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Luther Place Book Release to Benefit N Street Village

IMG_2086Breaking Bread: Stories of Luther Place and N Street Village, documents the efforts of an interfaith coalition that began more than 40 years ago, led by Luther Place Memorial Church, as it responded and continues to respond to the issue of homelessness in Washington, DC.

Through interviews and pictures, Breaking Bread tells the story of how Biblical hospitality expanded in the hearts and practices of the many people involved in the formation and ongoing work of N Street Village. These first-hand stories teach us about the power of a community of healing and wholeness, and we share them so that their power is not lost or forgotten.

We invite you to come and share in the special 40th anniversary book release event at 1 p.m. on October 26 at Luther Place Memorial Church. All are welcome. Please RSVP to attend. The book release event will be followed by a reception and book sale. The $20 cost of each book will go towards supporting the work of N Street Village’s Luther Place Night Shelter.

We look forward to sharing this day with you!

Pastor Karen Brau  &  Schroeder Stribling
Luther Place                 N Street Village
Senior Pastor               Executive Director

Concert Series to Benefit N Street Village

N Street Village is honored to be selected as the beneficiary of The Thomas Circle Singers’ 2014-2015 concert season.

The Thomas Circle Singers and N Street Village have a special shared history. In the early 1970s, several parishioners at Luther Place Memorial Church on Thomas Circle formed a group of local singers to bring light to an otherwise blighted part of the city. Some of those same members were instrumental in creating a homeless outreach program that eventually became N Street Village. This makes Luther Place Memorial Church the perfect setting for the final concert of the 2014-2015 season. Season tickets and tickets for the October 19 premiere of “Annelies” are on sale now, with proceeds benefiting N Street Village’s programs. We hope to see you there!

Thomas Circle Singers Image***2014-2015 Concert Series Calendar***
Save 20% by buying your season tickets today!

Washington, D.C. Premiere: “Annelies”
Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 5:00 PM
First Congregational United Church of Christ
945 G St., NW
(Metro Center, parking available)

Sing We All Nowell! Music for Christmas
Sunday, December 14, 2014 at 4:00 PM
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
4900 Connecticut Ave., NW

Life, Love, and Change
Sunday, May 17, 2015 at 4:00 PM
Luther Place Memorial Church
1226 Vermont Ave., NW at Thomas Circle
(McPherson Square)

Photo of the Week

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The show must go on! With nearly 400 reserved tickets, we are so excited for tonight’s VDAY performance of N Street Village presents The Vagina Monologues at Luther Place Memorial Church. See you there!

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.

“I Ain’t Gonna Let Being Homeless Get Me Down”

With these words, Lolita Mitchell’s deep voice resonated throughout Luther Place Memorial Church on a recent Sunday. Lolita, a resident of N Street Village’s Recovery Housing program, was leading N Street Village’s Ambassadors of Praise choir and Luther Place Memorial Church’s chorus as they sang at the church’s annual homeless memorial service.

Ambassadors of Praise

The Ambassadors of Praise at rehearsal

Two years ago, singing in a church choir was the last place you would have expected to find Lolita. Her mother had just died, and she was at the self-described rock bottom of her addiction. Now as a resident of N Street Village and a member of the Ambassadors of Praise, Lolita finds she is better able to focus on her recovery and make the changes she needs to lead a healthier, happier life.

An Ambassadors of Praise practice is a joy-filled space. The choir director is Rev. Karen Brau, pastor of Luther Place Memorial Church and member of N Street Village’s Board of Directors. She begins each practice by asking everyone’s name and how they are doing. Any woman who comes to N Street Village can be a part of the choir so from week to week, members change and new voices are welcomed. In the opening prayer, Pastor Karen gives thanks for “gifts that sound way better when they are together.”

