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Determination and Resiliency with Housing Up

by Julian Peters, Resource Development Associate, Housing Up

Housing Up is the premier non-profit homeless services and affordable housing provider in the District of Columbia. Established in 1990 as Transitional Housing Corporation with one 14-unit building under our belt, we have since expanded to five properties located around the city where we provide our support services to low-income, homeless and at-risk families. We currently serve more than 600 families throughout the District.

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2017′s point-in-time count revealed there are currently 7,473 people experiencing homelessness in the District of Columbia, 3,890 of whom are parts of families and 2,268 of whom are children. There are currently 1,166 families experiencing homelessness in DC, and the lack of affordable housing in the city has been a huge driving force behind the homelessness crisis. The U.S. worker must earn an average of $21.21 to afford a two-bedroom apartment; in DC, that average is $33.58 per hour, the second highest in the nation. There is a clear need for the affordable housing that we provide, as well as the comprehensive support services made available to our clients and their children. The combination of stable, affordable housing and support services enables families to become economically self-sufficient and break the cycle of poverty.

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Year after year our residents serve as living examples of determination and resiliency; we’ve seen people in our programs bounce back from the worst situations and turn their lives around. They are the definition of the human potential latent both in our client population and in the underserved in general; a potential so powerful yet so fragile, that it can go to waste if not properly supported and encouraged. Without organizations like Housing Up, our families can so easily slip through the cracks and become statistics, and we are motivated to support as much of their potential as we possibly can.

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Housing Up’s mission is to end family homelessness by 2020, and we work toward that goal daily through the services and housing we provide to our families and through advocacy work to make affordable housing and solving homelessness a priority for the city government. As part of the Coalition of Non-Profits for Housing and Economic Development (CNHED), we advocate for homelessness and housing solutions to be included in DC’s budget, and our work in that regard is paying off: the District government’s budget this year includes very generous provisions for housing and homelessness. There is progress being made, but there is also much more work to be done.

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We are currently looking forward to the renovation of our Partner Arms 2 building, one of our oldest properties. We are in the process of converting Partner Arms 2 from transitional housing to Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), which serves chronically homeless families with mental or physical health disabilities. Our PSH program is based on the Housing First model, which focuses on quickly moving families experiencing homelessness into permanent housing with leases in their own names, and then providing support services. The conversion of Partner Arms 2 aligns with the federal government’s priority for PSH programs based on Housing First. We’re excited to kick off development of senior housing and our future office headquarters at The Parks at Walter Reed, former home of the Walter Reed Medical Center. We can also look forward to the Mayor’s plan to build eight shelters for families experiencing homelessness in DC, which will be an important step in our city’s collective efforts of ending family homelessness in the District.

housingup1We love volunteers! We have volunteers come in to tutor both children and adult residents. We also have community gardens at most of our properties, so anyone with a green thumb may participate in the gardening at any one of our sites. We do yoga, backpack drives and food drives as well, and will allow for anyone with a particular set of skills or interests to come in and hold a class for our residents. There are opportunities for groups and individuals, for one time events and regular volunteering. Please contact Emily Koppel at ekoppel@housingup.org if you’re interested in volunteering with us.

We’re also actively seeking new members for our Board of Directors. For more details on our board, please contact Christina Peay, Senior Manager of Communications & Development at cpeay@housingup.org.

Around Town

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Monday, June 19, 2017
The Young Playwrights’ Workshop Presents…
Young Playwrights’ Theater

The Young Playwrights’ Workshop is YPT’s award-winning student theater ensemble. Members work together to create, develop, rehearse and perform an original play. A professional teaching artist helps the ensemble develop a foundation of theater skills that form the basis for creating new work. Students learn a diverse set of skills: improvisation, stage combat, clowning, solo performance and playwriting. The final performance is presented as part of CulturalDC’s prestigious Source Festival. This performance is free and open to the public. 6:30pm Reception 7pm Performance

Event Information

When: Monday, June 19, 2017 (6:30 PM – 8:30 PM)
Where: Source Theater, 1835 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 map
Fee: all tickets are Pay-What-You-Can
Volunteer Info: Volunteers will help check in guests, set up and run the reception and clean up after the event. All volunteers are welcome to watch the performance.
Contact: Laura Wood, (202) 387-9173

Volunteers and Tutors Make a Difference at Bridges to Independence

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Bridges to Independence has been working with and for people experiencing homelessness since 1985, when we were founded as the Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless. In 2016, Bridges served a total of 460 individuals: 248 through our housing programs (emergency shelter and rapid re-housing) and 212 in other programs and services (financial literacy, employment services, etc.).

