Deidre 

For as long as I can remember, alcohol has been in my life. Even as a baby, my family would put beer in her bottle to keep her quiet. Unaware of the impact alcohol would have on the rest of my life, I felt she had a pretty normal childhood surrounded by family.  I didn’t know any better then. Everybody drank, and it wasn’t a problem for me yet.

As an adult, I went to college, got married, and had three children. Alcohol remained a part of my life throughout it all but went unaddressed by those around me. I was a functioning alcoholicable to hold a job, take care of my children, and maintain an appearance of control for years.  

That all changed when I lost both her husband and son to gun violence within one week of each other. Faced with overwhelming grief, I faced further despair just a few months later. I was the victim of a drive-by shooting and became paralyzed from the waist down. At that point, my life began to spiral, and alcohol became all-consuming.  I hit rock bottom. I moved back in with my mom, stopped working, and drank every day.

For two years, I sank into a deep depression while mourning the loss of my family and struggling with paralysis. But one day, I decided I wasn’t going to give up. I wanted to walk again. With determination and faith, I regained strength in my legs and am now able to walk with leg braces. Despite this achievement, I continued to drink.  

Eventually, I made the difficult but brave decision to enter a rehab program, where I stayed for 58 days. While there, I learned about the N Street Village Holistic Housing program, to which I transitioned in 2019.  

For 13 months, I stayed in Holistic Housing while I worked towards my recovery and housing goals. As someone that loves to help others, I emersed herself in the Village community, assisting fellow residents in any way she could.  I am grateful for the staff and other women in the program. We are like a big family and I wouldn’t have been able to make it without them.

In November 2020, I moved into permanent supportive housing as the very first resident of Diane’s House, one of the Village’s newest locations. I just celebrated two years of sobriety and look forward to many more.  

I love having my own home again. I have reconnected with my two daughters, who are extremely supportive of my sobriety. As someone that has always valued paying it forward, I now volunteer my time as a Sister’s Keeper at Diane’s House, helping new residents settle in and access the resources they need. I am grateful that I am not the same person I was when I arrived at N Street Village, I am excited to focus on this new chapter of my life.  Making the decision to come to the Village changed my life. I gained so much more than I could have imagined by coming here.

Belinda

From a young age, I witnessed the devastating effects of addiction. Because my mother suffered from alcoholism, I lived with my father until he passed away when I was just 13While grieving the loss of my father, I moved back in with my mother and an abusive stepfatherI used any opportunity to avoid being at home, which led me down a difficult path.   

When I became pregnant at 16 with my first child, my mother kicked her out. I struggled over the years to provide for my growing family, which now included three more children. Troubled by my circumstances, I turned to drugs. Around the same time, my mother got sober and was able to take custody of my children.  

My mom got sober during this time and she took my kids. I knew it was better for them. In 2000, I tried to get clean and gain control of my life, but I lived with a boyfriend who was violently abusive and an addict himself. Attempting to save my own life one night, I stabbed my boyfriend, resulting in a five-year sentence in prison.

While in prison, I finally got the help I needed and deserved. When I was released, I was clean, sober, and focused on my own mental health. I moved into my own place and eventually regained custody of my children. Things were good for a while, but after a few years, I started using again.

Although the journey was tough, five years ago I once again found the determination to get clean and sober after moving into the Village’s Patricia Handy Place for Women to escape another abusive relationship. Soon after, I was able to move into Miriam’s House, a Village program for women living with HIV/Aids.

N Street Village is the best thing that’s happened to me. It’s given me the chance I needed to start over. At Miriam’s House, I received the care and resources she needs. I work hard each day to prioritize my mental and physical health. I have been able to reconnect with my children along with my grandchildren. I am grateful that I am able to spend quality time with my reunited family.

Because of my strength and determination, I once again look forward to a bright future. Thanks to a referral from the Village’s MARJ & MAK Vocational Program, I recently completed a workforce training program at Together We Bake. My dreams are to find employment and eventually own a home, where I can be surrounded by family. I pray that my life will continue on this positive path and I can enjoy the rest of my life, surrounded by the people I love.

Bonita

I had to grow up quickly. My mother had me at 16, and I was raised mostly by my grandparents. My father was in and out of prison during much of my childhood and was murdered when I was just 12 years old.  