Pastor Karen finds that the Ambassadors bring added vibrancy to worship at Luther Place Memorial Church, and the community has warmly welcomed them. Pastor Karen notes, “They give people who hear them an opportunity to receive joy.” She is hoping to have them sing there at least once a month, but for now they have been performing at special events including the homeless memorial service, Christmas Eve service, Pastor Karen’s own wedding, and the Soul Feast block party.  In perhaps their biggest performance, this past spring they sang a cappella at the Kennedy Center as part of the National Conference on Ending Homelessness.

For now, they gather every Wednesday in the Wellness Center to sing and give praise for the good things happening in their lives. Pastor Karen believes that music has a healing power, especially for women in recovery. For all the singers, the choir gives them an opportunity to be a part of something larger than themselves.

The choir also stretches their abilities. Many of the women have never performed before and often consider their individual voices to be weak. Lolita is one of those women. She insists that she doesn’t have a very good voice but notes that “when I sing for the Lord, the songs come out beautifully.”

Despite her reservations, in many ways the Ambassadors is a natural fit for her. She was raised in the church, and her mother was a longtime pastor’s aide. She stopped attending church and “went down the wrong road.” Now, thanks to N Street Village she is traveling down a healthier and happier road.

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

Photo of the Week

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The N Street Village Ambassadors of Praise share an impromptu and inspirational performance of songs they have been practicing under the direction of Pastor Karen Brau with Luther  Place Memorial Church.

From the Executive Director: A Founders’ Day Reflection

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N Street Village Executive Director Schroeder Stribling with Legacy Award honorees – Pastor John Steinbruck, Chuck Solem, and Joan Dodek

On December 2nd, our community gathered to celebrate 40 years of N Street Village serving our city’s most vulnerable.  Following a service at Luther Place Memorial Church, Schroeder Stribling, N Street Village’s Executive Director, shared this welcome with over 100 friends in attendance at the Founders’ Day Luncheon.

“Welcome and good morning all – what a beautiful day.

I have the pleasure and privilege of knowing most of you here, but for any whom I don’t know my name is Schroeder Stribling and I am the Executive Director of N Street Village.

Today we have the extraordinary opportunity to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of our mission.  We started the day with a ceremony to place a mezuzah at the threshold of Erna’s House – our newest housing program which is named after Erna Steinbruck – Pastor John’s wife and one of our founders who is here with us today.  Erna’s House provides permanent supportive housing for 31 formerly chronically homeless women – a fitting tribute to the legacy of Erna herself.

I learned today at that ceremony that tradition holds that one should kiss the mezuzah whenever you leave the house – the purpose of this ritual is to be reminded of what God expects of us as we go out into the world.  As the founding of our mission reminds us – God expects of us to do the work of justice and compassion and mercy.  So this was a fitting note at the beginning of this day in which we have the opportunity to celebrate our 40th anniversary and to express gratitude to our founders whose commitment to these ideas first established this community and this safe haven.

We have much that we can and should feel proud of on this anniversary.

We are witness here to justice and healing every day. I can think of a few specific examples:  recently we had a graduation for our Recovery Housing residents who are working on addiction recovery, which was a beautiful celebration; our Ambassadors of Praise if you were in the service this morning; our recent performance at the Kennedy Center.  This week I had a conversation with a woman who helped me lead a tour to introduce some new people to N Street Village — she told the story of the recent death of her husband and the loss of other resources and how she was forced to sleep in her car until she finally came to safety at Luther Place Night Shelter.  And then this morning at Erna’s House we met a woman who wanted to very much meet “THE”  Erna Steinbruck, the “Erna” of “Erna’s House” — because she was so grateful for the safety and welcome of her new home.

And we witness justice in the way people treat each other in this community every day — in the dignity and respect that people afford one another and in the hospitality that is mutually exchanged.   We have much to be grateful for. This is the rich inheritance of our founding – and our founders – and it is an echo of the passion and the principles that they brought to this endeavor.

