House of Ruth

Honoring Women Who Make History through Music

Honoring Women Who Make History through Music

Capital Harmonia — an amazing and beautiful choir, started in 2013 by two incredible women, Ellen Goldman and Mary Ann East — has performed at House of Ruth every year since it was founded. On May 1, 2022, Chief Development Officer Elizabeth Kiker was privileged to go to their annual concert (for the first time since 2020, which took place the weekend just before COVID shut everything down!).

The performance, as usual, focused on women composers and women musicians, and the pieces were sung by a beautiful 12-person choir. House of Ruth was recognized for our long-partnership with Capital Harmonia, and it was great to be together again!

Shimmy Mob DC Returns to Freedom Plaza

Written by Sha’vei, Team Leader of Shimmy Mob – Washington, DC (local flash mob belly dance troupe)

Let the shimmies resume — DC’s own belly dancing flash mob returned to Freedom Plaza on May 14.

Since 2014, Shimmy Mob DC, the city’s representative in the global effort to end domestic violence, has been one of House of Ruth’s annual partners to raise money through their May performance and fundraiser.

After a two-year absence due to COVID restrictions, this unique dance team will resume its live performances in downtown Washington, DC on World Bellydance day.

“It’s been a very rough time for everybody in general,” says team leader Sha’vei. “We are really excited for this year because for the past two years we’ve had to do video performances online. It’s great to be able to still participate in a manner of speaking, but nothing is better than being in front of a live audience. We continue our fundraising efforts for House of Ruth to support all its good works. It will be our ninth year this year!”

Shimmy Mob DC is one of over 200 teams globally that raise money for their local domestic crisis centers and their awareness programs. Headquartered in Canada, Shimmy Mob was started by Sabeya in 2011 and celebrated its 10th year during the COVID lockdown.

“It’s an absolute miracle that something like this has survived when so many things were shut down. It’s always good to be a part of a good cause but to also be a part of an effort that has had to endure such hardship as we all have and come out the better end of it is truly a blessing,” says Sha’vei.

Be sure to visit http://www.shimmymobdc.com to learn more about Shimmy Mob and what they do. On behalf of the staff, women and families at House of Ruth, we are so thankful for Shimmy Mob DC’s support!

2022 Washington Women of Excellence

Pictured from left: Jennifer L. Porter and Mayor Muriel Bowser from the Executive Office of the Mayor; Sandra Jackson, President & CEO of House of Ruth

On Thursday, March 31, at 6 pm, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Mayor’s Office on Women’s Policy and Initiatives recognized Sandra Jackson, President & CEO of House of Ruth as a Washington Women of Excellence — at an awards event. The eight honorees have all led trailblazing careers and in particular this class of women have fostered new pathways for mothers, women, and girls in the District of Columbia to thrive.

On the SAME NIGHT! Sandra Jackson was also recognized by the DC Democratic Women’s Club to honor her leadership, dedication, and service to women, children, and families of the District of Columbia. As they said, “As CEO of the renowned House of Ruth, you are among three community innovators DCDWC will recognize during our virtual Annual Women’s History Program scheduled for Thursday, March 31, 2022. The Servant Leadership Award celebrates exceptional community icons who advocate sustainability within our communities. Your leadership demonstrates the nobility of shared power, raising the needs of others and supporting individuals to develop and perform as highly as possible.”

We are so glad to have Sandra Jackson as president and CEO of House of Ruth, and proud of this well-deserved recognition.

Presidential Inauguration Committee Supplies Drive

In January, a member of the Presidential Inauguration Committee started ‘Supplies Drive for House of Ruth’. They united with more than 200 people to contribute much needed supplies from the House of Ruth’s Amazon Wish list. We received and are still receiving, to this day, a massive load of donations from the committee.

We are beyond appreciative of the generosity demonstrated by the individuals that felt the desire in their hearts to give and support.

We want to thank the Committee, and our contact, Nicole Strong, a staff member at National Geographic, for putting in their time and effort to donate to the House of Ruth. We are forever grateful.

Yoga Event in Memory of Sabrina Titus

Last month, Kayo Martin hosted a yoga event fundraiser for House of Ruth via Zoom. The event was dedicated to the memory of her friend Sabrina Titus, who passed away on June 11th, 2017 to domestic violence.

Certified yoga instructor Kayo Martin led a Full Moon Restorative Yoga via Zoom, and was followed by 10 minutes of meditation with live harp music performed by therapeutic musician Saori Nystrom. This was a free event in which all were invited to join in to celebrate Sabrina’s life and to build awareness around domestic violence.

Shimmy Mob DC’s 2020 Performance

Our flash mob friends, Shimmy Mob DC, posted their annual performance online on Saturday, May 9, 2020 on World Bellydance Day to raise money for House of Ruth.

For the last several years, the Shimmy Mob team performed at several iconic DC spots for the annual event and would wrap their final performance at Freedom Plaza.

