A True Village SHE-RO | Idell’s Story

Idell SHE-ROThe youngest of 15 children, Idell was raised by her father and siblings after her mother died. Soon after, Idell got involved with “the wrong crowd,” and fell into a vicious period of drug abuse, which led to being in and out of jail. In 2011 Idell found herself once again in jail. She had a broken leg, which due to lack of proper care became infected and had to be amputated. Idell was desperate for change. Then she learned about N Street Village.

In September 2012, Idell moved into the N Street Village Recovery Housing program, a residential community where women live together and work on stabilizing their mental health and overcoming addiction. Idell devoted herself to her recovery and to healing.

“When I came to N Street Village, everybody loved me so I wasn’t scared. I could start to take care of myself.”

This year, Idell moved into her very own ADA-compliant apartment at N Street Village’s Erna’s House, a permanent supportive residence for women with histories of chronic homelessness. She enjoys living in a space that offers her the privacy and space she needs to become more confident with her disability, while working on her balance and navigating her surroundings. Idell has also recently been connected to a prosthetic leg class and looks forward to one day walking into N Street Village.

Idell has now found her inner SHE-RO. Her super power is telling her story to help inspire others to make positive changes in their lives. Idell manages the inspiration board at Erna’s House – and hopes that the passages she displays will help her fellow neighbors during a time of need.

“A SHE-RO is someone who shares their story in order to help someone else.”

Support our Village SHE-RO Idell with a gift in her honor and it will be matched up to $5,000! This generous match is provided by Sherry Hiemstra and Decker Anstrom. Thank you Sherry and Decker!

SHE-RO [sheer-oh] a man or woman who stands up specifically for women’s rights.

A Place of Her Own

Lavone was tired of living in a public shelter. She had to share space with other women and do everything—eat, shower, sleep—when somebody told her. She had no privacy and her personal property was not respected. But she was there because she had no other choice.

Living in a shelter was a huge change for Lavone. For 25 years she had her own place in Southeast Washington. She worked as an administrative and medical assistant. When her husband died in 2007 and she couldn’t find another position in her field, she could no longer afford rent. She was soon evicted and was homeless for the first time in her life.

Erna’s House, N Street Village’s newest permanent supportive housing program for formerly homeless women, was just what Lavone needed. In April 2012, after being without her own place for more than five years, she moved into a one-bedroom apartment at Erna’s House. Now after working a full day with D.C. Public Schools in food preparation, Lavone comes home to her own place where she can relax, rest, and cook for herself.

Dave and LavoneAs a resident of N Street Village, she attends Job Keepers meetings to meet and network with other working women. She is also working with Dave Wasserman, an N Street Village volunteer, to develop a budget so that she can save more of her hard-earned paycheck.  She hopes to be able to save enough money to buy a car and house of her own.

Thanks to her hard work and the support of N Street Village, Lavone is happy and stable again. After experiencing so much adversity, she is planning for a bright future.

By Shane Yost, Manager of Individual Giving – story originally published in N Street Village’s Village Voice newsletter.

“I’m still pinching myself”

By Shane Yost, N Street Village Manager of Individual Giving

The first thing you notice when you walk into Mary’s apartment is how well-decorated the space is.   Everything is placed just so.  There are flowers on the table, cookie jars on the shelf, and colorful throw rugs on the floor.  The cozy apartment makes you feel warm and comfortable.

Mary is clearly proud of her apartment. After eleven years of living in shelters during the best of times and on the streets during the worst of times, Mary now does not just have a place to live—she has a place to call home.

Mary is one of 31 residents at Erna’s House, N Street Village’s new permanent supportive housing program for chronically homeless women. Erna’s House is named in honor of Erna Steinbruck, who founded N Street Village along with her husband, Pastor John Steinbruck. Each resident has her own apartment, and the Village provides on-site case management and health support services. Residents can also take advantage of the education, employment, and wellness services at the Village’s flagship site just a few blocks away.

Even before moving into Erna’s House, Mary was a part of the N Street Village community. She would regularly visit Bethany Women’s Center to eat breakfast and lunch, get her mail, take showers, do laundry, and visit nurses. Now that she has her own place, Mary still regularly comes by to visit friends, participate in activities, and have a nutritious meal when she is unable to cook. Her favorite activity is the anger management class, in which she has an opportunity to get things off her chest and learn to better handle her emotions. She also enjoys participating in Wellness Center activities, including massage therapy and meditation.

