Low-income families in trouble, Britepaths sees decrease in donations


"We're going to have to make some very tough decisions," said Executive Director Lisa Whetzel.

FAIRFAX, Va. (WDVM) — Fairfax County has more residents in poverty that any other single jurisdiction in Virginia. That’s according to Britepaths, formerly Our Daily Bread; an organization that helps stabilize low-income working families with financial literacy programs, holiday meals, and gifts for their children.

Britepaths says its seeing an alarmingly low number of donations this year, which is especially worrisome during the holiday season. This may affect the quality of its programs and how many people the organization is able to serve.

Individual donations make up about 40 percent of Britepaths’ total contributions to the community.

“We’re going to have to make some very tough decisions,” said Executive Director Lisa Whetzel. “I can’t imagine a program that we would close; I mean, putting food on the table, keeping a roof overhead of families that are struggling…I mean, that’s very concerning.”

The organization needs 500 total donors for its holiday program: half to sponsor an assigned Fairfax County family (referred to Britepaths anonymously by Fairfax County’s and Fairfax County Public Schools’ social workers) and another 250 for monetary donations of $25.

June Bloedorn is the school social worker at Providence Elementary School in Fairfax County. “When [the students] come back from Christmas Break and they’re excited and they had a great break and they opened presents and had all this great food in the home…they just come back better and able to learn, which is our ultimate purpose as a school.”

Bloedorn says the holiday program is also a big relief for parents. “They’re working very desperately hard to give them a place to live, give them food, give them clothing. Being able to say, ‘Here’s a little extra so you don’t have to work an extra 10 or 15 hours for; you don’t have to clean an extra two or three houses for,’ makes a big difference.”

Britepaths was awarded nonprofit of the year by the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

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