Uniting Women, Employment Opportunities, and Dignified Workspace

N Street Village, UPIC Health, and WeWork are joining forces to support women in the DMV area who are experiencing homelessness.

The core missions of both N Street Village and UPIC Health revolve around helping and empowering women. This collaboration represents the best in public/private partnerships and aims to directly address inequality by providing meaningful employment opportunities within a dignified workspace to women experiencing economic and housing instability.

N Street Village clients will be hired by UPIC Health to deliver administrative patient services in a virtual setting, while WeWork will generously contribute a modern, collaborative office space for this important work.

Rebecca

Rebecca was born HIV-positive with so many drugs in her systems that doctors told her she should have died.

“They told me I was a miracle baby. But for a long time, my life didn’t feel like a miracle.”

Rebecca was taken away from her mom and placed into the foster care system, where she was in and out of different homes until she was adopted by a single mom. In her new home, life was good for a short time. Then, her foster mom got remarried. Her new husband was a heavy drinker and quickly turned violent and abusive.

“I was scared all the time. I never felt safe. I couldn’t take the abuse, but I had no way to leave.”

But because of a series of health crises through her teenage years and early 20s – including a cancer diagnosis – Rebecca was dependent on her adopted family and had no way to get out.

Finally, at age 23, she packed a bag and snuck out of the house.

Rebecca left to find sanctuary with her sister, but soon found herself in a similar cycle of abuse and manipulation. Her sister would verbally abuse her, steal Rebecca’s money, and eventually talked her into marrying a man Rebecca barely knew – or even liked.

“All of the stress made me want to never rely on anyone ever again.”

Once again, Rebecca snuck out – afraid of what would happen if she told anyone she was leaving.

She lived with various friends, shelters, and on the streets, doing what she could to get by. Finally, one night while sleeping in a park, a woman told her about N Street Village.

“I came to N Street Village in 2018. I started going to the Day Center. They helped me find housing at Miriam’s House, where I live with other women who are HIV-positive.”

Rebecca is proud to have her own apartment and with the help of N Street Village staff, she has gone back to school and earned her degree – with honors. Through the Village’s MARJ & MAK Vocational Center, she is earning her Food Handler License with Together We Bake, a local empowerment-based job training program for women.

“Today, I am just trying to learn as much as possible. I finally have the chance to dream big and see things happen for myself.”

Meet Village Client, Ellen

Ambassador Council Co-Chair Sharon Gund,
Council Member Sarah Stone-Psihas, and Board
and Council Member Jeanne Specchio with
N Street Village Client Ellen (second from right).

Every year, the N Street Village Ambassadors Council hosts the Annual Craft Fair at the beginning of December. The popular event features holiday crafts, festive music, snacks and activities for residents and clients. This year, a new item – a healthcare kit – was added to the mix, inspired by Bethany Day Center client, Ellen.

 

Ellen is well-known around N Street Village for her enthusiasm to encourage and educate those around her, especially about healthy living. Her teaching style ranges from thoughtful one-on-one conversations to interactive activities.

 

Ellen says the idea for making the kits at the Craft Fair came from her mother and father, who encouraged her to be creative from a young age and invent her own kits. “These helped me to solve problems and be self sufficient.” She continued, “Young women I met in the shelter system inspired me to upgrade my kits and the N Street Village Ambassadors Council helped me share my idea so other women could have the same tools!”

Paula

“As a woman who had lost her safe place to live and her home at the hands of people she trusted, N Street Village provided me a place to heal, receive a kind word, a smile, lots of laughter, and the ability to begin dreaming again.”

Paula arrived at N Street Village in 2016, carrying everything she owned in three bags and towing years of bitterness, anger, and despair.

Paula had a successful career for 16 years, a husband, and two sons. Then she got the call from her sister – her father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and needed help. She uprooted her family, left everything behind, and came back to her childhood home in D.C. to care for her dad. A few years after moving her husband passed away suddenly from a heart attack. Four months later, her father died.

In an instant, Paula’s entire life changed. She found herself a widow, with nowhere to go, no money, no job, and two young sons. She and her sons were living in her car, sleeping with a knife for protection, and pawning the precious few belongings they had left to buy food. When her youngest son got sick, Paula sold the car in order to get a hotel room. That money soon ran out.

“I laid out all the cash I had left on the bed and counted it. It wasn’t going to be enough for another night at the hotel.”

