Welcome New Samaritan Volunteers Joan Bennett and Tommy Wiggins

We’d like to introduce our two newest volunteers to Samaritan: Joan Bennett, a 5th generation Washingtonian and retired corporate attorney, joined Samaritan in late April as Toiletries Coordinator, taking charge of the important role of inventory management and keeping our personal hygiene donations organized.

And in early April, Tommy Wiggins, a semi-retired real estate agent who has also worked as a tutor, teacher,and retail executive, joined Samaritan to assist Employer Specialist Diane Quinn with helping participants pursue sustainable work and meaningful careers. Additionally, Tommy is serving as a Front Office Coordinator (FOC) in Samaritan’s Northwest DC office.

“I’m a neatnik,” Joan said, describing what attracted her to the job of Toiletry Coordinator. And after just a couple hours on the job, she had already made a big difference in the clear plastic bins of shampoo, razers,and other items lining the shelves of the basement toiletry room. 

Joan traces her DC roots back to her great, great grandfather, who after being released from slavery after the Civil War, came to Washington from Mathews County, Virginia to attend Howard Divinity School. He went on to help found a Baptist church and opened a funeral home on U St. 

Joan learned about Samaritan from St. Stephen and the Incarnation, a Samaritan partner church that her family has been attending since it became the first DC Episcopal church to integrate, in 1957. 

Sorting and organizing might not appeal to everyone. But for Joan, who recently retired from a job helping airport restaurants obtain liquor licenses (although she herself doesn’t drink), a posting about the position in her church newsletter is what finally brought her through Samaritan’s doors. 

“When I saw the notice, I said, ‘That’s for me,” Joan said. “I like that work.”

Tommy, a long-time resident of the 16th Street Heights neighborhood where Samaritan’s Northwest DC office is located, first became aware of Samaritan by noticing the building on walks to Rock Creek Park. Curious, he Googled the name on the sign, and after exploring the website, inquired about volunteering. 

Tommy said that so far, he’s enjoying his work at Samaritan because the people are friendly and he agrees with Quinn’s philosophy of providing guidance and support to participants seeking new jobs and careers.

“Everybody has a backstory,” Tommy said, noting that part of his and Diane’s role is to help participants get to know their own stories. For example, a participant might not recognize many of the marketable experiences and skills that they’ve accumulated over the course of their lives, and he can help identify these assets and ways to present them in resumes and interviews. 

Editor’s note: This article was updated on May 13, 2024 to correct the spelling of Tommy Wiggins’ surname. We regret the error in the original version, which was posted on May 11, 2024.