Stories of Hope
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.
When Jasmine was six months pregnant, she came to a community baby shower held at our Conway Health and Resource Center. She was expecting to learn a lot about labor, breastfeeding and basic newborn care. When she left, she had a brand new baby carrier in hand and something more. A community.
It’s the first week of school in Washington, DC. Students are cracking open new crayon boxes, sharpening their pencils, and adjusting to polo shirts and khakis after a summer in shorts and sandals.
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.