Paula found a safe place for her sons with friends, but she had nowhere else to turn. She called the Shelter Hotline and arrived on the doorstep of N Street Village on a Friday afternoon. She was able to get a bed at N Street Village’s newly opened emergency shelter, the Patricia Handy Place for Women. She came back to the Village flagship site on Monday ready to do the work necessary to get her life and independence back. She started taking classes, getting involved in the community, and doing everything she could to use the tools and resources around her.

“I thought the classes were about learning – learning how to use computers, how to do yoga, how to make jewelry – but looking back, I’ve come to realize they were about healing the entire time.”

Paula began to take advantage of everything the Village – and the city – had to offer.

“I’d spent my entire life taking care of everyone else – taking care of my husband, taking care of my family, taking care of my father, taking care of my sons. It’d always been about someone else. Now it’s finally about me.”

Today, Paula has completed “Back to Work at 50+,” a highly-competitive multi-week course. She is living in a nearby shelter and working to move into her own apartment. Paula has started making jewelry and is talking about what it would take to start a small business once she has more permanent housing. She is hopeful about her next chapter.

“I wasn’t responsible for becoming homeless. But I am 100% responsible for what I do with my life afterward. I don’t know what’s next for the second half of my life, but I do know there’s excitement in everything I’m able to do and try now.”

Pertrina’s Story

Courtney

Courtney grew up in an upper middle class, suburban family, but from an early age she felt different – “I didn’t know exactly what I was.” Born Calvin, she felt most comfortable with female friends and enjoyed being “girly.” Like most kids, she just wanted to be herself — unfortunately her parents would not accept her as a girl.

She struggled to survive living her “double life.” She started using drugs and alcohol to cope, but wasn’t concerned because “partying was what young people did.”

Years of partying led to losing her job, her home, and slipping into a deep depression. She felt hopeless and was in and out of the hospital.

Homeless, desperate and alone, she attempted suicide. “I couldn’t see any light.” A judge ordered her to a 30-day psychiatric program; she stayed two months. Finally feeling more stable, she was reluctant to leave. Her case manager recommended N Street Village.

“The minute I walked in, I felt relieved.”

Courtney moved into N Street Village’s Luther Place Night Shelter, a transitional housing program where residents focus on gaining stability and access to income and housing resources. She began attending recovery meetings and other activities – the support from the N Street Village community helped her regain her confidence.

“N Street Village was a big change, but the right one. I felt so welcome here – just as I am.”

Today Courtney is maintaining her stability and sobriety, looking for employment as well as rebuilding her relationship with her family. She enjoys giving back to her community and N Street Village family.

Courtney dreams of one day going to college to pursue a degree in fashion.

Paula

“As a woman who had lost her safe place to live and her home at the hands of people she trusted, N Street Village provided me a place to heal, receive a kind word, a smile, lots of laughter, and the ability to begin dreaming again.”

Paula arrived at N Street Village in 2016, carrying everything she owned in three bags and towing years of bitterness, anger, and despair.

Paula had a successful career for 16 years, a husband, and two sons. Then she got the call from her sister – her father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and needed help. She uprooted her family, left everything behind, and came back to her childhood home in D.C. to care for her dad. A few years after moving her husband passed away suddenly from a heart attack. Four months later, her father died.

In an instant, Paula’s entire life changed. She found herself a widow, with nowhere to go, no money, no job, and two young sons. She and her sons were living in her car, sleeping with a knife for protection, and pawning the precious few belongings they had left to buy food. When her youngest son got sick, Paula sold the car in order to get a hotel room. That money soon ran out.

“I laid out all the cash I had left on the bed and counted it. It wasn’t going to be enough for another night at the hotel.”

Paula found a safe place for her sons with friends, but she had nowhere else to turn. She called the Shelter Hotline and arrived on the doorstep of N Street Village on a Friday afternoon. She was able to get a bed at N Street Village’s newly opened emergency shelter, the Patricia Handy Place for Women. She came back to the Village flagship site on Monday ready to do the work necessary to get her life and independence back. She started taking classes, getting involved in the community, and doing everything she could to use the tools and resources around her.

“I thought the classes were about learning – learning how to use computers, how to do yoga, how to make jewelry – but looking back, I’ve come to realize they were about healing the entire time.”

Paula began to take advantage of everything the Village – and the city – had to offer.

