Staff Spotlight: Abby Maraya

Everyone Home DC is excited to introduce you to Abby Maraya! Abby has been working as a Development and Operations Specialist at Everyone Home DC for the last 2 years. Abby plays an important role in raising friends, funds, and awareness for Everyone Home DC’s critical programs and services. She balances this with also ensuring the organization’s day-to-day operations run smoothly–from fixing tech issues to ordering supplies to checking in on Everyone Home DC’s headquarters location throughout the pandemic. Abby’s first experience with Everyone Home DC  was as a Service Never Sleeps Fellow, where she worked closely with the Street Outreach program while at the same time working as a business manager for an IT company, and before that, she was a program manager at Little Lights. Abby graduated from the University of Virginia and majored in Psychology with a minor in Asian Pacific American Studies.  Abby recently shared a bit about herself and her experience at Everyone Home DC.

What inspired you to work at Everyone Home DC?
AM: As a former Service Never Sleeps fellow, I got to see the awesome work Everyone Home DC does. I was really curious about development because all I’ve known was the program side from my time at Little Lights. I’m glad the timing and opportunity aligned. I am learning and am continuing to learn a great deal under Kate (Akalonu, Director of Strategic Initiatives) due to her breadth of experience and knowledge!

What is one of your favorite Everyone Home DC memories?
AM: One of my favorite memories is the feeling of accomplishment after Everyone Home DC’s signature event in 2019, Sip and Savor. I felt proud of the work we had done and the amazing support from fellow staff and attendees. The hug from Kate at the end of the night was the best and a mark of a successful evening.

What do you wish other people knew about Everyone Home DC?
AM: I’d like people to know that we are here for our entire community and we all thrive when everyone has access to safe, affordable, and comfortable homes. We cannot accomplish our goals without our dedicated supporters! We are always looking for ways to grow and deepen relationships to thrive in DC together!

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the DC area?
AM: My hometown is Springfield, VA. Heritage wise, I am a proud Filipino-American! I’ve lived in VA since I was 9. DC resident since 2019!

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
AM: Normal times – I love to travel and eat where I’m traveling. Bucket list destinations are France, Japan, Singapore, and wherever I can see the Northern Lights. COVID times – Spending time with my nieces and playing the Nintendo Switch.  Abby Sypek (Community Engagement Manager) got me into Animal Crossing. Just Dance 2021 is how I get my fitness on (Ice Cream by Blackpink feat Selena Gomez on repeat).

If you could go to a concert tomorrow, what artist/group would you want to see and why?
AM: TBH (to be honest) if the Spice Girls had a reunion concert with all the five members, I would pay to go in a heartbeat. For a more realistic answer, I’d like to go to a charity concert featuring Dua Lipa, Adele, Sam Smith, Lady Gaga, Lizzo, Pitbull, Enrique Iglesias and of course, Janet Jackson.

What is your favorite thing about working in Washington, DC?
AM: I love being surrounded by passionate, community-minded people. The energy of the city helps too. It’s really great to see people come together for a meaningful cause to make a difference!

What is something people reading this may not know about you?
AM: I was part of a group in college called the Hot Fudge Hunnies and we won an ice-cream eating contest called the Vermonster, twice.

You are a part of Ernest’s story

We can’t say thank you enough. In a year when everything has felt so incredibly different, your support has remained constant, offering Everyone Home DC much needed stability and inspiration. Thank you for standing with us during this historic year and in the delicate months ahead. Your dependable support makes stories like Ernest’s possible. 

Seven years ago, Ernest married the love of his life and best friend. They were filled with optimism for their future. Just two years into their marriage, however, his wife became ill. Over a short period, she had five surgeries and could no longer access their third-floor home without an elevator. They decided it would be best for her to move into a facility with round the clock support. Ernest was left with limited options and began to consider sleeping outside. 

Ernest found a spot outdoors near the aquatic center in Eastern Market, where he felt comfortable sleeping. He learned how to live unhoused—things like the best clothing and bedding materials to endure all of nature’s elements, how to ward off unwanted pests, and tricks like not eating anything after 7 p.m. because there were no public restrooms available. Ernest and his wife spent their days together, grateful for each other’s company. Ernest would help vendors at the market and became connected with Everyone Home DC’s Street Outreach Team. 

Because of your commitment to our mission and programs, Everyone Home DC’s Street Outreach Team has deployed throughout the Eastern Market neighborhood for the last decade, working with chronically homeless individuals who live outdoors. Using a person-centered approach, our Street Outreach Team builds and maintains relationships and supports neighbors experiencing homelessness in meeting their immediate needs and achieving their long-term goals, including obtaining stable housing.

