Volunteer Spotlight: Stephanie Arku

Stephanie ArkuThis month get know N Street Village volunteer Stephanie Arku. Stephanie, a native Washingtonian, has been volunteering with the community since January 2013. Stephanie prepares and serves lunch on weekends in the Day Center. Let’s get to know Stephanie…

I always knew that I wanted to help others and what better way to do that than through volunteering. My biggest hurdle was finding a place to do it. I ended up talking to a friend about this and she recommended seeking out volunteer opportunities at N Street Village. She became familiar with the organization while interning there as a graduate student. Based on her experience, I knew that this would be a perfect fit for me. Currently, I work as a Program Analyst for the Federal Government in Washington, D.C. I joined the Federal Government because I wanted to make a positive difference not only in this country but globally. My hobbies include reading, listening to music, exploring different restaurants, attending live music events, indoor cycling, and traveling.

What is your favorite D.C. restaurant? There are several great restaurants in this area so it is hard for me to choose just one. However, I will say that the last great meal I had was at STK in Dupont Circle, and I also have a soft spot for Guapo’s Restaurant.

On a Saturday evening you will find me…venturing out to a new restaurant/lounge with friends or spending a quiet evening at home watching movies.

Who is one of your favorite musicians? The Dave Matthews Band

What is your favorite D.C. landmark? My top four are the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, the Lincoln Memorial, the Library of Congress, and Rock Creek Park.

Describe N Street Village in 3 words or less. Empowering. Hospitable. Life-altering.

Share one of your favorite N Street Village memories? My favorite memory actually took place on my very first shift as a volunteer when I was serving lunch at the Day Center. I was a little nervous because I feared that I may drop a plate(s) considering I can be a klutz at times. Well one of the ladies sensed my nervousness and then smiled and said to me, “baby, don’t be nervous, you’re doing just fine.” Her words resonated with me and I continued my shift feeling confident and more at ease. I’ve always appreciated the woman’s kind words. That experience along with many others is the reason I continue to volunteer at N Street Village.

What makes N Street Village unique to you? The array of services focusing on the mind, body, and soul provided to homeless and low-income women in the area, ultimately, leading these women to have greater control and responsibility over their own lives.

What did you do this year?

Schroeder 2 - CopyAs I look back on the past year at N Street Village, you come to mind.

In the midst of your busy days in 2014, you found a way to make a difference here.

Because of you:

  • 171 women had a safe place to call home in our transitional or permanent supportive housing programs
  • 51 low-income families had affordable housing
  • 31,457 nutritious meals were served
  • More than 1,000 women had access to life-saving programs through our Day Center and Wellness Center

Thank you. Your investment ensured that N Street Village was here to provide comprehensive, wrap-around services and programs to those who need us most.

As I now look forward to 2015, I know that there are many challenges still ahead. Affordable housing in DC continues to be in critical shortage, and the wait for a needed rental subsidy can last many years. The average cost for a one bedroom apartment is now more than $1,400 – far beyond the reach of someone who is working a minimum wage job. These truths leave so many women at risk of poverty, homelessness and the myriad of health, mental health and other consequences that ensue.

This holiday season and every day of the year, N Street Village is committed to providing shelter, housing, food, health care, income supports, crisis assistance, and day shelter for our city’s most vulnerable women. And we are privileged to watch many wonderful stories unfold as these individuals use the resources of our Village to transform their lives and reach their personal goals.

I imagine that you think much as I do: when any of us are in need of support, we want to be greeted with dignity and kindness, and we want to know that the help we receive will be effective. That happens daily as together, we work to keep the doors of this Village open, to create our community of respect, and to empower women to make measurable progress in their lives.   This past week alone we welcomed 21 new women to N Street Village – we are extending this same promise and possibility to each of them.

Today, let us celebrate what we have accomplished together this year. And may we find inspiration and strength for the journey ahead in the coming New Year.

Yours in gratitude,
Schroeder Stribling



Volunteer Spotlight: Lynne Brehmer & Polina Kropacheva

Lynne and PolinaThis month get to know N Street Village volunteer sewing team, Lynne Brehmer and Polina Kropacheva. Since March 2013, Lynne and Polina have been facilitating a 3 hour sewing class once a month in the Day Center. During their visits, they introduce new projects and encourage clients to develop their creativity while learning new skills. Their projects include, wallets, shoulder bags, and recently the clients learned how to sew sock monkeys. When Lynne and Polina are not volunteering, they enjoy hiking, rock climbing, and travelling to exotic places. Let’s get know Lynne and Polina…

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the DC area?

