Volunteer Spotlight: Derrick Thornton

This month, get to know N Street Village Volunteer Derrick Thornton. Derrick is a middle school computer science teacher at the Mattawoman Middle School in Waldorf MD. He has been volunteering with the community since September 2018. Derrick is a very special member of the community who supports our events, including our annual Gala, Family and Friends Day, and Christmas in July. Let’s get to know Derrick


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

I was born in Newport News, Virginia. As the son of an Army man, I moved around quite a bit growing up but consider Colorado home.


What is your favorite D.C. area restaurant?

Pappe when I want to sit down, Cava when I want something fast.


On a Saturday evening, you will find me…

Usually doing something with my wife. Always depends on what is going on in the city.


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

Fear Street Trilogy


What is your favorite D.C. landmark? 

The Lincoln Memorial, especially the panoramic view from the back of the monument with a view of northern Virginia, and the skyline of the Washington Monument and Capitol Building are amazing at night.


Describe N Street Village in 3 words or less.

Community Of Caring


What makes N Street Village unique to you?

The Village is a place that truly looks out for its clients in any way they can. They will go beyond the call of duty to make sure residents and clients get what they need and deserve – treating them as people despite how society might view them.

Community Builder Spotlight: Michelle Martz Easley


While we cannot wait for the day when we can welcome volunteers back to the Village, we are spotlighting some of our incredible community members that give time, talent, and treasure to N Street Village. Meet long-time volunteer and Community Builder, Michelle Martz Easley.

How did you get involved with N Street Village?

I began volunteering at N Street Village in 2019 as a New Year’s resolution. I wanted to find a consistent volunteer opportunity that matched my values. While there are many impactful organizations in Washington, DC, N Street Village stood out to me. The Village is a place that takes a whole-hearted approach to empower homeless and low-income women to claim their highest quality of life. I believe this specific mission is why unlike my previous resolutions (i.e., lose weight, read more, declutter), volunteering became a lasting commitment.

Can you share your favorite N Street Village memory?

I found joy in volunteering by serving breakfast on Sunday mornings at the Bethany Day Center. Over coffee and cereal, I experienced the clients celebrating their and the group’s successes on their unique journeys to heal and recover. I have numerous memories of these early mornings at the Village. Each moment providing evidence that through the simple work of serving meals, I found a humbling act of love.


What inspired you to become a recurring donor in addition to volunteering your time with N Street Village?

In March 2020, volunteering onsite was suspended so that clients, staff, and volunteers could remain safe during the rising cases of coronavirus. While the pandemic continues, I miss those mornings serving breakfast. In this physical absence, I decided to continue supporting the Village by making monthly donations. I’ve found that even supporting the Village from afar is a rewarding experience. When it is safe to volunteer onsite again, I will be back to serve meals while continuing my recurring donations, knowing that my commitment is beyond a yearly resolution.

Community Builder Spotlight: Claire Christian

While we cannot wait for the day when we can welcome volunteers back to the Village, we are spotlighting some of our incredible Community Builders that give time, talent, and treasure to N Street Village. Meet long-time volunteer and Community Builder, Claire Christian.

Q. How did you get involved with N Street Village?

A. I got involved with N Street Village when I was looking for somewhere to donate some leftover conference swag bag items. It was a long time ago and one of the items was a bunch of prepaid phone cards (remember those?). I tried to think of who could use them and I thought of people experiencing homelessness. I did some Googling and found N Street Village. I saw they had a lot of volunteer opportunities and I signed up for an orientation. I had a regular volunteer gig at my local library starting when I was nine and I really wanted to get back to doing weekly community service. The Village had a great mission and a well-run volunteer program, so I stuck with it!

Q. How long have you been serving the Village community?

A. That is a good question! I think I started in either 2004 or 2005. So about fifteen years. I have been serving breakfast almost every week during that time (unless I am out of town or sick).

Q. Can you share your favorite N Street Village memory?

A. One of my favorite memories is when one of the ladies told me that it was so nice to see my smiling face every week. Up to that point, I always wanted to give the ladies good service and I liked chatting with them if I got the chance, but I honestly never really expected them to pay much attention to me. One of the things we talked about in volunteer orientation is that many of the ladies have a lot going on in their lives. I always thought I was there as a breakfast volunteer mainly to do a job efficiently so people can get their breakfast and get a good start to their day. But when she said that, I realized I was looking at my role in a very limited way. I wasn’t just there to do a job – in a small way, I had become part of a community. I am proud to be a member of the Village community.