Our mission is to lead individuals and families out of homelessness and into stable, independent futures. We offer aid and support for all family members, helping them attain financial security and move forward into self-sufficiency. As homelessness is often episodic, we work not only with people who are currently experiencing homelessness, but also with former participants to ensure they are able to remain securely housed and do not fall into homelessness again.

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Former client Mohammed, his wife, and their 5 daughters invited us to their home for a visit. It was wonderful to see the family thriving!

Our vision is to end the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Two-thirds of the people we serve are under the age of 18. We provide youth with opportunities to increase self-esteem, gain leadership skills, and improve their overall health/well-being. We strive to give older students the confidence, skills, and tools needed to pursue and complete post-secondary education or vocational training, providing them with a pathway to economic security.

After many years of helping people move into their own homes, we’ll soon get to experience a homecoming of our own! In September, we will move into a brand-new 4,700 square foot training center, directly adjacent to our Sullivan House emergency shelter. The new space will be a hive of activity and will include a children’s room for youth activities, classrooms for job training, a personal counseling suite, and offices for our staff to continue their crucial work to support families in need. We’ll be able to serve more people, carry out programming more effectively, and explore new and innovative solutions for reducing homelessness.

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Gather a team for our Kickball Tournament or volunteer at the event!

Our 12th annual SAFE AT HOME Kickball Tournament will be Saturday, August 5, 2017. Teams, sponsors and volunteers can sign up now at https://bridges2.org/kickball/. We also need volunteers to serve as mentors or tutors, represent Bridges at events, help with office work, and more. For details, see www.bridges2.org or contact Lawson Craighill at lcraighill@bridges2.org.

 

National Foster Care Month with Barker Adoption Foundation

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The Barker Adoption Foundation is a nonprofit, private adoption agency that provides comprehensive adoption-related services for birth families, adopted persons and adoptive families through ethical adoption programs and post adoption support services.

Since 1945, we have provided adoption services and our programs today include a Domestic Infant Program, International Programs in China, South Korea, India, and Colombia, as well as extensive Post Placement and Family Support services including support groups, therapy, and educational programming. We also have a program called Project Wait No Longer (PWNL) which facilitates older child adoptions from foster care programs.
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At Barker, we believe that every child deserves a stable, loving, forever family and this is especially true of children “stuck” in the foster care system. Today, there are an estimated 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system. Tragically, over 100,000 of these children are legally eligible for adoption, yet remain in temporary and often transient foster care situations – waiting for the love and stability of a “forever family.”

By age ten, a child’s likelihood of being adopted goes down by 50 percent and an estimated 22,000 children “age out” of foster care every year with no family ties. In late 2005, The Barker Adoption Foundation launched Project Wait No Longer specifically to find adoptive families for the older children in foster care who often have the greatest need, yet tend to be the most difficult to place due to the scars of impermanence.
Tran-Larson Family 1In October of 2007, PWNL placed its first child and, as of 2016, PWNL has found permanent, safe, loving families for 117 older foster youth. PWNL heavily invests in the front-end of the adoption process, which results in a much greater chance of success for the new families. PWNL’s goal is not just to place a child with any family, assuming anything is better than foster care. The goals are to stop the cycle of disruption in the child’s life and find the right fit with the right family and achieve permanency and stability for the child. Having a program dedicated to finding families who are passionate about providing forever families for children in need is a huge part of the important work that we do.

I'm a Moody Family PicWe are inspired every day by the resilience of the children who come through our programs and the birth and adoptive parents who choose to embark on adoption journeys. We are inspired by the willingness of parents who are able to open their homes and their hearts to parent an older child with a history of trauma, neglect or abuse. We are inspired by those make “forever homes” possible for some of our neediest children. Finally, we are inspired by those people whose lives have been touched by adoption or the foster care system who have used their experience and fortitude to reach back to the next generation of children coming through the system to support them.

At Barker we are always seeking innovative ways to better meet the needs of the individuals and families that we serve.?Outreach, education and post-placement services for prospective parents and children in this program are going to be the keys to continued success. In addition, we continually develop new groups or services to provide support to our birth parents, prospective adoptive parents and families who have already been formed through adoption and are in the post-placement period.

