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Celebrating 30 Years: More than housing, hope for the future

dwelling place

Thirty years ago, as the Gaithersburg area began to grow, so did the homeless population. Faith leaders quickly realized homelessness was a problem, and they came together to provide food and other necessities. However, they knew that providing a hot meal was not enough for families, especially those with young children. In the winter of 1987, a few churches came together to discuss the problem and try to come up with a solution, and thus The Dwelling Place was born. It was agreed the organization would provide transitional housing and case management to single moms with children. For the first year, the organization served four families. There were no paid staff, only volunteers. In late 1989, the first Executive Director and Case Manager were hired. For the next two decades, the organization would experience tremendous growth, serving up to 35 families in the Gaithersburg/Montgomery Village area. We understood the importance of intensive case management in order to help families identify the barriers that led to homelessness and make sure that they would not allow those same triggers to get in the way of their stability. We believe that providing housing is not the answer to a family’s problem, there has to be a real connection and relationship, the one they build with their case manager.


Thirty years later, we continue to serve homeless families in Montgomery County. Our programs have changed a little bit, but we still hold true to our core values: providing our families with intensive, wrap-around case management. Through our program, we not only provide them affordable housing, but we prepare them for life after they exit The Dwelling Place. We emphasize financial literacy, and strongly encourage our families to be a part of our savings program. When they leave, we match a certain amount. We provide career counseling services, and set a goal to increase income every six months. We provide life skills classes, in which families decide what topic they want to discuss which will contribute in their journey to self-sufficiency. We work with the children in the home to make sure they’re thriving and have a greater chance of breaking the cycle of generational poverty. We also work with the young adults, many who are ready to leave their homes and go out on their own. We had a difficult year last year when we lost a major HUD contract, but like our families we remain resilient and committed to working hard to serve those that need us most. We are proud of the work we have done over the last thirty years. We have worked with close to 300 families, all of which transitioned out to permanent, stable housing. To celebrate this amazing milestone, we will be celebrating our 30th Anniversary with a gala at the end of the year. We are excited to reconnect with old supporters, past program participants, and former board members. More than anything, we are looking forward to thanking the community for their support, which has allowed us to do the work we do. It takes a village, and we are proud of the village we have built for our families. We hope you join us in celebrating our work!

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month

Across the globe, 47 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. This June, The Alzheimer’s Association is raising awareness for this disease by encouraging people to #GoPurple (the official color of the Alzheimer’s Movement) and learn how to lower their risk, learn about early detection and treatment, and help care for those affected.

The Catalogue is proud to highlight three organizations that work with senior populations affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias:

Insight Memory Care Centerinsightmemcare
Of the five million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease, 74% live at home with family and friends, and the number is expected to grow exponentially. As the only licensed day center in the region focused specifically on persons with dementia, IMCC is dedicated to caring for them, and providing education and support for their families. Two early stage programs offer opportunities for socialization, mental stimulation (such as brain games), and support groups for individuals recently diagnosed. Ten hours a day, five days a week, those with mid-stage Alzheimer’s stimulate their minds through art and music therapy, physical therapy, outings, and Tai Chi; those with more advanced dementia participate in specialized activities and get help with personal care. The Center also offers free educational opportunities to caregivers and the community as well as scholarships to families who could not otherwise afford its services.

The Downtown Clusters Geriatric Day Care Center
Founded in 1976, when seniors were being abandoned in hospitals, or even on the streets, the Downtown Cluster’s Geriatric Day Care Center provides crucial therapeutic and supportive services to at-risk, functionally-impaired, and low-income elders — enabling them to remain in the communities and homes that they love. Preventing isolation and fostering independence are key, so the Center (whose average patient is 82) provides health education and monitoring, home visits, occupational and physical therapy, counseling, food distribution, social and cultural outings, respite subsidies and support groups for caregivers of all ages, and even telephone reassurance for those in need of a friendly voice. Intergenerational programs nurture connections between seniors and youth and encourage lifelong health and wellness; the A-Team program brings together toddlers and Alzheimer’s patients, tapping into seniors’ nurturing skills and enhancing verbalization. The only adult day center in Ward 2, the Center provides over 33,000 hours of care each year.

Iona Senior Services
A key component of aging well is “aging in place,” which incidentally saves billions of dollars that might otherwise be spent on institutional care. For over 35 years, Iona Senior Services has provided the support that makes this possible, enabling older people — whose numbers are greater now than at any time in history — to stay (and thrive) in their own homes. Of Iona’s clients, 80% are financially insecure, 60% live alone, and many have difficulty shopping, preparing meals, managing money, doing housework, and taking medication. So Iona offers a full range of services: adult day programs for some, coordination of in-home and out-of-home services for others; community programs like group meals, fitness classes, visual art and creative writing courses, and recreational activities that promote a healthy lifestyle; coordination of transportation to and from doctors appointments; and meal delivery and volunteer companions for those who are homebound. The Client Care Fund supports seniors whose families can’t afford even the most modest fees.

