Women share tales of re­claim­ing their lives through N Street Vil­lage

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY DARLA DUN­NING

Paula Bug­gage’s life changed drastically two years ago when she lost her home and the peo­ple she trusted, scram­bling around the District try­ing to find a place to live.

“Three bags — that is what my life was re­duced to in July of 2016,” Ms. Bug­gage told a lun­cheon Wed­nes­day at the Ritz-Carl­ton ho­tel in North­west.

Feel­ing phys­i­cally, men­tally and spir­i­tu­ally drained, she en­tered N Street Vil­lage, which turned her life around com­pletely. She is now em­ployed and can sup­port her­self fi­nan­cially again.

Peo­ple filled the ho­tel’s ball­room Wed­nes­day to hear women like Ms. Bug­gage share their sto­ries of over­com­ing ad­ver­sity and re­claim­ing their lives through N Street Vil­lage, a non­profit shel­ter and ser­vices or­ga­ni­za­tion for women.

“Every wo­man needs a place to just stop, take a breath, breathe,” Ms. Bug­gage told the group’s 12th an­nual Em­pow­er­ment Lun­cheon. “The seed for me was sowed the day I walked into N Street Vil­lage. To­day, I am em­ployed. I am work­ing on my dreams and I am am­bi­tious.”

She said she felt at ease when she turned to N Street Vil­lage for help: “They didn’t probe into my per­sonal busi­ness. All they wanted to do was share a meal, and I be­lieve they knew even­tu­ally I would open up when I was ready.”

N Street Vil­lage, which has helped about 2,000 women yearly since 1972, pro­vides as­sis­tance for hous­ing, in­come, em­ploy­ment, men­tal and physical health, as well as ad­dic­tion re­cov­ery.

More than 350 donors, spon­sors and vol­un­teers gath­ered for Wed­nes­day’s lun­cheon, rais­ing money to sup­port home­less and low-in­come women of the D.C. area. Past res­i­dents of N Street Vil­lage and di­rec­tors from the N Street Vil­lage of­fered their em­pow­er­ing tes­ti­monies.

The Vil­lage is open all year and serves more than 90 women each day, of­fer­ing them emer­gency and long-term needs. The staff joined Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Home­ward DC pro­gram, which in­cludes strate­gies to end home­less­ness in the District and pro­vide short-term hous­ing.

“Home­less­ness in gen­eral is a sim­ple eco­nom­ics is­sue,” N Street Vil­lage CEO Schroeder Stri­b­ling said. “Home­less­ness has a sim­ple so­lu­tion. Hous­ing cures home­less­ness.”

Deb­bie Jarvis, vice pres­i­dent of cor­po­rate re­la­tions of Pepco Hold­ings, was given the Vil­lage Lead­er­ship Award dur­ing the lun­cheon.

“I fell in love with N Street Vil­lage nearly a decade ago,” said Ms. Jarvis, who served on the N Street Vil­lage Hon­orary Board for al­most a decade. “The col­lec­tive im­pact we can have with our time, tal­ent and trea­sures will be trans­for­ma­tive as we hear time and time again. That is why I love this lun­cheon.”

D.C. Coun­cilmem­ber Jack Evans pre­sented N Street Vil­lage with a procla­ma­tion that was passed unan­i­mously by the coun­cil to cel­e­brate N Street Vil­lage’s 45 years of ser­vice to the com­mu­nity.

Clin­i­cal Direc­tor Bryce Mof­fett, who started her so­cial work ca­reer at N Street Vil­lage after grad­u­ate school, said she en­joys the sense of com­mu­nity that brings the staff and clients to­gether at the vil­lage.

“Any­one can walk through our doors and feel wel­comed and be greeted by name,” Ms. Mof­fett said. “For me, that is sort of the core that re­ally brings me back to work every day. I think that is how we help peo­ple heal is through com­mu­nity, re­la­tion­ships, and con­nec­tions.”

Emily Miller, a for­mer N Street res­i­dent and em­ployee, shared her jour­ney of re­cov­ery from 30 years of al­co­hol and co­caine ad­dic­tion after com­ing back to the Vil­lage three times be­fore she fi­nally de­cided to end her ad­dic­tion.

“I came to N Street Vil­lage sev­eral years ago bro­ken in all ar­eas of my life,” said Ms. Miller, who now is work­ing to­ward her bach­e­lor’s de­gree in hu­man re­la­tion re­la­tions at Trin­ity Univer­sity. “I was greeted with such com­pas­sion. I was greeted with dig­nity and re­spect. My self worth had just di­min­ished.”

“I fi­nally re­al­ized that re­cov­ery was about my life. I lis­tened to that phrase over and over again through the years, but I never re­ally heard it. This time I heard it with my heart and my life was on the line be­cause I was as­so­ci­at­ing with peo­ple who did not have best in­ter­est,” said Ms. Miller, who has been sober for 12 years.

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