Many women become homeless due to a traumatic life event, a sort of event that many of us could relate to and all of us would find challenging: illness or death of a loved one, loss of a job, a failed relationship or domestic or sexual abuse. The strength it takes to surmount such life curve balls is immense. But NEW alumna, Taniya Johnson was able to find such strength.
“I feel victorious!” she said recently. “I overcame some very hard obstacles.” It was the death of Taniya’s mother and then the dissolution of her marriage shortly there after that left Taniya reeling. “I resorted to drinking,” Taniya said. “And it got really, really bad.” She became homeless. She finally entered an addiction program but she had to convince herself to stay. After 45 days though, she became interested in helping others in their recovery. The only problem was, she still had nowhere to go.
It was a novel idea 30 years ago: Give people more than a bed for the night, give them a chance for a brighter future. In 1988 in DC, most shelters were only emergency shelters, meaning at 7 p.m., people could get dinner and a place to sleep, but by 7 a.m. the next morning, everyone had to be out, dragging all their belongings with them. There were some daytime drop in centers here and there, “but if you were trying to get your life together and find a job, it wasn’t exactly an easy thing,” said Mary Popit, who was the Executive Director of NEW from 1996-2005.
A group of women, including Mary Ann Luby, working in the emergency shelters for women saw this problem first-hand and decided to do something about it. They asked city officials if they could start a transitional housing program, giving women a place to live for three months, allowing them more time to get their lives in order.
The city gave them 611 N Street and some money and the story goes that on July 4, 1988, these women were making up four beds. The next day, four women came through NEW’s doors with a desire to get their lives back on track. Each one got a case manager, an education consultant, an employment professional and a housing professional.
COMING THIS FALL! NEW wants YOU, our DC community, to get to know us better. In September, we will be opening our doors to volunteers for a monthly game night, a fun opportunity to connect with NEW women. Our mandatory first volunteer orientation is September 5. Sign up here!
Our Winter Newsletter, Renewal, has been mailed. In this issue, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of NEW, discuss the implications of domestic violence systems on homeless populations in DC, as well as welcome new Board Members.
On any given night, 882 unaccompanied (single) women are experiencing homelessness in the District of Columbia. Think about it: in DC nearly 900 women will be alone, homeless, and often hopeless tonight while we sleep in our warm, cozy beds in our homes.
Not everybody can relate to our homeless clients. But Denise Ziegler has a story that serves as inspiration.
Denise, 53, is the lead case manager at New Horizons, which currently serves 17 families with single mothers. Her team provides case management services, home visits, and community meetings.
On Saturday, June 24, she got her associate’s degree in business administration from Strayer University.
Denise began working at NEW in 2008 as support staff on the weekends, while she was working on weekdays as an administrative assistant. Her other job recommended that in order to advance she go back to school, so she did. Read more
NEW Executive Director Wanda Steptoe joined Kris Thompson, executive director of Calvary Women’s Services, on Friday, June 9th, to host a meeting of the Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH)* Women’s Task Force. About 40 people representing over 25 agencies participated in the meeting, committing themselves to improving the lives of homeless women in our community. Together Wanda and Kris co-chair the Women’s Task Force, which was created to address the experiences and needs of homeless women in Washington, DC. Read more
After a careful vetting process, the Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington has selected New Endeavors by Women (NEW) to be part of the Class of 2017-18. NEW has undergone an extensive review process, and has met the Catalogue’s high standards. Potential donors can be confident that the nonprofits in the Catalogue are worthy of their support.
“We’re thrilled to be a part of the Catalogue for Philanthropy,” says Wanda Steptoe, NEW’s executive director. “Our work with homeless women and children is critical to meet the need in DC — our presence in the Catalogue will help us gain more support for those we serve.” Read more
New Journeys is one of the seven housing programs offered by New Endeavors by Women (NEW.) Serving senior women, New Journeys provides housing for six women aged 55 and older.
“There’s been a spike in elderly homelessness over the past five years or so,” explains NEW Program Director James Brown. “New Journeys has been so successful that we’re starting a second program – New Journeys II – in October.”
With the new program, 15 more senior women will be able to call New Journeys II home. As James pointed out, the need has been escalating. And the programs to support the elderly are few and far between in the Washington, DC area. Read more