“I’d spent my entire life taking care of everyone else – taking care of my husband, taking care of my family, taking care of my father, taking care of my sons. It’d always been about someone else. Now it’s finally about me.”

Today, Paula has completed “Back to Work at 50+,” a highly-competitive multi-week course. She is living in a nearby shelter and working to move into her own apartment. Paula has started making jewelry and is talking about what it would take to start a small business once she has more permanent housing. She is hopeful about her next chapter.

“I wasn’t responsible for becoming homeless. But I am 100% responsible for what I do with my life afterward. I don’t know what’s next for the second half of my life, but I do know there’s excitement in everything I’m able to do and try now.”

N Street Village Gala Celebrates 45 Years of Serving Women Experiencing Homelessness in D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Paula Buggage never expected to be homeless. She’d spent 16 years in corporate America, only returning to her childhood home in D.C. with her husband and two sons after getting the call her father was sick. But in a matter of months, her husband and father passed away suddenly and she lost everything. As a new widow without a job, money, or place to stay, Paula and her two sons moved into their car until she found friends who could take care of her sons. Paula was alone and homeless for the first time in her life.  She arrived at the doors of N Street Village with her entire life belongings in a single bag.

Paula Buggage accepts the Steinbruck Award at the N Street Village 45th Anniversary Gala.

Paula is just one of the many who find themselves at N Street Village, the largest provider for housing and services for homeless women in Washington, D.C. Today, N Street Village welcomes nearly 2,000 of the city’s most vulnerable women every year, and provides safe and supportive housing to more than 700 women and 51 families in five locations throughout the city.

On March 14, 2018, Paula, along with residents Karen Bell and Rita Lewis, were honored as just three of the countless women N Street Village has empowered during the organizations’ 45 years.

2018 Steinbruck Awardees on stage with N Street Village CEO Schroeder Stribling and Ledisi.

“Your support tonight is the last echo of a 45 year promise which remains vital and life-saving in our city,” said N Street Village CEO Schroeder Stribling. “We need each other. We all have something to give each other – material or not. There are many different currencies, but the math always checks out in compassion.”

Alongside a crowd of nearly 900, the night also recognized longtime Village supporters, Stu and Pat Van Scoyoc, who were proud to announce their investment to open The MARJ and MAK Vocational Center, named in honor of their mothers. The award was presented by Village alumna who had a long career and recently retired from Van Scoyoc Associates.

Pat and Stu Van Scoyoc accept the 2018 Founder’s Award with CEO Schroeder Stribling and N Street Village Alumna and Van Scoyoc Associates Retiree, Olivia Ramsey.

“Our commitment to the MARJ and MAK Center started with a dream for a center for women to learn the skills to re-enter the workforce. The dream of the MARJ and MAK Center is realized. Pat and I are excited about the 300 more women who will gain skills there,” said Stu Van Scoyoc.

Special musical guest and twelve-time Grammy-nominated artist Ledisi performed “Pieces of Me” with the N Street Village and Luther Place Ambassadors of Praise to sing in unison the message that would carry through the evening: “I am a woman. Yes, I am a woman, these are the pieces of me!”

Twelve-time Grammy-nominated artist Ledisi performs with the N Street Village and Luther Place Ambassadors of Praise.

Overall, the evening raised a total of nearly $1.4 million, which will be used to ensure that the doors of N Street Village, which have been open 365 days a year for the past 45 years, remain open to any women in need. No matter what brings a woman to its doorstep—whether it be homelessness, mental illness, addiction, violence and abuse, health problems, unemployment, or some combination thereof—the Village will meet her right where she is and welcome her into a community of hospitality, healing, and hope.

3. N Street Village Chief Development Officer Stuart Allen, Honorary Gala Co-Chairs Congressman Joseph and Kasey Crowley, Honorary Gala Committee Member Congressman Bill Shuster, Congressman Rodney Davis, Honorary Gala Co-Chairs Congressman Jeff and Sonia Denham.

Also in attendance were:

  • N Street Village Board of Directors Chair, Peter Shields
  • Marriott CEO, Arne Sorenson, and N Street Village Board of Directors Vice-Chair, Ruth Sorenson
  • 45th Anniversary Gala Co-Chairs Hillary and Tom Baltimore, Erika and A. Scott Bolden, and Dafna Tapiero and Alan Fleischmann
  • 45th Anniversary Gala Honorary Co-Chairs Congressman Joseph and Mrs. Kasey Crowley and Congressman Jeff and Mrs. Sonia Denham
  • And other Congressional members and D.C. government officials

Peggie

“I feel proud of myself today. I am an example of what is possible.”

