Symphony's Story

Symphony is a 2024 Steinbruck Award Honoree

At N Street Village, Symphony Terrell is known for her exuberant personality—it’s something she loves about herself now. A resident in one of our permanent supportive housing programs, Symphony came to the Village a year ago through the Patricia Handy Place for Women emergency shelter.

“I know that I’m very bubbly and the people here, they love my bubbly personality,” she says. “They love me. Like, they love my smile, they love when I wake up in the morning and they hear my voice. Everybody knows when I come downstairs, I’m brightening up everybody’s day. I like when people like me for who I am.”

Symphony’s boisterous nature wasn’t always seen in a positive way. People complained that she was too loud. “I don’t mean to be loud,” she says, but she has ADHD and Bipolar 2, which she manages with medication. As she grew, her family didn’t understand her mental health issues, and in school she was often suspended for behavioral issues—she had frequent angry outbursts stemming from traumatic experiences she doesn’t like to talk about.

“Growing up, I moved from this program to that behavior program,” she said. “It’s just been difficult. And my family don’t understand that me not having the support of my family is hard for me.”

Symphony’s mother has her own challenges with a substance use disorder. This past summer, they lost her mother’s mother—Symphony was particularly close to her grandmother and misses her deeply. She keeps her late grandmother in her thoughts as a source of inspiration. Over the past year, Symphony has worked hard to overcome her anger and negative attitude. “If my grandmother was here, she’d be like, ‘Symphony, I’m proud of you.’”

The support she has received from the Village community has been integral to her growth.

“This is a supportive place, very supportive,” she says. “They help you with a lot of things, as far as your mental health is concerned. I can go to [staff] and actually say what I’m feeling, and they understand. It’s a very understanding community.”

Symphony enjoys the variety of classes including knitting, nutrition, and others.

“My hope for the future is to maintain a job, to get my own place, and basically to stay stable,” she says. “That’s all I want and that’s what my grandmother wanted me to do. Stay stable, be on my medication and just be Symphony. Be my lovely self.”

This is a supportive place, very supportive. … It’s a very understanding community.

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