Ernest’s number one goal was to find a home to move back into with his wife. A place where she could comfortably rest, heal, and recover. Ernest felt an immediate connection with the Street Outreach Team and regularly connected to set manageable goals to secure stable housing. With our Team’s help, Ernest applied for one of the District’s scarce and highly coveted Permanent Supportive Housing resources. At times, the process felt lonely and confusing, and required a great deal of determination and patience. Yet, Ernest never lost hope.

It is your gift this holiday season to Everyone Home DC that ensures all people living in the District have access to meaningful relationships that connect them with supportive networks. This is even more important during the ongoing global health emergency. For Ernest, support meant being linked to available community resources like warm meals, a place to collect mail, assistance completing important paperwork, and reminders about upcoming deadlines.

In March, when DC declared a Public Health Emergency due to the novel coronavirus, everything came screeching to an unfamiliar halt. The meal program Ernest enjoyed visiting at Capitol Hill United Methodist Church was temporarily paused. Access to bathrooms and running water disappeared. And Ernest’s wife could no longer leave the facility she was staying in, which was devastating for them both. The harshness of this new reality left Ernest feeling even more anxious, vulnerable, and concerned. Having our Street Outreach Team stay in touch, sharing critical public health updates, providing access to essential resources including PPE and hygiene kits, and offering updates on his housing application kept him physically well and his spirit strong. 

People experiencing homelessness are at high risk of COVID-19 exposure. Our unhoused neighbors are particularly vulnerable to exposure and complications, due to lack of a safe place to quarantine and receive healthcare. Everyone Home DC’s Street Outreach Team has continued to support unhoused neighbors during these very uncertain and dangerous times through face-to-face engagements, distributing COVID supply bags, and supporting newly housed neighbors’ transitions into their homes. 

One of those newly housed neighbors’ is Ernest! A couple of months into the global health pandemic, Ernest received the news that his housing request was approved, a home was ready for him and his wife to move into. Filled with excitement, he called to share the news with her only to be sent to voicemail, which was not expected. Ernest soon learned that his beloved wife had passed away. Ernest strongly believes that she would still be alive today if they had been together and with housing. This global health crisis has exposed now more than ever that housing truly is healthcare

Today, Ernest is proud to have a place to call home. He appreciates having a door to walk through each day and close behind him, providing him safety, comfort, and privacy to grieve. Ernest loves to cook his own food and is most happy to have a fried egg sandwich whenever he wants one. He enjoys reading his Bible each day and never having to worry about it getting wet. His knees don’t hurt as badly as they did when sleeping outside. He is grateful to have water whenever he needs it to wash his hands, keep his home clean, and take warm baths.

You are a part of Ernest’s story. Your steadfast commitment to Everyone Home DC helps make housing stability possible for Ernest and people in our city experiencing similar circumstances. Due to the economic and racial injustice that has existed in our society for decades, the individuals and families we work with—who were facing crisis and instability long before this pandemic—are feeling far more exposed to the harshness of this new reality. If there is any time to be there for people in our city who are most impacted by gaps in our social safety net—it is now.

In the spirit of the season, please make a personally meaningful year-end contribution today to ensure Everyone Home DC can respond efficiently during this significant time of need. With your gift today, Everyone Home DC will be prepared to be here not just today but, in the weeks, and months ahead, working as a community to put the needs of people like Ernest at the center of a just recovery. Thank you in advance for your support. We cannot do this without YOU.

Looking For Last Minute Gifts? We Can Help.

THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, GIVE A GIFT THAT MAKES YOUR COMMUNITY STRONGER!

Finding a meaningful holiday gift for the people you love can be a challenge. This year, honor those you care about by making a donation on their behalf to Everyone Home DC. Your holiday gift will provide urgent and critical resources to individuals and families living in Washington, DC, who are feeling far more exposed to the harshness of the current global health pandemic. The process couldn’t be easier…

1. Make a Donation
Everyone Home DC will put your meaningful gift in honor to work immediately in support of individuals and families at risk of or experiencing homelessness in Washington, DC.

2. Download a Certificate of Donation
After making your donation, download your certificate and personalize it.

3. Check this item off your holiday to do list.
Thank you for giving a gift that builds a stronger and more vibrant city for all!

❤ 2020 Executive Director Reflection ❤

2020. What an unbelievable and unexpected year it has been! When we sat down at the end of last year to reflect and plan for the year ahead, a global health crisis was not on the vision board. Nor was a national reckoning with police violence against Black Americans that sent millions of people into the streets to declare Black Lives Matter.

