Stories of Hope
Do you hear the bell ringing? School is back in session for students in Washington, DC!
To get back in school mode, Community of Hope and the William O. Lockridge/Bellevue Library hosted our 4th Annual Bellevue Back to School Bash, saluting the end of summer and getting kids ready for a great school year.
This week Community of Hope celebrates the life of one of our founding members, John K. Lunsford. John passed away on August 3, 2016 after a courageous battle with cancer. Our founder, Tom Nees, shared memories of John’s role in our early days. Tom served as John’s pastor and their conversations often gravitated to how they and the church might respond to the needs in impoverished neighborhoods in the city.
D.C. native Terry Boone describes himself as a man of many hats – he’s a banquet cook, an ad-jingle-making musician, and a martial arts enthusiast. His passions have taken him all over the East Coast, meeting many people along the way. “But what people really remember me for is my smile,” he says. Who does he credit for his healthy and happy grin?
Meet Yvette Hicks “the Vegetable Queen” and one of Community of Hope’s first patients to take advantage of our new Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program. The program provides fresh produce to Community of Hope patients on the Care Team with chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
In 2012, life was going great for Jeffrey Stewart. He had recently gained sole custody of his two sons, Alonzo and Romeo, and the family lived comfortably in an apartment in the city. Jeffrey’s job as a night shift cook allowed him the flexibility to spend time with his sons during the day. But two years ago, “everything just started going downhill with no breaks.”
In early 2015, newlyweds Elisabeth and Brian had started new jobs and were living with her mother to save money. But three months later, her mother passed away after a long battle with cancer. Life as they knew it changed for the young couple, who had only been married for three years.
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.”