House of Ruth

Gemma’s Story

Gemma* has had many challenges to overcome — years of homelessness and sleeping on the street, a period of incarceration, a need for substance abuse treatment, living far away from home as an immigrant, and the need for official documentation. Through her own perseverance and the support available to her at House of Ruth, she is now overcoming these challenges.

In the two years Gemma has been living in House of Ruth’s housing, she has taken so many important steps forward toward building an independent, successful future for herself. Gemma has obtained a visa, her birth certificate, a social security card, and a DC ID. She has completed treatment for substance abuse. She also completed a job readiness program through the Department of Employment Services, which eventually led her to full-time employment at a company that provides commercial cleaning services. Gemma has started saving money and our staff Housing Specialist is working with her to identify affordable housing.

Gemma says that being accepted into House of Ruth’s housing gave her hope. In these safe surroundings, she no longer has to focus on protecting herself. She has finally had the chance to take a deep breath and take care of herself. She attends a regular counseling group on coping with trauma. She says before she never felt like she had someone to depend on or the help she really needed to obtain her documentation. With so many positive steps in place, Gemma says now she feels like she “has a breath of fresh air” in her life.

Gemma is a strong woman who has successfully drawn on the support available to her at House of Ruth to reclaim her life. House of Ruth has been there to provide Gemma with the stable housing, case management, and counseling support she needed to truly move forward in her life.

*Name has been changed.