This year, we have all been tested personally and professionally in ways we could never have imagined. As I look back, I am overwhelmed with appreciation for our smart, skilled, compassionate, and dedicated staff and Board of Directors. They have worked tirelessly and continuously reimagined how Everyone Home DC provides critical services and resources for individuals and families at risk of or experiencing homelessness during this unprecedented and constantly evolving time. And my heart is full as I remember how we lifted each other up as we experienced anxiety, isolation, grief, and rage as we witnessed so much loss and the disproportionate toll the pandemic and police violence took on Black people and those who had already been struggling.

All of us at Everyone Home DC are filled with extreme gratitude for the love we have felt from our amazing champions (YOU!). You have reached out to ask how to help, shared words of encouragement, and made donations that enabled us to respond with flexibility and efficiency over these last nine months. Thank you!

2020 introduced new situations never before experienced in Everyone Home DC’s 50 years of existence. Thanks to your support, we continue to provide urgent and critical resources to the individuals and families we work with who are feeling far more exposed to the harshness of our new reality. In 2020:

  • Our Street Outreach team did COVID health checks and distributed undergarments, body wipes, hand sanitizer, and other items essential to the health and safety of those with no place to shower or wash their hands, and ensured that everyone had enough to eat.
  • Our family housing and prevention programs pivoted seamlessness to remote and limited in-person case management to safely support families, ensuring housing stability and access to much-needed resources and support. As Everyone Home DC families are at high risk for COVID-19, attending to their physical and mental wellbeing has been a critical part of the care we’ve provided this year.
  • After a brief pause in service to establish safety protocols and secure necessary supplies, our drop-in day center, Shirley’s Place, reopened to provide laundry, showers, mail pickup, grab and go snacks and toiletry bags, and emergency clothing.
  • Our first-ever digital campaign—September Challenge, in the Spirit of Sip and Savor—far exceeded our expectations and raised more than $70,000, with close to 400 donations made throughout the month.
  • The traditional in-kind donation drive for back to school, Thanksgiving, and holiday gift-giving shifted from distributing goods and items to giving gift cards, which have offered families the flexible support they need during this time. We collected nearly $40,000 from more than 200 donors, which we quickly distributed to our housing program families.
  • We advocated strenuously to preserve DC funding for homeless services, housing, and social safety net programs in the face of enormous revenue shortfalls.

None of this would be possible without you. In a year when everything has felt so incredibly different, your support has remained constant, offering Everyone Home DC much needed stability and inspiration. Thank you for standing with us during this historic year. With your support, Everyone Home DC plans to be here not just today but in the months and years ahead, working as a community to ensure that the needs of our most vulnerable residents are at the center of a just recovery. Thank YOU for helping Everyone Home DC make it through 2020. As we look towards 2021, we are confident we will get through the challenges ahead together.

With warm wishes for a joyful holiday season,

Karen Cunningham
Everyone Home DC
Executive Director

It’s GivingTuesday!

In case you haven’t heard in an email (or two) already—today. is. GivingTuesday!

GivingTuesday is an all day global generosity movement that strives to build communities where the catalytic power of generosity is at the heart of the society we build together—unlocking dignity, opportunity, and equity in DC and around the globe. There are so many ways to participate in #GivingTuesday this year! Whether you give your voice or your money, being generous is a way to fight for the causes you care about and help people in need.

Here are some ways to share this very special day with Everyone Home DC:

DONATE. Your GivingTuesday gift ensures all people living in the District have access to safe, affordable, and comfortable homes along with meaningful relationships that connect people with supportive networks. This is even more important during the ongoing global health emergency. Make your year-end #GivingTuesday gift TODAY!

SHARE YOUR MERRY. Every family deserves a joyful end-of-year experience! Everyone Home DC is committed to ensuring that families have the flexibility to celebrate their winter holiday and experience the joy of giving gifts. Learn more about this year’s new approach and share your merry with a family today!

SPREAD THE WORD. Share with your friends and families what Everyone Home DC means to you. It can be a video of why you give or a story of your favorite moment engaging with our mission. However you choose to share, tag @EveryoneHomeDC

DO GOOD ALL DECEMBER. Check out the 2020 GivingTuesday Do Good calendar and get daily “Do Good” ideas for the entire month of December. 

Thank you for standing with Everyone Home DC on #GivingTuesday and always.

Feeling Thankful

Today on Thanksgiving, Everyone Home DC wants to express how grateful we are for the communities, partners, staff, volunteers, and donors we have the privilege of working alongside. This year has been met with a global health crisis, racial reckoning, and increased uncertainty for people at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Our work at Everyone Home DC has never felt more urgent.

