Stories of Hope
When you ask Tatiyanna about her future, she sounds like a typical high-achieving high school student: playful, optimistic and dreaming big. “I either want to be a lawyer or a chemical engineer,” she says. “I’m still deciding.” This soon-to-be senior made honor roll every quarter lastyear, and her schedule next year is packed with advanced placement classes.
But she wasn’t always the well-adjusted student that she is today. When Tatiyanna was in 8th grade, her grandmother – her legal guardian – went through a divorce, forcing the family out of their longtime home. They eventually ended up in a DC homeless shelter.
Life used to be simpler for Joseph and his girlfriend. They lived on a quiet block with their young son, and their second was on the way. Joseph had a reliable job at a hardware store. He had grown up in what he describes as an unsafe area in DC, and he knew he wanted better for his kids. “I wanted to live where my kids could go outside and play, you know?” he remembers.
But three years ago, everything changed. His girlfriend lost her job, their car broke down, and Joseph lost his job, all in quick succession. Any one of those challenges might have been manageable, but all together, they became a crisis.
College started rough for Francis. In his first semester, his mom became homeless. After supporting her through brain surgery the year before, the family wanted him to focus on his goal: becoming the first in his family to graduate college.
As a kid, Francis’ family life was good. “It wasn’t easy for my mom,” he remembers. “She’d had me at a young age, and couldn’t go to college. But she always made sure there was food on the table and a roof over our head.” But Francis’ senior year of high school, that stability slipped away. Sabrina was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had emergency surgery to remove it.
Community of Hope patients, staff, neighbors and you, our friends, came together to show their support for our Marie Reed Health Center, and their hard work has paid off! Thanks to the leadership of Mayor Muriel Bowser and Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, funds to include our Health Center in the Marie Reed Community Learning Center have been identified.
When Mickenzie found out she was pregnant, she was excited - but nervous. Living on her own in DC, two hours from her family in Richmond, she wasn’t sure where to start. All she knew for sure was that she wanted a natural childbirth.
Have you ever cooked steak in the microwave? Matthew Davis hadn’t either. But when the food service professional moved into the City's DC General Family Shelter last year, he missed his kitchen, so he got creative. “I’d make eggs for my daughter in the common microwave,” he said. “Once, I even cooked steaks in there!”
With 20 years of experience as a cook, Mr. Davis did not expect to end up unemployed or living in a shelter. A single father of a 10-year-old girl, the two of them moved to Washington, DC to be closer to supportive family. But his job search proved to be unexpectedly difficult, and when he exhausted his family’s hospitality, he had nowhere to go.
When Patricia decided to get out of her abusive marriage, she knew her bold choice meant leaving a good job and friends. But it also meant safety for herself and her 12-year-old son. They moved 400 miles away to Washington, DC to stay with family and start again. But life in DC was not easy. Her relative turned out to be verbally abusive as well, and Patricia and her son found themselves with nowhere safe to go. “I just had to get myself stable and secure again,” she said. “Not for me, but for my son.”
Imagine the joy of welcoming a child into the world, only to be told soon after by family and friends that your baby is a demon. That is what happened to Mireille when her six-month-old began developing differently than most children in her home country of Gabon.
First, he had trouble lifting his head. Months later, he started having seizures and struggled to sit up. Mireille’s family sent the two of them to a traditional healer in the jungle. When his condition did not improve, she was encouraged to kill her child. A determined mother, Mireille started looking for ways to seek more effective treatment – and safety – for her son.
When David Mitchell was laid off from his food service job at a DC charter school, he did not expect to be unemployed for long. He’d worked there successfully for six years, and his layoff was simply due to a budget cut. But three years and countless job interviews later, David was still unemployed. At 32-years-old and living with his grandmother, he lost his confidence and stopped looking for work.
So when David was handed a flyer for Community of Hope’s customer service soft skills training program last year, he looked at it skeptically. “Is this just another program,” he wondered, “or is this really going to help me?”
If you live in Washington, DC, you know we’ve had a cold winter. Over 4,000 men, women and children in DC have sought shelter in the last few months. Homeless singles fight for space at shelters or in warm doorways. Before families head to emergency shelter, they sleep in their cars until the weather gets too cold. Others bounce from one friend’s couch to another’s until they wear down their friends’ hospitality. Some parents even drop off their children at friends’ homes for the night, while they themselves sleep on park benches – prioritizing their children’s safety over their own.