Q. What inspired you to become a recurring donor in addition to volunteering your time with N Street Village?

A. Volunteering is really valuable, but I work for a nonprofit myself and I know that fundraising is very stressful. The need for the services N Street Village provides is so great and I felt that being a recurring donor in addition to volunteering was the best way to make sure I was using all my resources to help provide consistent support for my neighbors in need.

Wrapping up this great interview, we have our own favorite memory of Claire at the Village. Director of Vocational Development and Volunteers, Heidi Gauthier shares a special moment she shared with Claire. “For the past few years in September, Claire brings all the ingredients to make pesto and we have a pesto making party with Village residents with the basil we grow in the flagship garden. One year, three residents from the Luther Place Night Shelter came to help. After we finished making pesto, we made a few dishes with the pesto we prepared and enjoyed dinner together. It was an amazing farm to table event filled with comradery and fellowship.”

Thank you, Claire, for all the ways you support the women of the Village!

Volunteer Spotlight: Project Knitwell

This month, get to know N Street Village volunteer Ann Herzog and Project Knitwell! Ann started volunteering at N Street Village through Project Knitwell, which is a local nonprofit that promotes the benefits of therapeutic knitting. She now teaches classes at N Street Village where she uses knitting as a mechanism for stress relief.

What does a typical class look like?

Every Tuesday for an hour and half, we work with about 20 women, teaching them to knit or improve their knitting skills. The class is divided into training for beginners, who have never knitted before, and assistance on projects making hats, scarfs, socks, leg warmers and teaching other knitting skills.

The trainers are volunteers from Project Knitwell. We currently have five volunteers in addition to myself. Robin Herman, Barbara Cleveland both of whom moved over from the Street Sense site with me. Because the demand at N Street Village was so great, Peggy Blechman, Caroline Rogus, Carol Caparosa and Donna Breslin have also joined the group. The interest and enthusiasm we found at N Street Village far exceeded our early expectation and we had to change our structure and increase the number of volunteers in order to provide training for all the clients who were interested.

What’s been the biggest positive impact you’ve seen through the class?

The biggest impact is seeing the unique creative expression each knitter exhibits. Their sense of accomplishment and pride in their knitted creations. The women also talk about how knitting is calming. When we are together at N Street Village there is a real peaceful flow in the group providing a support environment for everyone.

Can you describe how creative outlets like knitting and crocheting are connected to healing?

Research has shown that knitting and hand crafting helps to reduce stress. Betsan Corkhill, a pioneer in the field of therapeutic knitting has found that “Working with your hands makes you feel good…. we now know that the creative making process can be specifically harnessed to promote healing biologically, neurologically, behaviorally, and socially…. which has the power to transform people’s lives.”

What has been most surprising to you since you started volunteering?

The women at N Street Village are so gracious, kind — and supportive of each other and of us! It is deeply moving to share their gratitude and pride when they’ve finished something.

Why does volunteering make a difference?

I have found that volunteering provides an opportunity to give back and stretch my horizons. There is a lot of joy in knowing you have touched someone else and provided something new to their lives.

Why does having an organization like N Street Village in D.C. matter?

N Street Village makes a tremendous difference in D.C. and in the lives of the women they help. Living with housing insecurity and being able to come to N Street Village to heal and get your life back on track is an amazing gift. The respect and dignity that the N Street Village staff shows in interacting with each of their clients and the volunteers is truly admirable and rare.

Volunteer Spotlight: Xenia

This month get to know N Street Village volunteer, Xenia Demitropoulos! Xenia is a special volunteer to the community because she was the first weekly recurring individual volunteer to serve dinner at N Street Village’s emergency shelter. In addition to Xenia’s commitment to the shelter, she also volunteers at Village fundraising events. Let’s get to know Xenia…

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the DC area? I’m originally from Chicago. I’ve lived in DC for 7 years.

What is your favorite D.C. restaurant? There are so many exceptional restaurants in D.C. so it’s difficult to choose just one. I recently tried the new El Bebe in Navy Yard and loved it. I highly recommend you don’t leave without having the tres leches for dessert. It is sublime.

On a Saturday evening you will find me… This time of the year you will faithfully find me at Audi Field cheering on the black and red – D.C. United.

Who is one of your favorite musicians? This is a tough one because I LOVE music. I’ll say Black Rebel Motorcycle Club because they are severely underrated. Everything they produce is gold and they are one of my favorite bands to see live.

What is the last movie you watched (and enjoyed)? A recent movie I watched and truly enjoyed was Blind Date. It’s a French romantic comedy. It was excellent.

What is your favorite DC landmark? No question, The Library of Congress.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at N Street Village? Giving back and helping support the mission of empowering women.