APA Heritage Month and Low-Income Community Members

aaleadEDToday’s blog post was written by Surjeet Ahluwalia, Executive Director of Asian American LEAD, a youth development organization serving low-income and underserved Asian Pacific American youth.

May was Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month. APA Heritage Month began as a week of commemoration in 1978 and became a full month in 1990. For close to 40 years we have been increasing the awareness of the APA community by celebrating the contributions of APAs in America, but this has not translated into increased awareness of the challenges low-income Asian Pacific Americans face in our country today. The model minority myth that Asian Americans are all wealthy, highly educated, and won’t advocate for themselves still dominates.

SAMSUNG CSCAt Asian American LEAD (AALEAD), we serve youth who don’t fit within the model minority myth. For instance, Mei begins her day in her 1 bedroom apartment at Museum Square in Chinatown, DC, which she shares with her brother and father. They have received misinformation many times from their landlord that they have to leave their home. Their father has often shared his concerns about what’s happening in their building with community members, but the constant pushing is taxing on him. Mei and her brother don’t want to have to switch high schools. They want to stay in their home, but also to have a peaceful living situation. After hard days at home and at school, Mei and her brother head over to afterschool programs with AALEAD.

Asian American LEAD is a place where youth find their second home with people who welcome them and can relate to their struggles. AALEAD’s programming focuses on educational empowerment, identity development, and leadership opportunities for low-income APA youth. Youth like Mei are supported with tools to pursue their educational goals when their parents are not able to put time toward this, and supported to feel proud of themselves and where they come from. With this confidence and the opportunities AALEAD provides, youth have the tools to become leaders across communities.

We need safe spaces for youth of all backgrounds to grow. AALEAD is the only space in the DMV specifically for low-income Asian Pacific American youth. As you commemorate the APA community, we ask you to remember not only past contributions of Asian Pacific Americans, but also provide support to low-income APAs in your community today.

To find out how you can support the work of AALEAD, view their wishlist on our website, or visit

Mental Health Month: A Look Inside Arlington Free Clinic

afcMay is Mental Health Awareness Month, and today we’re getting a glimpse into the important work of Arlington Free Clinic, and its Behavioral Health program. Arlington Free Clinic provides free high-quality medical care to low-income, uninsured Arlington County adults. In the following piece, AFC’s Behavioral Health Program Manager, Jyl Pomeroy RN, discusses some of the health struggles that immigrants face as a result of their experiences before, during, and after arriving in the United States, and how AFC’s Behavioral Health Program offers its support.


One of AFC Behavioral Health Program’s volunteer psychiatrists, Dr. Lynne Gaby.

Many Arlington Free Clinic (AFC) patients are immigrants who have fled countries where poverty, war, and gang violence are part of everyday life. They’ve been the victims of trauma, rape, physical/emotional abuse, violence, or have witnessed the ravages of war on their family, friends or neighbors. Many of our women patients from Central or South America have had to endure leaving their young children behind in their home countries, as they came to the US in hopes of earning money to help their families survive back home.

Many of our patients arrive in the US, often after a difficult journey, in poor health. With limited access to social services previously in their home countries, they come to us with deeply embedded and multi-layered concerns. It can be hard for them to imagine that addressing trauma and learning strategies to manage long-term stress is an important part of achieving overall good health.

The Behavioral Health program at AFC provides linguistically and culturally competent supportive care for patients who are suffering from the symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD and other conditions that interfere with their ability to care for themselves/their families, hold a job, or contribute to their community. Six volunteer psychiatrists and seven volunteer counselors provide medication management and supportive psychotherapy to patients in personal or family crisis; to those who are experiencing the lingering effects of trauma; to those who have never before told anyone about abuse suffered at the hands of someone who was supposed to protect them; and to those who have had their lives threatened, and as a result, continue to live in fear every day. Yoga, group support, exercise education and community resources supplement the care provided by AFC’s psychiatrists and counselors to help patients develop strategies to manage stress, cultivate wellbeing and prevent the development of lifelong health problems.

To learn more about Arlington Free Clinic — including their wish list, and how you can get involved as a volunteer — visit their page here. And don’t forget to connect with them on Facebook and Twitter!

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month


Today we thank Catalogue charities that work to prevent and stop child abuse in our Metro region.

National Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families. During the month of April and throughout the year, communities are encouraged to share child abuse and neglect prevention awareness strategies and activities and promote prevention across the country.*

We welcome you to read about and meet some Catalogue nonprofits working in Maryland, Virginia, and the District to work on this important issue.

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) of Prince George’s County

Since 1992, CASA/Prince George’s has given a voice to abused and neglected children in the foster care system by training and supervising volunteer advocates and promoting the timely placement of children in stable homes.

Upcoming Events

  • Go blue for CASA today! Take a photo with a sign saying #IamfortheChild in your blue outfit today and post to our wall to raise awareness
  • For volunteer opportunities click here.

