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Volunteer Spotlight: Stephanie Arku

Stephanie ArkuThis month get know N Street Village volunteer Stephanie Arku. Stephanie, a native Washingtonian, has been volunteering with the community since January 2013. Stephanie prepares and serves lunch on weekends in the Day Center. Let’s get to know Stephanie…

I always knew that I wanted to help others and what better way to do that than through volunteering. My biggest hurdle was finding a place to do it. I ended up talking to a friend about this and she recommended seeking out volunteer opportunities at N Street Village. She became familiar with the organization while interning there as a graduate student. Based on her experience, I knew that this would be a perfect fit for me. Currently, I work as a Program Analyst for the Federal Government in Washington, D.C. I joined the Federal Government because I wanted to make a positive difference not only in this country but globally. My hobbies include reading, listening to music, exploring different restaurants, attending live music events, indoor cycling, and traveling.

What is your favorite D.C. restaurant? There are several great restaurants in this area so it is hard for me to choose just one. However, I will say that the last great meal I had was at STK in Dupont Circle, and I also have a soft spot for Guapo’s Restaurant.

On a Saturday evening you will find me…venturing out to a new restaurant/lounge with friends or spending a quiet evening at home watching movies.

Who is one of your favorite musicians? The Dave Matthews Band

What is your favorite D.C. landmark? My top four are the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, the Lincoln Memorial, the Library of Congress, and Rock Creek Park.

Describe N Street Village in 3 words or less. Empowering. Hospitable. Life-altering.

Share one of your favorite N Street Village memories? My favorite memory actually took place on my very first shift as a volunteer when I was serving lunch at the Day Center. I was a little nervous because I feared that I may drop a plate(s) considering I can be a klutz at times. Well one of the ladies sensed my nervousness and then smiled and said to me, “baby, don’t be nervous, you’re doing just fine.” Her words resonated with me and I continued my shift feeling confident and more at ease. I’ve always appreciated the woman’s kind words. That experience along with many others is the reason I continue to volunteer at N Street Village.

What makes N Street Village unique to you? The array of services focusing on the mind, body, and soul provided to homeless and low-income women in the area, ultimately, leading these women to have greater control and responsibility over their own lives.

Volunteer Spotlight: Tawana Moore

Tawana MooreThis month, get to know N Street Village volunteer, Tawana Moore. Tawana has been volunteering in the community since December 2012 and has served over 200 hours as an overnight supervisor at the night shelter. Tawana is the Founder & CEO of It’s Time to Serve, Inc., an organization whose goal and purpose is to motivate volunteers to become lifelong servants in their communities. Let’s get know Tawana…

I was inspired to serve during a down time in my life and since then I have been encouraged to give to service what it gave to me: meaning. I found that in helping others that you help yourself. I have worked in the nonprofit sector for over 10 years, and have been volunteering since 1988 throughout the country. My first volunteer experience was with Hanna House where I served for seven years. I have volunteered at hospitals, nursing homes, senior facilities, and elementary schools. But I was looking for something different to do in service, so I decided to contact N Street Village regarding their overnight volunteer program. Along with my Salvation, serving is a lifestyle for me. I enjoy reading and writing. My favorite pastimes include visiting museums and listening to music—classical to opera.

Where are you from originally from? I am from the suburbs of Prince George’s County.

What is your favorite D.C. restaurant? I don’t have a favorite restaurant because I am selective of foods, but I do like Clyde’s.

On a Sunday morning you will find me…On Sunday mornings you will find me at the Lion of Judah Church in Worship.

What is the last movie you watched (and enjoyed)? A black & white movie with Betty Davis, The Old Maid.

Who is one of your favorite musicians? Not a favorite but I like William McDowell (“I Give Myself Away”).

What is your favorite D.C. landmark? The National Mall.

Share one of your favorite N Street Village memories? Watching TV with the residents as we talk back to the TV together.

