PEOPLE All-Stars Among Us: Mark Bergel
Earlier this month Major League Baseball, PEOPLE and the Washington Nationals announced the three local finalists for the 2010 “PEOPLE All-Stars Among Us” national campaign, which debuted in 2009 and recognizes individuals who are serving their community in extraordinary ways.
The Nationals finalists are Mark Bergel of Bethesda, Md., Kat Lanigan of Herndon, Va., and Joe Mornini of Rockville, Md. Notes From NatsTown will feature thoughts from each local All-Star on why they should represent the Nationals at the 2010 All-Star game in Anaheim.
The choice is yours. Vote HERE through Sunday, June 20.
My name is Mark Bergel and I am the founder and Executive Director of A Wider Circle. A good way to share with you what we do–and why your vote can help so many in need–is to have you to take a journey with me.
Imagine driving home tonight. You pull into the parking lot or driveway in front of your home. It is littered with glass and garbage. You hear screaming and yelling from the homes all around you. The security door doesn’t work; in fact, the doorknob isn’t even there. You just reach in the hole and pull open the door. You walk into your living room and see nothing but an old TV in the corner, on the floor. You have one chair–it is also old and it is dirty. That is all the furniture you have–your dining room is a dining room in name only, you have no table, no chairs, and nothing else in the space. Your kitchen has bare cupboards and there is half a piece of meat and some ketchup in the fridge.
As you walk into the bedroom, your children are lying on the floor, trying to sleep. You have no beds for them. This is your home. Nothing on which to relax, nowhere for your family to gather. This is poverty.
The moment I started A Wider Circle was in one of these apartments. I was a volunteer bringing emergency food to people around the region. In this apartment lived a grandmother, mother, and two children. The grandmother had oxygen in her nose, used a walker and reminded me of my 80-year-old grandmother. She was 35. Her daughter was 20, and in extremely poor health. The two children were four and five, and they showed all the signs of a life in poverty, from their teeth to their skin to the clothes they wore.
I sat there with them, knowing I was witness to the cycles of poverty, and knowing that the energy and the resources existed in our region, in each of us, to break these cycles. I knew we could help these families get and stay out of poverty. So far, we have served 50,000 of these individuals. With your help, we can serve all those in our region – and we can show what is possible when those of us who can help make it a priority to do so.
At A Wider Circle our mission is to help children and families lift themselves out of poverty. We not only turn empty apartments into comfortable, stable homes, we provide life skills education and professional development so children and adults have a greater sense of the potential and the abilities they have inside. We work in schools and shelters–we go wherever the needs are the greatest. Please vote for me to help bring more solutions to the children in our nation’s capital, and to the mothers who are raising them with the hope of their achieving far more than what seems possible today. Believe in this dream, and help make it a reality for our neighbors in need.