Home for the Holidays: Daniel’s Story

Daniel is an Everyone Home DC client whose life was transformed this year through his engagement with our Street and Medical Outreach Program. We helped him go from never visiting a doctor or hospital, no matter how much he was suffering, to welcoming weekly medical outreach visits and even attending appointments with specialists.

We were thankful that Daniel was finally getting the regular medical care he needed to enjoy a better quality of life in his senior years. His positive experience with our Street and Medical Outreach Program made him more receptive to other services, and we became hopeful that he might one day accept an offer of permanent supportive housing. A few weeks ago, he did just that — Daniel moved into an apartment of his very own just before Thanksgiving! He loves his new home and we are all overjoyed!

This is why we do this work. We do it because we believe everyone deserves the safety and dignity of a home. We do it because we believe we can end homelessness. And we do it because we believe no one is beyond help, that if we design our services to meet people’s needs rather than expecting them to conform themselves to fit our services, we can change lives.

Just before he moved into his new place, Daniel was hospitalized for several days due to an open wound that had become infected and was worsening rapidly. Had we not helped him secure housing, Daniel likely would have continued to suffer increasingly serious health problems as he aged, and those problems would have been significantly exacerbated by his homelessness.

Instead, Daniel looks forward to a brighter and healthier future. We will not worry about Daniel dying from hypothermia this winter. For the first time in many years, Daniel will have a safe, warm home with a real bed and covers to snuggle under when it snows. He will have plenty to eat and can even cook his favorite meals in his very own kitchen. He can shower whenever he wants and binge watch every episode of CSI Las Vegas, Miami, and New York! He will be home. Because of your support for our work, Daniel will be home for the holidays this year.

CHGM Participates in The Way Home Campaign’s Advocacy Day

[On Thursday, May 7th, Capitol Hill Group Ministry participated in The Way Home Campaign’s Advocacy Day. Over 120 members of the community gathered at the Wilson Building to ask members of the DC council to support the campaign to end DC Homelessness by 2017. Participants were split into different groups, each to visit with their specific city council member or their staff. The groups presented vital statistics about the state of homelessness in DC, emphasizing the steep ethical and financial costs of homelessness. Some advocates also shared personal stories of their own experiences with homelessness. We all expressed our deep conviction that ending chronic homelessness in DC is a top priority for DC voters, less costly than our current state, and–most importantly–absolutely possible. At the close of the day, participants reported back on their meetings. Many shared hopeful feedback that ending homelessness is a top priority for the council members and staff with whom they met. Email advocate@chgm.net if you would like to join our Advocacy List serve in order to receive information about future advocacy opportunities.

CHGM Community Night Highlights Youth Homelessness

CHGM‘s May Community Night focused on how youth in our area are impacted by homelessness. The first part of the evening showcased projects created by the Capitol Hill Day School’s middle school class, who spent this past semester learning about the impact of homelessness in DC through work with CHGM. They used what they learned to emphasize how important it is to acknowledge our homeless neighbors, instead of perpetuating their invisibility.
Sasha Bruce Youthwork presented for the second half of the evening. Sasha Bruce is a DC-based non-profit that works directly with students and youth who are experiencing homelessness, or come from unsafe homes. Their programs help youth create safe communities for themselves.

The evening’s discussion elucidated the particular challenges of homeless youth and demonstrated the importance of ensuring that strategies to end homelessness account for needs of people of all ages, and their diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Volunteers Wrap up another Successful Tax Clinic

CHGM‘s 42nd Annual Free Tax Clinic was held every Thursday evening from mid-February through Tax Day in April. Volunteers, Mike Ambrose, Rick Halberstein, Martha Huizenga, and Christine Hoffman served approximately 43 people with their taxes this year.

With most clients needing to file federal and one or more local returns, our dedicated volunteers prepared close to 100 returns, half of which were filed electronically. Despite the drastic change in how taxes are filed since the tax clinic’s conception, our volunteers continue to ensure effective tax preparations for all of our community members in need.

We are so grateful to our dedicated volunteers for their service to the Capitol Hill Community, and to the Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church Church for hosting the clinic in its space. We can only imagine the vast amount of frustration and anxiety you prevent clinic participants from having to experience each year. Thank you!

Spotlight and Appeal for CHGM Client, Danielle Johnson

CHGM is thrilled to announce the upcoming college graduation of Danielle Johnson, the eldest child in one of the families in CHGM‘s Shelter Plus Care Permanent Supportive Housing Program. CHGM staff watched Danielle grow up in our program and head off to college. She is now a senior at Virginia University & Lynchburg College, where she is majoring in business and playing varsity basketball.

Danielle’s mother, Florence, is wheelchair-bound and unable to talk after suffering from a stroke years ago. As the oldest of three children, Danielle has handled her home responsibilities with maturity and grace, often returning home from school to support her father, Danny, who became a home health aide in order to care for Florence. Danielle has beautifully juggled her familial obligations with school and basketball, maintaining a 3.0 GPA.