Our newest program, CONNECT, is a mentoring program for children adopted by families through our older child program. Through this program we match adults who themselves have had experience with foster care and/or adoption with youth adopted through our older child program. We are looking forward to the growth and development of this newly launched program! So far, these unique connections have had a great impact on the youth we serve.

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Each individual that we work with is unique, and success is defined differently in every case. Success for us, especially in the PWNL Program, is supporting a child in finding a permanent and “forever home.” At the center of our work is always the best interest of each and every child – and we work tirelessly to find a loving and supportive family for as many children as we can and then supporting that placement with post-adoption services that help heal, share and celebrate families.

Some of our greatest days, can be our toughest days as well. Adoption is borne out of loss, and as such, a placement day can be a day of celebration for one family and a day of great loss for another. We are sensitive to this and therefore consider any day that we can make the right decisions on behalf of a child, or advocate for a birth or adoptive family a great day. While, there is no one “great day” at Barker, we will admit that staff has been known to “dance” in the hallways on the days that we make matches of our older waiting teenagers with loving and permanent families.

Families can reach us by visiting our website at www.barkeradoptiondfoundation.org, or by calling 301-664-9664.

We need volunteers! One of the biggest needs we have at Barker is for people who are willing to help us recruit families for older waiting children. Even if older child adoption is not a good fit for your family, there are many things that anyone can do to help us spread awareness of the needs of children in foster care. You can:

  • POST flyers, brochures and posters anywhere you’d like!
  • CONNECT PWNL with any adoption friendly organizations, community groups, or companies.
  • HOST an informational get together at your home for PWNL staff to share adoption information with people in your life who are interested in learning more about older child adoption.

We are also recruiting volunteers for our CONNECT mentoring program. We are in need of adults who are passionate about helping and supporting our adoptees adapt to their new family situations. All mentors are required to have foster care or adoption history in their own lives.

For more information about volunteering with outreach or through our mentoring program, please contact Alex Williams, PWNL Outreach and Program Support Specialist at awilliams@barkerfoundation.org or by calling 301-664-9664.

Motherhood is a Sisterhood with DC Diaper Bank

By Corinne Cannon, Founder and Executive Director, DC Diaper Bank
33593131875_ca921b159b_oNext month, DC Diaper Bank will distribute our 5 millionth diaper to a little one in the metro area. If you had told us that we would reach this milestone in six years we would have laughed! But we’ve gotten there because so may people have come together to make supporting vulnerable families a priority.

DC Diaper Bank was founded to ensure that all moms — all families — have what they need to thrive. Through our network of 40+ partnerships in Maryland, DC and Virginia, we distribute diapers (150,000+ each month!) and other necessary essentials, like formula, period products, adult diapers, and breastfeeding supplies, to families with young children experiencing poverty.

Diaper need is an issue for 1 in 3 families in poverty in this area and nationally. Government support like WIC or SNAP does not cover diapers, and as any parent will tell you — they are expensive, especially when you aren’t buying them in bulk. Diapers at a corner store can cost up to $.50/diaper, when a child goes through 10 diapers a day, that expense adds up quickly! Lack of diapers can lead to a host of problems, from diaper rash for babies to employment issues for grown-ups, since a supply of clean diapers is required by most child care providers.

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The moms out there doing their best in tough circumstances inspire us! At DCDB, we’ve come to realize that motherhood is a sisterhood — we help a mother out when we can, we are helped by other moms when we need it, and that’s how we raise healthy, strong, thoughtful members of the next generation.

We’re also inspired by our partner organizations, who every day find new and creative ways to engage families in their programs and support them through challenges. Finally, we’re inspired by the families that volunteer with us (1,500 each year!)– folks that are demonstrating to their children that it’s never too soon to help someone out, and that your time, and dollars, can have a real impact on someone in need.

We are excited to be broadening our definition of essentials right now — in addition to diapers, we are able to offer our partner agencies formula, wipes, period products, hygiene items and feeding supplies, and the list grows! Success for us is every child having everything they need in those critical first years of development, and every family having the support they need.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities and other was to get involved at dcdiaperbank.org

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Around Town 4/14-4/23

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Earth Day Cleanup & Celebration!

Anacostia Watershed Society
Each year, the Anacostia Watershed Society hosts thousands of volunteers at more than 20 sites throughout the watershed for the largest annual Anacostia River cleanup! After the volunteer event, a celebration with free food and drink and live performances is hosted.

