Stories of Hope
For Carlton Richmond, being a mentor comes naturally. This native Washingtonian has volunteered with Community of Hope’s mentor program for the past two years, working with JT, a junior at Anacostia High School. “It’s my way of giving back to my community,” Carlton says. “It’s about him, it’s not about me."
Stepping out from some difficult circumstances, Kiara never let homelessness stop her from achieving her goals.
Four years ago, Kiara was living in a one-bedroom apartment with 16 people, at times with no electricity or running water. Her family eventually moved into a shelter, and they later joined the Community of Hope's permament supportive housing program in 2013.
Six years ago, Aja was a patient at our Marie Reed Health Center. Pregnant with her second child, she really wanted a natural birth.
After extensive research on the benefits of natural child birth, Aja was pleased to discover that Washington DC’s only free-standing birth center, Community of Hope’s Family Health and Birth Center, also provided such welcoming, comfortable, and holistic care and she immediately felt like a part of the FHBC family.
For most families in our programs, home ownership is either a hope dashed by the mortgage crisis or a far-fetched dream limited by high housing prices and low wage jobs. For one mom we serve – Ophelia – that dream is days away from becoming a reality.
Meet Jeanine – a new employee, an over-comer of being homeless, a mom who is a shining example to her daughter. Jeanine became homeless in November 2012 when she was laid off from work. Luckily, she and her daughter were able to move in with her sister and family. This housing solution only lasted for about three months before tensions flared and they were displaced once again.
Ashley Gamble knew from the moment she drove past her neighborhood health center, the Family Health and Birth Center (FHBC), six years ago that she would deliver her next child there. After two hospital childbirths, she preferred her next birthing experience to be in a more personal and holistic environment, under the care of midwives.
“I want to do a water birth at FHBC. Having autonomy over my birthing experience is really important to me this time around,” said Ashley.
Temeka Royster was ecstatic to finally receive the keys to her second home since coming to Community of Hope’s Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) Program in 2011. After eighteen months of renting rooms and sleeping on couches and floors with her son, Damonte, Ms. Royster had enough when she witnessed a drug-addicted roommate abuse his girlfriend. Fearing their safety , she fled with her son to a neighbor’s home. “This is too much! He’s beating her, I don’t want my son seeing this. I just can’t do it.”
Last week, Mayor Vincent Gray announced the "500 Families, 100 Days" Campaign - with the goal to move families quickly into long-term housing solutions. It's an all hands on deck call for community leaders including landlords.
One landlord we work with, Denis A. Bishop, has been providing housing to homeless families in DC since 2011 - about 10 families now.
Youth mentoring is an engaging way to build lasting and impactful connections. Tiffany Stecker, who has been a Community of Hope mentor for the last two years, has directly experienced the joys of this.
Tiffany learned about Community of Hope volunteer opportunities on a Yelp discussion board. Not too long after, she was matched with then 12-year old, Dasha. “I wanted to contribute somewhere where I could build a personal relationship with someone. I had participated in several volunteer events... but I felt that I hadn't built a connection with an individual.”
Michele Ruffin glowed as she discussed her two untitled mixed media art pieces that hang along the fourth floor wall of our new Conway Health and Resource Center. “Have you tried spinning one of the flowers yet?” she asked.
Since the health and resource center began seeing patients in mid-January,Ms. Ruffin has referred to Community of Hope as a ‘one stop shop’ —a place where all her needs are met: housing, health and dental care!