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Celebrating 40 Years

Last Wednesday, so many friends—both new and old—helped make the celebration of our 40th anniversary an evening to remember. Together, we welcomed 600 guests and raised more than $760,000 for homeless and low-income women.

The powerful voices of Sweet Honey in the Rock, the ongoing commitment of our Founder’s Award honorees, Senators Kelly Ayotte and Senator Kay Hagan, and the inspiring examples of our clients Marshalle, Evelyn, and Ann—were all unforgettable.

N Street Village has been providing housing and services for the most vulnerable women in our city for forty years. At our 40th Anniversary Gala last week, we opened the evening with a video, which reflected on the evolution of N Street Village’s mission over the last 40 years, while also looking towards the future.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qppTTcfdagE]

We are extremely grateful to all the businesses, organizations, and individuals who sponsored this year’s event. View a full list of our 40th Anniversary Gala sponsors here.

You can watch highlights of our honorees here, see photos from the night here, and check out Bloomberg, Bisnow, and Washington Post event mentions.

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.”

Year-End Reflection from the Executive Director

N Street Village Executive Director Schroeder StriblingAs I reflect on the stories of healing and triumph that we witnessed among the women we serve at N Street Village this past year, to me the most memorable moments have been from our addiction recovery programs.  For instance, through our partnership with The Theatre Lab this past April, 15 members of our recovery programs  wrote and performed an autobiographical show for a sold-out audience at The Kennedy Center. After the performance I spoke with Pertrina, who said “Oftentimes my generation was told to hush. This experience has given me the opportunity to share my story and maybe even help someone else.”

Thanks to your support, so many women like Petrina come to N Street Village each year – to overcome their addictions and reclaim their voices. In 2012, 97 percent of women living in our Recovery Housing program maintained their sobriety during their average six-month stay with us.

And yet —there are still so many women who don’t find the help they need…

On Sunday, November 24, 2012, I read in The Washington Post about Misty Clanton, a woman struggling with addiction who died alone on the street. Misty longed for recovery but couldn’t seem to find the right supports or resources to help her achieve her goals.

Here at N Street Village we provide housing and services for many women like Misty and we know that their stories are often more complicated than they appear.  Histories of trauma and abuse often predispose a woman to addiction and hinder her ability to access help. The lack of basic resources such as safe housing, medical care or adequate income, may limit her ability to focus on her recovery.

Our programs are designed with these complex and interconnected needs in mind – with the intent to serve the WHOLE person and to do so in a community that values hospitality and connectedness above all else.

I was most struck by the moment in the article where Misty states in a letter to someone who tried to help her: “when I get [through this] I will show you who I really am.”  We see women every day who have that same urgent and earnest longing to realize their potential.  Without N Street Village there would be many more women like Misty in search of something they cannot find.

This holiday season and every day of the year, we look to you to ensure that we are here for every “Misty” in our area.   And when they arrive, we want them to find our doors open, our hallways full of welcome and warmth,  and our programs and staff ready to help them show us – and themselves –  who they really are.

May we take this season to remember and celebrate what we have accomplished together in 2012 and to gather strength and courage for the journey ahead in the upcoming New Year.

Schroeder Stribling
Executive Director
@SchroederNSV

P.S.  By making a tax-deductible gift today, you will ensure that every woman who walks through our doors in 2013 is offered care and compassion.

Read the full Washington Post article