When: Sat Apr 22, 2017 (09:00 AM – 2:00 PM)
Where: 4302 Baltimore Avenue, Bladensburg, MD 20710
Volunteer Info: Volunteers remove trash, plant trees, and help clean up the Anacostia River.
Contact: Emily Castelli, (301) 699-6204 ext 6996204

Earth Day Chicken Coop Raising and Organic Garden Event

Crossway Community
Join volunteers of all ages, including 40 Fulbright Scholars, to build a chicken coop, and prepare and plant an organic garden in celebration of Earth Day! A celebration of Crossway Community Montessori School, Family Leadership Academy and the Intergenerational Center summer farm-to-table programs.

No skills or tools needed, just a desire to work and learn. Age-appropriate activities for all.

When: Sat Apr 22, 2017 (09:00 AM – 11:30 AM)
Where: Crossway Community, 3015 Upton Dr, Kensington, MD 20895
Fee: None. Free. No advance registration required
Volunteer Info: Volunteers help with construction, site preparation and planting.

Contact: Hannah Sloss, 301-929-2505 hsloss@crossway-community.org

Artful Living: Resilience Volunteer Opportunity

Britepaths (formerly Our Daily Bread) will host our 3rd annual Artful Living: An Evening of Art, Wine and Strengthening Community, on Saturday, April 22 from 7-10 p.m. at the Sherwood Center in Fairfax City, in association with the Fairfax Spotlight on the Arts Festival.

The theme is “Resilience.” The evening will include a juried art show with works by local artists for sale, live music by local Latin-Jazz band Batida Diferente, a live charity auction, appetizers, wine and craft beer tastings.

The event supports Britepaths work to provide emergency and self-sufficiency services to working families in the Fairfax County area who are struggling to make ends meet. A portion of proceeds will also benefit the Spotlight on the Arts Scholarship Fund.

When: Sat Apr 22, 2017 (7:00 PM – 10:00 PM)
Where: Stacy C. Sherwood Community Center, 3740 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22030
Fee: Yes $45 by 4/21; $50 at the door
Volunteer Info: We will need many volunteers to help run this event on the afternoon and evening of April 22. A registration will be posted closer to the event on our Volunteer page at britepaths.org. Email info@britepaths.org if you would like to be notified of volunteer needs for the event.
Contact: Jennifer Rose, (703) 273-8829

A Creative Learning Community Where the Sky is the Limit!

By Kathleen Guinan CEO, Crossway Community

kidsCrossway Community promotes learning creativity and community for all families in the greater Washington area since 1990. As a local organization with a global mindset, we have had the privilege of supporting hundreds of children and families while building an innovative model that we try to share with policymakers, educators, and leaders around the world.

Our model of social change is rooted in Montessori philosophy and principles. Maria Montessori was a physician and teacher who was working in Italy in the early twentieth century. Using her method, viewing people as naturally curious and motivated by practical life and beauty, what we are really doing is creating the environment to nurture and support learning– for every child, parent, and community member who walks through our door.

When we started, we had a vision of becoming a local resource, and a national model. That has held true over time. On our suburban campus in Kensington, MD, a once an abandoned elementary school is now our three learning centers: The Crossway Community Montessori School, The Family Leadership Academy, and The Intergenerational Learning Center.
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These three centers, which are all integrated and Montessori-infused, represent our model children learning, parents thriving, and community connecting. Some families participate in just one of the learning centers, and others are engaged in all three. But it’s because we’ve got them all operating together that the magic happens. That’s how immigrant families are learning to feel at home. It’s how children of working poor parents are gaining the education foundation for a future that includes college. It is why the volunteers who join us tell us they learn as much as they teach.

My hope for the future is the families that continue to show up, wanting to learn, wanting to grow, wanting to contribute. I have seen the resilience, the dignity, and the compassion that they come through with, even when there is so much negativity and conflict. Witnessing the transformations that happen calms my soul and motivates me to keep dong this work. We approach what we do with a constant desire to learn, to get better, to understand more… there is always hope.

One of the most exciting initiatives we are getting involved with comes out of our Intergenerational Learning Center. In the fall, in partnership with a nationally recognized trainer, we’ll be offering a wonderful workshop for professionals and family members of people living with dementia. This is a perfect example of our model in action. The goal of the workshop is to support people living with dementia by creating a prepared environment, filled with cues and memory supports, that enables individuals to care for themselves, others, and their community so that they may live as independently as possible. More information about the workshop is here.

