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.

 

 

2018 Coat Drive

N Street Village is taking the opportunity to help warm up the lives of DC women during winter. Preparations have already begun for our Annual Coat Drive. Last week, volunteers from Reed Smith helped out by sorting and counting coats that we have in stock.

 

This year we are collecting 208 coats to ensure that each woman who walks through our doors receives a warm coat this winter.

We are asking for your help with the donation of new and gently loved coats varying in size from small to 6X.

There are many ways to support the Coat Drive. While we greatly and appreciate all donations, getting something brand new is special to way to spread holiday cheer to someone in need. If you would like to order a coat, we have made easy for you. Please visit our N Street Village Coat Drive Wish List on Amazon. Or, if you have gently used coat to share please make note of the following:

  • Make sure it is clean and without flaws
  • No rips, holes, tears, snags
  • No stains or discoloration
  • Check the zipper and/or buttons to make sure they are functional
  • Make sure there are no broken/missing fasteners
  • Check pockets to ensure that there are not any accidental donations of personal items

We ask that all coats be delivered by Wednesday October 24, 2018 by 2:00pm. To schedule a drop-off appointment or get more information, please contact Donna-Marie Thompson at (202) 939-2058 or by email at dthompson@nstreetvillage.org.

Please join us to maintain our standard of care for all the members of our community!

Thank you all for your generosity and kindness.

Thankfully,

The N Street Village Family

November Volunteer Spotlight

This month get know N Street Village volunteer, Ariel Veroske. Ariel has been serving the community since October 2016. Ariel shares her passion for direct service by serving dinner to the residents at The Patricia Handy Place for Women and her enthusiasm for fundraising as an Impact Committee member where she lends her skills to raise crucial funds to support Village programming. Let’s get know Ariel…

I have called D.C. home for 3 years. I went to college in Wooster, Ohio and then moved to D.C. where I currently work as an Executive Recruiter at a small firm supporting aerospace & defense companies. I have a big family (6 siblings!) back in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. In my free time, I love riding my road bike, taking long walks through different DC neighborhoods, and volunteering at N Street Village! I began volunteering at The Patricia Handy Place for Women serving dinner and then joined the Impact Committee to help with fundraising and events. I am continually inspired by the amazing support that N Street provides to the DC community which makes me so proud to be a volunteer an N Street Village!

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the D.C. area? I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and have lived in D.C. since 2014.

What is your favorite D.C. restaurant? Ray’s Hellburger on K Street NW – best burger in DC!

On a Saturday evening you will find me…Hanging out at Blackjack on 14th, or watching movies at home.

Who is one of your favorite musicians? Jason Aldean -going to college in Ohio made me love country music.

Where is the last place you travelled to?  New Orleans, Louisiana for a family wedding. I fell in love with the food and music!

Describe N Street Village in 3 words or less. “So much love!”

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at N Street Village? I feel strongly about giving back to the community I live in. I love that N Street provides me the opportunity to do so. The positivity and energy of the volunteers and the women of N Street is truly inspiring to me.

Share one of your favorite N Street Village memories? At the Gala last year, seeing the volunteers and hundreds of attendees there made me realize how great an impact we make in our city!

Looking Back: Five Special Memories from My First Year at the Village

To celebrate his first year at the Village, Volunteer and In-Kind Services Coordinator Adam Brunell shares five special moments at the Village made possible by volunteers and donors.

1. All Volunteers: Family and Friends Day – May 6th, 2016

Last spring, Heidi [N Street Village’s Volunteer and In-Kind Services Manager] and I were worried that because of the weather we had to postpone, and possibly cancel, one of the most exciting days at the Village: Family and Friends Day. Those who were in D.C. last May remember that it rained a lot—and I mean a lot. Last spring it rained for a D.C.-record fifteen days in a row, shattering the previous record by five days. In middle of these rainy weeks, Heidi and I wondered, “Should we cancel Family and Friends Day, or should we pray the weather gets better?”

In a Friends and Family Day miracle, the sun came out of the clouds just in time for over 70 volunteers from Studio Theatre, Bucknell Alumni Association, and the D.C. area community to replant the Village’s garden together. After spending the morning weeding and replanting the our garden with strawberries, tomatoes, kale, basil, and more, we all went inside and enjoyed an ice cream social. For my first major volunteer event, Family and Friends day was a smashing success and a great opportunity to connect with long-term members of the Village family. A huge shout out to all our volunteers for spending the morning keeping the Village beautiful!

