Letter from NEW Executive Director, Wanda Steptoe, on Resilience

Resilience is defined as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” I think resiliency is being tested and strengthened 

in all of us now.  Many of you have reached out over the past year to inquire how our ladies are doing and quite frankly in answer to that question, they are doing well, given our current circumstances.

Throughout my career working with individuals experiencing homelessness, I have been privy to many of the circumstances faced by those I have served.  I have thought on more than a few occasions, “no one should have to endure that and I could not have survived that!”  The trauma suffered as a result of physical and emotional abuse, abandonment and lack of nurturing love and support have made them resilient.  While the circumstances of their lives have been daunting, they have persevered.  As I pondered their resiliency, I asked Antoinette, one of our program managers her thoughts:

“I do think that life circumstances and trauma experienced by our clients contribute to their resiliency. I also believe that it is imperative that we assist our clients with recognizing how their strengths (resiliency) impact their ability to become survivors, while also acknowledging how trauma and life circumstances can contribute to personal challenges. Resiliency is a strength that our clients may not recognize in themselves due to feelings of self-doubt, low self-esteem, etc.  While engaging with our clients, we should create a safe space and use language that is empowering, strength based, and encouraging.”

This is what our staff strive for here at NEW, to help our ladies recognize their value, strength and impact. Thank you for your support and genuine care that allows us to empower those we serve.


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It’s been a challenging time for all of us as we adjust our days, our budgets and our expectations to COVID-19. And now, add a city and country grasping for footing after the death of an unarmed black man by a white police officer and we all feel even more out of control, unstable, and concerned about the future. Here at NEW we know that one way we can process our own feelings is to think about the needs and feelings of others.

We need you. The women need you. Your community needs you. Now more than ever women and children in DC need a safe and stable place to live.