Encouraging Support for the Homeless With a Microsite and Social Wall

“The Social Wall Provides a Single Place Where People Can See a Growing Community Unite to Support Their Neighbors in Need.”

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Person is sitting at a table and eating from a beige tray, holding plastic cutlery in their right hand. While looking at their food tray, they have a big smile on their face and are giving the camera a thumbs up with the left hand.

Miriam’s Kitchen is a nonprofit organisation with the mission to end chronic homelessness in Washington, D.C. They run various programmes, providing meals, caseworkers, housing services and street outreach, for example.

The goal is, as one of the Miriam’s Kitchen slogans goes, “to guide people home”. With the aim to get people into permanent homes, one of the first steps is giving them access to regular healthy meals.

View into an industrial kitchen. Three smiling people in the foreground are working behind a service station, plating food out of big metal bowls — potato wedges, a salad, a traybake cake, sliced bread. Two people in the background are talking and gesticulating. Everyone is wearing different aprons or a chef jacket, heads are covered with baseball caps or scarves.
The Miriam’s Kitchen staff distributes lunch. This photo was taken before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Photo Credit: Zaid Hamid

Providing homeless support in a global pandemic

During the COVID-19 crisis, many companies have seen their work complicated by physical distancing rules, workers having to isolate at home or getting sick with the virus.

Charities are hit even harder. Their work provides vital services for already vulnerable communities. If they cannot do their jobs, many people end up without support they desperately need.

Homeless people, for example, are already much more vulnerable in this pandemic. Not only are charities forced to slow down with a potential lack of workforce or even funding. Messages like “stay at home” and “wash your hands” are not that easy to follow when you have no roof over your head.

The team at Miriam’s Kitchen has stepped up and continues to provide their vital services to the homeless in the D.C. area. Part of the effort is a campaign to drum up support, both financial and material, to ensure Miriam’s Kitchen can continue to work.

COVID-19 emergency response hub

The campaign, focused on a microsite with a social wall, has netted Miriam’s Kitchen a fair amount of news media coverage. This, in turn, fuels donations from individuals and companies, allowing the charity to keep things running smoothly.

We talked to Mei Powers, Chief Development Officer at Miriam’s Kitchen, to find out more about how the microsite and social wall are helping the charity continue to do its work.

Mei Powers

Mei Powers

Chief Development Officer at Miriam’s Kitchen

You set up a social wall specifically as part of your emergency response page for COVID-19. Can you tell us about the idea behind the microsite?

​In the fast-paced news environment presented by COVID-19, it was important to have one place where visitors could read about our response efforts, updates, and media coverage, as well as give clear ways people could support.

Screenshot of the Miriam’s Kitchen COVID-19 emergency response page. It aggregates a variety of information: an NBC video report about Miriam’s Kitchen, updates about the developments at the charity, including service hours, a call for donations and the embedded social media wall at the bottom.

How is the embedded social wall helping you with your work?

During this time of physical distancing, people are searching for ways to build community, and that is why we embedded the social wall as part of the microsite. The wall provides:

  • A live, organic feed that brings together the many ways people and organizations are posting about Miriam’s Kitchen 
  • A single place where people can see a growing community unite to support their neighbors in need
  • An engaging way to spotlight media, recognize supporters and display our impact

Our partners have told us they enjoy seeing their support become a part of the broader community effort to support our vulnerable neighbors experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. It’s tied to our overarching mission of ending chronic and veteran homelessness in D.C. This sentiment has helped enhance matching grants, employee giving campaigns, in-kind drives and more with our partner organizations.

Screenshot of the Miriam’s Kitchen social media wall, showing a variety of posts by the Miriam’s Kitchen social media accounts. Among others, some posts provide information about pandemic-related developments, show off the food served to guests, introduce the kitchen team and even mourn for a team member lost to COVID-19. One of the posts stands out: it’s a colourful illustration of Miriam’s Kitchen’s head chef in a green apron and wearing a blue PPE mask. Next to her, in bold writing, words “Not all heroes wear capes” stand out.
The Miriam’s Kitchen social wall

Which sources have you chosen for your social wall and why?

We chose to link our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts with our social wall. We noticed certain posts perform better on one platform over another. The wall brings all those identities together in one place so followers can see the many sides of Miriam’s Kitchen. 

Who is the main target group for your campaign, and how are you promoting it? 

The main target group for our COVID-19 response page includes current and potential new supporters. We want to make the information easy to find for both audiences and want it to continuously feel fresh. The social media wall helps achieve that.


What kind of response have you seen from the public and the media since setting up the campaign microsite with the embedded social wall?

Since setting up the microsite with the embedded social wall in mid-March, Miriam’s Kitchen and our COVID-19 response efforts have been spotlighted in the media, including BBC, ABC, NBC, The Washington Post, and Chronicle of Philanthropy.

We have also been grateful for an outpouring of support from our community to help ramp up and sustain our efforts. We have brought in a record number of new donors (1,699) and new monthly donors (104). With the uncertain timeline around COVID-19, continued and sustained support is critical to our efforts.

What is it that you need most from people on social media right now? How can they help?

People on social media can help increase visibility and support of the sometimes forgotten frontline workers — those who are taking care of vulnerable neighbors experiencing homelessness.

You can do so by sharing our website or emergency response donate page on social media tagging Miriam’s Kitchen and using any of the following hashtags: #MoreThanAMeal, #FuelTheFrontLines, #MKcommunity.

A hub for any information you could possibly seek

The social wall on the Miriam’s Kitchen COVID-19 microsite serves as a hub to connect various kinds of posts and has the right balance of content.

Pictures of the food prepared for guests give outsiders some insight into the work the Miriam’s Kitchen team is doing:


Miriam’s Kitchen celebrates frontline heroes in dedicated posts while also spotlighting their own frontline workers:


They’re using social media and the social wall to thank donors:

…and, of course, to keep asking for continued support.


The social wall elegantly adds social content to the COVID-19 emergency response microsite, which already serves as a sort of aggregator for other types of content. Interested parties can find everything from outside media coverage to blog posts to updates about the current Miriam’s Kitchen opening hours.

If you want to donate to Miriam’s Kitchen to help them get through this challenging time, you can do so on their Emergency Flex Fund page.