Skip to content

Nutrition Class Culminates in Unique Vision Boards

July 24, 2014
Women learn about health, wellness, food, and finances as part of Calvary's Nutrition Education program.

Women learn about health, wellness, food, and finances as part of Calvary’s Nutrition Education program.

Since the launch of the Nutrition Education Program last October, women at Calvary have been learning more about making informed choices about their food and finances that will help them to lead healthier lives. To-date, more than 75 women have participated in Nutrition Education classes, which is equivalent to nearly 600 hours of learning.

The Nutrition Education Program includes a variety of nutrition and health/wellness activities, cooking classes, and job training referrals for residents who would like to pursue a culinary career. The program is complemented by a strong financial literacy component, which allows women to take the knowledge they learned in classes or activities to make healthy, practical choices when they are budgeting and shopping for food.

During the final day of class recently, several residents created “vision boards” that captured what they learned from the program. Each board communicated a personal connection to food and good health. One woman, Janelle, focused on snack foods and strategies that will help her to avoid sugary trigger foods. The skills Janelle learned from Nutrition Education classes will be helpful as she makes important lifestyle changes to help manage her diabetes. Another woman summed up her learning in a simple sentence: “Healthy food is BEAUTIFUL.” These posters served as the equivalent of a final exam, and everyone in the program received high marks!

As the Nutrition Education program approaches its one-year anniversary in a few months, we are excited to explore new opportunities for the program and see residents making healthy choices about food, finances, and their futures.

Thanks to the Walmart Foundation for supporting the Nutrition Education program with a generous grant!


One of the “vision boards” created during the final nutrition class.

Calvary’s Board Recognized for Outstanding Leadership

July 17, 2014

Board members Vicki Sneed, Wasfi Alnabki, and Swafia Lopez Ames

We’re so proud to announce that Calvary Women’s Services’ Board of Directors is a finalist for the Center for Nonprofit Advancement’s Board Leadership Award! This award is a competitive program open to all nonprofit organizations in the Washington metropolitan area. We’re thrilled that our Board of Directors is being recognized in this community for their commitment and passion. You can read our finalist interview here.

The award winners will be announced on the evening of Wednesday, July 23 at the Board Leadership Showcase, so stay tuned for updates next week. If you’re interested in joining us for the Board Leadership Showcase, you may purchase tickets at the Center for Nonprofit Advancement’s website.

In the meantime, Board members took a moment to reflect on their work and why they serve. Read below for a few of their thoughts on being a part of Calvary Women’s Services.

Why did you decide to join the Board of Calvary Women’s Services?

Calvary gets real results. I was fortunate enough to go to the Hope Awards as a non‐board member. I heard an incredibly moving speech by a woman who had been through the Calvary program and was graduating. It was amazing to see what a difference Calvary had made in her life and moreover, hear about her plans for the future. Calvary really does bring hope to so many women. – Trish McHugh

I decided to join the Board of Calvary Women’s Services because the District of Columbia is in the midst of a homelessness crisis, and Calvary Women’s Services offers the type of programming necessary to provide meaningful housing support to homeless women. I am grateful for the roof over my head, and want to do my part to ensure everyone else has one too. – Liz Aloi

What is your favorite thing about serving on this Board at this organization?

The people. The women we serve are amazing, resilient and work so hard to transform their lives ‐ they are inspirational in their ability to overcome and believe in a better life for them and those they love. The leadership and staff at Calvary are professional, caring and unwavering in their support for Calvary’s mission and each individual woman. You can feel the positive culture when you walk in the door. And finally, the board is fully engaged ‐ every meeting is constructive, thoughtful and focused on forward action. Board members know Calvary intimately ‐ frequently visiting, volunteering and keeping up on organizational decisions, successes and challenges. They show up in every sense. The people make Calvary the special place it is. – Vicki Sneed

What makes Calvary Women’s Services and the Board of Directors unique?

Calvary Women’s Services and its Board are both unique and very special. Calvary is unique because the organization is client‐centric. Everything Calvary does is focused on the women we serve. All organizational and Board decisions radiate from that central point. Everything we do keeps our eye on the mission. – Wasfi Alnabki What makes us unique is that we are not afraid to have fun while working to support Calvary. We have chemistry and really all focus to do our best for the organization. We are enthusiastic, creative and smile, even when making difficult decisions. – Dani Mackey

Congratulations to our Board of Directors!

