Stories of Hope
Packing up and moving was all too familiar for now 24-year-old Angel. Since she was seven, she had bounced in and out of about 15 different foster homes in the city and Maryland suburbs. She says moving around was difficult as a teen, but she was comforted in knowing “there was always somewhere to go home to at the end of the night.”
For this Ward 8 grandmother, “family is everything.”
And in order to enjoy family, you’ve got to have health.
When Betty Jean got diagnosed with diabetes three years ago, she knew she had to make a change. “I needed to get healthy not only for myself, but for my family… to enjoy things like picking my grandbaby up from school.”
While Betty Jean has been in mostly good health, she was not unfamiliar with the disease: four of seven of her siblings, already have diabetes. Her eldest brother died after suffering from a diabetic coma.
Imagine approaching your doctor’s office, worried over your child’s mysterious rash, only to be told that you won’t be seen because you are poor. For Abdissa, a 53-year-old Ethiopian refugee, he was surprised to find healthcare without hassle.
"In Ethiopia it's really terrible because without a certain income to pay for treatment, you can't get care," he said.
In Ethiopia, there’s no insurance and all costs are paid out of pocket. For a family of seven, even if they have money, they would skip care unless it was life threatening.
A complicated birth, domestic violence, and homelessness – Natasha Howard, a mother of three, has “seen it all.” But hope keeps her going.
A year ago, Natasha lost her home following a domestic dispute. She and her children – one with special needs and the other still a baby at the time – spent six weeks living in a motel room. They endured a cramped living space and noisy conditions. Natasha was ecstatic to soon find housing through Community of Hope’s Rapid Re-Housing Program.
“With a roof over our heads, we could be a family and do everyday things together.”
By Jamey Burden, Vice President, Housing Programs and Policy
Five months ago, families facing homelessness would have to enter the overcrowded and expensive shelter system. Now, our city is equipped with a new intervention: the Homeless Prevention Program. The program, which was developed by the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness, is modeled from a New York City program.
When Carmen and her husband Mario walk into our Family Health and Birth Center (FHBC), they immediately feel at home. They know their way around the building and the staff knows them on a first name basis.
For 11 years this mother of six – soon to be seven – has been a patient at Community of Hope. “Every time we come here for an appointment, I know I’m in the good hands of people who care about me and my children.”
A minor neck pain was a wake-up call for Steven.
The middle-aged father of two’s blood test revealed that there was far more going on.
“[The doctor] told me my blood pressure was extremely high,” said Steven, who learned after a visit to our Conway Health and Resource Center in December that he was at risk of a heart attack, diabetes and stroke. “She showed me what could happen to me if I kept up my lifestyle. I could die if I didn’t change.”
Safe, decent, and humane are the building blocks of appropriate housing for families facing homelessness – that’s why Community of Hope supports the closure of the DC General Shelter. For more than 35 years, Community of Hope and our partners have strived to give District families a sense of stability at their most vulnerable time.
“My mentor took me to the movies!” exclaimed Kayla.
“Mine took me to a yoga class,” shouted Moena, “and then out to ice cream!”
In the Watts household, conversations like these are normal. Why? Because all three daughters – Niaja, Kayla and Moena – have mentors from the Community of Hope Mentoring Program! In true sister style, they always compare their outings and rate the level of fun.
The family first got connected to Community of Hope five years ago when they could no longer stay at a relative’s place.
Two is better than one. That’s what Jenny Browne and her husband, Ryan, thought when they first came across our mentoring program for youth coming from families where homelessness has been a long-term challenge. “We wanted our first time serving together to be something we were both absolutely passionate about.”