Jackie Horstmann of Miriam's Kitchen
Jackie Horstmann interviewed by C-Suite Network's Gregg Greenberg. 

Every business has a mission. For nonprofit organizations like Miriam's Kitchen, that mission is often tied to enacting tangible, positive social change in their local community.

Miriam's Kitchen serves homeless veterans and other chronically homeless individuals in the Washington, D.C. area. According to Jackie Horstmann, director of corporate partnerships, Miriam's Kitchen offers fresh meals, case management, outreach to individuals who are currently on the streets, and housing. The organization also works with businesses and the government to ensure more housing for the homeless community, "so everyone has the dignity of a home."

"Our mission at Miriam's Kitchen is to end chronic and veteran homelessness in D.C.," Horstmann said in a CO— interview with C-Suite Network's Gregg Greenberg.

Educating and partnering with the public

Nonprofits still have to market themselves like their for-profit counterparts. However, their branding efforts require spreading the word about the organization itself, as well as the core cause it supports. Horstmann noted that Miriam's Kitchen's public outreach efforts include building brand awareness and seeking business partners that "truly care about what we do."

To ensure that Miriam's Kitchen has enough funding to continue operating, Horstmann helps secure business and government partnerships with like-minded organizations that want to support her team's mission.

"We work with community members, business partners, and the government ... in a coordinated way to try to get as many people into homes as possible," she said.

One such partner is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has worked with Miriam's Kitchen for many years.

"They get the word out, they invite us to events, and they really, truly believe in ending ... homelessness in the city," Horstmann added.

"Myth-busting" is another big challenge for the organization, said Horstmann. Miriam's Kitchen works to dispel misconceptions and provide accurate information to the public about who is experiencing homelessness and how ending the problem can benefit the entire city.

"It's actually more expensive to have someone on the street than to give them a home," Horstmann said. "Those numbers break down to $16,000 to have someone in a home, [and] $40,000 to keep them on the street."

Building a culture of dignity at all levels of impact is particularly important to the team.

Connecting the community

Miriam's Kitchen is invested in getting the entire D.C. community involved in their efforts, so the team brings people in as volunteers to work with the organization. These volunteers work in small groups, which provides a unique team-building opportunity that they like to call "transformational volunteering."

"You get to know our guests on a person-to-person level," Horstmann told CO—. "You really get to understand ... what they've been through in their lives, and how everyone is just a human at the end of the day."

By building these relationships, Miriam's Kitchen is also able to connect with the people who are donating money to end homelessness in D.C., and truly show the impact of what donor dollars can do.

'Just like any other business'

Like most businesses, Miriam's Kitchen is constantly working to raise enough capital to fund their operations. In this regard (and many others), Horstmann says the organization is "just like any other business."

Building a culture of dignity at all levels of impact is particularly important to the team.

"We make sure that we have radical hospitality at every step of our program," said Horstmann. "Whether you're a volunteer coming in, ... a team member, ... a corporate partner, or one of our guests at Miriam's Kitchen, you're treated the same and with dignity. One of the biggest challenges ... [is] making sure that we can get that culture infused in everything we do."

Check out the full interview with Jackie Horstmann conducted on behalf of CO— by C-Suite Network's Gregg Greenberg.

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Jackie Horstmann interviewed by C-Suite Network's Gregg Greenberg. 
Published February 25, 2019