Jill had survived many years of trauma and abusive relationships when she came to Calvary Women’s Services. She was in 6th grade when she dropped out of school and started using drugs. When she lost her apartment, she began working on her sobriety at a substance addiction service agency in DC. Her counselor there recommended Calvary as her next step.
Jill says she felt safe as soon as she arrived. “Right away, I knew I could do something better with my life.” She was at Calvary last November when we moved from 5th Street to our new home on Good Hope Road. She says, “I felt even more at home here.”
The space that our new home offered had a positive effect on Jill. Through the support of her case manager, she enrolled in a literacy program, and she took advantage of the additional classes offered in our expanded education center. In our Life Skills, Education and Arts Program (LEAP), she learned important skills like how to open a bank account. “The program taught me how to be responsible,” she says.
Jill regularly attends school and is working toward her GED, and celebrates two years of sobriety this month. Now at Calvary’s permanent housing program, Sister Circle, her goal is to inspire others to overcome their addictions. Reflecting on her many successes since she her first night at Good Hope Road, she says, “It’s a fabulous feeling.”
“’Hearing that there’s somebody out there going through something that you can really relate to is so important, Choo said.” The holidays, mental health, and the gift of storytelling (MinnPost)
“Donors gave 90 percent more this year to charity on Giving Tuesday than last year, according to Blackbaud, a leading provider of online donation processing.” Giving Tuesday Smashes Records, Spurs 90% Donation Spike (Huffington Post)
“Communities should consider the many ways mainstream resources, such as Medicaid or Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), can enhance those efforts, as these programs are designed to help lift people out of poverty.” Here’s how we can fight homelessness (ThinkProgress)
“’Some people see [violence against women and children] but don’t think it’s wrong because it’s just part of their normal experience.’” Adamson athletes take a stand against domestic violence (Dallas Morning News)
We’ve still celebrating our one-year anniversary at Good Hope Road on the blog! We’ve heard from our Operations Director, Catherine, who held the reins over the move for our staff, and residents, and Peter, a volunteer who made the move with us, but our generous and talented Board of Directors also had a heavy hand in orchestrating the move. In fact, board member Cindy Schwarz chaired the campaign to move to Good Hope Road! We are so grateful for Cindy’s leadership in fundraising for the campaign and her tireless efforts to inspire others to get involved.
What motivated you to spearhead the fundraising campaign to move to Good Hope Road?
I volunteered to spearhead the fundraising side of the campaign because I was so passionate about securing a home for Calvary. The people at Calvary work tirelessly to help homeless women in DC end their cycle of homelessness and ultimately find a home of their own – yet we didn’t have one as an organization. To me, creating a permanent haven was the best gift we could possibly give to Calvary as a board.
As the leader of the move, what about the transition to Good Hope Road stands out to you as a particularly proud moment or accomplishment?
The best part of the move to Good Hope Road is seeing the women use our gathering places and actually relax and drop their burdens for awhile. We have incredible space – a large eating area, large recreational areas, and private rooms for our life skills classes. The ceilings are high and the walls are painted peaceful colors. It is a lovely facility.
How does the move to Good Hope Road fit into your vision for Calvary’s future?
I would like Calvary to help as many homeless women in DC as possible. We are so successful in ending the cycle of homeless because of our low case manager to resident ratio. We are able to focus on each individual. I see us growing the programs we offer now that we have ample classroom space. We can now start offering health classes and job training.
As you may have read in yesterday’s blog post, our move to Good Hope Road was no small endeavor for our residents, staff, volunteers, and other friends. Peter, a dedicated overnight volunteer at Calvary since 2012, spent a significant amount of time at our old location on 5th street, and recalls here his first impressions of our new home.
What was your first impression of our new home at Good Hope Road?
The move was definitely a big step in the right direction for Calvary. The hot water stopped working during the last few week in the old building, so all the women and the volunteers had to take cold showers in the morning. When I first saw the new Good Hope Road building, I was very impressed. The new location is functional and inviting!
What’s your favorite thing about our new space?
I know it sounds minimal, but it would be having a full size mattress to sleep on. I’m an Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America, and have done my fare share of camping and sleeping on the group, however the upgrade from a sleeping pad to a full mattress was great.
