Shacora Simmons voice ignites change for the safety of children in her Ward 8 neighborhood.
Shacora, a mother of four, was born and raised in North Carolina and became a Washingtonian in 2005. “D.C. has grown on me now and I can’t see myself anywhere else.” Shacora’s connection with Community of Hope started in 2012 after she delivered her second child at the Family Health and Birth Center (FHBC). “Giving birth at FHBC was wonderful. I gave birth to my oldest at a different birthing center in Georgia, but this was one of the best [birthing] experiences that I had.” Even after giving birth, perinatal support continued for Shacora.
Over the next seven years, Shacora experienced multiple touches and supports from Community of Hope that unfolds into quite a remarkable story of hope for others, especially children in Ward 8.
For years, Shacora and her children have continued to receive their medical care from FHBC, so when her family started facing housing challenges in 2017, she was relieved to be referred to our Home Now permanent supportive housing program. “Growing up we didn’t struggle. I stayed in the same house from birth up until I was 19. I wasn’t used to needing any kind of assistance. But it felt so good to be connected to Community of Hope.”
Shacora admits that even through circumstances like eviction and having to rent a room temporarily, she made sure it didn’t emotionally impact her kids by protecting them as much as she could. “I didn’t want them to see the down moments. I always tried to make our experience happy for them.” After being stably housed for two years, Shacora is not only a protective parent to her own children but she’s an advocate for other kids in her community. She was instrumental in the creation of Safe Passage as a way to bring attention to street safety issues that were affecting kids at Garfield Elementary. While walking her children to school, Shacora noticed the dangers that kids faced as they tried to cross the street to school and what they were exposed to during their overall route. “These kids need a safe route to school. They encounter people doing drugs or drinking right in the path they have to walk to school.”
Shacora would vocalize her concerns at parent meetings, principal coffee meetings, and PTA meetings hoping for change. Sadly, not until a child actually got hit by a car did the dangers capture the attention of others and change began. A police officer was sent to the school area for 30 days, and the area received a visit from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Mayor Bowser and her team. A Ward 8 Town Hall meeting allowed the community and other leaders to come together to find a positive solution and, in response, the Mayor held a Slow Down Campaign to call attention to the importance of driving safely in and around school zones and launched the Safe Passage Program. Even with the campaign and a newly installed HAWK signal, Shacora said that wasn’t enough and that she will continue to advocate for the safety of children. With stable housing and a supportive community behind her, Shacora is focused on increasing her school advocacy, becoming financially stable, and hopefully gaining a career related to all of her policy work.
“The support of Community of Hope has really helped. It’s always someone to talk to and anything I need, I can ask – housing, job leads, access to health services - anything. Now, I want to be as encouraging as I can to others. My life is a testimony and I’m not ashamed of it.”
For more information about our healthcare or housing programs please visit https://www.communityofhopedc.org/