CHGM could not be more proud of Danielle’s hard work and commitment to her family, and is looking forward to celebrating her graduation in less than a month. As a congratulatory gift, we hope to provide Danielle with a new laptop, which will be incredibly useful as she enters the professional world. If you would like to contribute to this gift, please donate by credit card here and indicate “graduation gift” in the “add special instructions” box on the second page where you confirm your payment, or send a check to CHGM, 421 Seward Square SE, Washington, DC 20003.

CHGM Hosts HUD Secretary Donovan During Annual Point In Time Count

On January 29, 2014, over 200 volunteers joined members of homeless services organizations from all over the city to perform DC’s eighth annual Point In Time Count. The count is a census of the homeless population that takes place, nationwide, in the last week of January every year. This year, CHGM served on the Point In Time coordinating committee, which entailed recruiting, area mapping, and volunteer training. We also were honored to have the Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan, join CHGM staff to canvass a portion of Capitol Hill in search of unsheltered homeless neighbors. The group also surveyed the individuals taking advantage of one of the city’s new warming buses, parked in front of Union Station. The night of the Point In Time Count started early this year with a kick-off event to launch the Way Home Campaign, an initiative to end chronic homelessness in DC by 2017. Volunteers then listened to words of thanks and encouragement from DC Mayor, Vincent Grey, U.S. Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs, Eric Shinseki, and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan before bundling up and deploying in small groups across the city. From 10:00pm to 2:00am, volunteers canvassed streets, sidewalks, buildings, bridges, and back alleyways looking for our homeless neighbors, many of whom have no choice but to live in our public spaces. The data collected from this year’s Point in Time Count will provide critical information to service providers and policy makers concerning where to focus city and federal dollars in the on-going struggle to prevent and end homelessness. CHGM is sincerely thankful to the many dedicated volunteers who assisted in the count and to the city organizers and HUD staff who worked hard to ensure the count’s success.

Thanks-GIVING Basket Program As Important As Ever

The Thanksgiving holiday is often an exciting time for people from all walks of life to come together to share a meal and reflect on what they are grateful for. This season of giving also offers Capitol Hill Group Ministry (CHGM) and similar organizations the opportunity to do something special for the many families they serve all year. Beginning in late September, Capitol Hill Group Ministry proudly collects donations from local congregations, businesses, and residents to support our Annual Thanks-Giving Food Basket program. For years, generous support for the program has been able to help under-resourced families in the greater Capitol Hill community enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving dinner.
Pearl Torres, a local Capitol Hill grandmother, is a previous recipient of a Thanks-Giving basket. “It brings my family closer together because we are able to sit down and enjoy a good meal together.” Mrs. Torres is currently on this year’s waiting list. “If we didn’t have the Thanks-GIVING Basket Program we would still just thank God for what we do have. But nobody should be without food in DC for the holidays. We are so lucky to live somewhere where organizations and churches and the government are able to provide us with support during our time of need.”
Just this year, CHGM has received over 473 individual family requests for baskets. This unfortunate increase is an indication of the difficulties many are still experiencing as a result of the unsteady financial times. Families contacting CHGM, who already have limited expendable income, are finding that cuts to their food stamps benefits (SNAP) and difficulty in finding work has made it more difficult to provide a special holiday meal for their loved ones. Fortunately, CHGM has been able to provide individuals, like Mrs. Torres, and their families with assistance when they need it the most year after year. “You know this program has been important to my family for many years. I have been unemployed for the last 3 months and am so appreciative of everything CHGM and the donors are able to do for my family,” Mrs. Torres said. Due directly to the generosity, support, and compassion of last year’s donors, CHGM’s 2012 Thanks-GIVING Food Basket Program was successful in serving a Thanksgiving Day Feast to more than 1,480 members of our Capitol Hill community. CHGM hopes to surpass that number in 2013, because every family deserves to share a wonderful Thanksgiving meal together. If you are interested in making a donation to this year’s Thanks-GIVING Food Basket Program please email Shelah Wilcox (wilcox@chgm.net) or register online by CLICKING HERE.

CHGM proud to help 296 Children with our Back-to-School BackPack Program

Unfortunately, for hundreds of children living in emergency shelters or housing programs, and thousands more in poverty, beginning the year prepared and privileged is an unattainable dream due to their families’ financial difficulties.

For these reasons and more, CHGM is proud to announce that with the help of our donors and greater Capitol Hill community, our Annual Back-To-School Backpack distribution has helped assist 296 children in our community.

“The kids are very excited around this time of the year because they get a chance to feel their new tools and back packs and it makes them want to work and learn. They love them.” said one mother in CHGM’s Shelter Plus Care program.

