Upon moving back to the DMV this past fall, I was stunned to learn the price of a one bedroom and quickly realized that it was beyond my reach. The price of housing (like in many urban places) is a barrier to entry for many in this City; but then let’s say you have a physical disability, or a slew of medical appointments, or struggle with addiction or mental health challenges; suddenly looking for housing gets more complicated. People are homeless for a variety of reasons, and with winter here, living on the streets is an option most of us would find hard to imagine. But, unfortunately for some, it can feel like the only choice. I wanted to do something and after thinking about what I could manage between walking pups and running a business, I decided that supporting a clothing drive made the most sense.

I knew from my time in Philadelphia, that there were organizations doing vital, essential work around homelessness so I looked up a place I was familiar with: Pathways to Housing. They work to end homelessness through a model called Housing First. This means engaging with people living on the streets and getting them a safe place indoors, helping them develop relationships with private landlords and putting in supports to meet any medical, physical, mental and financial challenges that they have. Pathways to Housing is a national organization; check out what they are doing locally by visiting their website.

I asked Pathways about a winter clothing drive, but the logistics didn’t quite pan out. (They are always looking for men’s clothing and new household items; contact Megan Humphreys, in kind donations coordinator at mhumphreys@pathwaysdc.org). Through a series of recommendations, I ended up reaching out to St. Stephens and Incarnation Church (see photo). The church plays host to a number of note worthy causes; ThriveDC being one of them. ThriveDC is an organization that has been offering meals, a safe space for women, children, and men, employment coaching, addiction recovery services, case management and much more, for over four decades. Visit their website to learn more.

In December and January, they hosted two winter clothing drives. This is an important piece in the road to home: a lot of people can’t leave the streets even in the winter, so meeting people where they are leads to trust and sustained supportive relationships. Addiction, mental health, limited finances, and poor support networks keep people from coming inside, while paradoxically, shelters that impose curfews and meal times, strip autonomy and keep people outside.

Some people are able to purchase a new coat with the onset of winter, but many cannot. I was so excited by the opportunity to link Brighter Days to ThriveDC and its powerful mission. Thank you so much for making this winter a little warmer for some of our neighbors.

If you want to donate to ThriveDC or get involved in other ways email Greg Rockwell at greg@thrivedc.org.