Stories of Hope
By: Whitney Hicks, Development and Communications Associate
Anne Blair and Whitney Vedella graduated from college in the spring of 2008. Instead of pursuing the more traveled avenues of job hunting or further schooling, they both decided to join AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps is a year-long volunteer program designed to help communities across the U.S. meet critical needs. Through a combination of chance and design, Anne and Whitney ended up at Community of Hope's Health Services in January 2009.
In February 2008, The Washington Post ran an article featuring two Community of Hope residents, twins Marcus and Marquise Adams. A year and a half later, we caught up with the twins and their family in their new home in Southeast DC.
Debbie Warshawsky, Case Manager and Youth Advocate for Community of Hope, starts her workday at 9:00 am at Community of Hope’s Massachusetts Avenue office.
She is quickly updating the case notes for her six families in the short 45 minutes she has before her visit to the Jones* family in their SE apartment. As she logs off her computer and readies her bag to leave the office, her cell phone rings. It’s the school calling because Charlie Roberts has not shown up to school for three consecutive days, and they were unable to get in contact with his mother. Debbie assures the school administrator that she will talk with Ms. Roberts as she sprints out the door, now a few minutes late for her meeting with the Joneses.
How do we best meet the needs of the children and families we serve? This is a question that Community of Hope wrestles with everyday. One area in which we have found a great need is mental health especially for children. In August 2009, psychotherapist Rolando Fuentes, LICSW, LCSW who specializes in child, adolescent and family therapy, joined Community of Hope’s clinic staff. Fluent in Spanish, Mr. Fuentes brings a wide range of experience to his clients. His Peace Corps service in Paraguay and his Latino American heritage make him especially sensitive to the concerns of bicultural and bilingual patients. We were able to hire Mr. Fuentes thanks to a generous grant from the Health Coverage Foundation.
The after-school program at Community of Hope’s Girard Street Apartments is central to the health and well-being of the children who call Girard Street home. Five days a week, up to 25 school-age children have a safe place to study and play after their school day, thanks to Ellen Zaander. Along with their standard academic fare of homework help and tutoring, the kids participate in such diverse activities as gardening classes through City Blossoms, art projects with Project Create, and nutrition classes through DC Central Kitchen.
My story begins with me being a cocaine addicted mother with three children. I was addicted from 2005 until my clean date of April 23, 2007, when my new life began. I was homeless, living from one house to another with whoever would allow me and my children to stay for a few days.
This letter was written by an 11-year-old whose family is in our Home Now Permanent Supportive Housing Program. Home Now families receive housing support and case management services to help them maintain permanent, stable housing while they address other life concerns.
My name is Dawn Wilson. I am a former resident of Community of Hope’s Girard Street shelter. Since May of last year, my kids and I have been in our own place as part of Community of Hope’s Home Now program.
I first came to Girard Street May 1st, 2008 with 3 of my children. The house I was living in was sold, and I was told by the new owner I had to find somewhere else to live. My kids’ father tried to help but at that time he wasn’t working.