The one thing that is forever constant is your continued support, allowing Everyone Home DC to respond with speed and flexibility during this unprecedented time of need. We are honored to work alongside you to ensure all people living in the District have access to safe, affordable, and comfortable homes as well as meaningful relationships that connect them with supportive networks. All of which is even more important during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Thank you.

From All of Us at Everyone Home DC, Happy Thanksgiving!

‘Tis the Season to Share Your Merry!

The winter holiday season is right around the corner and YOU can ensure Everyone Home DC families experience a joyful holiday by supporting Everyone Home DC’s efforts to distribute gift cards to families during these times of uncertainty. 

While everything continues to look very different, Everyone Home DC is committed to ensuring that families have the flexibility to celebrate their winter holiday and experience the joy of giving gifts, while also continuing to encourage social distancing and limiting traffic to our drop-in day center. Everyone Home DC is shifting this year’s model to distribute gift cards to families in most need during these uncertain times. Based on the family size, we will provide gift cards valued between $150 and $500. We plan to distribute cards to families by mid-December so that they can shop before the Christmas holiday

Please consider running a drive to collect gift cards (Target, Old Navy, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Amazon, Homegoods, DSW, Foot Locker, Sephora), making a donation of any size, OR set up a fundraising page, and watch your social network support you in reaching your goal! Every little bit helps. Below is more information on how to get started. Thank you for your continued support of Everyone Home DC! If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out.

 

GETTING STARTED

  • We would love to hear from you if you plan to run a drive or collection, so we can plan (and budget) appropriately. Contact Kate Akalonu at akalonu@everyonehomedc.org to share your interest and discuss community needs.
  • To keep things easy, you can also make a monetary donation so program staff can purchase gift cards and send electronically or by text to families. We have learned that this is one of the most efficient and most appreciated approaches during this unprecedented time! Consider making a gift of any size today!
  • Kate can also support you with setting up a fundraising page if that is of interest and brainstorm ways to get the word out to your community if you are running a personal campaign. You can see an example of a page set up for the back to school drive here.
  • Everyone Home DC families expressed most appreciating Target, Old Navy, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Amazon, Homegoods, DSW, Foot Locker, Sephora gift cards.  You can also purchase gift cards in smaller values, like $10, to Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Chiptole, Chick Fil A, McDonald’s, 7Eleven.

GETTING CARDS TO EVERYONE HOME DC 

Please note: For our staff and guests’ health and safety at Shirley’s Place, we will not be accepting gift card drop-offs at our drop-in day center (which has historically been the location for drop-offs in the past.) Thank you for understanding.

If purchasing gift cards at a store or online, you are welcome to mail them to Everyone Home DC’s main headquarters address. Please contact Kate if you have any questions or to coordinate a drop-off.

Mail Gift Cards to:
Everyone Home DC Development Office
415 2nd Street NE, 3rd Floor
Washington DC 20002

You are also welcome to skip the process of purchasing cards and make a donation on our Holiday Season of Giving donation page. Program staff will then purchase gift cards and send them electronically or by text to families. 

Do not hesitate to reach out to Everyone Home DC if you have any questions. Thank you for standing with Everyone Home DC now and always!

 

 

Virtual Happy Hour. All Are Welcome.

Join Everyone Home DC friends, volunteers, and staff for a virtual Halloween themed Happy Hour event on Wednesday, October 28 at 5:30 p.m. We are excited to come together in friendship to discuss ways we can support our community during these uncertain times. Sign up to receive the Zoom information in advance of the gathering today.

AND, back by popular demand. Everyone Home DC supporters and volunteers will kick off the Halloween themed gathering by walking participants through the steps to make their very own Black Widow Smash cocktail. Below is the ingredient list for those who want to join the fun of making the cocktail.

Consider embracing the Halloween theme by wearing a costume, dressing your pet/s in costume, adding a Halloween themed Zoom background, or whatever else feels fun! And just seeing your face in Zoomland is more than enough!

BLACK WIDOW SMASH COCKTAIL INGREDIENTS

  • 8 fresh blackberries, plus more for topping
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, plus a sprig for serving
  • 3 tablespoons/ 1.5 ounces lemon ( about 1/2 of a lemon)
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 – 2 ounces / 1 – 1.5 shots / 3-4 tablespoons tequila or Mezcal
  • a couple dashes of Angostura bitters
  • sparkling water, for topping
  • 5-8 ice cubes

Support Families This Thanksgiving

Support Everyone Home DC’s Goal to Distribute Gift Cards to Families Celebrating Thanksgiving.

