Stories of Hope
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.
Dan Hooks’ experience with Community of Hope came full circle this year when—after already being a patient at our Conway Health and Resource Center since 2016—he moved into an apartment with support from our housing team.
When he became a patient, Community of Hope diagnosed Dan with high blood pressure that needed management.
Maya Brice is a woman of hope. This DC native and single mother of three sought a fresh start in Missouri. After experiencing hard times and years of struggling to try to make it on her own, she and her kids moved in with a friend. Unfortunately, Maya’s monthly rent contribution was mishandled by her friend, and Maya chose to move her family into an extended stay hotel. The usual monthly rent became a weekly hotel bill. Maya shares that at that moment she had to ask herself, “Is this the best situation for me and my kids?” and concluded that it was not.
Charles Barrett and his ten-year-old son were given a fresh start when they were introduced to Community of Hope, where they received support from two of our programs. After losing his job and falling behind on his rent, Charles was evicted and became homeless. With the advice from his sister, he reached out to the Virginia Williams Family Resource Center and was placed at one of Community of Hope’s temporary housing sites. Charles noted, “It was embarrassing when we got to the shelter, but then it was a relief that we had somewhere to stay.”
Tiara Beander, a single mother, entered Community of Hope’s Rapid Re-Housing program after enduring housing instability for several years. “We were living in a lot of different places – staying from house to house with family and friends,” shared Tiara. But, after the continued movement between houses with her two-year-old daughter, she knew she needed to find a way to be on her own. Tiara made intentional steps to change her family’s circumstances. A referral from the Virginia Williams Center connected Tiara to Community of Hope where she was assigned a supportive case manager.
“Once we got to Community of Hope, we were no longer treading in the water. We could finally breathe and swim to the other side.” It was finally a new beginning for Nichole Beavers-Outlaw, her fiancé, Patrick Woodward, and their five children when they were connected to Community of Hope’s (COH) temporary housing program at Girard Street Apartments, our temporary housing program which provides apartment-style emergency shelter for 20 homeless families with children. Nichole shared that when they arrived at Girard Street, they knew “it was a new start for us.” That new start meant stabilizing support while at Girard Street but also meant that they found a new apartment for the longer-term.
“It’s important to have organizations like Community of Hope because people need medical attention now more than ever. Many people in the community are not educated about their health and are having major problems." The moment Samuel Mingle, Sr. walked in Community of Hope’s Conway Health and Resource Center, he knew his health would be in the right hands.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted so many families including the families we serve who face regular challenges and barriers to equitable resources. This was the situation for housing client, Ms. Taylor , and her two children. Ms. Taylor, a DC native, entered a segment of Community of Hope’s permanent supportive housing program in 2017 after facing housing instability for several years.