Share one of your favorite N Street Village memories? I wore my cartouche one day while volunteering at Patricia Handy. A client from Egypt asked if I was Egyptian and I replied, “No, I’m Greek.” She shared that her family six generations ago was from Greece and we talked extensively about the Orthodox faith. To think that our ancestors might have known each other. Small world!

March Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Hannah Yoo

This month, get know N Street Village Volunteer Hannah Yoo. Since Hannah’s addition to the volunteer team, it’s hard remember a time when Hannah wasn’t part of the community. From serving meals with a groups at Patricia Handy Place for Women to serving breakfast almost every Friday in the Day Center to volunteering at our major fundraising events, her versatility and enthusiasm are cherished by the clients and staff she supports.  Let’s get to know Hannah…

I grew up on the west coast, and attended Scripps women’s college in Claremont, California and I received my Masters in Business Administration from the University of Maryland. I moved to D.C. fifteen years ago to work on a presidential campaign, and I currently work in operations at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I was first introduced to N Street Village seven years ago through a friend when I was looking for volunteer service projects to do with my colleagues. Since then, I’ve led donation drives at work, group meal service at Patricia Handy House, but I can be found most frequently serving breakfast on Friday mornings at N Street Village’s Day Center. My favorite hobbies are working out–especially yoga, cooking and baking, and riding my bike around the city.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the D.C. area?

I was born and raised in Los Angeles and Seattle, and I moved to D.C. in 2004–so it’s definitely home now.

What is your favorite D.C. restaurant?

I probably eat at Sweetgreen the most, but I’m Korean so I love Bul in Adams Morgan.

On a Saturday evening you will find me…

Checking out a new restaurant and movie, or catching up on all my favorite guilty pleasures on TV including anything on Bravo and 90 Day Fiancé and sadly all it’s spin offs too.

Who is one of your favorite musicians?

I love Mariah Carey for her music, style, and hilarious diva antics. Also her last album was really good.

What is last movie you watched (and enjoyed)?

I watched A Star is Born twice, and the last time there was no one else was in the whole theater so my friend and I sang along to our favorite songs. And Lady Gaga is an amazing performer–highly recommend!

What is your favorite D.C. landmark?

I work across the street from the White House, so on my bike ride into work I love passing by and seeing the flurry of activity that is always present–whether it’s protesters, news cameras or tourists taking selfies, no matter how long I’ve lived in D.C. or the current occupant, seeing the White House reminds me how lucky I am to be able to live and work in D.C.

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

The whole N Street Village community is so welcoming and kind; as a resident of Logan Circle I love being a part of and contributing to my local community and meeting people who also live or work here.

Share one of your favorite N Street Village memories?

At the N Street Village and TTR Sotheby’s event Celebrate Logan in 2016, I was able to recruit a few friends and my friend’s mom and we had a lot of fun putting balloons up, riding around on pedicabs between restaurants, and collecting donations.

Photo Credit: Tmarcus Khan

Volunteer Spotlight: Chris

This month get to know N Street Village volunteer Chris Scott. Chris has been an active volunteer since January 2017. Each Spring, we host a Family & Friends Community Garden Day, and Chris has played instrumental role in supporting and planning the event. From choosing the veggies, to helping the volunteer team transport all the items, and  to ensuring when volunteers arrive to garden we are ready to go! His passion and knowledge of gardening make the Village vibrant throughout the growing season. Let’s get to know Chris… 


Originally from rural Illinois, I have been a DC resident for over a decade. During that time I’ve been heavily involved with urban farming in the District — both for work and for fun—and I currently teach gardening and cooking at an elementary school in Ward 7. I first got involved serving meals at N Street Village several years ago before taking a lead role planning and managing N Street Village’s courtyard vegetable, herb, and flower garden. I also volunteer regularly with DC’s Casey Trees and Rock Creek Conservancy. Now two years sober, I have been enormously inspired by the women of N Street Village, many of whom have overcome battles with addiction and substance abuse themselves. My wife and I are expecting first child in March and couldn’t be happier!

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

I grew up in Central Illinois and moved to DC in 2006.

What is your favorite D.C. restaurant?

Ben’s Chili Bowl.

On a Sunday morning you will find me…

Gardening, going on a stroll through Rock Creek Park, or baking a pie!

Who is one of your favorite musicians?

Miles Davis, particularly his 1969 album In a Silent Way.

What is last movie you watched (and enjoyed)?

I just saw Alfonso Cuarón’s excellent new film Roma at E Street Cinema and loved it! A truly beautiful and moving film.

Describe N Street Village in 3 words or less.