Step Up DC

July 9, 2014

At Calvary Women’s Services, we are committed to growing our programs to best meet the needs of the community and the women we serve. For the last year, our staff has been planning for a new employment placement program that will soon be available to every woman in our housing programs. We are excited to announce that this fall we will be launching Step Up DC, the first job placement program at Calvary Women’s Services!

The philosophy of Step Up DC is simple: women in our programs are ready to work. Our staff will support each woman as she assesses her background, education, and skill set and determines what sort of job best fits her experience. Step Up DC will partner with organizations and businesses around the District that are able to offer stable employment opportunities, allowing us to connect each woman in Step Up DC with a job. This program will build on our successful LEAP (Life Skills, Education and Arts Program) and STRIDE Supported Employment Program.

Thanks to the generous support of the City Fund, we are currently in the process of hiring a new full-time staff member who will launch Step Up DC. Stay tuned this summer to learn more about this program as it develops! If you or someone you know is interested in the Job Developer staff position for Step Up DC, please visit the posting at Idealist.

Volunteer Spotlight: Alexis McCoy

July 8, 2014

Alexis teaches a combination of Chair Yoga and Gentle Yoga as part of Calvary’s Life Skills, Education, and Arts Program (LEAP). She has been an amazing ambassador for yoga to Calvary residents—many of whom have little previous experience with it. Thanks to Alexis, Calvary residents have had the opportunity to engage in yoga as a restorative and therapeutic practice on a weekly basis for the past six months. She frequently reminds Calvary residents “if you are in the room with us and breathing deeply, you are doing yoga– all other movement is optional.”  That invitation really welcomes any and all to give it a try! Thank you, Alexis, for bringing your wonderful spirit to the residents of Calvary and for your endless encouragement and commitment.

Where are you from?

I’m from Millersburg, Ohio. Millersburg is a beautiful little town in the heart of Amish Country. I love going back and visiting!

Share a fun fact about yourself!

I really enjoy long distance running. I’ve run 10 marathons and I can’t wait to run more!

Why do you volunteer at Calvary?

As a yoga teacher, I’m always excited to introduce people to this transformative practice. Volunteering at Calvary has given me the chance to not only spread the benefits of yoga to new students, but also to build a strong bond with these students.

What do you like best about your work with Calvary?

Teaching at Calvary is the highlight of my week! I love the relationships I’ve been able to build over time with the women of Calvary. They ask thoughtful yoga-related questions and have great requests for what they want to work on in class. They keep me on my toes!

What has been your most memorable experience at Calvary?

Over time, some of my favorite memories have been laughing with the women of Calvary. As a yoga teacher, sometimes I can take myself too seriously (especially while teaching). The women that come to my class always have an awesome sense of humor and remind me to not be so serious! It’s a good reminder to laugh at myself and relax. I’ve learned a lot from these incredible women!

What has surprised you most about volunteering at Calvary?

I was new to teaching Chair Yoga when I started at Calvary. I was surprised at how simple yet powerful the experience can be. It’s not about being able to put your leg behind your head; it’s about giving yourself the time sit still and BREATHE. The women at Calvary embrace the breath work we do and always have a great sense of humor when trying something new. I’ve been inspired by my time at Calvary and am now teaching Chair Yoga at a new studio in Washington, D.C. called Yoga Heights. (See the schedule here.)

What would you tell someone considering getting involved with Calvary?

Calvary offers so many different ways to get involved! The entire staff is professional and friendly – always there to answer any questions. The women of Calvary are incredibly appreciative of the volunteers. When you step into Calvary, you’re immediately entering one of the most loving and supportive atmospheres in D.C. It’s a great place to volunteer!

LEAP Facilitators such as Alexis are committed and enthusiastic instructors who lead educational and enrichment classes on a wide variety of topics for Calvary residents on weekday afternoons. We welcome volunteers who can commit to lead ongoing classes for up to 15 participants that offer tangible skills and promote well-being. This is a great opportunity for skilled volunteers to share their knowledge—and a great chance to develop a meaningful relationship with our residents. If you would like to learn more about volunteering at Calvary, please contact Catherine Bisson at or (202) 678-2341.

