Volunteer Spotlight: Gloria, loyal walker and friend

Volunteer Spotlight: Gloria, loyal walker and friend
Walking Club volunteer, Gloria

We launched NEW’s Walking Club last year and one volunteer quickly became a club staple. Gloria Veney began walking last December after her pastor at First Rising Mt. Zion Baptist Church, across the street from NEW, encouraged his congregation to become involved with their neighbors. “I love walking and the company is really nice,” Gloria said.

Gloria is no stranger to helping others. She worked as a geriatric nurse for 43 years before retiring, and now helps about five older residents in her apartment building with errands, doctors’ appointments and help around their apartments. “I enjoy meeting people and helping them do whatever I can to make their day better,” she said.

NEW has enjoyed Gloria’s smile and dedication. “Everybody needs help from time to time,” she said. “And it’s nice to see a smile on someone’s face when you do something nice for them.”

Deloitte volunteers gardening at New Journeys II

Gloria has not been the only volunteer from First Rising Church. Jeanne Whitley and Addy Watson lead a gardening crew and planted beautiful flowers in front of 611 N Street. “The flowers really brighten up the building and in turn all the women who pass them as they come through our door,” said Executive Director Wanda Steptoe. “We are so grateful!”

We had so many groups come and volunteer with us: The Washington DC Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. hosted a day of health. Junior League came and helped the women build their confidence. And a joint effort of volunteers from The Connecticut College Caring Camels one day and Deloitte on the company’s Impact Day planted

The Willing Workers

a garden for the women at New Journeys II. “My whole life I’ve had gardens,” said resident April who approached her case manager a few months ago about starting a garden at NJ II. Today, thanks to the volunteers, April is growing collard greens, bell peppers, rosemary, thyme, sage, cucumbers and tomatoes. “The Deloitte volunteers were excellent and we really appreciate it,” she said.

A group from BDO did some gardening for Rachael’s House, where they planted flowers lining the front walk. Also at Rachael’s House, a group from United Methodist Women brought lunch, song and prayer to the women.

Deloitte’s Impact Day also included two business chemistry workshops for the staff and the women. And the loyal Willing Workers spent a day with women encouraging them through workshops and speakers. It’s been another busy season of volunteers!

New Program director, Claudine Brown

New Program director, Claudine Brown

Claudine Brown is our new Program Manager. She supports three case managers while also helping 38 NEW residents find stability, confidence and a home. It’s no easy job, but Claudine has the energy and know-how to stay positive and get things done. We sat down with her to learn more about who she is.

Where did you graduate and with what degrees? Brescia University in Owensboro KY (BA Psychology), Trinity Washington University (MA School Counseling.)

Where were you before NEW and what were you doing? Housing UP (They assist homeless families through Rapid Rehousing, Transitional and Permanent Supportive Housing.)

Where did you grow up? I grew up in Jamaica until I was 17. I move to America on a soccer scholarship to Owensboro KY.

Why did you want to get into this type of work? I’ve always had a passion to help others. After undergrad I went on a few interviews in this field and once I landed a job with metropolitan educational solutions helping homeless families, I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

What drew you to NEW? The fact that NEW serves women. My mom was a single parent so I’ve always wanted to help women because of that. I saw how hard she had to work without any support and I wanted to give back in any way I can to help other women who might be struggling.

What do you hope to do here? My hope is to assist as many women as possible to get their own place and careers that will propel them into self-sufficiency and overall success.

So far, what has been your favorite thing about working here? Interacting with the women as well as sharing my experiences and growth with them in a way that motivates them to do more to change their lives/ situation.

What is the best part of your job? The teaching aspect of the job. It allows to me lead and support my staff and the clients. I absolutely love supporting the people around me.

What do you do in your free time? In my spare time I coach soccer and I play in an adult league. I’m a forward for my team which means I get to score goals and make assists. I’m also a big gamer so I play online (FIFA/NBA2K) to unwind from a hard day’s work.

New Journeys Anniversary

New Journeys Anniversary

This year marks five years since we started serving senior women in New Journeys permanent-supportive housing program, which assists six women at a time in achieving stability and housing.