What do I enjoy most about volunteering at N Street Village? The fellowship with the residents.

What makes N Street Village unique to you? All the programs because they restore the whole woman.

Volunteer Spotlight: Helena Guerra

Volunteer Spotlight HelenaHelena Guerra has been volunteering at N Street Village since October 2013. She serves breakfast once a week at N Street Village’s Day Center. She enjoys ethnic cuisine, loves to travel, and is one of TripAdvsior’s top 10 reviewers in the world. Let’s get to know Helena…

I was born in Lisbon, Portugal, a sun-drenched old city, right across from New York—if you are willing to swim 3000 miles across the Atlantic. I hold a JD and a Masters in tax law. I first moved to Chicago, where my husband was doing a PhD. His job, after graduation, brought us to DC. When I arrived, I was shocked at the blatant inequality pervasive in Washington, D.C. I had a difficult upbringing, but I feel so fortunate to be here. I wanted to pay this happiness forward. I volunteer at N Street Village and as a paralegal at the Washington Legal Clinic. I also teach children about recycling at Oyster School.

What is your favorite D.C. restaurant? I am currently in love with a Vietnamese restaurant in Columbia Heights named Pho Viet. I love ethnic foods.

On a Saturday evening you will find me…cozied up in my home with my husband watching a movie.

What are you currently reading? Currently, I’m reading the new book of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, A Path Appears – Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunities. It’s about how individuals, namely volunteers or donors, can make a difference to reduce poverty and inequality.

What is your favorite D.C. landmark? My favorite landmark is the Lincoln Memorial at night. I enjoy walking through the Mall in the evening when it’s quieter.

Where is the last place you traveled to? I’m leaving for Northeast Asia today! I’m in love with Asian food and culture. Last year, I traveled in Southeast Asia and it was an amazing experience.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at N Street Village? The ladies that I serve are very kind and they always have something nice to say. They inspire me every day and are true examples of resilience.

Share one of your favorite N Street Village memories? As a foreigner, I struggle with English pronunciation of certain words, apple was one such word. I would always ask the ladies if they wanted “aple”. After many tries, I now am proud to say APPLE with a smile. N Street Village women rock!

Volunteer Spotlight: Luann Jacobs

LuannJacobsThis month, get to know N Street Village volunteer, Luann Jacobs. Luann has been coordinating volunteers for the Wellness Center’s Reiki/Biofeedback program since July 2013. The Reiki/Biofeedback program promotes relaxation, stress reduction, restores balance, eliminates blockages, supports the immune system, and fosters all around healing and well-being. She enjoys the relaxing pace of living in close proximity of Shenandoah National Park and spending time with her husband, their 3 dogs, and cat. Let’s get know Luann…

I became interested in integrative medicine because of a back injury that caused me pain for 15 years. I discovered Reiki in 1992 and it wasn’t long before I was free of pain and offering Reiki to my brain injured clients to help them shift emotionally away from frustration, anger, and depression into letting go and moving on. I was a founding staff member of the GW Center for Integrative Medicine (CIM) in 1998 when Dr. John Pan opened the doors and began this now 16+ year journey (and still going) to help medicine change the way it is practiced. Biofeedback became a natural part of the practice of Reiki in a medical setting so I could demonstrate in visual terms the effectiveness of touch in balancing the nervous system. Today, I combine the two practices and teach them both so others can learn to care for themselves. It was while working at CIM that I met Katharine Pan who talked about her volunteer work at N Street Village and the wonderful women there. She is the reason I am now able to offer the Reiki/Biofeedback program at N Street Village.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the DC area? Indiana born, I have lived and worked in many cities and in Southeast Asia. I have been in DC this last time since 1988, but also lived and worked here in the early 1970’s. Five years ago we moved from Arlington to Front Royal, a small town 70 miles west of Washington.

What is your favorite D.C. restaurant? I love Indian, Thai, and most Asian food. My current favorite restaurant is Haandi Indian Restaurant in Falls Church.