No two days at Crossway Community look quite the same. But, a really great day often begins with the sounds of singing in the Crossway Community Montessori School. We watch the comings and goings of the families who live on-site in the Family Leadership Program, many of whom are new to this country. The parents are working hard to make progress on their work and education, while establishing routines and relationships that support healthy development of their children.

I am always inspired to see the growth in our organic gardens as the weather warms up. And when the senior citizen volunteers show up to do cleanup projects or mentoring their energy is a force to be reckoned with. I am so lucky to be surrounded by a professional team that “gets it” that wants to be part of something big and positive and real. And volunteers whose generosity knows no bounds. But most of all, it’s about the families.

Obviously, as close as we are to DC, we have a view up close and personal of the political landscape. I think the most useful thing we can do is to try to maintain our position as a calm, principled advocate for families, for education, and for social justice. We have to just stay the course, true to what we know matters for the children and families who have entrusted us to be their partner. That keeps us focused.

We love to give tours, and in 2017, our Event Spaces (including a Cafe with a full commercial kitchen, and the Great Room) are available to the public for family, corporate, and community events. New ideas and visitors are always welcome at Crossway Community. As we like to say, the sky’s the limit!

A Compassionate Heart for a New Independent Life

by Elisabeth Rhyne, Board Chair, Just Neighbors

While the national debate about immigration can inflame tempers on both sides, I appreciate the refreshing antidote Just Neighbors offers as an organization that approaches immigration with a compassionate heart.

Just Neighbors doesn’t play politics or raise a strident voice. Instead, it quietly pursues the mission it has supported for over 20 years to provide legal assistance to immigrants in Northern Virginia who can obtain status through the pathways U.S. immigration law offers, especially those who cannot afford legal fees.

Over the years, Just Neighbors has helped over 10,000 people from just about every country in the world to get the visas, work permits, and even citizenship, to become contributing members of their adopted communities.

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For example, a husband and wife, both physicians, came as refugees from Iraq. When they contacted Just Neighbors they were overwhelmed with the new country and new language, studying to pass qualifying exams in the U.S., and caring for their toddler. Just Neighbors assisted the family to receive green cards. This family had the ability to thrive, they simply needed help getting on their feet after fleeing their homeland.

Some clients have more complex situations. For example, “Mariela”, from Bolivia, whose status here depended on her U.S. citizen husband, who was abusing her. Using the provisions of the Violence Against Women Act, Just Neighbors helped her obtain a green card and establish an independent new life.

As the Board Chair and not a lawyer, I am far from an expert on immigration law. I’m always learning, and what amazes me, is how complicated our immigration system is. It takes experienced immigration attorneys to sort through the thicket of rules, procedures and possibilities and find the right kind of help for each person.

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Just Neighbors staff attorneys specialize in what, to me, are very arcane matters. Even though they are sacrificing the significantly higher salaries they could earn in a firm, they love their work, and you can see them hugging clients when they bring the good news that a work permit has been approved. They especially love to hear how their clients fare afterwards.

Head attorney, Dominque Poirer was thrilled to get a note from a former client: “You told me to call you when we had big changes in our life. So I wanted to tell you that I got married, I have a new address because I bought a house, and I joined the Navy and am shipping out on Friday.”

The staff attorneys determine how many people Just Neighbors can assist, and that’s why one of our top priorities is to reach the financial standing that would enable us to increase our legal staff from three to four attorneys.

The staff attorneys time is golden for Just Neighbors, because every case must go through their hands. But one of the best things about Just Neighbors is how it uses volunteers to leverage that scarce resource. Volunteer attorneys assist staff attorneys in preparing cases, upping caseloads the organization can handle. In addition, ordinary folks like me can help with client interviews and office administration. The organization seeks to give volunteers a chance to reach out in compassion to others. It believes that when volunteers connect personally with immigrants they see the individuals, and immigration itself, through new eyes. In fact, creating a welcoming community through volunteers is part of the mission. Volunteers save money too: the estimated value of donated time is about 80 percent as large as Just Neighbors total budget.

Right now there is great uncertainty about the future of immigration policy, and that is putting stress on Just Neighbors while making its work more important, and a little different, from the past few years. For example, we don’t yet know whether the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be continued. DACA provides work permits for undocumented young adults who were brought to the U.S. as children, often called “Dreamers”. Just Neighbors has helped nearly 900 DACA applicants since the program began in 2013 and would like to continue to enable these young adults to take their places in society.