Loving, vibrant, compassionate.

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

Getting the opportunity to serve such an inspiring and amazing community — to learn, connect, and grow as a human being, and to be a better neighbor and resident of this great city.

Share one of your favorite N Street Village memories?

Friends and Family Day 2018 was such an amazing experience. To see so many people of all ages come out and totally transform the courtyard and tree boxes into a beautiful and nurturing space for N Street Village’s residents was really inspiring and motivating.


Come out to meet Chris and the the rest of our awesome N Street Village volunteers on April 27th for this year’s Family & Friends Community Garden Day!!!

Volunteer Spotlight: Asha

This month get know N Street Village volunteer Asha Green. Asha has been an active volunteer since September 2016. Asha serves breakfast in the day center, dinner at The Patricia Handy Place for Women, as well volunteers with her group from Howard University, Jewels Inc., by supporting N Street Village fundraising events. Let’s get to know Asha…

I am a current senior at Howard University studying Psychology and Biology with a pre-dental track. I am extremely involved on and off campus, serving as community service chair for Jewels, Inc., secretary of Howard University Pre-Dental Society, and participating in a dental internship with a local periodontist. Some of my favorite activities include trying new restaurants (I am a huge foodie!) doing hair as a licensed cosmetologist, and volunteering in the community. I am very close to my mom and brother and I am absolutely obsessed with puppies! Most people who know me would describe me as reliable, genuine and giving. I love being the person that the people around me can count on, and I enjoy putting a smile on people’s faces! It warms my heart to be a continuing volunteer of N Street Village, it is one of my most rewarding experiences and I am so thankful to have found this organization. 

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the DC area? I am originally from Atlanta, Georgia, having spent my younger childhood in Detroit. My family is originally from Detroit so my mother moved us there when we were young, and we moved to Atlanta when I was in 6th grade so that she could pursue her masters in film. I have lived in the DC area for going on 3 years to attend Howard University, a family Alma Mater!

What is your favorite DC restaurant? My favorite restaurant in DC is a tie between Ted’s Bulletin and Zaytinya. Breakfast food and Mediterranean food are my absolute favorites, you can catch me at Ted’s most weekends and Zaytinya after I have gotten paid from work!

On a Saturday afternoon, you will find me… if I’m not working, I am either visiting the local food market or museum, checking out a festival in the area or trying a new restaurant. I love visiting all of the mini-festivals that DC has because there are so many, so I try to visit as many as possible. If I am not doing any of those things, I am resting after a long week filled with Organic Chemistry!

Who is one of your favorite musicians? One of my favorite musicians is Beyoncé. I know that’s probably everyone’s answer, but she is truly my idol! She inspires me to not only be my very best in my career, but to serve the community and take pride in being a successful and driven woman.

What is your favorite DC landmark? My favorite DC landmark is the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The architecture of the building and the artistry and history within the museum is astounding, it is definitely my number one!

Describe N Street Village in 3 words or less. Distinctive, Invigorating and Compassionate. I personally have never experienced another facility that is as unique and radiant as N Street Village, making it distinctive. N Street is invigorating and compassionate because it maintains a very uplifting environment and staff, it is very organized and efficient, and it absolutely wants the best for the residents.

What makes N Street Village unique to you? N Street is unique to me because it is my first time experiencing a female homeless organization that doesn’t just provide the bare necessities for the women that they support, but motivate them to work for something bigger. N Street has so many opportunities in place that allow these women to grow such as therapy, work opportunities, and even volunteer opportunities within the facilities. The sense of a true, clean and genuine community is also a very unique aspect of N Street Village. It is a comfortable environment and most everyone takes the time to get to know you, whether you are a volunteer, staff or inhabitant. N Street is creative, with so many unique programs in place to give back to the Village such as the Shero Walk and Celebrate Logan. Most importantly, N Street Village is welcoming. No matter your background, where you are or where you want to be, they make sure to work with you to make your dreams a reality. As a college student still trying to figure out myself and the world, it is truly inspiring to work with and watch so many women be actively passionate about the betterment of other women.  It gives me a sense of purpose and really allows me to enjoy giving back to the community.

What has been one of your biggest surprises about N Street Village? My biggest surprise about N Street is how huge it actually is. When I first signed up to volunteer, I did not realize that there were so many facilities all over the DC area. In the past, I have volunteered with very small organizations who aren’t able to impact as many women with their services. N Street Village has and continues to make a conscious effort to expand. In a world filled with impoverished women who need support, especially in the DC area, it is astounding to know and be a part of making a difference in a very widespread group of women’s lives.