Stories of Hope
This month, we hosted our 6th Annual Bellevue Back to School Bash in partnership with MPD's Beat the Street and the William O Lockridge/Bellevue Library. With the help of sponsors, partners, and volunteers, we were able to give 1,232 backpacks filled with school supplies to K-12 students in the Ward 7 and Ward 8 community. Thank you to Gallup, Forrester Construction, The Carlyle Group, National Air Traffic Controllers and so many more. Students were also able to receive free health care screenings, haircuts from our amazing Mr. Wallace Wilson and his barber friends, and other resources to help them prepare for a new school year.
We are very proud to echo recent, well-deserved recognition of Dr. Carla Henke, our Chief Medical Officer.
Dr. Henke received a Washington Business Journal 40 Under 40 award! This award is given to 40 rising stars in Washington, DC, who are leading the way in their professions and significantly improving their communities. She was selected from among 450 candidates. We believe it is because of she demonstrates an incredible commitment to family medicine and to making high-quality healthcare accessible to low-income families.
For the second year in a row, there is good news to celebrate about family homelessness in Washington, DC. Family homelessness decreased by 20.8% from 2017 to 2018 (2018 Point-in-Time [PIT] Count for the District of Columbia). That means 242 fewer families experienced homelessness. It’s also worth noting that in 2017, family homelessness similarly decreased by 22%, with 325 fewer families experiencing homelessness than in 2016. These decreases are critical after family homelessness spiked to nearly 1,500 families in 2016, a 47% increase from 2012.
You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice. These words ring true for Naomi Saforo, a mother of three. As a single parent, she has had to be strong every day for her children and herself. But when times became harder, she started losing her strength.
If you ask someone why they are a mentor, they might say, “It’s important to give back.” If you ask Tiffany why she mentors, she might say, “It’s important to form a bond with someone, in order to make a difference.” Check out the story of Tiffany and her mentor, Dasha, in our Permanent Supportive Housing Program.
Stretching from Virginia to the Nation’s Capital are bridges – real and figurative. Community of Hope mentor, Kelly Peaks-Horner, is a Virginia native. On the other side of the bridge lives Nafia Brown, Kelly’s mentee. The pair lives close enough to consider each other “neighbors,” far enough to be strangers, but the bridge of Community of Hope is what connects them forever.
As a new year begins, I always reflect on the past and refocus on priorities. Looking back at 2017, I am particularly pleased that, with your support, Community of Hope helped to end or prevent homelessness for about 1,054 families. We also helped improve health for about 10,820 patients in over 58,000 medical, dental, behavioral health and supportive service visits – a 11% increase from 2016. While our work is about more than numbers, my heart is full with the stories from the almost 13,000 people that your generosity has supported.
Kristal has been a COH mentor since she moved here in 2014. Making a quick Google search, Community of Hope was the first name to come up. She reached out to find out where the need was and was pointed into the direction of the mentoring program. From there, she learned all about the multiple housing programs Community of Hope offers. “I was so impressed that [Community of Hope’s] goal was to keep these families together and that they supported these families to ensure their success,” she said.
From living in a shelter and working odd jobs, to having financial stability and her own apartment, Erica credits all of her accomplishments to Community of Hope. However, before Community of Hope, Erica’s life wasn’t the one she imagined for herself. Erica is one of thousands of families coming through DC’s shelter system. She and her three children (at the time) were in shelter for over a year. “I tried to spend as much time as I could outside of the shelter, only having to be there for curfew,” she said. Erica’s routine consisted of getting her children ready for school and keeping busy during the day. Working odd jobs here and there or just hanging with her friends became the only schedule she knew. She wanted more for herself and for her children, but it was hard doing so by herself; she needed help.