Each Fall, as we all start thinking about the upcoming holiday season, Everyone Home DC hosts its Thanks-GIVING Basket Drive to provide Thanksgiving meals for families living in our city. This year, everything continues to look different as we all continue to navigate our daily lives during a global pandemic. This holiday season, Everyone Home DC is committed to ensuring that the families will have the flexibility to celebrate Thanksgiving in a meaningful way. 

Everyone Home DC is shifting this year’s model to collect $50 grocery gift cards and monetary donations. Our goal is to distribute a gift card to each family that works with Everyone Home DC, which means we need 150 $50 gift cards to distribute to families by November 12. 

We need YOUR help to reach our goal. Consider running a drive to collect gift cards, make a donation, OR set up a fundraising page, and watch your social network support you in reaching your goal! Every little bit helps. Below is more information on how to get started. Thank you for your continued support of Everyone Home DC!


GETTING STARTED

  • We would love to hear from you if you plan to run a drive or collection, so we can plan (and budget) appropriately. Contact Kate Akalonu at akalonu@everyonehomedc.org to share your interest and discuss community needs.
  • To keep things easy, you can also make a monetary donation so program staff can purchase gift cards and send electronically to families. During this unprecedented time, we have learned that this is one of the most efficient and most appreciated approaches! Consider donating in $50 increments today!
  • Kate can also support you with setting up a fundraising page if that is of interest. You can see an example of a fundraising page set up for the back to school drive here. We can also provide any brainstorming support to get the word out to your community if you are running a personal campaign.
  • Everyone Home DC families expressed most appreciating Harris Teeter, Safeway, and Giant gift cards.
  • Everyone Home DC plans to distribute gift cards to our families no later than November 12.


GETTING CARDS TO EVERYONE HOME DC 

Please note: For our staff and guests’ health and safety at Shirley’s Place, we will not be accepting gift card drop-offs at our drop-in day center (which has historically been the location for drop-offs in the past.) Thank you for understanding.

If purchasing gift cards at a store or online, you are welcome to mail them to Everyone Home DC’s main headquarters address. Please contact Kate at akalonu@everyonehomedc.org if you have any questions or to coordinate a drop-off.

Mail Gift Cards to:
Everyone Home DC Development Office
415 2nd Street NE, 3rd Floor
Washington DC 20002

You are also welcome to skip the process of purchasing cards and make a donation on our Thanks-GIVING donation page. Program staff will then purchase gift cards and send them electronically to families. Any amount towards our goal is appreciated. Consider donating in $50 increments today! 

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to Kate Akalonu at akalonu@everyonehomedc.org. We are on standby to provide support in the same way that you are always on standby to provide support for our most urgent needs. Thank you!

September Challenge by the Numbers

Today, on this beautiful first day of October, we celebrate the success of our first-ever digital campaign—September Challenge, in the Spirit of Sip and Savor. Together, we raised nearly $70,000, with close to 400 donations made throughout the month.

Not being able to host our signature fundraising event—Sip and Savor—this year was truly heartbreaking, especially when the need to raise critical funds to support people facing homelessness is even more urgent due to the global health pandemic. Thank you for pivoting with Everyone Home DC so gracefully to ensure we reached our goal. And, thank you for showing up for individuals and families at risk of or experiencing homelessness in DC during this time of extreme uncertainty!

We would not have seen this success if it wasn’t for our AMAZING September Challenge Sponsors, Benefactor Circle, and Committee members; our staff, volunteers, donors, event hosts & participants, fundraisers, online auction partners & participants, and many social media ambassadors. Everyone played a critical role in ensuring this campaign’s success. Thank you.

In addition to the funds raised, check out Everyone Home DC’s September Challenge by the numbers.

  • Last night in the final hours, Stacie and Tim’s fundraiser in support of Everyone Home DC climbed five spots on the leaderboard to take the number one spot, raising more than $6,000.
  • Seventeen sponsors returned to support our efforts, even though this year looked incredibly different from our usual Sip and Savor event, and we welcomed three new sponsors.
  • Fourteen families joined our Benefactor Circle.
  • Everyone Home DC’s staff participated in a little friendly September Challenge competition and blew past their goal of $10,000 to collectively raise nearly $18,000.
  • There were ten events hosted this September that welcomed nearly 200 people and raised almost $8,000. Two more events are coming up this weekend. Learn more below. We would love to see you there!
  • Everyone Home DC’s first-ever online auction raised more than $5,000.
  • Twenty-four fundraisers were created in support of Everyone Home DC’s September Challenge goal!

It is the responsibility of each of us to end homelessness in Washington, DC and build the welcoming and inclusive community our founders believed is possible. Thank you for joining Everyone Home DC as we continue the work of ensuring all people have access to safe, affordable, and comfortable homes in Washington, DC. We are so glad you are here!