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

 

 

Whole Foods Market P Street 5% Day to Benefit N Street Village

Whole Foods 5% DayGrab your shopping bags and join us at Whole Foods Market P Street on Wednesday, July 16, when 5% of the sales will support N Street Village’s programs and services.

Your shopping will support the healthy meal service N Street Village provides to nearly 1,400 low-income and homeless women each year. The meals served are designed specifically for women living with diabetes and other factors that may increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Ann, a resident of N Street Village, shared why access to healthy, affordable meals is important to her:

“Having access to healthy food on a limited budget is important to me because I will be able to live a longer life without obesity, which gives me the emotional and physical strength I need to be an active participant in my own life.”

N Street Village is proud of its ongoing partnership with Whole Foods Market P Street, from its weekly donations of fresh food to its staff who volunteer regularly in our community.

We are honored to be selected as the 5% Day recipient and hope you will join us in saying thank you to Whole Foods Market P Street for being such an active member of the community.

Don’t forget to shop with us on Wednesday, July 16!

Trailer for Documentary Featuring N Street Village

“Can art save lives?”

That is question that lies at the center of the film How I Got Over by Nicole Boxer (producer of the Academy Award-nominated documentary The Invisible War).

The documentary chronicles the journey of 15 formerly homeless women, living in N Street Village’s Recovery Housing program, as they turned their collective life experiences into an original play. The  film will premiere at AFI DOCS Documentary Festival on June 21 and 22 in Washington, D.C. The emotional trailer was just released this week. Our community loved it so much–we just had to share it with you. Enjoy!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thCKunuWVD0]

Strawberries from the Village Garden

“The garden suggests that there might be a way we can meet nature halfway.” –Michael Pollan

berriesI’m not sure what the founders of N Street Village had in mind when they planned the building but I am forever grateful that a courtyard and garden space was included. As we emerged from this year’s long…long…winter and the green returns to the world, the courtyard’s garden has burst to life. The roses are blooming, the peonies have just finished their bright days, and the strawberry plants are weighted down with fruit.

The clients often spend time in the courtyard during the day, enjoying the warm sun and the opportunity to socialize. Earlier this month, a resident stopped me and pointed to the garden, “Do you see the berries?”

I marveled at her sharp eye, sighting the small red bud through the forest of leaves. We walked over to the garden together and discovered hundreds of buds on the forty or so plants in our patch. Strawberries are one of those remarkable plants whose small seeds weather harsh cold to spring back up when the sun returns. So, with little effort, our patch has been quite the gift this month, providing hundreds of berries that clients in many of our programs can enjoy.

It has been a busy month of watching, waiting, harvesting, and sharing. I have found the most joy in being able to teach clients how to tell when a berry is ripe or when to leave it until the next day. I love being able to be part of a community that grows a bit of its food. As we look forward to our Family and Friends Day this Saturday, I am reminded that the loving community of N Street Village is not only looking after one another, but also after the land we steward. Please join us to help plant the rest of our garden—I’m excited to see what grows next!


kyleBy Kyle Lefler – Kyle is working with N Street Village’s Permanent Supportive Housing team in her second year of service with Lutheran Volunteer Corps. Kyle assists residents in working toward their goals in all areas of their life. She also has the opportunity to lead groups around the Village, focusing on self-esteem, community building & empowerment. In the future, Kyle looks forward to continuing her work alongside those in our community who are experiencing homelessness, poverty and addiction, as well as fighting for a world where such justice issues are not as prevalent.

Storytelling and Advocacy

storytelling wordleRecently, the AVODAH Jewish Service Corps members had a lesson in advocacy. The facilitator began by asking: “how did you get here?” After some confused responses such as “I took the bus,” it was clear that the question should be interpreted in a broader sense: What is your story? What led you to social justice?

Each person revealed only a glimpse of his or her picture. Because in every story, there are many sub-stories, and within those sub-stories are even more stories. Stories define us and shed light onto who we are. The lesson from that night was the importance of storytelling for advocacy work—expressing why we’re interested in working in a community with its specific challenges and why the community’s struggles are ours as well. This is essential to engage people and gain support.

I’ve thought a lot about storytelling since then. At work, I noticed that all of my interactions with clients involved storytelling. I am the Wellness Center Program Assistant at N Street Village. My favorite part of this work is coordinating the team of Wellness Center receptionists—these are clients who volunteer their time in our community, which provides an opportunity to give back and build their resumes. I spend a lot of one-on-one time with our receptionists. The more we get to know each other and build trust, the more the women open up to me. They share their personal stories—these stories are beautiful, painful, funny, and uncomfortable. As I help put their stories in writing, the ladies participate in an incredibly empowering process. They learn how life experiences and traumas can transform into resilience and the ability to give back to the community.

