“Once we got to Community of Hope, we were no longer treading in the water. We could finally breathe and swim to the other side.”
It was finally a new beginning for Nichole Beavers-Outlaw, her fiancé, Patrick Woodward, and their five children when they were connected to Community of Hope’s (COH) temporary housing program at Girard Street Apartments. This temporary housing program provides apartment-style emergency shelter for 20 homeless families with children. Nichole shared that when they arrived at Girard Street, they knew “it was a new start for us.” That new start not only meant having stabilizing support while at Girard Street but alsovthat they found a new apartment for the longer-term.
Prior to Community of Hope, Nichole and Patrick faced many challenges together including, racial discrimination from other housing programs, domestic violence trauma from a past relationship, family health issues, and a never-ending cycle of housing instability. “With everything we were dealing with, I had anxiety,” said Nichole. “I was lost and emotional,” she continued. The emotions Nichole experienced only worsened when the family started living in a hotel. “We were placed in a hotel and that’s when the hell began,” said Nichole. “We only had one room and we had nonstop problems. We had mice, rats, and mold,” she shared. But, through these painful circumstances, the family remained hopeful that things would eventually turn around – and they did when they were placed with Community of Hope.
Once the family entered COH’s temporary housing program, they were immediately connected with a dedicated case manager that helped guide them towards housing stability. “Our case managers were our line of hope when we got to Girard,” said Nichole. “She [our case manager] understood and empathized with what we were going through.” The family participated in some COH-hosted events so they could embrace the community and have a sense of normalcy. One moment particularly special to the family was when they attended an annual holiday event hosted by one of Community of Hope’s long-time partner organizations, Global Harmony Through Personal Excellence, run by Dodie Brady. They host a daylong event including caroling in a local senior citizens shelter and a dinner and story time at the Brady’s home. This thoughtful tradition gave the family a sense of love and welcoming they weren’t used to receiving. “We were blessed to be a part of that party, it meant a lot,” said Patrick. “We were feeling less than, and Dodie and her family let us eat at their table. It made us feel like people.”
The family continued to feel support from Community of Hope beyond the holidays – and, this was especially evident when COVID-19 hit the nation. Nichole and her family were impacted by the limitations of public transportation and their children’s transition to virtual learning. Nichole initially used her cell phone to help her kids with schoolwork but could only do so much from her phone. With the help of a very generous and responsive family, Nichole’s family was able to receive a hotspot that would be beneficial to the family’s new norm of learning and living. “The hotspot saved our lives,” said Nichole. “It was such a blessing." After enduring such a long journey, with the help of Community of Hope, Nichole and her family were able to exit the program and move into their own apartment even amid a pandemic. “It was hard for us to leave because we look at them like family,” said Patrick. “I know we had to move on so that someone else could take that spot.”
Now that their family has stable housing, Nichole is focused on managing her health, allowing the kids to go outside and finally be kids, and finding a job to help sustain their apartment. “Community of Hope has given us hope by listening to our story, working with us as much as they could, and showing us that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.”
For more information about Community of Hope’s housing programs, please visit our website at https://www.communityofhopedc.org/housing/programs