On a Saturday evening you will find me…at home in Front Royal with my husband making dinner and watching a movie. My husband is a vegetable gardener and a great cook. We eat quite well from what we grow.

What is the last movie you watched (and enjoyed)? I was late to seeing Gravity and it left me breathless. I had to stop several times to regroup!

What is your favorite D.C. landmark? Washington is such a beautiful city and there are so many famous landmarks. I love most of the parks around the city that offer greenery and space. I also enjoy the Smithsonian Mall, the art museums, our view of the Capital, the Reflecting Pool, Lincoln in his chair…it’s so hard to pick one!

Describe N Street Village in 3 words or less. Heart centered.

What makes N Street Village unique to you? The women! The passion for letting go of the pain from the past and being here now in this moment, which allows you to have that next moment.

Volunteer Spotlight: Emily Cadei and Company

This month, get to know N Street Village volunteer group Emily Cadei & Company. Emily, Susan, Amanda, and Stephanie have been donating, preparing, and serving the Miriam’s House Sunday dinner every month since October 2012. Let’s get know Emily Cadei & Company…

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Susan and Steph

Emily: “We met each other through our jobs in journalism or past jobs on Capitol Hill, through playing on the same adult soccer team, or simply by being neighbors. Our friendships have deepened over the years, and volunteering at N Street Village has made our friendships more meaningful than ever.

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Emily and Amanda

Amanda and I are the journalists. Currently, I work at CQ Roll call, which covers Congress, and Amanda works at Reuters. Susan is an attorney and Stephanie is the media relations director for a policy advocacy group called the Truman National Security Project. In addition to her other activities, Susan is busy planning a wedding this fall!”

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the DC area? We are from all over the country originally – Amanda is from Cincinnati OH and graduated from Indiana University; Stephanie is from New Rochelle, NY and went to Boston University; Susan is from West Chester, PA and a Dartmouth graduate; and I’m from Sacramento, CA and went to Stanford for college. All of us have lived in Washington, D.C. for several years now.

What are your favorite D.C. restaurants?  Some of our favorite restaurants in D.C. include Red Rocks Pizza in Columbia Heights and Hank’s Oyster Bar in DuPont Circle.

On a Saturday evening you will find us…On a Saturday night you’ll find us out to dinner with friends – probably each other!

What was the last movie you watched (and enjoyed)? The last movies we’ve seen (and enjoyed) include Amour and Searching for Sugarman.

What are your favorite D.C. landmarks? There seems to be a consensus that our favorite Washington landmark is the Jefferson Memorial. I love it when it’s surrounded by cherry blossoms in full bloom. Amanda prefers it lit up at night.

Describe N Street Village in 3 words or less.  We feel Stephanie says it best:  N Street Village is impactful and results driven.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at N Street Village?  We all love to cook and it’s a lot more fun to cook for the residents of Mariam’s House than just ourselves. Plus the residents are kind enough to indulge us as we experiment with new recipes, hopefully with more successes than failures! Joining the women at Miriam’s House for dinner once a month has also given us a chance to get to know them in an informal setting. Hearing about their days and weeks is inspiring to us and expands our horizons far beyond our own daily lives. So it’s a fulfilling way to combine our own interests and at the same time contribute to something bigger than ourselves.

What makes N Street Village unique to you?  N Street Village is unique to us because it is part of our neighborhood. When we see the women from Miriam’s House out and about, it reminds us we are all part of the same community. Volunteering makes us feel more connected to where we live.

Photo of the Week

A selected participant for our 2012 Art Show works on her artist statement with the support of volunteer Dawn Whitmore. Dawn and other members of her Links, Incorporated chapter have been leading artist workshops every Friday for the artists. The 2012 Art Show will be April 26th at Fathom Creative Gallery. RSVP today!