Has the new building changed your experiences as a volunteer?
The new building has served as a visible example of the great work that Calvary carries out for the homeless women of DC. The fresh colors, warm interiors, and open spaces show Calvary’s dedication to its residents. Seeing the women benefiting from the new building has been a very uplifting experience.
As Operations Director at Calvary Women’s Services, it’s not unusual for Catherine Bisson to have her hands full. Catherine oversees all operations logistics at Calvary, and at this time last year, she was at the helm of the move for our residents, staff, and volunteers.
As we celebrate one full year at Good Hope Road, Catherine recently shared her memories of the move.
What was moving day like?
What could have turned in to absolute chaos became one of the most unified efforts I have ever seen. The week was spent packing and unpacking—by staff and clients—and it was amazing to watch everyone helping each other.
I have one very distinct memory of walking to the new building, and running in to a client who was very lost. We walked to the program together, and when we stepped inside, she turned to me and asked if this was really where she was supposed to be. To be able to say, “Yes, this is for you” made every hurdle along the way 100% worth it.
What’s your wackiest memory of your first year at Good Hope Road?
What many people may not know is that we have incredible views of downtown DC—from our roof! I know this because I unexpectedly spent some time up there with one of our vendors who insisted on climbing through the very small and difficult to navigate crawlspace in our ceiling. One of the great (secret) features of our new space!
Favorite part of the building? Why?
I love our dining room. It is incredibly bright and cheerful, and it always catches attention. When I give tours to new volunteers, I would say that 99% of them comment on how upbeat it is.
What are you looking forward to about our second year at Good Hope Road?
Now that we’re here and we’ve had a full year of home-ownership under our belts, I see our second year marking a period of monumental growth for our services and volunteer program.
From the day we brought the moving boxes through the door, the staff, volunteers, and residents of Calvary Women’s Services have been busy making use of our new home on Good Hope Road. After one year in this amazing space, we’re enjoying the chance to reflect on all of the change and growth that took place this year. For example …
We now offer bedrooms for one to four women with lockable storage space.
We have private offices for all Case Managers and a clinical office used by the psychiatrist and therapists when they are on-site, and our staff team grew!
Our life skills program grew into LEAP, the Life Skills, Education and Arts Program. We have doubled the number of classes offered each day and are able to provide a wide range of classes in the LEAP Center. The LEAP Center includes a computer lab for residents, an arts corner, a private classroom, and an open space that is used for everything from Tai Chi classes to group discussions.
We grew our Addiction Recovery Program and now offer support groups every day – an increase from twice weekly groups –and we have an amazing commercial kitchen space where women receive nutritious meals each day. This large kitchen space means that a group of residents are now able to work with our Program Chef on meal preparation.
Of course, if you’ve been out to visit us, you’ve seen our beautiful reception area, complete with the Calvary logo and an award-winning donor wall recognizing the people who made this building possible!
Throughout our expansion, Calvary’s programs have continued to empower women to reach their own goals for good health, financial stability, and independence. Our new space has it made it possible for us to serve more women than ever before! In the last year, Calvary served 140 women with safe housing and life-changing services. Of those women, 75% successfully moved into their own homes.
Many thanks to our wonderful friends and supporters who made our expansion possible. Here’s to the first of many more successful years on Good Hope Road!
“During a discussion Wednesday night on the zoning code rewrite, DC Zoning Commissioners said that they are ready to revisit the income requirements for IZ units, which are priced for households making 50% or 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI).” DC considers making Inclusionary Zoning more affordable (Greater Greater Washington)
“Box’s family is one of 1,500 who received free turkey dinner packages Tuesday at Cub Foods’ ‘Unity in Community’ event at People Serving People in Minneapolis.” Formerly homeless, family prepares to host Thanksgiving for others still homeless (Minnesota Public Radio)
“With temperatures in the 40s, three dozen DC CEOs and executives joined some homeless youths to shine a spotlight on the problem.” DC executives sleep out in the cold to support homeless (MyFoxDC)
“Major goals include reducing chronic homelessness, increasing housing stability, increasing income and benefits, and increasing rapid re-housing.” A Wonkish First Read of the Continuum of Care NOFA (National Alliance to End Homelessness)