“We noticed that we were getting more seniors coming through our transitional program so we talked about using one cluster (six rooms) at our 611 N Street location for seniors due to the growing need,” said Executive Director Wanda Steptoe.

The reason for this uptick of homeless seniors, Wanda speculated, is that the services these women needed years ago didn’t exist so some of them have ended up spending decades on the street. “Now with more city programming, the hope is that we are reaching people in need earlier,” Wanda said.

Since opening New Journeys, we have served dozens of women in need of permanent-supportive housing and services. Women like Mary who worked for the Democratic National Committee for 25 years before she got sick and needed open-heart surgery. “I lost everything,” she said. She couldn’t pay her bills and ended up on the street. “I was scared to death,” she said.

Now at NEW, she is an active member of the community. She regularly volunteers for NEW and N Street Village, and hopes to get involved volunteering for the upcoming Democratic presidential campaign. “NEW has been very helpful,” she said. “I’ve had the time to get healthy.”

Due to the success of New Journeys, two years ago, we opened New Journeys II which houses and supports 15 women in individual apartments in Southeast.

“What we do is so important. These women are the most vulnerable population in DC. They have been chronically homeless for so long,” said Naisha Price, the Program Manager for New Journeys II. “These women have been the forgotten population for so long. We renew their faith with the message that they are not forgotten.”

“It’s tragic when you see a woman who has lived for decades on the street. It’s impossible to even imagine what that would be like. These women need help, and I am so glad we are able to provide it to them through our New Journeys programs,” Wanda said.

Against All Odds

Against All Odds

NEW’s Youth Enrichment Program Participant, Leslie Campos, is headed to college and will attend Bowie State University to pursue a pre-med degree.  She graduated from Duke Ellington School for the Arts this spring.

“I am ready to go to college!” Leslie said. “I love science and I want to help people.” Leslie will be the first in her family to attend college. This summer she has attended a six-week summer program at Bowie to help prepare her for college. Before she left, Leslie received an outpouring of support from our NEW donors who purchased items for Leslie off her Amazon college wish list. From a computer to shower slippers, the items helped Leslie get on her way!

Until Leslie, her three siblings and mom made it to NEW, life was not stable. They were in and out of shelters and schools. When they got to NEW, Leslie started attending the Saturday YEP enrichment activities to places she otherwise wouldn’t be able to go to like the movies or out to eat. This year she was especially thankful to the NEW staff who helped her figure out how to apply to college. One staff member even took her to visit Bowie State for a day.

“I am very proud of Leslie’s success and perseverance,” said NEW Executive Director Wanda Steptoe. “When I started YEP, I knew there were kids out there like Leslie who just needed the support to succeed in school. I look forward to following her success as she embarks on this new chapter.”

Another YEP student, Javonne’ Coleman graduated from The Maya Angelou Public Charter School in May. Javonne had to overcome myriad difficulties to succeed. He has been accepted to Virginia State University.

NEW is proud of our high school graduates!

Moving Into Success: Lisa Harrell

Moving Into Success: Lisa Harrell

The oldest of four kids, Lisa Harrell grew up in a dysfunctional household with alcoholic parents and an abusive father. “Growing up for me was hell. I didn’t have a childhood,” she said. She started drinking at a very young age and even though she was on the honor roll, she dropped out of high school before her senior year.

“My decision-making skills were altered due to the unresolved issues of abandonment by my mother and resentment of my father,” Lisa said.

She lived with her godmother and would drink on the weekends but could hold down a job. Crack scared her. She had seen too many friends and family members succumb to its charms. But then one night, when she was 27 she decided to give it a try. “Here is a 27-year-old confused women dealing with all these unresolved issues. I am a survivor of rape, incest and molestation, so many things and so many components of this,” Lisa said. “But I had no knowledge of the disease and what it can do. Before I knew it, I stopped going to work.”

From then until recently, she said, “It was like playing Russian roulette every day for me.” Lisa lost her home, her job, everything. Her life was only about how she could get her next fix. “I went from pillar to post a lot, staying with friends or family, sleeping in abandoned cars, abandoned houses, on the street or shelters, going in and out of different drug programs,” she said. She started prostituting.