In addition, the stepped up enforcement of deportation orders by immigration authorities is creating fear and uncertainty throughout the immigrant community. This leads Just Neighbors into a new role: responding to calls from people seeking answers and advice. Although Just Neighbors cannot assist those who have no legal pathway, it offers advice on how to respond if someone is stopped by the police, how to prepare for children to be cared for if the father or mother is deported, and what a person’s rights are in those circumstances. Just Neighbors is taking on this essential educational role on top of its regular caseload out of caring for the communities it works with, trying to get the word out to as many people in those communities as it can.

One of the great things about Just Neighbors is that a relatively small (and really pretty inexpensive) intervention can make an enormous difference in someone’s life. When a person gets a work permit, escapes an abusive relationship, or rejoins a family, she often feels that her life has just begun. Just Neighbors gives its clients a tangible acknowledgment that they belong in this community and an ability to look at their future with confidence. I love it for that.

If you’d like to find out more about Just Neighbors, see http://cfp-dc.org/nonprofits/1352/Just-Neighbors/

Pathways to Brighter Futures

cfpdc2013org-DoorwaysforWomenandFamilies-94291-2541 Doorways for Women and Families is a local nonprofit, community service organization that creates pathways out of homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault leading to safe, stable and empowered lives. The causes of family homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault are profound and varied.

Doorways works to break the cycles of poverty and violence through every interaction we have with our clients and by advocating for systemic policy change. We are successful because we treat each person as an individual, tailoring our programs and services to help every adult and child we serve overcome trauma, build life skills and ultimately unlock their full potential. From immediate crisis intervention to counseling, housing and employment support, we offer real options and multiple pathways to build brighter futures.

Together with our community, Doorways puts thousands of adults, youth and children on paths to brighter futures by providing:

  • An immediate, safe response to our neighbors in crisis, including Arlington’s only 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline (703-237-0881)
  • Safe housing options, from emergency shelter through long-term housing, including Arlington’s only Domestic Violence Safehouse, Safe Apartments and Safe Kennel
  • Comprehensive support services that help our clients achieve and maintain stability, including Children’s Services

At Doorways, we have an unofficial motto coined by one of our team members: “Do for; Do with; Cheer on.”

When clients first arrive at Doorways, they are escaping crisis; basic needs such as safety and shelter are their top priority. In the beginning, we “do for” our clients by seeing to these immediate needs for them. Next, we “do with” our clients by partnering with them to set goals for their brighter futures. Through trauma-informed counseling and other tailored services, we help clients address the underlying causes of homelessness and violence and teach them critical skills for achieving and maintaining stability. Finally, we “cheer on” our clients when they are ready to take steps on their own, celebrating their independence while continuing to support their journeys.

From our immediate response to safe shelter and housing to our Comprehensive Service Model, Doorways empowers our clients every step of the way. Learn more about Doorways unique approach at www.DoorwaysVA.org/our-approach.

Who We Serve

Doorways serves our community’s most vulnerable members: families experiencing homelessness and survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Experiencing any one of these in your life is traumatic, but many of Doorways clients have experienced all three. Family homelessness and domestic and sexual violence impact everyone, regardless of age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. We serve women, men, youth and children; in fact, more than half of Doorways clients are kids. Meet three of our amazing clients, Christina, Erica and Khadeejah, and hear about their journeys firsthand:

 

Hope for a Brighter Future

While the issues of family homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault may seem too pervasive to solve, we know that, together, we can make a difference. Doorways envisions a community where all people live free of violence and have safe and stable housing.

Through the generosity of our partners and supporters, Doorways empowers our most vulnerable neighbors to survive crisis, rebuild their lives and achieve brighter futures. In so doing, we help break intergenerational cycles of homelessness and abuse, building the brightest possible future for those we serve and our shared community. The strength, courage and resilience of the women, men, youth and children we serve inspire us each and every day.

Sharing in our belief in their potential and hope for our clients brighter futures, Doorways dedicated and generous supporters enable us to respond to the increasing demand for safety and the growing complexity of the needs of survivors and families seeking self-sufficiency, despite the uncertain, restrictive funding climate that threatens our ability to deliver lasting change in our client’s well-being.

Court Advocacy

Everyone’s journey to a brighter future is different each individual has their own story, needs, goals and dreams; their pathways vary. We celebrate victories big and seemingly small: a baby’s homecoming or first steps; a mother’s new, better paying job; a family’s new apartment; a young man’s breakthrough in counseling; a child’s creation in art therapy. Each step forward makes for a great day at Doorways.