Lynne: I grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina and studied business at UNC Chapel Hill. I work as a product manager at AARP managing their mobile apps. I heard about N Street Village through one of my friends who volunteered here in the past. I really liked the programs they offered and decided to attend a volunteer orientation session. They mentioned they needed someone to take over the sewing class. I have been sewing since I was a kid and was really excited to find a way to put one of my skills to use while helping out at the same time.

Polina: I was born in Russia and moved to Chicago at the age of 10 with my family, so I consider myself a Chicago native first. I first moved to DC in 2001 to attend college at Georgetown. I moved away for a brief period after graduating in 2005 and found myself back in DC again in 2007 for law school at Catholic University.

What is your favorite D.C. landmark?

Lynne: My favorite DC landmark is the National Mall. One of my favorite things to do is to run down to the Mall in the morning before the city gets hectic and stand at the top of the hill at the Washington Memorial and watch the sun rise. The city is so beautiful at that time of day.

I really love the Dumbarton Oaks Garden.

On a Saturday evening you will find me at…

Lynne: I love taking weekend trips, especially camping trips. My most recent camping trip was a rock climbing adventure in Seneca Rocks, WV with Polina.

Oftentimes on my couch and every once in a while roasting marshmallows in a campfire at some faraway campsite.

Where is the last place you travelled to?

Lynne: I travelled to Switzerland a couple of weeks ago with my mom to celebrate her birthday. We went to Montreux, Zermatt, and Saint Luc. We had an amazing time visiting the Matterhorn and hiking through the Alps.

Polina: Almaty, Kazakhstan

What is the last movie you watched (and enjoyed)?

Boyhood. They filmed the movie over a 12 year period. It was amazing. Go watch it!

Polina: I just watched Bridesmaids for probably the 7th time. Most recent new release I watched was The Trip to Italy.

What is the last book you read…
Lynne: All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

Polina: The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at N Street Village?

Lynne: I love seeing how proud the ladies are of the creations they have made at the end of sewing class. Many people come into the class with no prior sewing experience and are not confident they will be able to use a sewing machine. Seeing their faces light up at the end and watching them show off what they’ve made makes me feel really great.

Polina: The positive energy. I love seeing how nice and supportive everyone is.

Share one of your favorite N Street Village memories?

Lynne: One of my favorite recent moments was learning that one of the N Street staff members and one of the members of the class had become so confident in their sewing skills that they started teaching sewing classes on their own.

Volunteer Spotlight: Project Affinity

project AffinityThis month, get to know volunteer group, Project Affinity. Project Affinity donates and serves lunch at N Street Village’s day center on the first Sunday of each month. Project Affinity began volunteering with at the Village in June 2013. Project Affinity has become a very popular group because of the delicious food they make and share with our community. Let’s get know Project Affinity…

Project Affinity focuses its efforts on assisting those in the community that have been marginalized by society. Project Affinity, from its inception, strives to operate in five key areas: assisting people experiencing homelessness, empowering disenfranchised youth, ex-inmate re-entry program, visiting the sick and elderly, and, engaging and empowering people with disabilities. In keeping with the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, we started small, but stressed consistency. We initiated services in one of the key areas—assisting people experiencing homelessness. On June 15th 2012, we had our first meal service for the clients of Central Union Mission DC. Since then, we have grown our presence into 4 facilities, including N Street Village.

Where is Project Affinity from and how long have you been serving the community? The group comprises of compassionate volunteers throughout the DMV area. We have been serving the DC community for over 21 months.

On a Sunday morning you will find us…at N Street Village or at another community event that aligns with our mission.

Describe your favorite meal the group has prepared and served to the community? Our favorite meal that we prepared was succulent tandoori chicken, seasoned rice, sweet potatoes, dinner rolls, and fresh vegetable salad with all the fixings.

Why did you start volunteering at N Street Village? After successfully establishing our presence at a men’s service provider, we wanted to expand our services to a women’s facility. Our research indicated N Street Village was on the front lines of providing vital services to women in need. This compelled us to start volunteering at N Street Village.

Describe N Street Village in 3 words or less. Renew, revive, and recalibrate

Share one of your favorite N Street Village memories? One of our fondest N Street Village memories is when volunteers gathered and eagerly listened to Bernadette’s accounts of N Street Village’s history, her personal struggles, and N Street Village’s involvement in her success. This incident was a testament to N Street Village’s valuable program and the opportunities it provides to its clients.

