Stories of Hope
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.
“I learned that I really didn’t need many friends around, especially the bad influences. I’m in the house more often now, and I distance myself from those that aren’t good for me. “My kids loved Hope, though. They would participate in everything.” Ms. Hazelwood’s 3 children—ages 10, 8, and 5—enjoyed Play Night and the programs offered by Project Create the most. She still takes them back to Hope Apartments to visit staff. “My kids are very understanding. They don’t ask for too much. It’s why I try to do as much as possible for them.”