*Our history was written with the help of Nancy Lewis, long-time volunteer, who has been working with us since the beginning.
Charlie Gilchrist (former Montgomery county executive and associate pastor at St. Margaret’s in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s) had a dream. In January of 1990 he and volunteers from the parish started and outreach program, called Desayuno y Dialogo (breakfast and dialouge) to reach out to the Latino population in the Washington, DC neighborhoods of Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights. Serving a hot, homemade meal of rice and beans every Tuesday and Friday, word quickly spread. It wasn’t long before the program reached beyond the Latino population to all in need.
A year and a half later Charlie was assigned to a new church in Chicago. Although saddened, the program continued under the leadership of volunteers and expanded to include special holiday celebrations (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter). In 1999 the program began to raise enough money through the Fannie Mae Help the Homeless Walkathon to hire full-time program director, Mary Sebold. Under Mary’s tenure the program expanded to include social services, classes in ESL, Spanish, music, drama and invited speakers on relevant topics, such as healthcare and legal issues.
Later that year Charlie Gilchrist passed away and the program was re-named “Charlie’s Place” in his honor.
In 2003 Nel Van Busekom began to volunteer her services as a nurse. Nurse Nel attended to clients at the program every Tuesday and Friday, helping provide health care they would not receive otherwise. Nel passed away in January, 2012.
In 2004 the new program manager, Jon Buldoc, expanded the program from two days a week to four days a week Tuesday – Friday.
In 2006 Tom Goss took over the role of program management and eventually transitioned to focus more closely on development. Shortly thereafter Matt Lang joined the team as program manager with an increased focus on client services. Under the vision of Matt and Tom, Charlie’s Place has increased its services to provide job placement, housing placement, outreach to street dwelling homeless, HIV/AIDS testing and counseling and bag lunches.
We were so fortunate later in 2012 to have Courtney Pladsen, FNP join our team to provide on-site, direct healthcare. Courtney and Matt work closely together to monitor our clients’ health, referring them to medical and mental health providers, rehab and other services as necessary.
In 2014, Tom left Charlie’s Place to concentrate on his growing acting and singing career, (he still serves on the Advisory Board — Thanks Tom!) and Barbara Wille was hired to serve as Director of Development. In 2016 we said a sad goodbye to Courtney but welcomed our new MD, Dr. Dixon, who provides healthcare on Wednesdays. Then in 2017 Barbara retired and in 2018 Molly Vetter joined the team as Program Director.