Stories of Hope
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.”
An ounce of prevention is worth…
The housing stability for over 214 families who have been referred to Community of Hope. These families have benefitted from the DC government’s launch of the Prevention of Homelessness program. They have come in our doors seeking any assistance available to stay stably housed, usually sharing a home with a family member or friend.
2015 is a year of milestones. 35 years for Community of Hope and now 25 years for a very special partnership we are pleased to be a part of.
For 25 years, Global Harmony Through Personal Excellence has provided homeless families at Community of Hope the opportunity to bring holiday cheer to the elderly residents of the Stoddard Baptist Global Care at Washington Center for Aging Services.
“I never lost connection with Community of Hope,” she said. “It is a place I trust and somewhere I have been for years.”
Jacqueline Aird is not intimidated by her trips to the doctor and dentist! At our Marie Reed Health Center that you have supported, she knows that the staff will greet her by name and that her doctors will talk to her like a long-time friend.
The reason why Ms. Aird is so comfortable with the facility, services and staff? Because she has been a Community of Hope patient for 35 years.
Chris Kerns – Community of Hope board member, volunteer and advocate – always says, “This is the most important work you will do every day.”
To mark 35 years of serving the District’s most vulnerable neighbors, we gathered our founding members for a reunion. We used that moment to present the first-ever Tom Nees Award for Exceptional Service to our champion, Chris Kerns.