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