We also know that the challenges that arise along the way are part of the journey, and we’re here to help our clients face and overcome them. We’re humbled to be part of their life and see the transformation that is possible. Through Doorways, this support has helped our most vulnerable neighbors achieve the following in the last couple years:

  • 90% of clients experiencing intimate partner violence enhanced their safety by developing a safety plan, obtaining a legal protective order, and/or receiving accompaniment for emergency medical treatment post sexual assault.
  • 87% of households experiencing homelessness exited to safe housing.
  • 95% of children with social-emotional issues received services and treatment to address their needs.
  • 80% of adults improved or maintained employment or earning capacity, and nearly 70% built savings.

Join Our Cause

The time is now. The need for Doorways programs and services has never been greater. Over the past two years, every Doorways program serving survivors of violence has grown. Last year alone, Doorways responded to 1,347 calls to our 24-hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline impacting 2,206 adults and children a record number in the organization’s history.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in America. This month offers opportunities to raise awareness about sexual violence and resources available to survivors in our community, including our 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline, Hospital Accompaniment for survivors seeking medical attention, Court Advocacy, and our Revive Domestic & Sexual Violence Counseling Program, which offers individual and group counseling to survivors of all ages.

Visit www.DoorwaysVA.org/saam to learn how to participate in our awareness days and events, and how to help raise awareness during SAAM. Go to www.DoorwaysVA.org/join-our-cause for ways to stay involved all year long.

Guest Post: The Barker Foundation

November is National Adoption Month! Today we’re excited to have a guest post from The Barker Foundation, whose mission is to serve all members of the adoption circle – birth parents, adoptive parents, adopted persons, and anyone whose life is touched by adoption. A licensed adoption agency serving DC, Maryland and Virginia, The Barker Foundation supports teens and women as they consider an adoption plan, places infants and children with carefully selected, local adoptive families, and provides lifelong support and education to all adopted persons.

Reflections by Beverly Clarke

Director, Project Wait No Longer

I have 9 year old twins who are full of questions, and we are always discussing new words and looking up definitions on-line. Recently, we were looking up the definition for the word “inspiration.” There were many definitions, but the ones that I felt most drawn to were “divine influence exerted directly on the mind and soul of humankind” or “to spur on, impel, energize or motivate.” My kids began making up sentences based on this new found understanding of the word and all the things that are “inspirational” in the life of a 9 year old. My favorites were “I am inspired to eat my broccoli so that I can have a brownie,” or “I am inspired to read three books so that I can watch an episode of Scooby-Doo.” Listening to them was entertaining but also got me thinking about what inspires me.

I realized that I am fortunate to feel inspired on a daily basis while working with Project Wait No Longer, Barker’s older child adoption program. I am inspired by the children and teenagers that still have the audacity to hope for a forever family even after surviving years of abuse and neglect at the hands of adults. I am amazed when I see them begin to break down their protective walls, change their behaviors, and develop trust for the members of their new families. I am inspired by the parents who come to our program, determined to provide loving and stable homes for older children who oftentimes don’t know how to be a part of a family – by the families that stick it out, even when the going gets unbearably tough.

This is what drives me to work harder every day to find placements for older children who are often languishing within the foster care system. The needs of the children weigh on my mind and soul, inspiring me and the amazing team in PWNL to be a part of the solution.

Recently, I had the pleasure of helping to facilitate the placement of a little guy (Bobby) who is 10 years old into the home of Sue and John. Bobby has been doing really well with his new family, but has come from a long history of being rejected by former caretakers, so making the leap to calling Sue and John “mom” and “dad” has been really hard. Last week my phone rang, and John was on the line. I was surprised to hear from him because Sue (the more emotional one of the pair) is usually the one who calls me. In a very excited voice, John said to me, “Bev, something pretty cool happened. Bobby was talking about me to one of his friends, and I overheard him call me “dad.” This is the first time he has ever done that! Isn’t that great?” Through the phone I could hear the pride, joy and excitement in John’s voice. After several months of patient and consistent love, his son has begun to claim him as “dad.” This is what we work for at Barker. These are the true moments of inspiration.

Beverly Clarke, LCSW-C, LICSW is the Director of Project Wait No Longer at the Barker Foundation. For more information on our work, visit us at: www.barkerfoundation.org.