What has been one of your biggest surprises about N Street Village? It’s hard to isolate our surprises to only one. A few of our biggest N Street Village surprises were the high level of organization, the professionalism exuded by the staff, and the wide range of services N Street Village provided for its clients.

One Powerful Village Story Featured in WAMU 88.5 Series

This week, in a five-part series, WAMU 88.5 is exploring the influence of the crack epidemic in the late 80s and early 90s on our city.  The emergence of crack cocaine on DC streets was a major influence on the founding years of our N Street Village community, and we continue to cope with the effects of this addiction.  

A few months ago, Evelyn Green, whom many of you know as the manager of our day center program and a role model to so many, sat down with her daughter and with WAMU reporter Kavitha Cardoza. Together, they bravely and honestly shared their story of Evelyn’s addiction and the affects her addiction and recovery has had on their family.

Their story aired this morning on WAMU 88.5 Morning Edition in a segment titled, “Crack-Addicted Mothers Gave up Everything – Even Kids.” A supplementary digital story, on the same topic, featuring a resident living in our Recovery Housing program, Lynda, can also be found on this page.

Additionally, on Friday at 1 p.m. the entire five-part series will be sewn together into an hour long documentary, where there will be extended footage from Evelyn and her daughter’s interview, and there will also be excerpts from an interview that I did with Kavitha.  The segment featuring N Street Village will begin around 1:22 p.m.

Listen to the complete series on WAMU’s website.

Thanks for all that YOU do to make these stories of hope and healing possible.

Schroeder and Stuart Signatures - Copy
Schroeder Stribling, N Street Village Executive Director

Polar Vortex Hits DC…N Street Village is Open

It is dangerously cold outside.

 One of the first women to enter the Day Center this morning after spending last night in a friend’s car said,It was so cold last night in that car and this was the only place for me to warm up with a hot shower and warm meals. I am grateful.”

And we are grateful. As our city saw some of its lowest temperatures in over two decades, N Street Village’s doors have remained open for any woman in need — thanks to YOU.

Last night, N Street Village provided 142 women with safe shelter and warm meals. Another 51 individuals and families, because of our affordable housing apartments, had a warm place to come home to.

This morning, our Day Center’s doors opened early to welcome women who have nowhere else to go. Women without homes — some spending last night on the street — have access to warm meals, hot showers, laundry facilities, and a fully stocked weather-appropriate clothing closet.

Today, our Wellness Center is operating with our licensed nurse and primary care clinic offering direct health care and wellness consultations to any women in need.

None of this could be possible without your support and we thank you.  

The District’s hypothermia alert will remain in effect for most of today. Please be mindful of individuals who need relief from the elements and contact the Hypothermia Hotline at 1-800-535-7252.

Photo of the Week


Bethany Women’s Center staff enjoy their new conference table, which is rumored to have once belonged to Hillary Clinton.

Ilana’s In-Kind Corner | Healthy Snacks

IMG_1299-001Thanks to everyone who responded to our previous In-Kind Corner post and provided our community with new bedding items and towels for our residents.   Your support means so much to our community.  Thank you!  We wanted to share another ongoing community need with you.  Please let us know if you are able to offer your support.

Current In-Kind Need: Healthy Snacks

healthy-snacks In addition to providing breakfast and lunch in our drop-in day center, we provide healthy snacks in the afternoon. Since these are items we need every day of the year, one of the best ways to help us stock up is to run a drive at your school, place of worship, or workplace.

Examples of healthy snacks include:

  • Fresh fruit for individual consumption: apples, grapes, bananas, peaches, oranges
  • Individually wrapped snacks: string cheese, low-sugar granola or breakfast bars, fig newtons, pretzels, goldfish, popcorn, hummus & pita chips

Please contact me with any questions
or to schedule a drop-off appointment.
Ilana Cookler
icookler@nstreetvillage.org | 202.939.2050

View a complete list of our community’s in-kind needs on our website.

Photo of the Week


Richard Waganer with CRE-A-TV captures community footage for this year’s gala video. This is Richard’s sixth year shooting the Comcast sponsored video that will be viewed at the Ritz-Carlton, Washington, DC on April 10th at N Street Village’s Annual Gala.   Pictured: N Street Village Executive Director Schroeder Stribling with the 2013 Erna and John Steinbruck honorees in N Street Village’s Bethany Women’s Center.

Photo of the Week

With the week of Thanksgiving approaching, a photo from our drop-in day center’s “Attitude of Gratitude” wall.  What are you grateful for this holiday season?