Why I give:
“Because Bread & Roses centers and trusts the people that are most impacted by systems.”
Polly Pillen moved to Philadelphia in October 2016 and joined a Giving Project at Bread & Roses just two months later. “It was a really special way to enter into my time in Philadelphia and hear about organizations on the ground that I would never have known about,” Pillen says. “Also, I was very recently learning about my owning class background and what I could move and starting that process. It felt like a serendipitous moment to think about what my role was in movement building.”
Pillen is a therapist at Women Organized Against Rape, a local rape and sexual assault crisis center. “My work is doing individual healing,” she says. “In my personal life, my community is doing work around movement building and thinking critically about our class and race privilege and trying to use those in ways that are important.”
For Pillen, participating in the Giving Project was one of the first steps, and she says it was transformative to hear the experiences and perspectives of people of color from different class backgrounds. “Being part of a democratic process where we got to learn about all of the work that was on the ground and mull over the decisions about how to give was really important and powerful and made me think more critically about giving,” she says. “The community aspect and being around other people doing that work really pushed me through some walls I had built up around giving. The Giving Project supports cross-race, cross-class community building, and I want to support that.”
Why I give:
“I fully believe in the concept of tithing your time, your talent, and your treasure.”
“Working in social service, I felt like people were given things, but not what they needed to be sustainable to take hold of their own power,” says Patrice Green, a Bread & Roses donor. “As I was finishing graduate school, I began interning at Bread & Roses. The slogan of ‘change, not charity’ was so significant.”
The structure and vision of Bread & Roses seemed unique to Green: “Being able to support movements at a grassroots level — from organizations in their infancy to organizations that have been around longer than Bread & Roses — and being able to do that as the tides change … Bread & Roses is so responsive to the needs of communities.”
Green now works for the federal government, helping drive money and resources to local community initiatives. She served as a planning committee member for this year’s Tribute to Change. “The Tribute is the most celebratory space I’ve ever seen,” Green says. “In the struggle of movements, it’s hard to break away and celebrate one another, but the Tribute provides that space.”
“Supporting Bread & Roses is a way to stay connected to what’s happening on the ground in various movements regardless of if they affect me personally,” Green explains. “Giving means sowing back into movements that have created the opportunity for me to have access, to get the education that I’ve got, and to have the opportunity to navigate systems that traditionally folks who look like me don’t get.”
Why I give:
“Bread & Roses gives me a glimpse of the future we stand for.”
“I like that Bread & Roses breaks down the silos between organizations,” says Elisabeth Bass, a member of the 2017 Tribute to Change planning committee and longtime Bread & Roses supporter. “I think we need mass resistance, and I don’t see one group that functions as a mass organization for the left-progressive movement,” she says. “If we are going to make a leap in our society, we need organizations to come together.”
Bass is a professor at Camden County College, where she teaches English. She has taught in Camden for over 25 years. Bass sees education as social justice work because she supports her students while they face challenges outside the classroom linked to systemic racism, poverty, and the criminal justice system.
She chose to serve on the Tribute to Change planning committee again this year because it’s a way for her to feel connected and live her values: “At our events, when I share in the solidarity and excitement of the work that everyone in the room is involved in, that’s when I realize what we are fighting for — a world that is not the product of corporate capitalism, divisiveness, misogyny, racism, ecocide, dominance, and exploitation, but a world of unity.”
Bass believes giving to movements for racial and economic justice is an important way for her to participate. “I want to support the good work that people are doing to dismantle white supremacy and the current dangerous oligarchy that is crushing people and the planet beneath the heel of corporate capitalism,” she says.
Why I give:
“There’s a lot right and wrong in this country, and I might not touch all the areas, but my financial contribution may touch areas that I can’t.”
Photo: Erika Guadalupe Nuñez
“I think Bread & Roses is unique because it has a real community feel. It’s very inclusive, very culturally aware,” says LaTrista Webb, a member of the spring 2017 Giving Project.
Webb is the executive director of the Elevation Project, a Phoebus Criminal Justice Initiative grantee that supports people who are currently or formerly incarcerated. She sees this work as a piece of a larger movement for social justice. “I recognize that I’m not working on the only issue in our country,” she says, “but if I give to Bread & Roses, they in turn give the money to someone who works in an area that I don’t work in.”
The cross-race, cross-class nature of the Giving Project, Webb says, offered her an opportunity to see things from a different perspective. During the Giving Project race and class training, Webb was moved to hear people speak so candidly about their class backgrounds: “It opened my eyes that everyone wealthy is not bad.”
For Webb, the biggest lesson the Giving Project provided was recognizing a broader sense of community. “I don’t have to stay in my little circle to get the work done,” she says. “There are all sorts of people who want to see social justice happen.”