Making my childhood even more challenging, my mother exposed me to an adult lifestyle at a very young age. As a result, my life evolved into a fast track of drugs, alcohol, and men. 

By 18, I was married. However, my husband was an addict and drugs quickly became our way of life. Early in our marriage, my husband was sentenced to prison and spent much of our 20-year relationship behind bars. I became pregnant at 21 and moved in with my husband’s family so they could help care for our daughterDuring this time, I turned to drugs.  

While in my 30’s, I found the strength to get clean and take responsibility for my own life. I stayed sober for 20 years, focusing her attention on raising my daughter.  

While I faced challenges throughout my lifethe one that hurt the most occurred three years ago. Upon invitation, I moved to South Carolina to live with my daughter. Very quickly, things began to unravel. My daughter took financial advantage of me and was verbally abusive. Feeling unwanted, I packed my bags and returned to DC after just three months.  I used to cry every day about my daughter abandoning me. I love her very much, but I didn’t feel appreciated and knew what she did to me was wrong.

Devastated that my daughter had abused our relationship, I began to feel the weight of depression. Back in D.C., I stayed with friends, feeling lost and afraid for what my future might hold. This led to a short relapse, but I knew that was not the solution. I began looking for help and was introduced to N Street Village.  

After spending three years with the Village, I have gained control of my mental and physical health, acquired the financial help I needed, and found employment through the Village’s MARJ & MAK Vocational Center. I was able to move into permanent supportive housing in 2020, graduated from the Together We Bake training program, and am now employed at Friendship Place, helping individuals experiencing homelessness access the resources they need.  

I am so grateful for N Street Village. It helped me through a dark time and kept me going when I didn’t think I could. I am proud of my accomplishments over the past three years, I am ready for my next chapter. My goal is to own my own home again and continue to work, helping others in situations similar to mine of just a few years ago.  It’s not about what you’ve done in the past, but what you are doing with your time now. Anything worth having is worth working for.

Bonita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonita

I had to grow up quickly. My mother had me at 16, and I was raised mostly by my grandparents. My father was in and out of prison during much of my childhood and was murdered when I was just 12 years old.  

Making my childhood even more challenging, my mother exposed me to an adult lifestyle at a very young age. As a result, my life evolved into a fast track of drugs, alcohol, and men. 

By 18, I was married. However, my husband was an addict and drugs quickly became our way of life. Early in our marriage, my husband was sentenced to prison and spent much of our 20-year relationship behind bars. I became pregnant at 21 and moved in with my husband’s family so they could help care for our daughterDuring this time, I turned to drugs.  

While in my 30’s, I found the strength to get clean and take responsibility for my own life. I stayed sober for 20 years, focusing her attention on raising my daughter.  

While I faced challenges throughout my lifethe one that hurt the most occurred three years ago. Upon invitation, I moved to South Carolina to live with my daughter. Very quickly, things began to unravel. My daughter took financial advantage of me and was verbally abusive. Feeling unwanted, I packed my bags and returned to DC after just three months.  I used to cry every day about my daughter abandoning me. I love her very much, but I didn’t feel appreciated and knew what she did to me was wrong.

Devastated that my daughter had abused our relationship, I began to feel the weight of depression. Back in D.C., I stayed with friends, feeling lost and afraid for what my future might hold. This led to a short relapse, but I knew that was not the solution. I began looking for help and was introduced to N Street Village.  

After spending three years with the Village, I have gained control of my mental and physical health, acquired the financial help I needed, and found employment through the Village’s MARJ & MAK Vocational Center. I was able to move into permanent supportive housing in 2020, graduated from the Together We Bake training program, and am now employed at Friendship Place, helping individuals experiencing homelessness access the resources they need.  

I am so grateful for N Street Village. It helped me through a dark time and kept me going when I didn’t think I could. I am proud of my accomplishments over the past three years, I am ready for my next chapter. My goal is to own my own home again and continue to work, helping others in situations similar to mine of just a few years ago.  It’s not about what you’ve done in the past, but what you are doing with your time now. Anything worth having is worth working for.

Belinda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belnida

From a young age, I witnessed the devastating effects of addiction. Because my mother suffered from alcoholism, I lived with my father until he passed away when I was just 13While grieving the loss of my father, I moved back in with my mother and an abusive stepfatherI used any opportunity to avoid being at home, which led me down a difficult path.   

