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Our 7th Annual VIDA Thrive 5k will be virtual this year and can be done from anywhere! All of the proceeds from the event will go towards Thrive DC and it's programs helping prevent and end homelessness in the DC area.

Join us to help our clients get back on their feet!

Post Your 5k!

There will be prizes for runners who raise the most money, as well as people who post their walk/run on social media. Join the fun to win VIDA memberships and Thrive DC swag!

Complete your 5k anytime between 10/8 and 10/18, then post a picture of yourself to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the #VIDAThrive5k. We will be giving prizes to the posts with the most likes as well the ones we find the most inspiring who answer the question: "why is it important to end homelessness in DC?"

  1. Post a picture of your run to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram
  2. Use the #VIDAThrive5k hashtag
  3. Answer the question: "Why is it important to end homelessness in DC?"

Winners will be announced Tuesday, October 19th! Sign up today to be a part of the fun!

Adult diapers are usually not the first thing you think about when donating to the homeless. However, conflicts around when and where “to go” are part of our clients’ daily struggles.

Adult diapers provide our clients needed sanitation, safety, and dignity when they need it the most.

Here are 5 reasons why adult diapers are important:

No Bathroom Access

If you’re sleeping outside chances are you won’t be able to access a bathroom when stores or other public venues close. Adult diapers can save the day and allow the homeless to get through a night without having an embarrassing accident or soiling the only clothes they may own.  

Also, even during the day many places won’t let our homeless clients use the bathroom - so what else can they use?

Menstrual Cycles

According to the 2022 Point in Time (PIT) Count, on a given night, at least 1,633 women are experiencing homelessness in the District of Columbia.

For many homeless women, access to maxipads and tampons are an ongoing obstacle. Adult diapers can come in handy when homeless women don’t have access to these products or can’t find a bathroom to change.

Adult diapers also prevent the staining of their clothes, which may be the only ones they have.

Safety

Men can use the bathroom almost anywhere somewhat discreetly - while women must suffer more exposure if they need to use the bathroom in a non-private, unspecified space.

This kind of exposure and lack of privacy makes women unsafe and vulnerable when living on the street. Having adult diapers removes this risk and is a small measure of security for homeless women.

Avoid Arrest

The homeless can get in trouble for indecent exposure when they have no other choice but to use the bathroom in public. It’s a catch 22 - they’re not allowed in to use the bathroom in private establishments, but it’s illegal to use the bathroom in a park or an alley. This is one example of what it means to “criminalize homelessness:" making the desperate choices our homeless clients make when they have no other options illegal.

When our clients have adult diapers, it gives them one more way to avoid attention from the authorities.

Health

Many homeless people suffer from chronic and/or acute illnesses that may cause incontinence issues. Paired with mental health challenges these illnesses can be exacerbated or the homeless may not be aware they’re in public when using the bathroom.  

Having adult diapers can be a lifesaver when someone is incontinent and can’t find a bathroom quickly.

What You Can Do

In the end, our clients want stability and respect. At Thrive DC, we believe that with dignity, caring, and compassion, all people can thrive.

To that end, there are two big ways that you can help our clients:

  1. Donate Adult Diapers - diapers can be an expensive resource for Thrive DC to keep, and by donating or buying some you make a direct, tangible impact on our clients. You can even purchase them directly from our Amazon Wishlist.
  2. Advocate For More Public Restrooms - As part of the Public Restroom Facilities Installation and Promotion Act of 2018, the city is installing two pilot public restrooms in areas with high numbers of incidents of public urination and defecation. To encourage more bills in the future, send an email to your Council member and let them know that you think bathrooms are a public right!

New Directions Program Interview with Pam

Community Relations Manager Greg Rockwell recently sat down with Pam, Thrive DC's Re-Entry Program Manager, to talk about what it's really like for men and women after prison.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Pam Pyles-Walker and I am the Re-entry Program Manager. I oversee our New Directions program.

What is New Directions?

New Directions is our program to support returning citizens. There are two parts: one is open to all returning citizens (someone who has been charged and convicted with a crime) and one that focuses on women.

Why do women need their own program?

Women have a lot of additional needs and barriers after incarceration. Usually, they are the primary caretakers of children, and many have experienced domestic violence or sexual abuse.

Not that those things don’t happen to men as well – but it’s much more prevalent among female returning citizens.

What is the biggest thing that men and women struggle with after incarceration?

Forgiving themselves. There’s a lot of regret over the heartbreak they caused, the family members who had to visit them behind bars, and the crimes that they committed.

Especially if they’re a parent – for many of our clients the time that they lost with their kids is a big hole in their lives, and getting their kids to forgive them is really important.

Specifically for women, there’s a cultural expectation of them as caregivers and being the family’s center. For them, to reintegrate with their families after having “failed” in that role, and having someone else raise their kids – there’s a lot of anxiety that they’re dealing with.

How does New Directions work?

With New Directions we spend the first six weeks focusing on life skills – Interpersonal Relationships, Communications Skills, Expressing Emotions, and Making Connections and Staying Healthy.

Being able to say thank you is a big one. We work on saying thank you to the people and organizations who are supporting our clients because none of this is owed to them. Helping returning citizens be grateful gives them a sense of community and helps them understand that it’s not them against the world – they’re a part of something.

