive. In that time we have been committed to tailoring our services to meet the ever-changing needs of the working poor or those in crisis. We are a dedicated leader in developing sustainable solutions meeting the challenges of low-income working families through emergency assistance, financial literacy and one-on-one mentoring.
With the commitment of skilled volunteers and the expertise of our professional staff, Britepaths coordinates customized financial literacy programs that have an 80% success rate in increasing clients’ financial stability.
We began in 1984 as a temporary homeless shelter that rotated among several congregations in the region -- many of which still support our work today. When Fairfax County opened a shelter in Reston, our efforts shifted its focus to feeding the homeless and opening a soup kitchen staffed by volunteers from the various participating organizations. In 1986, the name “Our Daily Bread” was chosen, and three years later, the organization was incorporated and qualified as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
While many organizations and programs emerged to assist the homeless, Britepaths recognized a need that was going unmet: Serving those families who, while not homeless, were in financial crisis and in danger of “falling through the cracks.” These families and individuals live from paycheck-to-paycheck, and unexpected expenses can send them spiraling from self-sufficiency to the brink of homelessness. As the cost of housing in Fairfax County rose sharply through the 1990s and 2000s, rent claimed a greater and greater share of these families’ resources, leaving little left over to meet other needs or provide a financial cushion for emergencies.
Britepaths has continued to refine and expand its program offerings to respond to this urgent need by providing Stability services, emergency and short-term food assistance and financial assistance grants, while also offering Resilience programs, the foundation of which are our financial mentoring and instruction services that help our clients develop a plan to move forward. Our Project BRIDGE Program brings together all of these services plus career/educational guidance to help committed clients as they do the hard work to truly move themselves to true financial self-sufficiency. In 2017, we entered a partnership with the United Way of the National Capital Area and Fairfax County to administer the Financial Empowerment Center at South County. Other Resilience services we offer are our short-term Network Up career mentoring program, a Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program, and the Naomi Project to mentor new and expecting mothers. Our Seasonal Supports, Back to School and Holiday assistance, provide additional help and hope during a time of crisis.
Today, the families we assist are likely to be members of the working poor – often juggling multiple jobs, the elderly and disabled, or those who were financially secure but have found themselves in crisis due to job loss, debt or health issues. More than half of those we serve are children.
We are able to provide these services because of donations and volunteer support of thousands of caring community members each year. We welcome everyone to get involved either through volunteering or contributing.