Continue reading

Guest Post: Yellow Ribbon Fund

In honor of Veterans Day, we welcome the Yellow Ribbon Fund to GoodWorks. While Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Ft. Belvoir Community Hospital provide world-class medical care for gravely wounded service members, the Yellow Ribbon Fund provides the programs that make daily life more manageable for the wounded and their family caregivers. YRF serves over 1,000 soldiers and their families annually through practical, hands-on assistance during recovery at the hospital, and ongoing support during reintegration to civilian life back home.

by Kristin Henderson
Communications Director, YRF

It’s Veterans Day again, a time to honor and thank those who’ve served in uniform. Be sure to thank the families, too. Every week, we hear stories like this one from the injured service members and families we serve:

“The Yellow Ribbon Fund took care of us when no one else would. I arrived at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on a weekend to greet my wounded husband, with a newborn son and 3-year-old daughter in tow. No one is in the offices there on the weekends and my kids desperately needed a place to rest other than the hospital. YRF paid for our hotel room for those first few nights until the Army had cut us orders to stay at the hotel on base. Later in my husband’s recovery, when he could leave the hospital, they took us to baseball games. This seems inconsequential but it gave our entire family a break from the hospital environment. It made our daughter feel special and let us smile and laugh together. We’re eternally grateful for that. Our daughter’s best Walter Reed memories are going with the Yellow Ribbon Fund to see the Nationals play. And my husband’s first solo trip without me was on a Yellow Ribbon Fund tour of a battlefield. That trip gave him confidence that he could do some things on his own despite his physical limitations. Yellow Ribbon Fund provides not just assistance for wounded warrior families, but they build hope as well.

Through the Yellow Ribbon Fund, our supporters are able to offer real thanks to injured service members and their families for their sacrifices. Since 2005, we’ve been listening to what the injured and their family caregivers tell us they need. Then we fill those gaps in support with practical help for the whole family, because when the service member is wounded, the whole family is wounded. Our focus on the family sets us apart, especially the services we pioneered for family caregivers — mostly moms and wives who sacrifice jobs and put their lives on hold to help care for their injured loved ones. It can take years to recover from a devastating combat injury. Family caregivers are truly America’s unsung heroes.

So while injured troops are recovering at Walter Reed and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, YRF provides free rental cars, taxi rides, hotel stays, and apartments for visiting family members. We arrange for family-friendly activities and stress-relieving massages for the family caregivers. We organize more than 100 social events and outings yearly for the injured and their families, including free tickets to sporting and cultural events. These events and outings nurture family relationships during a difficult time. We also offer career and education mentoring. Even after they return to their hometowns, our nationwide network of volunteers continues to provide practical support.

The needs of our injured heroes and their families will go on long after the wars are over. But with the help of our donors and volunteers, we will ensure they don’t fall through the gaps. We’ll keep on saying thank you in ways that make a real difference.

Learn more or get involved at:

Around Town 10/25-10/31

We are in the final stretch of October (can you believe it?)! See what these great nonprofits are doing to help October go out with a bang! Continue reading

Guest Post: DC Diaper Bank

Today’s post comes from the DC Diaper Bank, whose mission is to strengthen families by providing a reliable and adequate supply of free diapers to families in need living in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Begun in 2010, DC Diaper Bank works with a network of 17 social service agencies to provide diapers to more than 1,700 babies and families a month. Continue reading

In the News…

It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week, and DC’s Mayor Gray is hosting a city-wide conversation on mental health on Saturday October 12th. The forum, entitled “Creating Community Solutions DC,” aims to engage hundreds of residents to “develop strategies to reduce the stigma associated with, and increase openness to, mental-health care,” according to the City’s website. This conversation will be the starting point for a community action plan to be developed by government officials, nonprofit and private sector leaders.
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SHUTDOWN: Good News and Bad (Guest Post)

by Scott Schenkelberg, Miriam’s Kitchen

The Federal government shutdown has been the talk of the town all week. And here at Miriam’s Kitchen we all want to know: how will this impact our guests?

Believe it or not, there actually is some good news: the D.C. Government found a way to stay open, and we’re incredibly grateful that they did. Through the use of the District’s “rainy day fund,” the City is expected to be funded through the next two weeks.

That means that shelters and housing will be unaffected during that period, and libraries and other government facilities where our guests often go during the days will remain open. Additionally, local outpatient health, mental health and substance abuse services that are funded by the government should remain open as well.

Federally, HUD and HHS homelessness assistance programs are considered essential, and are operating with funds from fiscal year 2012 and 2013.

That doesn’t mean it is all good news.

Certain benefits that our guests rely upon are expected to be affected. Specifically, new applications for Social Security benefits, Medicaid, food stamps and even Veterans’ pensions and disability payments might see longer than usual processing times.

And our guests are feeling the pinch in other, unexpected ways. One guest told us that his Street Sense sales had plummeted this week because Federal employees aren’t out and about during the day.

Here at MK, it is business as usual. We are open Monday through Friday, as we are year-round, providing the same high quality meals and case management services for which we are known. If you are a Federal employee who has been furloughed and is in need, please know that we are here –whether that need is for a hot meal, or to fill your time with some volunteer hours.

In the meantime, we’re standing with our guests and the rest of the nation, hoping that Congress can finally please work things out.