Most importantly, getting connected to N Street Village has enabled Mary to focus on her chronic health issues. Within just a few weeks of moving into Erna’s House, she has had gallbladder and hernia surgery, started treatment for diabetes, and received dentures — and soon she will be treated for her chronic back and knee pain. Once she has her health issues under control, Mary hopes to get her GED and re-enter the workforce part-time.

Mary has nothing but praise for the staff of N Street Village, “As long as you want to help yourself, the staff will guide you in the right direction.” Looking back on her time living in emergency shelters and on the streets, Mary notes, “If it wasn’t for N Street Village, I don’t know where I’d be.“ On the streets, she witnessed robberies and random violence and was always afraid.  When she stayed at emergency shelters, she couldn’t keep too many possessions with her. Now at her new home at Erna’s House, she feels safe and secure – and has a closet filled with clothes and shoes.

With the opening of Erna’s House, N Street Village is responding to the 9 percent increase in homelessness since 2008 in Washington, D.C. Erna’s House is funded largely by the D.C. Department of Human Services with N Street Village responsible for raising the difference. This partnership seeks to help chronically homeless women like Mary have a place their own and receive the supportive services they need to be lead healthier, happier lives.

Staff Spotlight – Evelene Duhart

This month, we would like to introduce you to N Street Village staff member Evelene Duhart. Evelene began working at N Street Village in 2005 as a case manager and she recently transitioned into new position as program manager of our newest residential program, Erna’s House.  Evelene recently shared with us more about herself and her experience at N Street Village.

NSV: Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Edgecombe County, North Carolina — the youngest of 3 girls and daughter of a sharecropper. After graduating from high school in 1968 and having had enough of the country life I moved to D.C. From that point on, I have lived here except for a short period when I returned to North Carolina to have my child. I am the mother of one son and the proud grandmother of a 4-year-old boy.

NSV: What do you do at Erna’s House?
ED: On a daily basis I meet with ladies that have experienced or are experiencing homelessness, who are used to being told to get out, who are fearful of both physical and emotional harm (emotional being the most damaging), who have gone long periods of time without anything to eat and had no place to sleep, and who are not used to someone just saying “Hi” to them. I see me, 10 years ago, walking through the doors and it gives me hope for them that they may stay long enough to recognize that things can change.

NSV: Who does Erna’s House serve?
Erna’s House provides permanent supportive housing for up to 31 women with histories of chronic homelessness. Our residents have been homeless and abused, have identified and unidentified mental health issues, and struggle with substance abuse. We serve women that need and want change in their current situation.

NSV: As your first residents move in, what does finding permanent housing through Erna’s House mean to them?
I have had many wonderful experiences meeting the ladies moving into Erna’s House.  One resident has a history of being sheltered for a period of time for rest, regaining her strength, and then returning to the street to stay. Since being at Erna’s House she continues to go out during the day and follow a routine of sitting at bus stops and seeing familiar faces but she returns daily to her apartment with a smile and has not found it necessary to spend another night outside. When I see her she reports, “Everything is fine. I am going upstairs to fix me a sandwich. I like it here.” She brings a smile to my heart. There are more of these moments and I welcome each of them.

NSV: How will Erna’s House staff help the new residents adjust and create a feeling of community?
One thing we will have is a monthly floor meeting to get better acquainted with residents. We may invite one or two residents from different floors to participate, like a meet and greet. Having community dinners will bring the community together as will fun outings like trips to Six Flags, concerts, and shopping excursions. We have a wonderful staff at Erna’s House and they have great ideas for how this will work.

NSV: What has surprised you most about working at N Street Village?
The growth of our organization in a short period of time has really impressed me.  This speaks volumes for the dedication and hard work of our staff.

NSV: What do you wish other people knew about N Street Village?
That we are here, and that we are dedicated to empowering women to reach their desired living standards and to not to give up on their dreams and goals — all while playing our part in ending homelessness.

NSV: If you weren’t working at N Street Village, what would you be doing instead?
Knowing what I know now about N Street Village I would be trying to work on my resume to become an employee, for SHO.