Francis on the Hill is dedicated to supporting children and families in Washington, DC with a special focus on the Columbia Heights neighborhood. Its projects help alleviate economic insecurity by providing fresh, wholesome groceries, diapers, and gifts of new clothing and footwear for neighborhood residents. Volunteers also work to enhance the beauty of public spaces in and around Meridian Hill Park.

 

In March 2022 we began assembling pallets of donated food, medical supplies, and other goods for shipment to Ukrainian refugees in Ukraine and Poland.

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Francis on the Hill

 
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Gifts from the Heart

Groceries

DC families in Columbia Heights and nearby neighborhoods experience high levels of food insecurity. The Covid-19 pandemic, which disproportionately impacts African American and Latino communities, exacerbated the problem. Job losses have been especially devastating for many Latino families in DC, in DC, who may not qualify for government support programs. 

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When Covid-19 restrictions began in March 2020, Following Francis founder Dr. Carol Conner saw an opportunity to serve those whose lives had been especially personally touched by the pandemic. She asked volunteers to pursue donations of surplus perishable foods from suppliers, grocery stores, and other food purveyors in order to provide fresh, wholesome groceries quickly and reliably. 

Francis on the Hill provides grocery bags filled with fresh, nutritious food items to more than 500 families each week. We currently have four weekly grocery distributions: two at Meridian Hill Park and one each at Columbia Heights Educational Campus (CHEC) and The Terrell, the Short-Term Family Housing site in Ward 1. We also make weekly deliveries of produce, household cleaning supplies, adult incontinence products, and other supplies to La Vida Senior Center. We source groceries from local groceries, restaurants, and regional food distributors. All food items are donated. 

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We distributed almost 350,000 pounds of food in grocery bags in the first six months of 2022 – or an average of 13,094 pounds per week: over six tons.

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Amplifying the beauty of the “living room” of a racially, ethnically, and economically diverse area of DC, helping transform it into a place where life can be enjoyed more fully.  

Meridian Hill Park

One of Washington’s most significant public parks, Meridian Hill Park was constructed between 1912 and 1940 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994. In the early 1970s, as areas of Washington experienced economic decline, the park and its neighborhoods suffered.

 

In the early 1990s, a widely acclaimed partnership between the Friends of Meridian Hill Park organization (now Washington Parks and People) and the National Park Service helped restore the park.

The park remains a gathering place for poor and marginalized people inhabiting increasingly affluent surrounding neighborhoods. Many use it as their front yard or even their living room—families, the ill, the aged, the homeless. The park belongs to everyone.

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Our goal is to uplift the park to help make it vivid and colorful and happy: a place where people can come anytime and be refreshed by immaculate pathways and bright, fresh bouquets wherever they look.

 

Diapers & Clothes

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Diapers

Francis on the Hill is an Emergency Diaper Hub of the Greater DC Diaper Bank, with outdoor distributions on the third Friday of every month at Columbia Heights Educational Campus (CHEC), 16th and Irving Street NW. Working with school social workers, we also provide diapers to parenting teens at CHEC and to 15 elementary schools through a partnership with the DC Public Schools Office of Elementary Schools.

During the first nine months of the current fiscal year, between October 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022, we served 3,242 families, distributing 380,862 diapers. 

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Clothing 

Francis on the Hill asked manufacturers, private donors and non-profit organizations for donations of new, high-quality clothing for children and young adults from retailers. The clothing has been displayed at outdoor and indoor venues on portable racks for parents and children to choose from.

Prom Dresses

18 September 2020

Columbia Heights Educational Campus

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Children’s Dress Clothing

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Columbia Heights Educational Campus

 

Beautification

Francis on the Hill contributes to community efforts to enhance the natural and architectural beauty of this “living room” to make it cleaner and more attractive. Following Francis founder Dr. Carol Conner asked volunteers living in the area to help beautify the park, for the enjoyment of all.

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Trash Removal

​In the fall of 2018 volunteers began removing trash from park pathways and surrounding streets every morning, year-round. 

Flower Planting

During the summer of 2019 and with the Park Service’s permission and encouragement, volunteers planted colorful flowers in the large, decorative concrete planters that stood empty for many years. Francis on the Hill also arranged for a local landscaping firm to install and maintain large hanging baskets of flowers on lampposts lining park pathways.

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Enhancing The Upper Terrace 

Hanging flower baskets now adorn the entire upper terrace of the park, lining the walkways along the entire “Mall”, May through October.

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Ukraine Refugee Relief

Francis on the Hill is collecting essential items for shipment to Poland and Ukraine, in partnership with trusted organizations serving the millions of refugees who have fled Ukraine.  

In April, May, and June we provided over 28 pallets in donated food, medical supplies, and diapers through our shipping partners, United Help Ukraine (UHU) and Convoy of Hope. We are currently assembling donations of shelf stable food, infant supplies, and hygiene bags requested by UHU and our other shipping partners. Donors include Project I AM, Americana Grocery, DIAZ Food, and Truly Good Foods, as well as generous donations from our Amazon Wishlist

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Contributors: Francis on the Hill

Contributors

Numerous companies and organizations responded generously to our requests for donations of high quality food, clothing, infant supplies, and other necessities. We gratefully acknowledge each of them.  

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  • Amazon Fresh

  • Americana Grocery

  • Business Depot

  • Capital Area Food Bank

  • Cheesecake Factory

  • Coastal Sunbelt Produce

  • Comfort One Shoes

  • The Daily Dish

  • DC Public Library and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

  • Diaz Foods

  • Each Peach

  • EMD Sales, Inc.

  • Footlocker

  • Giant Food

  • Good360

  • Hillandale Farms

  • Hillandale Farms

  • Macy's

  • Maggiano's

  • Nike Community Store

  • Pacers Running

  • Panera Bread

  • Potomac Shoe Train

  • Project I Am

  • Ramer's Shoes

  • Soles4Souls

  • Soupergirl

  • So What Else

  • Springmill Bakery

  • Staples

  • Trader Joe’s

  • Truly Good Foods

  • Takoma Park Co-op

  • Volunteers of America

  • Whole Foods