Left to right: Honorees Myrta Vida, Shadequa Hampton, Katie Brown, and Shari Sandler Photo: Skye Von
Our annual Celebration & Good Person Awards Benefit was a resounding success this past June! Alongside more than 200 friends, tenants, and supporters, HousingPlus was able to raise almost $250,000 in critical funding that helps us provide the necessary supportive permanent housing women and their children need after experiencing homelessness. Among the highlights of the night were comments from our honorees. One of them, Katie Brown noted that when she met Rita Zimmer she had found “one visionary idea in search of a Patron.” Honoree Myrta Vida, profiled in our December newsletter, explained what your support means to us better than we could ourselves: “Because of HousingPlus, I had keys to an apartment within a month of becoming homeless. Because of HousingPlus, I’ve had the distinct blessing of having Ms. Nekeisha Joseph as my Case Manager, who has helped me get what I need to lead a dignified life. Because of HousingPlus, I was able to start attending film school … Thanks to you all, I do not see myself as a victim, I’m just getting started.”
Just getting started
Myrta is not the only one who is just beginning her journey - and our generous friends and donors are helping every step of the way. This past spring, Church on the Hill in Queens hosted a toiletry drive to provide needed Welcome Kits for women being moved from Rikers Island into our transitional supportive housing program, the Women’s Community Justice Project (WCJP). Often women arrive at the program with just the clothes on their backs, so the toiletries are a first step towards regaining their dignity. In the words of one woman. "Thank you for the welcome basket, it’s filled with things to make me feel clean and fresh. I feel good about myself today! I am learning to trust people and I have confidence, I am humbled and grateful." Sometimes the simplest things mean the most!
Pictures courtesy of Blaine McIndoe
This past May, HousingPlus Executive Director Rita Zimmer was invited to participate as a panelist in a discussion with three other recipients of funds from Marble Collegiate Church’s Easter Offering. Rev. Dr. Michael Bos facilitated the discussion, to hear from practitioners in the field about the obstacles and challenges faced by our service population in New York City’s ever-changing landscape. In the words of one attendee, “when added together collectively [small donations] can make a real difference in people’s lives. It was about people giving to people. Humanity, faith, spirituality - whatever you want to call it - asks us to look beyond ourselves and help others.”
On Our Way
HousingPlus is looking beyond ourselves in another way: the Women’s Community Justice Project is continuing the Beyond Rosie’s campaign, its community advocacy of a sustainable plan to close Rikers and replace it with gender-sensitive, trauma-informed supportive housing. Our advocacy is getting noticed, too - this piece on NY1 aired July 12 and our advocacy continues. Stay tuned for more great news on building an effective community response Beyond Rosie’s.