When 21-year-old Daeja Kennerly moved into The Triumph, she knew that her challenging journey with unstable housing was finally going to change. For several years, Daeja and her three young kids experienced homelessness – from living with different family members to securing housing only to face eviction shortly after. Unfortunately, this part of Daeja’s life had seemed never-ending and hopeless.
“After a while, you become numb to the situation, and you ask yourself, what are we going to do now? How do you make sure this is the last time that your stuff is being put outside?”
After connecting with the Virginia Williams Family Resource Center, Daeja and her children were placed at The Triumph – Community of Hope’s short-term family housing site in Ward 8. The Triumph was one of seven shelters that Mayor Muriel Bowser and Department of Human Services developed to replace the D.C. General shelter after it closed in 2018. The Triumph is where families are provided a safe, supportive, and dignified place to stay while they search for a home of their own. For Daeja, The Triumph served as a place for her family to get from where they were to where they really wanted to be – home.
“When I got to The Triumph, it was a nice building - but being in a shelter took a little while to get used to. We adjusted though and started meeting people and then, I never wanted to go anywhere.”
With support from her compassionate case managers, Daeja set realistic goals like replacing important documents that had been misplaced during an eviction, obtaining employment, and securing a new apartment. These were all goals that would enable her to move towards independence and self-sufficiency. While working on her goals, she also worked on her spirituality and attributes her faith to positive changes in her life.
“The biggest lesson I learned during that season of my life was to always put God first because He will always make a way out of no way.”
Daeja accomplished her goals and after 77 days exited The Triumph with her family and into their new apartment. “Oh my goodness! Moving into my apartment was the biggest accomplishment ever. It felt so good to be able to come to my own home and be with just my family.” Now, Daeja is focused on going back to school this spring to get a degree in Media Management and teaching her kids the importance of saving money. And even though she has exited the program, her journey with Community of Hope has not quite ended as her kids receive primary medical care at the Conway Health and Resource Center – our largest health center and medical home for neighbors in Ward 8’s Bellevue community.
“I like Community of Hope – I had my case managers to lean on and always felt like I had someone encouraging me. And now my kids get medical services at Conway. It’s clean and the doctors are friendly. It’s all nice.”
Click here to watch Daeja share a little of her story.
Writers Note: In 2019 – The Triumph’s first year – 170 families were served at this new site.