The #metoo movement has spawned a national discussion about serious issues that face so many women. This is a good thing. And yet, I can’t help but feel that the #metoo discussion has not been all-inclusive. Our women face myriad problems, not least of which is sexual abuse and domestic violence. This kind of trauma often leads to things like addiction and homelessness. And yet there are some people who are inclined to think women who are homeless become so of their own accord, their own mistakes, their own poor choices. Our women are judged in a way that the wealthy Hollywood stars who have also been wronged, are not.
The reality is, it’s amazing that women with little to no resources, forgotten by their communities, find the inner strength to keep going. And yet they do. Their will to live and achieve a better life is inspiring. This is why our work is so important.
You won’t see our women in The Washington Post next to the #metoo hashtag, but they have suffered nonetheless. It’s up to us, here at NEW, and all our wonderful, generous donors like you, to remember them, understand their struggles and be a part of their success, not because there is a movement with a hashtag, but just because it’s the right thing to do.
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.
The words “remarkable” and “survivor” routinely apply to NEW alumna. Even so, Petrina Williams breaks the mold. Like many NEW alumna, Williams, now a NEW board member, has been through challenges that would fell the rest of us. Yet as she talks about her experiences with matter-of-fact honesty, she radiates happiness and a joy for living. For example, her outgoing voicemail message, where you can practically hear her smile, invites you to “Have a great day—on purpose!” No doubt, it is that upbeat attitude that has carried Williams through life. And what a life it has been. Read more
New Endeavors by Women recognizes the outstanding service of Board Chair, Anne Raffaelli, whose term comes to a close at the end of 2015, after 23 years.
As a non-profit organization, the work of our Board Members is incredibly valuable to the success of our organization. Thank you to Anne for her hard work, generous support, and commitment to building a strong and effective organization. Through her tireless efforts, strategic thinking and innovative ideas, NEW has grown immensely.
We’re so grateful for her service and dedication to NEW, our mission, and our programs! We’ll miss you!
We want to thank our generous sponsors and patrons for making our 2015 Moving Out of Homelessness event possible and for showing their support for New Endeavors By Women’s programs and services and their commitment to ending the cycle of homelessness. Read more
Nearly 200 volunteers from the nonprofit, My Girlfriend’s House, staged a multi-day makeover of NEW’s New Horizons housing program for homeless women and children.
In their largest makeover project to date, My Girlfriend’s House removed old furniture, cleaned, painted, and decorated New Horizons to make it more livable and welcoming for the 17 families and 45 children currently in residence. Volunteers put in a special effort to make the facility and an adjoining backyard more child-friendly and better landscaped. Read more
The Need is Great: There is a tremendous documented–and growing–need in the District of Columbia for the unique services that NEW provides. Our unique approach to service meets every woman where she is, and helps her chart and follow a path to where she wants to be. Housing is only the beginning at NEW. Our intensive, holistic services focus on developing personal stability and goal setting; furthering education and employment; strengthening families; and developing healthy coping skills. For example, residents of New Transitions and New Journeys gather together for a weekly, summer exercise class. Read more
Join us in welcoming Christina Kane to NEW’s Board of Directors. A fourth-generation Washingtonian, Christina practices real estate law, with experience in HUD insured real estate closings. She has past restaurant experience, loves cooking and the outdoors, and lives in the District of Columbia with her boyfriend and cat, Beans. Read more