Although this AVODAH lesson was the corps members’ first attempt at formally narrating our personal stories, most of us knew pieces of each others stories. Describing ourselves as a dysfunctional family, we know each other really well. A week after we moved in, a vivid thought struck me: “How is it possible that we already love each other?” It was remarkable how close we had become. It has been eye-opening to explore the relationship between storytelling and advocacy: at home with AVODAH-niks, at N Street Village with clients, and on my own. Thinking ahead about my future working on issues surrounding gender, health-care, and homelessness, I know the atmosphere of openness in my AVODAH and N Street Village communities has made me a better storyteller and, consequently, a more empowered and influential advocate.

***

pic of denaBy Dena Franco – Dena is working at N Street Village through the AVODAH Jewish Service Corps. As the Wellness Center Program Assistant, she assists clients with over-the-counter requests, coordinates the schedule of health promotion activities, manages the team of wellness center receptionists and teaches classes about the brain and mental health. Dena received her B.S. in Biopsychology, Cognition and Neuroscience from the University of Michigan and plans to pursue a dual degree in Social Work and Public Health.

N Street Village dives deep into HIV

“Statistics are less compelling than human lives.” 
Lisa Biagotti, Director of deepsou+h

The global epidemic of HIV overshadows the prevalence of the virus in America, particularly in the South. As much as we like to think HIV is “under control” in the United States that is far from the truth. Instead, we hide it, deny it, shame it, and ignore it. AIDS activism is historic, but the movement did not reach all the marginalized and vulnerable populations. The South has a unique culture, bares the imprint of slavery, and is poverty-stricken. HIV and AIDS in the South are not new problems. The difference is the recent media attention on the South’s epidemic.

deepsou+h is an unparalleled documentary about the rural American South that includes four mini-stories: an animated map that correlates slavery to poverty to HIV, the sermon of a Baptist pastor, the long drive of a rural social worker, and the sex education lesson of a health teacher. The film is not about black people with HIV or the “new face” of HIV/AIDS. Instead, it looks past the numbers and tells stories about the experience of what it is like to be affected by HIV.

deepsou+h is a lesson in human rights, and how we confine people in our communities. Unless we reduce the stigma and the shame associated with sex and sexuality, HIV will proliferate. Working directly with marginalized populations has taught me that HIV is not really about HIV. HIV is more about social inequity than the virus.

Join us, the N Street Village community, as we attend deepsou+h at the West End Cinema on Wednesday, March 5 at 7 pm. The screening will be followed by a question and answer with the director. We hope you will join us. It is guaranteed to be a powerful and thought-provoking evening.

[vimeo 31893050 w=500 h=281]

***

SARAH THAPPABy Sarah Thappa – Sarah is a member of AIDS United’s AmeriCorps National team with the Washington AIDS Partnership and serves as the HIV Health Promotion Specialist at N Street Village. She does HIV education, counseling, outreach, and testing in addition to health promotion classes on various topics. Sarah hails from Northern Illinois and graduated from Carleton College ‘13 with a B.A. in Biology.

Open Hart Studio

Open Hart StudioShould you drop in N Street Village’s Multipurpose Room on Tuesday afternoon, you’ll be greeted by a buzz of activity. Classic soul music plays in the background as women are absorbed by a variety of art projects. Women are gathered around different stations where they decorate small jewelry boxes, paint pictures, and crochet.

Welcome to Open Hart Studio.

Open Hart Studio is coordinated by N Street Village’s Community Organizer and unofficial Artist in Residence Sharon Hart. A woman may walk in thinking she has little creative talent but under the patient guidance of Sharon, she becomes an artist and creates things of beauty. Sharon’s past projects have included decorating gift bags for N Street Village’s volunteers, making sand art, assembling origami, and even icing cookies for N Street Village events.

Sharon also gives women the opportunity to follow their own passions. While some work on the projects she has designed, others are busy working on their own projects. One Tuesday while a group of women made their own boxes, Bobbie painted cards filled with flowers, while Petrina designed hers with abstract images. Other women were busying crocheting. For Bobbie, painting is therapeutic and allows her to get lost in the moment. For Alberta, the Open Studio brings out the kid in her.

