Stories of Hope
Myla Watley is 36 weeks pregnant and glowing. Though she has had a relatively easy pregnancy, she - like most first time mothers - is nervous about the unknown and has many questions about what is ahead. She met her husband while finishing her degree and moved back to the DC area to be closer to her parents for when they started their family. "We weren’t necessarily planning to get pregnant, but we weren’t not either. It didn’t take very long – 4 months. When I found out, I immediately Googled Black OBs because of the Black maternal mortality rate and other things you hear.”
Anisa was in and out of the foster care system growing up. In her home state of North Carolina, she was constantly moving from home to home. Now a mom of four young children, she had little confidence that she could provide anything different for her children, as she has always known a transient life. When she was introduced to Community of Hope, that changed.
As we continue to celebrate Black History Month and honor local black leaders who have made history, Community of Hope had the pleasure of speaking with Eric Holder, the first African American Attorney General of the United States. Mr. Holder was not only a leading federal official responsible for the protection of security, rights, and interests of the American people – he is also a DC local committed to making a difference in the lives of Washingtonians!
On January 4th, I celebrated 20 years as CEO of Community of Hope. A lot has happened in that time, both professionally and personally. I have been reflecting on my first few days at Community of Hope – when we had about 30 staff, a budget of about $1.5 million and a lot of financial instability. Our one health center was serving about 2,000 patients and our housing program served about 30 families at a time at two locations.
Diamond Wilson is an incredibly hard-working mother of five 5 young children. “I love being a mom! When I’m in sad situations, they [my children] help me. To see their little faces is a blessing.” Diamond had grown up with unstable housing. “During my childhood, we were in and out of transitional housing, shelters, the whole list. I didn’t know I could do better, and when I grew up, I had the mindset that I could always move. We didn’t have anywhere to go, and I didn’t see light at the end of the tunnel.”
I write today with the sad news that Rev. Tom Nees, a dear friend, mentor, and, most importantly, the visionary behind Community of Hope, passed away on January 24, 2021. In the twenty years that I have led the organization that he founded, I have enjoyed countless conversations with this gentle, wise, and bold leader. I have learned from him and with him. He has modeled graceful leadership at every point and I, countless staff, board members, volunteers, and the Washington, DC community have been shaped by his influence and decades of service.
Congratulations to Community of Hope's 2021 Mentor of the Year, Simon Mosbah!
Simon and his mentee, Terrence, were matched in April 2018 and have shared countless unique and exciting experiences ever since. Simon is a native of France, so he knows first-hand how delightful exploring a new city can be!
By: Kelly Sweeney McShane President and CEO of Community of Hope
In 2015, Community of Hope created the Tom Nees Award for Exceptional Service to recognize its recipient for their long-standing, deeply-impacting service to the women, men, and children who turn to Community of Hope for help. This year, we are presenting this award posthumously to J. Yost Conner, Jr.
Kenya Costley had always envisioned the perfect future—becoming a nurse and traveling the world. But, after the passing of her beloved father—everything immediately changed. She was faced with the challenges of unstable housing. While dealing with grief, unemployment, and the bills of her father’s estate, Kenya had no choice but to move in with her partner and later became pregnant. “It was very saddening because I didn’t see my life like that. I couldn’t raise a child at 18.”
By: Tom Nees, Founder of Community of Hope
Forty years ago, as the Community of Hope was evolving from a small group of believers committed to joining with the neighborhood development needs near the so-called, 14th Street NW Riot Corridor in Washington, DC. And we needed a name to capture the vision and the motivation of our mission.