With only 26 staff members, including case managers for 152 women and children, NEW depends on its board of 15 committed volunteers to ensure the success of the program.
Volunteers like Debbie Curtis have served on the NEW board for five years, but her connection to NEW goes back to 1998 when she worked in long-time NEW supporter, Senator Pete Stark’s office and met NEW’s Executive Director Mary Popit. Debbie started organizing clothing drives for NEW and encouraging her friends to donate things like panty hose, which the NEW women especially appreciated.
Living in DC, Debbie saw first hand the need for services for women experiencing homelessness. She started attending NEW’s annual Moving Out of Homlessness gala, bringing her baby daughter, Anya with her.
Debbie has continued to support NEW because she believes not only in its mission, but in the dedication of its staff. “NEW actually succeeds in helping women out of homelessness as opposed to moving the women between homelessness,” she says. “I feel so confident the money is going into services, going directly to helping women transfer out of homelessness.”
As NEW programming has evolved to meet the needs of the women through the years, so too the board has evolved and today NEW board members bring a diversity of background and expertise to the work. Debbie works for the DC Health Benefit Exchange, but the board also includes an HR professional, a banker, lawyers, and public policy experts.
“The breadth of the board has really grown and that is so important and intentional and I have been so impressed with that evolution,” Debbie says. “There are now more mechanisms in place to make sure we have a strong board and a variety of people to serve.”
Because of board term limits, Debbie can only serve one more year, but she has no plans to stop supporting the program.
“By supporting NEW, I feel that I’m helping to reduce homelessness in the District. It’s just disturbing the growth of homelesness,” Debbie says. “And also the people at NEW, the clients, the staff, are wonderful and everyone cares about each other and are working to improve people’s lives.”