House of Ruth

Sandra Jackson Promoted to House of Ruth President & CEO

Sandra Jackson Promoted to House of Ruth President & CEO

Hello, supporters and friends of House of Ruth. My name is Lou Cardenas, and I’m the new board chair at House of Ruth. This is my fourth year on the House of Ruth board, and I just chaired the board meeting for the first time. At that meeting, after approximately six months of evaluation and discussion, the board unanimously and enthusiastically promoted Sandra Jackson to President and CEO of House of Ruth.

Sandra started at House of Ruth in 2013, as Director of Operations, and moved up to Interim Executive Director and then Executive Director in 2016. Since that time, she has started — and completed — House of Ruth’s first-ever capital campaign. She raised $7 million to construct Kidspace, and it will be open — with more than double the capacity of our last Kidspace facility — later this year.

Additionally, she has expanded and diversified the housing we offer to women and children at House of Ruth. In addition to our traditional care, in homes we own, Sandra helped pioneer ‘scattered site’ housing, where we use our name to secure leases on apartments throughout D.C. Our clients move into the homes, with their name co-signed on the lease, and pay a portion of the rent. As they are able, and they get back on their feet, they gradually take on more rent until they are at 100%.

This model is encouraging for participants, minimizing moves and increasing independence for clients who need an escape from domestic violence.

We’ve also hired two more licensed counselors — effectively doubling the reach of the domestic violence support center, our free therapy for survivors of domestic violence. With these additional staff members, we have increased our group therapy offerings in our homes and at partner agencies throughout the city.

What I’m trying to say is, Sandra is the definition of a high-achieving, highly successful, brilliant and kind leader — and it’s high time she became President and CEO of House of Ruth.

No matter how high Sandra goes, she always keeps our clients and our staff at the forefront of her mind. I’m grateful to partner with her, and grateful to be able to recognize her hard work.

Sincerely,

Lou Cardenas, Board Chair

My COVID Hero Campaign: Chaikin Sherman

House of Ruth Receives $5,000 Donation from Chaikin Sherman law firm

Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel personal injury attorneys recently visited House of Ruth to learn more about the nonprofit organization and donate $5,000 to support women, children and families healing from trauma, abuse and homelessness.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, House of Ruth has seen an increase in domestic violence reports and homelessness. The donation from Chaikin Sherman will go toward comprehensive programming, services and housing for families and single women in crisis as they work to rebuild their lives.

“Local partnerships like this are vital to House of Ruth and our clients. We are grateful,” said Elizabeth Kiker, Development Director. “We appreciate Chaikin Sherman’s generosity, partnership and continued support of the community.”

The donation is part of the law firm’s “My COVID Hero” photo and video campaign to highlight COVID heroes and support local nonprofits providing essential services and care throughout the pandemic.
“Throughout the pandemic, House of Ruth has done an incredible job of supporting and empowering some of the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Allan Siegel, firm partner. “This campaign was a way for us to thank them for making a positive impact and to bring more awareness to the critical work they do. We’re happy to contribute to their efforts and encourage others to do the same.”

Life Preservation Initiative Donates 50,000 Masks

Foundation’s Gift to Help Women Who Need it Most During Pandemic, and Staff Serving Them

On May 19, 2020, the Life Preservation Initiative donated 50,000 masks to help House of Ruth clients and staff — the most vulnerable citizens in Washington, D.C., during the COVID-19 crisis. This new partnership is just the latest way LPI and House of Ruth are working to help those in need during this unprecedented time, especially as domestic violence reports are on the rise during shelter-in-place mandates.

“For some of us, COVID-19’s stay-at-home orders have been inconvenient. But for those facing violence in their houses, staying home is unthinkable,” said Daofeng He, the main donor to the Life Preservation Initiative. “We want to do what we can to support women who are ready to leave, especially during these unprecedented times. We are making our resources available to assist those who have escaped homelessness and domestic violence.”