As in previous years, CHGM partnered with local schools, recreation centers, and churches to identify families in need.  Thanks to the generous support of local organizations, churches, individual donors, and a major donation from the Points of Light Volunteer Capitol Hill day, CHGM was able to supply local children with new backpacks and school supplies to last the year.

“Exceeding last year’s distribution numbers would not have been possible without your support. I appreciate your commitment and dedication to CHGM and the families we serve,” said Shelah Wilcox Special Events Coordinator for CHGM.

Without the incredible support from both individuals and organizations, such as Emory Fellowship, E*Trade, St. Marks, Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, and St Monica St. James, this year’s Backpack Event would not have been such a large success. Thank You!

CHGM honored to lead HUD Secretary Donovan and VA Secretary Shinseki during City’s Annual Point-In-Time Homeless Census.

Once a year, Washington, DC is among the more than 3,000 cities and counties which participate in the national Point-In-Time Homeless survey coordinated by HUD. Last Thursday more than 180 bundled-up volunteers canvassed buildings, bridges, and back alleyways looking for the homeless neighbors in our community, many of whom have no choice but to seek shelter in our public spaces. Capitol Hill Group Ministry (CHGM) was once again proud to lead two of the city’s volunteer teams through the Capitol Hill community and to be joined by HUD Secretary Donovan, VA Secretary Shinseki, and numerous key members of their agencies’ staffs. CHGM staff and volunteers were delighted at the opportunity to work closely alongside our federal partners in serving the homeless. The Point-In-Time censuses are organized locally, with all the counts being conducted during the last 10 days of January. The numbers collected, while imperfect and lacking the ability to count individuals and families “doubled-up” on couches and floors in temporary homes, provide a baseline of the homeless population across the US. The numbers help private and government agencies identify gaps in services and to better allocate dwindling funding. The January 2012 count found 633,782 homeless persons nationally, with 6,954 coming from the District.
“I tell my staff, you can’t sit in Washington with a thousand-mile-long screwdriver and try to fine-tune everything,” Shinseki said. “I’m at the other end of the screwdriver now. This is where problems get solved.”
True to his word both Shinseki and Donovan and their staffs were active participants in conducting surveys, identify resources, and in offering general comfort and compassion to the individuals surveyed late into the evening. It was apparent that with the temperature hovering around the lower thirties both parties were truly passionate about the accuracy of the count and effectiveness of homeless services. Their participation was no media charade or simple photo op. It is essential to the success of homeless services that we know how we are doing and that we remind those still homeless that we care. CHGM’s Street Outreach Program does just that by building relationships with individuals often looked past. Individuals living on the street are prone to give up on themselves and the services still available to them. Many struggle with mental illness and substance abuse, often both.  As a result, national statistics indicate that the average lifespan of the street homeless is only 47 years old. CHGM would like to offer a sincere thank you to all of the volunteers who assisted in this year’s count, to the city organizers for all of their hard work, and to the USICH, VA, and HUD staff for helping CHGM “Serve the Community, One Neighbor at a Time.”

Homelessness to Housing with CHGM

The Stevens, a family of five, entered CHGM’s CBSP in the winter of 2010. Prior to coming to the program, all five individuals were renting one bedroom out of a friends house. With the many physical challenges the family suffers; one child wheel chair bound, and another child with autism, there was just no space to accommodate their needs. So much so that Ms. Stevens had to put her son into a facility that could better meet his needs as she was longer able to care for him under the current conditions. Because of the stresses that came with this decision and many others, Ms. Stevens suffered a mild heart attack.

After recovering for a little over a month, Ms. Stevens was determined to “get her life and her family back.” She went to the Virginia Williams Resource Center in hopes of someone finding placement for them. After waiting months, a call was received informing her that a handicap accessible unit was located and the family should prepare to move immediately.

Once arriving and moving into the handicap unit, Ms. Stevens was overwhelmed with joy and felt like “God had answered her prayers.” Although Ms. Stevens understood that the unit was only a shelter, she was relieved that her family could now begin to “breathe.” The unit provided the space needed to accommodate all needs and now everyone even had their own bedroom.

After months of case management and individual counseling Ms. Stevens began to make progress and her children began to show signs of improvement. In the summer of 2011 Ms. Stevens was informed that she and her family would be moving into a fully renovated handicap accessible apartment. Ms. Stevens expressed excitement, and gratitude. Although she had been grateful for the shelter, she was happy to be moving into the apartment.

Finally, while still under the care of CHGM, Ms. Stevens received notice from DC Housing that her name came up to receive a housing voucher. After months of searching, Ms. Stevens moved for the last time into a permanent, fully renovated 4 bedroom handicap accessible unit in January of 2013.

Ms. Stevens credits her progress to CHGM. In her own words, “CHGM has saved my life and I will always be grateful. Thank you for making me feel like I am a part of society again.” Although Ms Stevens’ family has many physical challenges, she is determined that she will take full advantage and use wisely her ” second chance.”