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A country without compassion?

This blog post is in response to Charles Blow’s August 9, 2013 New York Times op-ed piece, “A Town Without Pity,” which was about America’s attitude toward the poor and homeless.  Blow’s article is a must read for all who are concerned about the poor and disenfranchised.  As Blow comments in his article, we were once the land of liberty that welcomed the world’s poor and homeless.

Yet today, many in America seem to have nothing but disdain for the poor.  Only last week, I wrote about the vengeance being unleashed in the House of Representatives against safety net programs for the poor. They propose massive cuts in these programs often wrapped in language of contempt for those in poverty.  As one who has been involved for 40 years with my congregation, Luther Place Memorial Church in D.C., serving homeless women at N Street Village, I want to offer a different perspective on the issues of poverty and homelessness in America then the one so prevalent in America today including in the chambers of our Congress.

My pastor of 27 years, John Steinbruck, gradually helped open our congregation’s eyes to the social justice message of the biblical texts, and he guided us in how to be good stewards of our church property and resources. N Street Village, a continuum of services for homeless and very low-income women, grew out of some old, run-down townhouses and a parking lot owned by the church. N Street Village supporters from multiple faith traditions helped build this amazing place of healing.

N Street Village

When our new facility was opened in 1996, we were proud to display biblical texts of compassion, justice, and hospitality on the entrance to N Street Village.

We discovered through working with the homeless women who came through our doors that they were not lazy freeloaders seeking to get a handout as often is the claim by those who want to cut safety net programs.  These women were desperately seeking help for lives that had seen abuse, abandonment, mental illness, addictions, loss of jobs and housing, and more.  We have witnessed so many wonderful transformations on our block through our customized safety net programs for the homeless.  N Street Village now serves more than 60 percent of the population of homeless women in DC and is one of the premier programs in the nation offering a complete continuum of services to women seeking to reestablish wholeness of life. Government support, along with private charity, and private participation were all instrumental in achieving our success.

Religious historian Karen Armstrong identifies compassion as the most important and common tenet among the world’s major religions and the Dalai Lama (who visited N Street Village in 2007) similarly says that compassion and social justice is the common message of all the world’s major religions. I end with words of Karen Armstrong who says: “We can either empathize with those aspects of our traditions, religious or secular, that speak of hatred, exclusion, and suspicion, or work with those that stress the interdependence and equality of all human beings.” The choice belongs to each of us.

Gary MaringBy Gary Maring – Gary is a member of Luther Place Membership Church and one of the founders of N Street Village.  He continues his commitment to N Street Village through membership on the Board of Directors and volunteer service.  Out of his 40 years of experience serving at Luther Place and N Street Village, he was moved to publish “Faith, Social Justice, and Public Policy.” He also authors a blog, which focuses “Faith, Social Justice, and Public Policy.”

“We want N Street Village to be there.”

McDaniel, DaleDale McDaniel has been a part of the N Street Village community since the beginning. He was a parishioner at Luther Place Memorial Church when Pastor John Steinbruck and his wife, Erna founded N Street Village with support from Jewish and Catholic congregations to respond to the  poverty and homelessness facing the Logan Circle neighborhood following the 1968 riots. He has seen N Street Village grow into something much greater than the founders could have hoped for. Reflecting on his involvement, he notes that “I have received far more than I have given when I see and hear how the women of N Street Village have regained control of their lives.”

That’s why he and his now deceased wife Deanna decided to include N Street Village in their planned giving. As much as he hopes the issue of homelessness will no longer a problem, he is realistic and wants N Street Village to continue meeting the needs of homeless women after he dies. Working with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Foundation, they created two planned vehicles to benefit N Street Village—a charitable gift annuity and charitable remainder trust. Dale notes that there are many other ways to make a planned gift including simply writing N Street Village into your will.

N Street Village is grateful to Dale and Deanna for their planned gifts. Through their generosity, they will ensure that N Street Village will be there for the homeless women of Washington, D.C. for many years to come.

To learn more about how you can make a planned gift to N Street Village, you can contact Stuart Allen, Director of Development at 202-536-2085 or sallen@nstreetvillage.org.

Meet our 2013 Honorees

On April 10, over 520 friends and supporters of N Street Village came together at The Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., for the Village’s 2013 gala. This annual event celebrates those in our community who help homeless and low-income women make positive changes in their lives and also honors the achievements of our clients. This year’s gala was a huge success, raising nearly $675,000!

At this year’s gala, we recognized three remarkable N Street Village clients who are an inspiration to all of us: Patricia Birk, Shevanda Brantley, and Lolita Mitchell. The women received the N Street Village Steinbruck Award, which is presented annually to the clients whose leadership, persistence and determination reflect that of Erna and John Steinbruck, the co-founders of N Street Village.

In this video, which was shown at the gala, Patricia, Shevanda, and Lolita share what brought them to N Street Village and how their experience in our programs changed their lives for the better.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CySfoE4XG4?list=PLco0smaaOlQJFZPoNZK20HhKL94CmcQM7]

Photo of the Week

Pastor John Portrait

Now up for bid on N Street Village’s Online Auction, a portrait of founding father Pastor John Steinbruck created by Aaron Spain Fine ArtBid today!

 

Meet Our Honorees

On March 21, nearly 450 friends and supporters of N Street Village came together at The Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., for the Village’s 2012 gala. This annual event celebrates those in our community who help homeless and low-income women make positive changes in their lives and also honors the achievements of our clients. This year’s gala was a huge success, raising more than $620,000!

At this year’s gala, we recognized three remarkable N Street Village clients who are an inspiration to all of us: Noelle Beamon, Bobbie Estes, and Carol Unger. The women received the N Street Village Steinbruck Award, which is presented annually to the clients whose leadership, persistence and determination reflect that of Erna and John Steinbruck, the co-founders of N Street Village.

In this video, which was shown at the gala,  Noelle, Bobbie, and Carol share what brought them to N Street Village and how their experience in our programs changed their lives for the better.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpLMZxlmPyU&w=853&h=480]