I also spend a lot of time with our clients helping them focus on taking care of themselves. It’s like they tell you on the airplane – first put the oxygen mask on yourself and then focus on others.

A lot of our clients come in with expectations from their family that they’re immediately going to pitch in and help – that they’ll walk out of prison and immediately have a job, that they’ll have money to share, that they’ll have all the time in the world…but the reality is that they have court-ordered obligations and varying skill sets and barriers that may make it hard to get employed.

That’s the first six weeks. What happens after that?

They can choose a training program: Real Opportunity Training Program, Customer Service, or Customer Service – Front of the House.

The goal is to give our returning citizens practical, useful training in jobs that they can immediately get and that we have connections in. It’s easier to get a job when you have a job – and our clients do better when they have momentum in their lives and structure. It’s incredible. Once our clients start seeing success, they want more of it.

What else? If someone is in New Directions, what other resources can they access?

All of our clients have access to Thrive DC’s emergency food program, substance abuse counseling, employment assistance, and referrals to our nonprofit network.

What kind of person succeeds in New Directions?

Someone who is tired of their old lifestyle, and is ready to change.

Someone who accepts that they deserve a second chance.

And someone who is willing to demand both change and success from themselves.

What kind of person doesn’t succeed?

The person who isn’t doing it for themselves. If a client is in our program because someone else said to do it – whether it’s a corrections officer, a parent, a friend – there will come a point where it gets hard.

And if they don’t have the drive to push through then they won’t.

Another barrier for our clients is distraction. It’s really easy to fall back into old habits, old hangouts, old friends…the same things that got you into trouble in the first place. If you can’t avoid those distractions, or find a way to manage them, it makes this process much, much harder.

What is working against returning citizens finding success?

Besides themselves – getting society to forgive them, and a lack of a whole lot of things: education, work experience, support, and knowledge of the resources available to them.

Money is a big one. Without money, our returning citizens can’t get housing, can’t eat, can’t take the bus or clothe themselves. They can’t participate in anything because of costs.

Oddly enough, not knowing how to spend their leisure time is a significant problem for returning citizens. Because of their barriers and distractions, there is a whole lot we tell them they can’t do – can’t go to the bar, can’t hang out with friends – so what are they supposed to do?

That’s why we also do assessments to figure out what their interests are and what hobbies they might enjoy. We want to replace negative behaviors with positive ones.

What else? What else do we need to know about returning citizens and their reintegration?

We need to remember that they are humans. They are adult human beings who have paid their debts to society. And they really come out of prison full of hope.

For more information: on the WIND program please visit us at www.thrivedc.org/programs/windPam can be reached by email at Pamela@thrivedc.org or by phone at  (202) 503-1531

Volunteer Spotlight: Anna

We got a chance to sit down and talk with Anna, one of our many amazing volunteers!
What is your background outside of Thrive DC?

I’m a senior at American University studying international relations and law. I’m hoping to go to law school next year and pursue human rights law.

What got you interested in volunteering here?

I was looking for a new place to volunteer regularly, and I felt that Thrive was the perfect place to give back to a city that’s provided me with so many amazing experiences over the years.

How is your experience going?

I love Thrive! I really enjoy the time I spend there each week. I feel like I tell everyone I know about how much I love volunteering there20161028_100432-1. I’ve even gotten some of my friends from school to volunteer with me!

What do you like best about volunteering with Thrive DC?

I love getting to know the clients. It’s a great feeling when they recognize you and you start to really get to know them beyond “hello.”

What has been an emotional moment that stood out to you?

I’ve had a few long talks with one of our regular clients who is in her 80’s. I look forward to her visits as she often shares intimate stories with me, and offers advice. She has an amazing life story and it’s really hard to see all the difficulties she’s facing so late in life. But her positivity and light-hearted attitude is truly inspiring. She’s always making me laugh.

Have you discovered anything about Thrive DC that you were surprised or impressed about?

I’m very impressed with the variety of comprehensive services that Thrive offers given their relatively small staff, and limited space.

What service or program are you most proud of Thrive DC providing?

I think Thrive’s Real Opps program is phenomenal. It’s a great way for those with large gaps in their employment history to get back into the workforce, something that really isn’t easy to do.

What would you like to see Thrive DC do more of?

I would like to see Thrive offer a more comprehensive substance abuse recovery program.

Is there anything you wish the city was doing differently for the homeless now that you’ve been working with them?

I would like for DC to offer more services and outreach for those who are both homeless and struggling with mental illness.

"There is a client who has never spoken above above a whisper.

"During music group, after several years of near silence,
he sang out LOUD, way above a whisper!

We were delighted at his breakthrough and hearing his voice soar above the others."
-Jael, Thrive DC Music Therapist

Their Next Step

For many of our clients, getting out of homelessness is a long journey.
They are recovering from years of living on the streets and experiencing one failure after another.

Thrive DC is here to help clients take their next step forward out of homelessness.
And then the next step, and then the next all the way home.

Your Next Step

We need help getting our clients home.

Will you join our Next Step Team and become a monthly donor?

Will you walk with our clients as they take their next steps out of homelessness?

1525 Newton St NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 737-9311

Client Hours:
Monday - Thursday
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM | 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Staff Hours: 
Monday – Friday
8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
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