Peggie grew up in D.C. in a large family – the oldest girl with 12 siblings. Her father was a minister and her mother worked for the Department of Agriculture. After graduating from high school and finishing some college courses, Peggie worked as a kindergarten teacher for three years.

Peggie started dating; she and her boyfriend were drinking and partying and Peggie found herself pregnant. A few years after her son was born, her boyfriend left her and her son to survive on their own. Peggie got a job with Child Protective Services, but continued to drink – “I thought alcohol would cure my pain.”

After the birth of her second child, Peggie continued to work for Child Protective Services. She thought she had her drinking under control. That all changed when she went to work drunk one day and promptly lost the job she loved.

Peggie struggled to keep a steady job, and somehow managed despite her continued drinking. However, during the economic downturn in 2009, Peggie lost another job and shortly after lost her house.

“I spiraled out – I couldn’t deal with life anymore.”

After years of drinking, Peggie was ready for a change. She reached out to her son, who did some research online and found N Street Village. After entering the Village Day Center and meeting Evelyn Green, Day Services Manager, Peggie felt ready to make real, positive change. She entered the Village Recovery Housing program.

While in the Recovery Housing program, Peggie worked with Theatre Lab and other residents to create a play about their life experience and recovery journey. They performed the production at a sold-out, one night show at the Kennedy Center. The filmmaker Nicole Boxer captured entire process inan award-winning documentary, How I Got Over.

After graduating from the Recovery Program, Peggie left N Street Village to live with family in Baltimore. Unfortunately, it was not the best environment for Peggie’s recovery and she starting drinking again. After another trip to detox, she knew she couldn’t do it on her own. In December 2015 Peggie walked through the doors of the Village again. She felt embarrassed that she had come back, she was afraid she would be seen as a failure, but she was ready to recommit herself to recovery. When she walked into the Village Day Center, Evelyn greeted her with open arms and without judgement – “Where have you been? We missed you!”

Peggie continues to work hard at recovery and is a mentor in the Village. She hopes to find permanent housing soon and become an advocate for other women in need.

Thomure’s Story

Thomure has faced adversity since the beginning. Her biological mother was addicted to drugs during her pregnancy and Thomure herself was addicted at birth. Shortly thereafter, her mother went to prison. Thomure was adopted by a family friend named Phyllis who worked in law enforcement and was dedicated to helping Thomure get healthy. Phyllis bought a house and tried hard to create a stable and loving home.

Thomure’s teenage years were turbulent. She had suspensions from school and sometimes ran away from home. She fell in with a dangerous crowd and was the victim of violence. At age 14, she was placed in a residential program and while there she learned that her biological mother had been murdered.

Throughout the years, however, Phyllis was a constant, always extending her love and support.

Thomure started using drugs in her teenage years and as she looks back now she is aware that this was a way of masking her pain. Drug addiction soon lured her into other dangerous situations and she felt trapped in a cycle of drugs, violence, prostitution and abuse.

However, her inner strength and resilience were obvious as she completed her GED at age 18 and began to attend community college. At age 21, she completed a certification program which qualified her for well-paying tech jobs. Sadly, her plans were sidetracked by her drug use and another abusive relationship.

As Thomure’s addiction continued to spiral, she had several arrests and served prison time. She also learned that she had kidney damage from her drug use. By her mid-twenties, she had lost hope for her future and esteem for herself.

And then, in April 2016, Thomure reconnected with Phyllis. She was honest with Phyllis about her struggles and she asked for help. Together they found N Street Village.

Thomure first stayed at the newly opened Pat Handy Place for Women, N Street Village’s emergency and temporary housing program. She took advantage of the programs that were available. She has always loved learning and she enrolled in the D.C. Central Kitchen culinary training program. Thomure also dedicated herself to recovery and was glad to learn more about the disease of addiction and about the impact of trauma. She began to have compassion for herself and to build up her self-awareness and her pride.

In December of 2016, Thomure was thrilled to move into an apartment of her own at the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA. The following month she also graduated from the DC Central Kitchen Training Program.