“At House of Ruth, we help more than 1,000 women and children survivors of homelessness and domestic violence each year,” said Executive Director, Sandra Jackson. “Our staff and clients are almost all in at-risk categories for COVID-19, and these masks will help immensely as House of Ruth serves the most vulnerable women and children in Washington, D.C.”

Anyone experiencing domestic violence in the Washington, D.C. metro area can find help at House of Ruth — by calling us at (202) 667-7001 x. 320 — we are open, and accepting new families and women (as spaces are available) during this pandemic.

College HUNKS Hauling Junk Partnership

Moving Company Provides Free Services to DV Survivors at House of Ruth

On May 1, 2020, College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving moved two survivors of domestic violence in Washington, D.C. into new apartments, away from their abusers. The women moved into House of Ruth programs, and are receiving help from House of Ruth’s expert staff. This new partnership is just the latest way these companies are working to help those in need during this unprecedented time — and comes as domestic violence reports are on the rise during shelter-in-place mandates.

“For some of us, COVID-19’s stay-at-home orders have been inconvenient. But for those facing violence in their homes, staying home is unthinkable,” said Nick Friedman, Co-Founder and President of College HUNKS Hauling Junk and Moving. “We want to do what we can to support women who are ready to leave, especially during these unprecedented times. We are making our resources available to assist those who are looking for a safe way out.”

“At House of Ruth, we help more than 1,000 women and children survivors of homelessness and domestic violence each year,” said Executive Director Sandra Jackson. “Sometimes, finding the strength to leave an abuser is the hardest part — and we are grateful to College HUNKS for helping these survivors take a huge step on their journey into healing.”

Anyone experiencing domestic violence in the Washington, D.C. metro area can find help at House of Ruth — call us at 202-667-7001 x. 320 — we are open and accepting new families and women (as spaces are available) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.”

House of Ruth Leader Named 2020 Legacy of a Dream Awardee

Re-posted from the November 26, 2019 Georgetown University News. Original link here.

Sandra Jackson, executive director of House of Ruth, will be honored as Georgetown’s 2020 John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award recipient Jan. 20 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The university presents the award annually to an inspirational emerging local leader at the free Let Freedom Ring! celebration on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Award-winning singer Chaka Khan will be the featured artist this year along with the Let Freedom Ring Choir, which comprises members of the Georgetown and broader Washington, DC communities.

Helping People Every Day 

House of Ruth, created in 1970 with help from a Georgetown professor, provides comprehensive services and housing for women and children.

“I’m thrilled that this award will put the spotlight on the amazing work we do at House of Ruth on behalf of women, children and families,” says Jackson, a native Washingtonian. “I love working at House of Ruth because I do get to help people every day. “Domestic violence crosses all lines, and it is always something that happens to someone else – until it happens to you.”

The awardee says she was inspired by her mother, who raised five children as a single mother in DC.

Rebuilding Lives

Every year House of Ruth helps more than 1,000 women and children learn the skills to live independently, and helps them heal from the trauma and abuse in their lives while eliminating homelessness.

According to the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “there is a direct correlation between housing and domestic violence, in fact, domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness both locally and nationally and DC has one of the highest homeless rates in the country.”

Solving Key Issues

The award, part of Georgetown’s commitment to helping solve key issues in the city, provides a year of sustained partnership and broader recognition for the organization.

House of Ruth offers services ranging from supportive housing for families and single women in crisis, developmental day care for homeless children, free counseling services to any victim of domestic violence.

There are 14 Houses of Ruth in Washington, DC, seven for women and children and seven for single women, including a mix of transitional, crisis and permanent housing. The organization also has a child care center and a therapy center.

Making a Difference

Under Jackson’s leadership and vision for House of Ruth’s first capital campaign, a new, donor-funded developmental child care center will open on Pennsylvania Avenue in Ward 7 in 2020. As with all House of Ruth programs, Kidspace will serve women, children and families who are survivors of homelessness and domestic violence.

