Stories of Hope
Nervousness overwhelmed Patricia as she sat in the Community of Hope waiting room for her dental appointment. She had neglected her own smile to pay for her children’s braces out of pocket and a traumatic experience at another dentist years ago brought back fears. But that day, her fear of the dentist was not the only thing weighing on her mind and body while she was waiting. Just days earlier, on her 60th birthday, Patricia was out celebrating with a few friends and was struck in the leg by a bullet during a drive-by shooting.
Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children. Samika, mother of 5, had experienced multiple domestic violence incidents in her life – but realizing that the cycle may extend to her children was the last straw.
Sherri had her first daughter while she was still in high school, and had 4 children by age 23. Despite being young, Sherri was determined to take care of her kids. ‘Having my oldest daughter…it puts you on the right track.’ She worked various jobs throughout their childhood and discovered she really enjoyed supporting people with intellectual disabilities. She moved up in her career and eventually worked as a Residential Director for families supporting loved ones with intellectual disabilities.
On June 25, 2015, Sherri received a phone call and experienced that unimaginable fear that all parents dread—her 21-year-old son had been shot and killed.
Imagine growing up and dreaming about becoming a teacher. As an adult, you are excited to be working with children, watching them learn and grow – and especially excited to be teaching girls. Now imagine that passion coming to an abrupt end with militants knocking at your door and threatening your family – causing so much fear that you decide you must flee the country to survive. That is the story of Elliot; a Nigerian refugee who fled her country and is building a new life in Washington D.C.
The 2021 Tom Nees Award for Exceptional Service goes to Robert D. Huey, whose volunteer service over 40 years has shaped the organization with compassion and service.
Rob, a widely respected public accountant, first engaged with Community of Hope in 1982 as an auditor with Coopers and Lybrand (now Price Waterhouse Coopers) and was so impressed with their work he began serving as its comptroller on a volunteer basis. He remained involved as a supporter and friend for four decades, starting with his connection to our founder, Tom Nees.
“It was a bad week.” SherReece Johnson thinks back to just two months ago when she discovered that her dryer had caught fire, causing minor damage in the home and burning all of her daughter’s clothes. On top of that, two days after the fire, her bank account was hacked, draining all of her savings. “I wasn’t sure what to do. I literally had nothing.” SherReece is no stranger to overcoming challenging times. She had faced eviction after a difficult period juggling being a young working mom and finding childcare. She spent weeks couch-surfing with her toddler before moving into a temporary shelter.
For Imani Bowden, finding out she was pregnant was a shock. This first pregnancy came so quickly after she and her partner started trying. Excited and filled with questions, she eagerly went to the doctor. The experience didn’t feel right for Imani, she felt rushed and that the doctor didn’t care individually about the patients, questions, and experiences. Imani’s partner had a mentor who had gone to Community of Hope and had given birth at the birth center. “I had no clue what it was or what it was about... my first appointment at Community of Hope, they answered all of my questions.” At 20 weeks, Imani became a Community of Hope patient and was on her way to having a healthy, happy baby.
When Jessie Lopez transferred to Community of Hope’s Family Health and Birth Center, she was hopeful that the health center would meet all her birthing needs. “It took me to my third trimester to know what type of birth I wanted. The more I talked to my current doctors, the more I knew they weren’t able to fulfill my needs.” Jessie was firm on having a natural birthing experience this time around because her first child was a cesarean delivery.
You never know what you are willing to sacrifice for your family until you have no options left.
For DC mom, Dana Horne, making the decision to jump from a moving vehicle just to escape her abuser was the choice she made to save her life and build a better one for her children. “I was tired. I didn’t want my kids to see that abuse anymore. I promised myself the very next time the opportunity presents itself, I’m jumping....and I did it! I called the police for the first time, and I was not afraid for the first time!”
After a fearful first birthing experience at a hospital, the Milling-Robinson family came to Community of Hope’s Family Health and Birth Center in 2016. Today, Marcus Robinson, husband and father of now four children, says making the choice to switch healthcare providers was one of the best decisions his family made. “Community of Hope was very open and welcoming. At our first visit, it didn’t feel like they were looking or judging my family. There was more of getting to know who we are and desire to know what our birthing plans for our family were.”