Stories of Hope
In 2016, Ana Beltran connected with Community of Hope’s Conway Health and Resource Center thanks to a back to school flyer. Ana, 59, is a native Washingtonian and product of what she describes as “pre-Columbia Heights” – an era after the historic 1968 DC Riots and during the revitalization of 14th street. So when Ana and her niece arrived at the Bellevue Back to School Bash, she was surprised to learn that a place like Community of Hope existed. “I had never seen the Community of Hope building before.
Carey Carter, 63, couldn’t have been more excited about the newest treatment her doctor suggested – eating fruits and vegetables to help control her chronic health conditions. Carey started receiving medical services at Community of Hope in 2017 and participates in the My Health GPS program where she receives specialized care coordination.
“We were living in the worst projects. Someone was killed in front of our door, people were dealing drugs in the hallway, there were gangs, and our home kept getting broken into. We couldn’t live there.” The family entered a housing program which was unexpectedly closed. “I was devastated it closed. During that time I didn’t know how to deal with stress. I was going through a lot. All I kept thinking was, this can’t be life.”
Shacora Simmons voice ignites change for the safety of children in her Ward 8 neighborhood. Shacora, a mother of four, was born and raised in North Carolina and became a Washingtonian in 2005. “D.C. has grown on me now and I can’t see myself anywhere else.” Shacora’s connection with Community of Hope started in 2012 after she delivered her second child at the Family Health and Birth Center (FHBC). “Giving birth at FHBC was wonderful. I gave birth to my oldest at a different birthing center in Georgia, but this was one of the best [birthing] experiences that I had.”
Franklin Turner received the best holiday gift last year – a new home. Franklin, a DC native and loving father of two, was greeted with a Welcome Home note when he moved into his new one-bedroom apartment at Archer Park. It was a day that he didn’t initially think would happen but was thankful to finally experience. “I was grateful when I moved into my apartment. God knew everything I had been through. I couldn’t believe it.”
Helen Hardy remembers the excitement in her community on the day the ‘watermelon man’ would travel through Washington, DC neighborhoods to deliver fresh fruit, meats, and sometimes bottled milk. Reminiscing on the 1950s brought back so many pleasant childhood memories of living in the District with her parents and four sisters. Helen married young, moved to Anacostia in the 60s with her husband, and together they had five children.
DaLanda Gorman, DC resident, and mother of six had an emotional moment when her family first moved into a homeless shelter. “When I became homeless, I asked myself – How did I end up here?” This was a question she never thought she would have to ask herself. “I was angry at the world, but more at myself, because I never thought I would have to put my kids in that situation. I never wanted that.”
“Being vulnerable, sharing your life story and experiences, and listening to your mentee's experiences leads to mutual growth,” said Nicola Davis, Community of Hope volunteer mentor.
When she was little, Nicola Davis always wished she had more adults that were understanding to talk to. So as she became an adult, she knew she wanted to get involved with young women and really help them navigate life’s challenges.
Nothing could prepare Shanna Dodson for that moment. Seated in a dental chair, Shanna popped the new dentures in. And instantly a smile broke out. It was a smile she had waited years to see again.
Joseph Morgan, a DC native, is still in disbelief that he finally has his own apartment after being homeless for over 10 years. “I didn’t think it was reality. I thought, something is going to happen and I won’t get the apartment. And then reality set in when they gave me the key.”