2. Bloomberg BNA: Washington Kastles Tennis Match – August 2nd, 2016

A long-term supporter of the Village, Bloomberg BNA sponsors all kinds of events at the Village, such as workshops helping women enter the workforce an advance their careers. The most anticipated event of year, however, is the yearly Bloomberg-sponsored tennis match. This past August, Bloomberg provided a dozen women (and me!) with tickets to the six-time champion Washington Kastles as they took on the visiting New York Empire.

The women, Bloomberg, and myself watched the Kastles men’s and women’s teams narrowly triumph over the Empire in a what turned out to be a wildly unusual battle. At one point, the head coach—who had been retired for decades—had to enter mid-match after a Kastle player went down with an injury. The coach surprised both teams and the audience with a turn-back-the-clock performance behind the raucous cheers of the home crowd. For many of the women the match was the first live tennis event they had attended. We at the Village thank Gopi, Peter, and all the Bloomberg team for treating us to a wild night of live tennis.

3. Morgan Stanley: Coat Drive – November 4th, 2016

Out of all the donation drives for the Village, perhaps the most important is the Annual Winter Coat Drive. With the addition of Patricia Handy, the number of residents at the Village doubled to over 400, and our donors stepped up to the plate.  The next step was getting the coats to our clients at every site, so Heidi and I brainstormed how we were going to be able to distribute hundreds of coats to four housing programs across the district. We soon realized we would need outside help to make the task possible.

We reached out to our friends at Morgan Stanley, and together we developed a plan just in time. Morgan Stanley rented a bus for the day, so each woman could take the shuttle our main site. The plan was a success–women got a chance to see our entire coat selection and pick out their favorite coat.  In addition to renting a bus for the day, Morgan Stanley sent a dozen employees who provided much-needed event support for what turned out to be a surprisingly complex operation. All in all, we distributed nearly 200 coats to women in the Village family with the help of Morgan Stanley—thank you for making this possible!

4. Women@Hyatt: Patricia Handy Winter Holidays Party – December 13th, 2016

Soon after I joined the development team at the Village, our new Chinatown housing program, the Patricia Handy Place for Women, opened its doors. By May, the Village had welcomed over 200 women into the newly renovated facility in the heart of Chinatown. Getting the program up and running so quickly was a challenge, a challenge that would have been insurmountable without the support of our team of volunteers.

After a busy spring and fall, Pat Handy—as the shelter has come to be known—celebrated our new community and accomplishments with our first building-wide party, the Winter Holiday Party. Woman@Hyatt, an all-women group celebrating and advocating for women at Hyatt and in the greater community, threw an extravagant winter holiday perfect for this celebration od our new community. Woman@Hyatt decorated the multi-purpose room with holiday colors and served a three-course dinner with their usual contagious enthusiasm. Our gratitude goes out to Cherwana and Women@Hyatt for making the inaugural winter holiday season a special one at Pat Handy.

5.  Washington/Virginia Ministers’ Spouses, Widows, and Widowers: Bedding and Linens Donation Drive – April 13th, 2017

I couldn’t end this article without mentioning the support we receive from churches, synagogues, mosques, seminaries, and other religious-based organizations representing the Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, Baha’i faiths, and more.

Just this month, the Washington/Virginia Ministers’ Spouses, Widows, and Widowers finished a four month tremendously successful linen drive. At the end of it all, they donated three car-fuls of blankets, sheets, pillows, bath towels, washcloths, and more! We send our appreciation to such a thoughtful, generous group for their huge donation drive.

Bonus Event: Irish Students Visiting the Village – Summer 2016

Last summer the Village was blessed with the presence of eight students from Ireland who were participating in Washington Ireland Program (WIP). From running a summer clothing giveaway to preparing breakfast for our entire day center, the Irish students worked hard to support the clients and even teach us some Irish slang along the way (did you know that calling a person “massive” is a compliment?). The students were studying a range of topics from different universities, and each day they utilized knowledge from their studies to bring excitement to the Village community. Thank you to all the WIP students who spent part of their semester volunteering with us. Fair play—you are savage volunteers and did a deadly job. (Did I do that right?). Thanks WIP!

 

There are far too many volunteers and donors who contributed their time, talent, and treasure to mention in this brief reflection. It was difficult to leave out so many wonderful people and organizations, but I want to take the time now to thank everyone donor, volunteer, and member of the Village family who worked with us to empower homeless and low-income women in D.C. The Village would not be able to carry out its mission without the support of 400+ individuals from local businesses, organizations, and families in the D.C. community—and beyond.

Looking back at my first year, I could not have had a better time and or felt more inspired by the Village community. I am eagerly looking forward to year two—may it be as exceptional as year one!

With appreciation,

Adam Brunell

Volunteer and In-Kind Services Coordinator