In 2016, Ana Beltran connected with Community of Hope’s Conway Health and Resource Center thanks to a back to school flyer. Ana, 59, is a native Washingtonian and product of what she describes as “pre-Columbia Heights” – an era after the historic 1968 DC Riots and during the revitalization of 14th street. So when Ana and her niece arrived at the Bellevue Back to School Bash, she was surprised to learn that a place like Community of Hope existed. “I had never seen the Community of Hope building before. There were so many things at the event - the farmers market, snow cones, popcorn, [and more.] It was so exciting.” The Bellevue Back to School Bash was first started by the William O. Lockridge/Bellevue Library in 2013 and has since grown in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Department’s Beat the Streets Festival and Community of Hope. This yearly event provides our DC neighbors a fun atmosphere to access free backpacks stuffed with school supplies and resources, haircuts, dental screenings, delicious food, access to health insurance, and other supportive community resources.
Families connect with the community resource booths, providing an opportunity to learn about resources available for health, safety, and learning. For Ana, knowing about these resources was not only helpful for her niece but for her as well. “I had just applied for health insurance and while I was at the event I saw that it [the location] was a health clinic. I had a lot of medical things that needed to be attended to, so I made an appointment and came the following week.”
Ana started receiving medical and dental services at the Conway Health and Resource Center including filled prescriptions, missed shots, diabetes prevention support, teeth cleanings and fillings, and a new bridge. She also began utilizing emotional wellness services at The Commons at Stanton Square. “In the past, I never had the time to make my mental health a priority. But you never know how much you need it until you go.” These are all health needs Ana says went unaddressed for too long. But now, thanks to Community of Hope, she’s staying proactive about addressing her health and can finally say she is up to date with everything. “The thing about Community of Hope is that you don’t just feel like a client or a dollar sign. You feel loved and taken care of. I don’t know you can say that about many other places. Nobody wants to be treated less than. Making people feel valued is important and what Community of Hope does.”
Ana’s medical doctor also referred her to the DC Greens Produce Plus and Produce Rx program that allows medical professionals to prescribe fresh fruit and vegetables and additional support to patients experiencing diet-related chronic illnesses. Thanks to Community of Hope’s partnership with these two programs, Ana now receives a monthly voucher for healthy and nutritious food options at DC’s Farmers Markets and participating grocery stores. “I’ve gotten much healthier with all of the resources available. I’m pre-diabetic and diabetes runs in my family, but as of my last doctor’s appointment my A1C levels went down.” Ana says that she set a few health goals for herself when she came to Community of Hope, and lowering her blood sugar levels was just one. She is hopeful that she can continue to knock off a few others like getting off high blood pressure and high cholesterol medication. The positive impact that Community of Hope has had on Ana all started with an event – the Annual Bellevue Back to School Bash – that wouldn’t be possible without the help from our generous partners, donors, staff, and volunteers. “There are a lot of people that need a place that is affordable. They need a one-stop-shop where you can take care of multiple issues in one place. People need a place where they are made to feel respected regardless of their background. That is what Community of Hope offers and I’m glad I found them.”
Writer’s Note: While Ana attended our Bellevue Back to School Bash in 2016, this event has continued to grow beyond anything we can imagine. This year, over 1,600 people attended and with your support, we were able to give out over 1,500 stuffed backpacks to DC students in the community. Parents are able to confidently send their child(ren) to school for a year of academic success knowing their student is prepared with everything they need. View pictures from the event here!