A Knitting and Crochet Movement at N Street Village

By Ilana Krakowski – Ilana is a member of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps and serves as the Program Assistant in the Health and Wellness Center. Ilana organizes Wellness Center programing, coordinates volunteers, and manages the Wellness Center receptionist team. Ilana is from New York City and graduated from Barnard College with a BA in Comparative Religion.

DIY — Do It Yourself. It seems that as the world grows larger and more interconnected, people are seeking to empower themselves and their communities with a DIY attitude. DIY means the ability to create something original we’ve grown to assume can only be mass-produced in a factory and purchased at a store. DIY puts personal choices and money back into the hands of those who make their own products, and it also offers them inspiration, a sense of fulfillment, and increased self-esteem.  I’ve seen these results in the women who participate in knitting and crochet classes here at N Street Village.

Our first knitting class was introduced in 2006 by volunteer Jane Saari, who wanted to share her love of the craft.  Jane invited her friend Wendy Mayer to teach crochet skills during Jane’s knitting class.  Not long after tapping into her own talent, Barbara, one of N Street Village’s client volunteers, began to teach her own crochet class in the Wellness Center. This past January, Wendy and  Barbara started offering an advanced crochet class because so many women had mastered basic crochet skills and wanted to learn to read more challenging patterns.

Knitting and crocheting have become a part of daily life at N Street Village. Almost everywhere I go in the building I see women working on yarn projects – scarves, hats, blankets, and caftans.  I see ladies sporting knitted or crocheted garments that they have made or a friend has made for them. I see projects completed and new ones started right away. I see the distribution of new yarn skeins greeted with anticipation and excitement. Most important of all, I notice the growth of community and individuality among our clients.  While working on their projects, women chat, joke, develop friendships, and share information on different services available to them in the city.   Many women find their unique styles and voices in their yarn work.  Some shared their gifts outside our community by taking part in the Hyperbolic Coral Reef Project, while others started selling pieces at Luther Place Memorial Church’s art fairs and on Etsy. One client was able to quit smoking after she began crocheting, while others have completed something they’ve started for the first time, showing them that they have the ability to set a goal and achieve it. The Do-It-Yourself ethic inherent in our knit and crochet program really has and continues to change lives.

We are grateful for all of our donors and volunteers who continue to bring knitting and crocheting to N Street Village. Our community is always in need of yarn donations — now more than ever as many women are improving their skills and creating more elaborate pieces. Your donation of yarn will also offer newcomers the very experience that so many women have already benefited from. To make a donation of yarn, please contact Anne Steeves at asteeves@nstreetvillage.org.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Dag Gogue

This month, get to know N Street Village volunteer Dag Gogue.  Dag began volunteering in our community one year ago.  Dag regularly picks up bread from Whole Foods on P Street and delivers the donation to our kitchen and he also volunteers at Luther Place Night Shelter, serving dinner and providing overnight supervision.

I was born in Togo and moved to the U.S. to attend university. I attended Morehouse College, studying Applied Mathematics, and Georgia Tech, studying Electrical Engineering. I began volunteering as a teenager. Some of my experiences include tutoring youth from a disadvantaged neighborhood in Atlanta and tutoring refugee children and women from Eastern Africa and Eastern Europe. Today, I am a self-employed software engineer and a certified personal trainer. I love reading, traveling, swimming, and running. I’ve been married for a year and my wife and I are expecting our first child in 2012.

  • What is your favorite thing about living in D.C.? I love the multicultural aspect of the region.
  • On a Saturday evening you will find me …. At home reading.
  • Book last read….100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
  • Most played song on iPod…Twice Inna Lifetime by Black Star
  • What do you enjoy most about volunteering at N Street Village? Meeting and interacting with N Street Village’s great staff and residents.
  • Why is it important to support N Street Village?  I believe women are the cornerstone of the family and community. By helping women in need get back on their feet N Street Village is having a profound effect on families and communities. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to participate in whatever way I can.