Post by Sandra L. Jackson, President & CEO of House of Ruth
This has been a challenging year. As I find myself reflecting on the clients we serve, and their strength in the face of so many challenges they have faced in 2020-21; I find myself so glad and thankful that House of Ruth exists. Our existence is only 45 years old ― and we wouldn’t be here today, without your support.
Veronica Maz, House of Ruth’s founder, was a Georgetown University professor who was inspired by a trip she took with students to D.C.’s ‘Skid Row’ (you can read more about her trip here). From the first night we opened, in 1976, we knew that women need more than a roof over their heads and a bag of groceries to heal from trauma, abuse and homelessness. All the services we offer today ― to each woman and child ― who comes to House of Ruth for help ― starts from our commitment to helping people heal from the pains of life.
Today, we have 12 housing programs ― six are for families, and six are for single women. The smallest hosts eight families, and the largest can welcome 50 women at once. Most can help 12 women or families at a time. Each housing program, and every one of the 91 staff members at House of Ruth, have a laser focus on each individual client. People are not the same, their experiences are not the same, and their path to healing will not be the same ― that is why we focus on trauma-informed care, and why each woman living in our programs helps develop her own plan, and goals.
When a woman moves into House of Ruth, with her family or alone, she meets with her case manager as soon as possible. She and the case manager talk about how she is doing; and what her hopes, goals and aspirations are for the future. This road map, informed by the client and brought into focus in partnership with staff, guides every action taken with the client during her time at House of Ruth. Some women want to get a promotion; a job; a degree; custody of their children; to finalize a divorce; to buy a home of their own. We listen, draw out their hopes and dreams; and then work together to help achieve them.
The housing we provide is safe, comfortable, and furnished. While each program has general guidelines for how long a client might stay, all of our programs meet women where they are. One client stayed at our short-term facility for three years ― it was not ideal, but she needed extra assistance before she was ready to move on. And, when she did move on, she got an apartment of her own. We help our clients succeed by showing them how strong and capable they are ― and standing with them until they are ready to stand on their own.
Housing is the foundation of House of Ruth’s programs ― it is where we started, and where much of our work remains today. But please know that we offer so much more than housing to each client that comes to House of Ruth. Thank you for your support these past years; together we will overcome today’s crises and help position our clients for future success.
“Do your very best in a given moment, you may never know what kind of foundation you are building for the future.” ― Lailah Gifty Akita