When I became pregnant at 16 with my first child, my mother kicked her out. I struggled over the years to provide for my growing family, which now included three more children. Troubled by my circumstances, I turned to drugs. Around the same time, my mother got sober and was able to take custody of my children.  

My mom got sober during this time and she took my kids. I knew it was better for them. In 2000, I tried to get clean and gain control of my life, but I lived with a boyfriend who was violently abusive and an addict himself. Attempting to save my own life one night, I stabbed my boyfriend, resulting in a five-year sentence in prison.

While in prison, I finally got the help I needed and deserved. When I was released, I was clean, sober, and focused on my own mental health. I moved into my own place and eventually regained custody of my children. Things were good for a while, but after a few years, I started using again.

Although the journey was tough, five years ago I once again found the determination to get clean and sober after moving into the Village’s Patricia Handy Place for Women to escape another abusive relationship. Soon after, I was able to move into Miriam’s House, a Village program for women living with HIV/Aids.

N Street Village is the best thing that’s happened to me. It’s given me the chance I needed to start over. At Miriam’s House, I received the care and resources she needs. I work hard each day to prioritize my mental and physical health. I have been able to reconnect with my children along with my grandchildren. I am grateful that I am able to spend quality time with my reunited family.

Because of my strength and determination, I once again look forward to a bright future. Thanks to a referral from the Village’s MARJ & MAK Vocational Program, I recently completed a workforce training program at Together We Bake. My dreams are to find employment and eventually own a home, where I can be surrounded by family. I pray that my life will continue on this positive path and I can enjoy the rest of my life, surrounded by the people I love.

Deidre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deidre 

For as long as I can remember, alcohol has been in my life. Even as a baby, my family would put beer in her bottle to keep her quiet. Unaware of the impact alcohol would have on the rest of my life, I felt she had a pretty normal childhood surrounded by family.  I didn’t know any better then. Everybody drank, and it wasn’t a problem for me yet.

As an adult, I went to college, got married, and had three children. Alcohol remained a part of my life throughout it all but went unaddressed by those around me. I was a functioning alcoholicable to hold a job, take care of my children, and maintain an appearance of control for years.  

That all changed when I lost both her husband and son to gun violence within one week of each other. Faced with overwhelming grief, I faced further despair just a few months later. I was the victim of a drive-by shooting and became paralyzed from the waist down. At that point, my life began to spiral, and alcohol became all-consuming.  I hit rock bottom. I moved back in with my mom, stopped working, and drank every day.

For two years, I sank into a deep depression while mourning the loss of my family and struggling with paralysis. But one day, I decided I wasn’t going to give up. I wanted to walk again. With determination and faith, I regained strength in my legs and am now able to walk with leg braces. Despite this achievement, I continued to drink.  

Eventually, I made the difficult but brave decision to enter a rehab program, where I stayed for 58 days. While there, I learned about the N Street Village Holistic Housing program, to which I transitioned in 2019.  

For 13 months, I stayed in Holistic Housing while I worked towards my recovery and housing goals. As someone that loves to help others, I emersed herself in the Village community, assisting fellow residents in any way she could.  I am grateful for the staff and other women in the program. We are like a big family and I wouldn’t have been able to make it without them.

In November 2020, I moved into permanent supportive housing as the very first resident of Diane’s House, one of the Village’s newest locations. I just celebrated two years of sobriety and look forward to many more.  

I love having my own home again. I have reconnected with my two daughters, who are extremely supportive of my sobriety. As someone that has always valued paying it forward, I now volunteer my time as a Sister’s Keeper at Diane’s House, helping new residents settle in and access the resources they need. I am grateful that I am not the same person I was when I arrived at N Street Village, I am excited to focus on this new chapter of my life.  Making the decision to come to the Village changed my life. I gained so much more than I could have imagined by coming here.

Iva

Before I came to N Street Village, I was homeless for a decade, battling depression that started with the death of my mother. When I walked through the doors of the Village a year ago I knew I had found a family that was ready to welcome me with open arms and connect me with the resources I needed.

With the help of the staff at Patricia Handy Place for Women emergency shelter, I found employment and was able to move into Permanent Supportive Housing. That was the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I had a home, I had a job, and I had a family again. For six months everything felt like it was falling into place. When the pandemic reached DC, I was not prepared. Like many people, I lost my job and was afraid of losing everything else I had worked towards.