Perhaps the most commonly recited refrain is Ann’s: “I never thought I could do this, until Sharon taught me how.” The women draw energy and inspiration from Sharon. Participating in the Open Studio is an opportunity to have fun, be creative, and brighten up the N Street Village community.

Open Your Heart

By Ilana Cookler | N Street Village Development Assistant

yoga heartThis past Monday, N Street Village clients and staff enjoyed a special treat when Lululemon staff Claudia Porcello and Nicole Cox hosted an “Open Your Heart” themed yoga class.  The class focused on poses surrounding the heart, breath and relaxation. It was truly the perfect way to kick off Valentine’s Day Week!

After the event, N Street Village Residential Team Advocate Kyle Lefler shared, “Lululemon provided an easily accessible class today, which was such a nice space for so many of the women to focus on breath and exercise.  I love seeing the ladies push themselves to try something that they may have never done before, even if it looks or feels a little crazy at first.  It’s awesome that N Street Village and Lululemon could collaborate to create a safe space to try new things, and of course, I love being able to practice yoga as part of my work day.”

Clients left the class feeling, refreshed, renewed, and ready to start their week. N Street Village client, Robin, participated in the class  and said, It was an exhilarating class and not too overwhelming. Since my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, I find it difficult to participate in yoga but the instructors from Lululemon made today enjoyable.”

After the yoga event, clients enjoyed light refreshments and received a gift bag with a Lululemon headband and change purse. We thank the Lululemon team for sharing their time and expertise with our community this Valentine’s Day week.

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.

Be Positive You’re Negative: World AIDS Day and Every Day

SARAH THAPPABy Sarah Thappa – Sarah is a member of AIDS United’s AmeriCorps National team with the Washington AIDS Partnership and serves as the HIV Health Promotion Specialist at N Street Village. She does HIV education, counseling, outreach, and testing in addition to health promotion classes on various topics. Sarah hails from Northern Illinois and graduated from Carleton College ‘13 with a B.A. in Biology.

***
Let’s kick off this post with a pre-reading quiz… 

Which city has the highest rate of HIV?
a.
Accra, Ghana
b. Dakar, Senegal
c. Washington, D.C.
d. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The answer is c. Washington, D.C. The highest concentration of HIV in the world is in Sub-Saharan Africa; however, if Washington, D.C. were a country in Africa, it would rank 24/54 for highest HIV prevalence rates. Ten states account for 2/3 of the HIV diagnoses in 2011, and the South accounted for 48% of those diagnoses.

What percentage of a population infected qualifies as an epidemic?
a.
0.5%
b. 1.0%
c. 2.0%
d. 5.0%

The answer is b. 1.0% of a population infected with a disease defines as an epidemic. The District of Columbia has a reported 2.7% HIV infection rate, according to the Department of Health.

***

ProcessThis past Sunday, December 1st, 2013 was the 25th celebration of World AIDS Day. N Street Village has marked the day by discussing HIV and AIDS with its staff and clients and by looking at how the disease directly affects our community.  We honored the many friends and family we have lost to the disease over the past decades and celebrated the lives of those living with HIV in our community.

There are currently an estimated 34 million people living with HIV throughout the world and an estimated 1.1 million living with HIV in the United States. Racial and ethnic minorities have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS from the very beginning of the epidemic. In Washington, D.C., the population with the greatest prevalence rate is African-American heterosexual women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-American women accounted for 64% of new infections among women in 2010.

Homeless women are particularly at risk of contracting HIV disease. They are frequently victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, which have been linked to increased likelihood of infection.  Homeless women who struggle with addiction may exchange sex for drugs or money, which increases their risk of exposure.

At N Street Village, 11% of the women served report being HIV positive.  The disease continues to push the limits of health care resources available to low-income women in the District. N Street Village is committed to connecting its clients to appropriate medical care by offering primary medical and psychiatric care on-site through Unity Health Care and through partnerships with nearby providers. Additionally, N Street Village combines stable housing with on-site support services, including a day center providing for basic needs, a wellness center with holistic programming, and mental health and addiction services, all of which empower its clients to make healthy life choices.

Today, more people are living with HIV than ever before. HIV is preventable. HIV does not discriminate. I challenge you to join me in looking at how this virus manifests in your life. Who do you know who is living with HIV? Do you know or love someone who has died of an AIDS related illness? What do you do to reduce the stigma and discrimination for those living with HIV?

And most importantly, be positive you’re negative—get tested

Sources for this post include:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Kaiser Family Foundation
Department of Health and Human Services