NEW welcomes Roderick Johnson to the board of directors. Roderick is Vice President and Sr. Commercial Loan Officer at Industrial Bank. He also happens to be a DC native with 30 years of board governance experience.
Asked what attracted him NEW, Roderick has a swift and clear answer: “The work you do to rehabilitate women, give them stability, and help them to be productive members of society.” Why specifically NEW in a city where there are several organizations helping the homeless? “Because homeless women are a fragile population. NEW gets them back up on their feet again, and that is worth supporting.”
Roderick is determined to put his network and experience to use to raise NEW’s profile and encourage more donors to support the organization’s work. He’s also determined to see more NEW alum graduate with greater financial literacy. “You need personal credit to be able to save and buy a house. And that’s the first step to building wealth.”
More than once in the conversation, Roderick uses the phrase “productive members of society.” That is for a reason. “Women in our country graduate in greater numbers, start more businesses, make more financial decisions at home. So when an organization makes more women productive members of society, it is a big deal.”
Indeed. As has been said before by many NEW board members and supporters, ending homelessness is both the right as well as smart thing to do. We are all better off when none of us is without shelter.
NEW recently welcomed Jessica Sanderson to its board of directors. As a Public Sector Leader at Oliver Wyman – Global Management Consulting Experts, Sanderson specializes in helping organizations grow. She joins us because she was looking for an opportunity to support a DC non-profit grow and achieve its full potential. Fortuitously, NEW is in the process of a long-term strategic plan to grow our organization, help more women and children end the cycle of homelessness, and thrive.
Why homelessness? “Everyone should have a roof over their head and a safe place to call home,” says Sanderson. “It’s a basic human need and we are all better off when everyone has shelter and safety.”
Why NEW? “Because it’s clear to me it was a well-run organization with significant potential for growth.” Sanderson’s succinct answer is a reflection of her professional career. In addition to her professional expertise, Sanderson hopes to bring a new perspective to the board to support its growth objectives. In particular, she brings experience from the commercial and public sector in driving transformation and innovation initiatives, and leading complex strategic initiatives. Add to this a diverse, extensive network and NEW is lucky to have her on board.
Finally, asked why we don’t pay more attention to individuals struggling with “basic human needs”, Sanderson has an answer everyone can relate to. “We get wrapped up in our lives. And we simply don’t pay attention because we think it takes time.” Except, as NEW’s supporters know, it doesn’t take much, and a little can go a long way.
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Become a Partner for the Future. Show your love for New Endeavors by Women with this amazing tote bag and sticker. They’re yours when you make a sustaining donation!
A little from you goes a long way for us. Take that $10 you spend on a couple of skinny lattes each month. That same $10 will buy healthy snacks for our children’s after school program. Won’t you join us with a recurring monthly donation?
Behind every new beginning at NEW is a team of dedicated staff. One of NEW’s longest-employed staffers is Renee Roberts. She has been with us for 11 years, three of them as a case manager. Find out what makes the job rewarding for her, and how NEW changes both clients and staff.
In a region full of overachievers, Areej Khan and Palak Shah still impress with the generosity and magnitude of their clear-eyed vision.
Khan and Shah are high school seniors who saw the need and came up with the idea of Clean Kits. They now regularly collect, assemble, and donate hygiene kits to homeless women. Which is how we met them—they approached and donated 170 kits, each containing a bar of soap and 10 tampons and pads.
Let’s start at the beginning, though. How do a pair of 18-year olds get to this juncture? “It was a school project. We were asked to find a problem, do the research, and come up with the solution,” Shah says. “And I wanted to partner with someone who was just as dedicated.” Conveniently, Shah and Khan have known each other since freshman year, so a partnership made sense. But still, how did it get from school project to real life? “Well, what’s the point of doing all this research and not taking action?” So they did.
A year later, they’ve handed out 750 kits in DC, Fairfax and Loudon counties.
Why hygiene kits? “Because people don’t think of it,” Khan says. “All the drives focus on canned food and clothing, which are certainly important. But no one thinks of this aspect of hygiene, which is equally important. I think it just hasn’t been done more because among other things, it doesn’t occur to half the population. And those who do think about it, don’t always talk about it.”
Ah yes, the stigma of menstruation. Except Khan and Shah took the first step, and faced it head on. “If you said that homeless people need a toothbrush or soap, no one would argue,” Khan says. “This isn’t any different. It’s about health and hygiene. When we presented it that way, no one disagreed.”
Khan and Shah are headed to college in the fall, one to Virginia Tech, the other to VCU. But they have plans in place to sustain the Clean Kit project. They already have a schedule and check-off lists in place. Their plan is to restock kits every 3 to 6 months based on an organization’s need—in addition to the soap, tampons, and pads, the next batch will also contain a small wash cloth and five plastic bags. They are now assembling a team so they can go from outreach to delegation and a wider area of service. If anything, they plan to expand donations to Richmond, where VCU is located. And yes, they are already in the process of establishing a non-profit with 501c3 tax deductible status, courtesy of one parent who happens to be a financial advisor.
They have two reasons for forming a non-profit, apart from the obvious. “People are more comfortable donating to a non-profit. But more than that, there didn’t seem to be that many grants we could apply to for this one thing.”
One more thing—the Clean Kits come in cloth drawstring bags. “They’re reusable, and that way the women have something in which to keep the few things they have.” It’s certainly a big step up from the stereotypical garbage bag.
Leslie Gutierrez answers the phone politely, but you can tell she really doesn’t have time. She’s the oldest of four, and a student of Duke Ellington School of the Arts in DC, and in charge on the afternoon she speaks with us. The conversation is, by turns, illuminating and funny.
Leslie is 15. Her siblings are Randolfo Campos, 12, Elias Campos 11, and one voluble Kassandra Campos, 8. Their mother, Geisy Ceberino was a NEW client who benefitted from New Endeavors by Women’s (NEW) New Horizons program. She couldn’t really take the time to talk because she is employed as a home health aide worker. It falls to Leslie to fill in why NEW, and the YEP! program (Youth Enrichment Program) in particular, has made a difference for the whole family. Read more
The world carries on, the winter sets in, and all of us await spring. But the women and children of NEW don’t wait for a fresh start — because there is no time like the present to build a new future! Read more
A note from Wanda Steptoe, NEW’s executive director:
Right now, our staff and residents are doing what you probably are too — gearing up for Thanksgiving.
Some of those residents are kids — infants, toddlers, and teens. And I cannot tell you what joy they bring to the room! Which it is why it pains me to tell you that we have lost funding for the Youth Enrichment Program, YEP!, the one NEW program designed to provide academic support and life skills to our youth residents. Read more