Knowing I had the strength and support of the Village behind me, I refused to lose hope. I had battled loss before but this time I had the support I needed to keep going.

I have now been reemployed and I am so excited to be back at work. While this year has not been easy, it showed me that I have a family at N Street Village and one that believes in me.

N Street Village gave me the resources and tools to reclaim my life. I am so grateful for that and I know it would not have been possible without you – the Village community of volunteers, donors, and supporters.

Sharon

My name is Sharon Baker and it’s been a long time coming, but I finally get to tell my story.

I have to remember where I came from in order to know where I want to go.  I was born into addiction and was never interested in drugs because I saw what it did to my family.

Today I’m trusting in the decision that I had made in my life.  I have been able to overcome adversity and challenges in my life.  I put myself through College, Owned a Contracting business with my husband.

One of my largest challenges was to accept where I was at my lowest point in my life.  At the age of 30 I was introduced to PCP trying to keep my marriage together.

PCP shined a light on my buried mental health challenges.  I worked to take care of my family.  N Street Village provides me with my mental health, sisterhood and Permanent supportive housing.

I now focus on loving me and being stable placing structure back in my life.  Never did I think that my success would help others.  I need to thank my Mother Carolyn Whorley, Toni Thomas, They stuck by me and helped me to put a plan in place when I couldn’t see myself and the things I have accomplished.

Never give up, Never stop praying, and always remember that things will get better over time.

Jewel

As a child, Jewel experienced family trauma and abandonment. Life was hard at home and as a teenager, she looked to escape any way she could.

Jewel got married at age 17, left home with her new husband, and had her first child. But her marriage didn’t work out as she hoped. Her husband struggled with drug addiction, and Jewel suffered through years of verbal and physical abuse.

“Over time I lost all sense of self-respect and self-confidence. Lonely, hopeless, and desperate, I started using drugs too.”

The need to use drugs took over her entire life in ways she could have never imagined. She had two more children but was unable to be the mother she had hoped. Even after she left her husband, she found herself repeating the same patterns – in and out of abusive relationships, jail, and addiction.

“By the end, I was so sick and so numb that I couldn’t remember a life without drugs, nor could I imagine a healthy or happy future for myself.”

Jewel tried various programs in the city, but every time she got out, she would go right back to the familiar cycle. Finally, one night in jail, she decided she needed to do something truly different. She had been through enough programs to know that she needed something more intensive.

Her social worker suggested that Jewel come to N Street Village’s recovery program, and in her desperation for healing, she was willing to try.

“If it weren’t for N Street Village, I do not believe that I would have made it through to a new beginning. I am not sure that I’d even be alive.”

Although it was tough, Jewel graduated from the Village’s recovery program and, for the first time, felt like she had the tools and resources to maintain her sobriety. After graduation, she was a caregiver for various family members over the next ten years until another abusive situation left her homeless again.

Jewel came back to the place she knew she could count on for hope, healing, and support. She picked up where she left off – attending classes, working with staff and rebuilding her life.

Today, Jewel has her own apartment with the Village’s permanent supportive housing program. Through the MARJ & MAK Vocational Center, Jewel started a new job through a Village partnership with WeWork and UPIC Health, a job she loves and is proud to have. Jewel is now a peer mentor at the Village, leading a recovery support group for other clients at the Village. She also shared her story with The Washington Post this winter, hoping it may just inspire someone else to get the help they need.

Today, for the first time in 62 years, I have permanent housing. I have my own space where I am learning to love myself, learning to say no, and learning that my story can help encourage other women going through some of the same experiences.”

Nataki

My name is Nataki, which means “princess” in Swahili.

There were no transgender role models in the city where I grew up. As I got older, the only way I knew how to be myself was by going to clubs, prostitution, and using drugs.

Leaving Baltimore was the best thing I ever could have done for myself. The second best was finding N Street Village.

When I arrived at N Street Village, it was completely different.

Here, my apartment is my small piece of heaven. The staff don’t treat me like I wasn’t born female. They don’t treat me like I’m transgender, they treat me like I’m me.

The way N Street Village has accepted me and welcomed me has given me the hope and courage to be me without the drugs.

When you support N Street Village, you ensure that the next woman on this path doesn’t have to go through what I did. That gift is beyond priceless.

Gratefully,
Nataki