“Through her transformational leadership at House of Ruth, Ms. Jackson has made a difference in the lives of thousands of families impacted by domestic violence in our city, connecting them with the housing, counseling, childcare and support they need to rebuild,” says Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. “We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to recognize her dedicated service and her far-reaching impact with this award.”

Jackson holds a master’s degree in social work from Howard University and has more than two decades of experience in social services management in the DC area, including work with the Child and Family Services Agency and Catholic Charities of Washington, DC.

She became House of Ruth’s executive director in 2016 after beginning her tenure as director of operations in 2013.

‘Safe and Caring Program’

Under her leadership, the organization has increased its service to women and their children by 31%.

She has increased staff training, created additional support groups for women and children and networks of agencies across the city. Jackson also created more services to address employment, health, housing, self-esteem and trauma.

“When I arrived at House of Ruth, on the run from an abusive partner, I was immediately put into a safe and caring program,” says a woman who benefitted from the organization. “While living there, I had cause to reach out directly to Sandra Jackson, the executive director of the organization. I still remember her responsiveness. She helped me through my difficulty, which reduced my anxiety.”

“Now, my children and I are living independently, and I am working full time,” she adds. “I am so grateful for House of Ruth and Ms. Jackson specifically for how compassionately they helped me heal.”

Serving Our Most Vulnerable

Georgetown sociology professor Veronica Maz helped create House of Ruth along with So Others Might Eat and Martha’s Table after visiting skid row in DC to get a firsthand view of homelessness.

When Maz passed away in 2014, The Washington Post said she was “widely regarded as a patron saint of Washington’s hungry, indigent, abused and dispossessed.”

Maz would likely be amazed at how far House of Ruth has come.

“House of Ruth offers critically important support for abused women and their children in the District of Columbia,” says Chris Murphy, who oversees the university’s Office of Community Engagement as vice president for government relations and community engagement. “Under Sandra Jackson’s leadership, the organization has been able to expand its work to help some of our city’s most vulnerable women and children rebuild their lives. I think Dr. King would be proud to see her honored with the Legacy of a Dream Award.”

My Girlfriend’s House Shelter Room Makeover

On October 5th, 13 domestic violence survivors living at House of Ruth’s Families First II program were gifted with newly designed apartments—all inspired by their dream houses—thanks to over 270 volunteers from My Girlfriend’s House.

My Girlfriend’s House is a community of women in the DC area focused on empowering at-risk women with the skills and self-confidence they need to make a better and brighter future for themselves.

The Shelter Room Makeover Party is a twice-a-year outreach effort by My Girlfriend’s House designed to uplift women living in homeless shelters by renovating their rooms into hotel-styled suites. Through student and volunteer efforts, My Girlfriend’s House completely renovated and designed 13, two-bedroom apartments with living rooms, dining rooms, kitchenettes and full bathrooms; a women’s lounge room; and a children’s playroom for House of Ruth over the course of five hours.

On behalf of the women, children and staff at House of Ruth, thank you so much to My Girlfriend’s House and the volunteers who made this special day possible! To see the photos from the incredible makeover, please click here.

Kidspace Groundbreaking with Councilmember Gray

This past June, D.C. Councilmember Vincent Gray of Ward 7 joined House of Ruth’s staff, board of directors and community of supporters to celebrate the groundbreaking of our Kidspace developmental child care center.

House of Ruth’s Board Chair Diane Lewis kicked off the opening remarks and introduced Councilmember Gray, who shared his support for our campaign to build a state of the art child care center—one of our community’s strongest needs—right in D.C.’s Ward 7. Executive Director Sandra L. Jackson wrapped up the closing remarks, proudly speaking about the vital work at Kidspace over the last 20 years, and shared her excitement for the new Kidspace center and its grand opening ceremony next year.

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