“Addiction is really ugly. It starts out as fun, but after a while it becomes not fun anymore. It becomes a way of life,” she said.

Lisa would wake up some days with the best of intentions and think: “I’m not going to get high today. I am not going to drink today. I’m going to seek help and get in a program. But as soon as that person comes with that bottle or that hit, all of that would go out the window. When the disease calls you, you gotta go,” Lisa said.

Then one day, she got on her knees and she prayed to God and asked for help. “I didn’t want to die this way,” she said. “I didn’t want my obit to read: Lisa Harrell, crackhead.”

She entered a rehab program and two months later came to New Endeavors Transitional Housing program.

“My family wasn’t really supportive of me, so NEW became my family,” Lisa said. She was grateful for her bed, the meals, the staff, and her case manager Alana Roberts. “I learned structure. I learned discipline. I learned to slowly grow up,” Lisa said.

It hasn’t been without challenges. Lisa relapsed a couple times while at NEW, “but NEW didn’t give up on me,” she said. “You can’t just open up a place and shelter women. You have to have a heart for the women. You have to have a heart for the work. And the staff at NEW does.”

Lisa will be sober one year in August. This spring, she moved out of NEW and into permanent-supportive housing in Southeast.

“You can’t stereotype and put everybody in the pot,” Lisa said. “There are some people who really want to get their lives together like me and there are others coming behind me and we need places like NEW to be open to give somebody another chance.”

Every day is still a struggle to stay clean, but Lisa is doing everything she can to fight her addiction: she goes to meetings, she sees a therapist, she calls her sponsor every day. And she visits NEW to give the clients there hope and encouragement. She is hoping to go back to school, maybe open up her own business, maybe a food truck. But first, she must stay sober.

“I am grateful for NEW because that was the start of my journey and the beginning of my healing,” she said. “I tell the women that are still there that if God did it for me, he would do it for them too.”

ReNEWal Summer 2019

ReNEWal Summer 2019

Our Spring Newsletter, ReNEWal, has been mailed. In this issue, we highlight volunteers as well as welcome new board members and celebrate the fifth anniversary of New Journeys. We are so thankful for our many NEW family members who help make every NEW success possible!

Please take a moment to browse our latest issue of ReNEWal. Read more

A NEW Look: Case Manager Denise Ziegler

A NEW Look: Case Manager Denise Ziegler

Case Manager Denise Ziegler considers herself Superwoman. She doesn’t wear a red cape or fly an invisible jet, but her days are devoted to helping others and saving the day.

Denise works as a case manager for New Horizons, helping mothers find stability and confidence, and helping their kids stay motivated and inspired. Denise is also earning her BA in criminal justice. As if that’s not enough, Denise takes care of her elderly mother and most weekends, all four of her grandsons, ages 12,11, 5 and 1 stay with her.

Serving others, she said, is just who she is. Read more

Did You Know: Case Manger Antoinette Norris

Did You Know: Case Manger Antoinette Norris

Did you know that Case Manager Antoinette Norris always seems to have a smile on her face? A DC native and the youngest of seven children, growing up, Antoinette was always fascinated with human behavior. “I wanted to know why people do what they do and why they think what they think,” she said.  Antoinette’s brother went through some life challenges and she remembers asking her parents, “Why can’t he just get it together?” It was this desire to know and understand that lead her to social work. “I wanted to find out how I could help people change their behavior,” she said.

Antoinette earned an undergraduate degree in psychology and then a Master’s in counseling, both from Trinity University. When she graduated she was determined that she did NOT want to work with adults. She took an internship with Rachael’s House in any case, because she needed it to graduate. In true optimistic Antoinette form, she ended up connecting to her clients. “I was already very women-centric in my thinking, but I didn’t know it at the time,” she said “These were women. I’m a woman. That right there is a very powerful connection,” she said.

After more than a decade in the field, does Antoinette now understand human behavior? “I don’t know,” she said, “but what I do know is for the most part, people just want to be heard. The women I work with feel voiceless and powerless, and a listening ear can be medicine for the soul.”