Stories of Hope
We’re excited to feature a volunteer who put her talents to use to create two stunning and unique quilts that were recently displayed at our annual event, A ‘Sparkling’ Night of Hope.
That talented volunteer is Carolyn McShane, avid quilter and mother-in-law of our President and CEO, Kelly Sweeney McShane. It was a big task that took many hours of work, and the results exceeded our expectations.
Ms. Beverly Bynum lost her job three years ago after an organizational restructuring. She has extensive professional experience in medical billing, but she struggled to find another job, and applied for positions for two years with no success. She saw signs for Community of Hope's Health Care Customer Service Training program, located at our Conway Health and Resource Center in Ward 8. The program was in her neighborhood, and she wondered if it might offer her the leg up she needed. A few months later, she got a job she loves right here at Community of Hope as our front desk receptionist. "I get to be part of a place that really gives to my community,” she says. "My job makes me feel joy."
When Anthony Walker became sole caretaker to his young daughter, balancing work and childcare was suddenly a challenge. He could no longer take regular shifts at his construction job, and was unable to afford to pay his own rent. He stayed with family and friends, but accepting their hospitality was not a long-term solution. After two uncomfortable months sleeping in his friend’s living room, he and his daughter moved into emergency shelter, and then into his own apartment through our Rapid Re-Housing program.
Ms. Marilyn Wills never thought she would become homeless. She had worked in customer service and food service jobs, when she unexpectedly became the legal guardian for her baby granddaughter. She could no longer work regular hours and money got tight. Then, some dynamics shifted in her living situation, and she was forced to move out, along with her granddaughter and teenage son. Unemployed and now homeless, Ms. Wills had nowhere to go.
“My life was going so well,” Ms. Wills said. “I never thought that I would become homeless. When it happened, it just blew me out of the water. I didn’t have a clue what to do.”
Martir Salmeron is a Marie Reed lifelong friend. When his mother was pregnant with him, she sought out the clinic which is now home to our Marie Reed Medical Center for her OB/GYN care. It was not a Community of Hope site at the time; it was a city-run center with a similar mission to offer affordable health services to the neighborhood. She was living nearby in Columbia Heights and had recently immigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador. After Martir was born, he’d go there for check-ups. Fast forward about 30 years, and Martir is back as a volunteer.
Until recently, Edith Higgins let her diabetes get the better of her. She was not taking her medication consistently. She made a habit of eating chocolate cake and other foods that diabetes patients are encouraged to avoid. The mismanaged disease left her tired all the time, and it exacerbated her other conditions. At one point, what should have been a one-day hospital visit became five days because of diabetes-related complications.
When Community of Hope began making plans to open a health center in Ward 8, we asked people in this community what services they need. One of the most common responses? People need help finding jobs. We listened, and began developing our first-ever workforce development curriculum to offer at our new building. Two years later, our Customer Service Skills Certificate Program is going strong, and is open to both our clients and the broader community.
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.