Calvary Women’s Services is…

July 1, 2014

On June 19th Calvary Women’s Services participated in Do More 24, a day when the DC community came together to support over 500 local nonprofits. As part of our celebration, 24 members of the Calvary community – residents, staff, volunteers and Board members – each chose one word that captures what Calvary means to her or him. We are excited to share them here.

What one word would you use to describe Calvary?

01 - Commitment02 - safety03 - family04 - respect05 - acceptance06 - compassion07 - hope 08 - joy 09 - health 10 - dedication 11 - home 12 - beauty 13 - grit 14 - community 15 - gratitude 16 - friendship 17 - love 18 - opportunity 19 - change 20 - happiness 21 - empowerment 22 - independence 23 - caring 24 - support


Seeing the World through Geography Class

June 24, 2014


Do you remember all of the state capitals? Can you name the five world oceans? If you’ve been attending LEAP, then you probably can!

It all started with a movie. While watching some of the films nominated for this year’s Academy Awards, a group of women at Calvary watched Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. The film stirred a group interest in learning more about South Africa. One of the wonderful things about LEAP is that many classes are triggered by the interests of women who are currently residents of Calvary. Education Coordinator, Elaine Johnson, promptly followed the viewing of Mandela with a class on the geography and history of South Africa. The idea for LEAP Geography classes was hatched!

Based on the interests of the group, the South Africa class was followed by a series of other Geography classes. Some of the classes included The Fifty United States, United States by Region, US Interstates, World Oceans and Currents, and World Time Zones – and that’s just to name a few! Geography classes have proven a terrific way for everyone to learn about other cultures and about the world we all share.

In May, we were lucky enough to be joined by Nellie Pierson who came to discuss WABA’s Women and Bicycles Program. After learning more about the program, and brainstorming words associated with bicycling (freedom, community, movement and nature were a few!), Nellie left behind several copies of the Department of Transportation Bicycle Map. Elaine says she immediately knew the maps would be a goldmine for the next Geography class.

“First we created a scavenger hunt of locations by brainstorming landmarks in Washington, DC. Heckinger Mall, the Carter Baron Amphitheater and the Fredrick Douglas House made the list, alongside classic tourist sites like the White House, Union Station and the Washington Monument. Women worked in pairs to complete the list – and then reveled in the bird’s eye view of locations that they knew so well from travelling the city on foot or by bus.” Elaine says that they finished the class by using the trip calculator on the map to compare routes.

Calvary Women’s Services is committed to providing holistic services because we know that everything is connected. So many factors contribute to our ability to be independent, including things like quality education, good health, and a supportive community. It is nothing short of joyful to see a class that embodies that holistic experience – through the Academy Awards, geography and bicycles, no less!

Many thanks to our amazing LEAP volunteers and those who support LEAP throughout the year. Special thanks to WABA for visiting Calvary to teach us more about bicycling in Washington, DC! If you are interested in volunteering or learning more about LEAP, please contact Calvary Women’s Services at or (202) 678-2341.


Take Part in Do More 24!

June 18, 2014

Join thousands of people who will come together to help transform the Washington, DC community! Tomorrow is Do More 24, a daylong fundraising project launched by the local United Way for nonprofits in the Washington, DC region. This 24 hour online event will generate more than a million dollars for area nonprofit organizations that provide clothing, shelter, food, quality education programming, medical services, and other critical support to our community’s most underserved populations.

Want to take part? Join a team of supporters who are shining a light on Calvary on June 19th! Calvary’s staff, volunteers and other friends will be sending emails and sharing messages on social media throughout the 24 hour period. Spreading the word to your own network via Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or your blog will make a huge impact on getting people to our donation page and viewing our new video.

Every donation, no matter how large or small, makes a big difference on Do More 24 day! Just $24 will provide one woman with a week of home cooked meals as she prepares for independent living.

Visit Calvary’s donation page to make a gift. Remember, you only have from 12:00am to midnight on Thursday, June 19th to contribute and help spread the word.

This is an awesome opportunity to be part of a fun project that will help Calvary – from the comfort of your own home, office or smart phone! Let’s join together so more women can reconnect to their families and communities, and gain the skills and confidence to live independently.

You can see how your contributions will make a difference in our new video, Dear Beautiful Sister. Together we can change our community!

For more details, contact Stephanie Shinn at or at (202) 678-2341 ext. 221.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.