THE BLOG
12/13/2012 11:22 am ET | Updated Feb 12, 2013

Women Who are Homeless in D.C. Have a New Home for the Holidays

This past Sunday marked a tremendous achievement for our community. At the culmination of a two-year long expansion project, Calvary Women's Services cut the ribbon at a brand new facility on Good Hope Road in the Anacostia neighborhood of Southeast Washington. The celebration marked the official opening of a newly-renovated building that will become home each night to 45 women working to move from homelessness to independent living. With the ceremonial cut of the ribbon, we officially welcomed women into their new home -- just in time for the holidays.

Calvary Women's Services undertook this expansion project two years ago, as a response to the growing numbers of homeless women that were coming to our doors seeking assistance. As homelessness grew in our city, the number of available beds could not keep up with growing need for shelter and support services. Homelessness in the District has been climbing ever since, as more and more people continue to be hit by the ongoing economic crisis.

What began in 1983 as an emergency shelter in a church basement has become an organization that offers so much more than temporary shelter. At Calvary, we provide women opportunities to change their lives for the better and end their homelessness permanently. For nearly 30 years, Calvary has been "a safe, caring place for tonight; support, hope and change for tomorrow." Now, we will be able to offer even more women a chance to improve their lives and the lives of their families, and strive to meet the great need that still exists in our nation's capital.

The completion of this expansion project means we can provide even more opportunities for women to move out of homelessness. In our new home on Good Hope Road, we will be able to provide safe housing to more women than ever before, and expand the range of support services we offer. We have also relocated our programs to Ward 8, where the need in the District is greatest.

By providing more than just housing and healthy meals, we offer a solution for women by helping them address the issues that led to their homelessness. That means providing critical support like mental health services, addiction recovery groups, health and education programs, a financial literacy and savings program, and one-on-one support from a case manager to help women plan and achieve their own goals every step of the way.

This new state-of-the-art facility also includes a Life Skills, Education, and Arts Center for women to build new skills and prepare for employment. The ribbon-cutting also marked the official opening of our new Wellness Center and the Good Hope Kitchen that will provide nutritious meals and supported employment opportunities for formerly homeless women.

More importantly, as winter temperatures in D.C. continue to plummet, the opening of this new facility also means that even more vulnerable women will be offered a safe, warm home before the coldest days of winter hit, and right before the holiday season.

At the ribbon-cutting celebration this past weekend, I was reminded what a difference Calvary makes in women's lives. Beverly Sellers-Robinson, a former Calvary resident, spoke about her experience at our programs years ago. Since then, she has achieved so much. I am proud to say she is back at Calvary again, not as a resident, but as our Addiction Recovery Group Leader, guiding other women in their journey from homelessness to self-sufficiency.

Surrounded by the donors, volunteers and other supporters who have made this project possible, I was touched by her remarks. The achievements of women like Beverly -- who make lasting changes in their lives at Calvary that enable them to move in to homes of their own - show what a turning point our programs can be.

This winter, 45 women will celebrate the holidays in our new home. All of them know the challenges they face, but also they know they can achieve a better future for themselves. In this new home, we will provide each of them with the opportunities that will help them achieve their goals for a much brighter new year.

To learn more about Calvary Women's Services, please visit the website (www.calvaryservices.org) or listen to women at Calvary share their stories (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4PISzPx61Y).