AND…Tomorrow — we should get right back to feeling disquieted and urgent about the justice and healing that is yet to be done.  I want to reference an article that many of you may have read in the Washington Post recently about our friend and collaborator Lynn Brantley who is here today. This article was discussing the state of hunger in the District currently and Lynn Brantley, one of the founders of Capitol Area Food Bank, shares her grave concerns about a lack of progress.  The article states: “Despite the success of the Food Bank, she remains unsatisfied.”

We should ALL remain unsatisfied.

Today N Street Village is serving over 1,200 people a year.  We provide 142 beds of housing for homeless and low-income women, we offer a breadth of supportive services, and we operate Eden House, which is affordable rental housing for low- and moderate-income individuals and families.  And we have many partner agencies that are providing similar critical and important services across the city.  AND yet — I am going to tell you some discouraging truths about the present moment, which will hopefully continue to inspire our passion and pursuit of justice — because I don’t think Pastor John would forgive me if I fail to at least agitate you just a little bit…

The annual survey of homelessness confirms that homelessness is still on the rise in our city, especially among women and families.  The median income of the women we serve here is $300 a month and a third of the women have no income at all.  Significant majorities of the people we serve are affected by addiction, mental illness, trauma, or chronic health problems.  Here in our city average rent for a 1 bedroom apartment has now risen to $1,100 a month and we have lost half of our inventory of affordable rental housing over the last decade. Our census tells us that one in five residents is living in poverty and unemployment almost doubled in 5 years to 10%. The rate of HIV infection is at epidemic levels – and, as we all know, other health and well-being disparities fall disgracefully right down along the lines of race and gender and social economic status.

So, Pastor John – I have agitated them… (Looks to Pastor John and receives a peace sign in response.)

So now let us take the celebration of today and allow it to reignite in all of us the inspiration of our founders.  Let us feel urgent about justice, and let us feel an undeniable impulse for compassion that will not let us rest.  Let the celebration of today give us strength and courage for the journey ahead.  Thank you all.”

Photo(s) of the Week

 

A few weeks ago, we launched the “Why I Walk” campaign to raise awareness about our October 6th Help the Homeless Community Walk.  The campaign captures the portraits of our supporters and their reasons for walking to end homelessness.

“We wanted to reinterpret cardboard signs so that they are no longer synonymous with transiency and homelessness.  Our signs display messages of power, hope, and community.”
                – Naomi Ho, Development Associate and Community Walk Coordinator

The signs were then used in a pop-up campaign in front of Luther Place Memorial Church off of Thomas Circle to build a house that represents what community can do when working together. Enjoy photos from the pop-campaign and please join us by signing up to walk in-person or virtually on October 6th to raise critical funds for our lifesaving programs.

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Let’s do it again! Walk with N Street Village!

 

We did it last year…
Last year, N Street Village recruited enough walkers to receive $50,000 from Fannie Mae.

Let’s do it again…
This year, when we recruit 4,000 walkers (in-person or virtual), we will receive $50,000 from Fannie Mae.  Join our team today!

Walk with us Saturday, October 6th through our Logan Circle neighborhood.  Following our Community Walk, join us for SoulFeast – a block party co-hosted with our neighbors at Luther Place Memorial Church. You can walk with us or you can register as a “virtual walker” and count towards our walker goal without attending our Community Walk. Join our team!

Registration fees are $35 for virtual walkers, $30 for adult walkers, and $25 for walkers 25 years old and younger.  Every walker counts towards our goal of 4,000 walkers. Sign up your friends and family at the same time — just enter each name and click “register another walker” before making final payment.

If we reach our goal of 4,000 walkers, the additional $50,000 N Street Village receives will allow us to provide housing and supportive services for women in recovery living in our Transitional Housing program. Watch as Carol, a resident of our Transitional Housing program, shares what support from walkers like you means to her and so many other women at the Village.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OxW4wRFckY&w=853&h=480]

Are you interested in supporting N Street Village’s Community Walk in other ways?  Learn about opportunities to join our Community Walk Committee, sponsor a client walker, or host a community walk/event on our Community Walk page.