During this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shimmy Mob DC planned an online presentation and fundraiser, which is posted on their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/shimmymobdc.

To learn more about the Shimmy Mob team and what they do, visit http://www.shimmymobdc.com. On behalf of the staff and clients at House of Ruth, we are so thankful for Shimmy Mob DC’s many years of support!

Supporting Our Front-Line Workers

On Tuesday April 21, 2020, House of Ruth’s executive director Sandra Jackson joined Congresswomen Pramila Jayapal, V, formerly known as Eve Ensler, the author of the Vagina Monologues, and several other organizations on a Facebook Live event to talk about the women workers leading us through the COVID-19 crisis, and how we need to support these essential women workers during and after this crisis. It was an energizing and thought-provoking conversation during these difficult times.

Click here to watch the recorded discussion on our Facebook page!

Building D.C.’s Beloved Community

On February 19th, House of Ruth’s Executive Director Sandra Jackson joined Bread for the City’s CEO George Jones and CARECEN’s Executive Director Abel Nunez for a discussion at Georgetown University in honor of Black History Month.

The topic was Living the Dream: Advocacy and Building DC’s Beloved Community. Ms. Jackson spoke up as an advocate for helping women and children where they are, today, and thus building a stronger next generation. “We are the voice for women and children that can’t speak for themselves,” she said. “We share with advocates, founders and policy makers about how their investments change lives.” Thank you to Georgetown University for convening such a thoughtful conversation.

Legacy Of A Dream Award Speech

This is the speech given by Sandra Jackson on January 20, 2020 as she accepted the John Thompson, Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award from Georgetown University and its president, Dr. John J. DeGioia. We hope you are as inspired by the speech, and Ms. Jackson, as we all are.


To Dr. DeGioia and the Georgetown University Selection Committee—I am extremely thankful and honored to receive the John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award named in honor of a giant on the basketball court and an advocate for justice. And, receiving this award on this day—honoring another giant and drum major for justice, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—is humbling.

I am a long way from the little girl growing up in Washington, D.C. where I have fond memories that include meeting my soulmate more than 50 years ago, but also where I encountered my own challenges. My journey here can be traced to a family that loved, supported and sacrificed for me. My mother the social worker (with no formal degree), was an architect of wrap-around services for the family, her friends and community. I credit her with the inspiration for my journey.

This also framed my approach to this work; I see something special in the women, children and families we serve—even when they don’t see it in themselves. When I look into the eyes of a child, I don’t see what’s not possible, I see possibility at the highest level. And, as Marian Wright Edelman said, “The question is not whether we can afford to invest in every child; it is whether we can afford not to.” And, through the support and services House of Ruth offers, we believe that the women, children and families are not what happened to them, but they are created masterpieces on the journey, to becoming and realizing their purpose.

When Dr. DeGioia visited one of our family programs, he heard the stories of several mothers, and how the support they were receiving was moving them forward to achieve their goals and dreams. One mother in the group has four young children—but she is up and out the door by 6:00 a.m. with her children (including one-year-old twins), delivering them to three different schools by way of public transportation, before she arrives at her training program for the day.

Dr. DeGioia asked what was the model that supports the women—we talked about the trauma-informed practice, safe housing, child development services, counseling, financial literacy, life skills, budgeting, debt remediation, and the list goes on—all of which are critical to their success, but the resounding themes the women shared were…

  • the staff believed in them—even when they did not believe in themselves,
  • the staff listened and supported them through difficult times,
  • the staff pushed them when they felt like they could not go on.

I stand before you today, because someone believed in me and I answered the call to serve: putting one foot ahead of the other and moving forward—not always sure what lied ahead but confident that my steps were being ordered and if I kept moving forward, I would walk into my purpose—to defend and help others.

I accept the John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award on behalf of Dr. Veronica Maz, a Georgetown University Professor who founded House of Ruth 43 years ago—with one program providing housing for eight women;

I accept this award on behalf of the 13,000 women, children and families we have served over the 43 years;

I accept this award on behalf of our 100+ staff, who serve in the 16 current programs;

I accept this award on behalf of our board of directors, who have supported this out of the box executive director;

I accept this award on behalf of the public funders and foundations, who hear my appeals for funds;

I accept this award on behalf of the 20,000 committed donors (who helped House of Ruth raise 7 million dollars to build a state of the art child development center in Ward 7—for the future leaders);

I accept this award on behalf of my husband and family who comforts this social worker;

Finally, I accept this award and share it with my mother who I believe is in heaven, saying “you did good, baby girl.”

Purple Thursday with DCCADV and Mayor Bowser

On October 24th, House of Ruth joined the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence (DCCADV) and other local organizations in wearing purple to honor victims and support survivors of domestic violence for Purple Thursday. The Mayor’s Office on Women’s Policy and Initiatives, the DC Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants, and Mayor Bowser addressed attendees on the steps of the National City Christian Church. They spoke in support of survivors and emphasized their commitment to ending domestic violence in the District.