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Starting Up a Vehicle for Care

Staffer’s New Nonprofit Began in His Car, Now Reaches Hundreds Struggling With Hunger, Homelessness

By Shannon Clark M.Jour. ’22

Collage of Isaac Moore with DMV Does Good Inc.

UMD staffer Isaac Moore's new nonprofit supports area residents suffering from food and housing insecurity. Starting with informal distributions of food and clothes from Moore's car, the group, DMV Does Good Inc., has grown to provide care packages to hundreds of homeless people.

Photos courtesy of DMV Does Good Inc.

One afternoon last September, Isaac Moore drove into the nation’s capital with a load of sandwiches, granola bars, clothing and a simple plan. The associate director of development for the University of Maryland’s Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life parked his Nissan near McPherson Square Park, a downtown D.C. spot often frequented by housing-insecure people, popped open his trunk and began passing out essentials to anyone who approached him.

That was the beginning of DMV Does Good Inc., which Moore has grown into a more organized effort that formally incorporated as a nonprofit in March to provide for those suffering from food and housing insecurity in the Washington area.

Moore, the president and co-founder, is motivated by the need of people hardest hit by what UMD President Darryll J. Pines has referred to as “twin pandemics” of COVID-19 and its broad health and economic effects, coupled with our country’s long-standing racial inequities; Moore, who was raised in a family of seven as the son of a pastor, was instilled with the desire to serve as well as the memory of having to scrape by.

“I grew up with a similar background—we didn’t have a lot of money growing up,” said Moore. “But even if this is just a teardrop in the ocean, it can create ripples that last for generations.”

The organization’s ethos is “work with heart first,” with local community action and caring for neighbors as the core of the straightforward approach it takes to ending chronic homelessness through local community action.

“Someone needs to be an advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves,” said Moore.

Over the past year, DMV Does Good Inc. has transitioned from Moore’s car to dedicated quarterly events as the vehicle to provide help. In July, it partnered with many organizations including the Black Greek Festival Foundation to distribute items to people struggling without a safe, stable place to call home. To date, DMV Does Good Inc. has served more than 600 people and counting.

“Our event was very much a Terp experience,” said Chelsea Brown ’21, the festival’s co-founder and director of strategic partnerships who worked in the Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life with Moore at UMD.

DMV Does Good Inc. Vice President Reginald Bostick has also seen the nonprofit’s impact on the community.

“We were passing out supplies one day, and a man came up to us and said, ‘It’s my birthday and no one’s ever given me this kind of stuff before,’ To be able to provide someone with the only birthday present they had was unreal,” said Bostick.

In addition to providing essential needs, Moore is working to battle misconceptions about people facing food and housing insecurity—like the ever-present question, “Why don’t you get a job?”

“‘If I don’t have an address, how can I get a job?’ There needs to be a level of stable housing and regional support for people,” said Moore.

Bostick emphasized the need for DMV Does Good Inc. and other nonprofits to survey their community for data to help provide the best care for those in crisis.

“We need to ask what they need to help them survive,” said Bostick. “We need to give them a dignified and respectful experience.”

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