The Spirit of Giving

The Spirit of Giving

The holiday season is a time for being with family and enjoying the magic of Christmas on little one’s faces. For many, the holiday season is the hardest time of the year.

What would you do if you had nowhere to sleep? How do you explain why there is no Santa for your children?

According to the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, approximately 2,669 men, women, and children in Baltimore City are homeless on any given night.

This year we are thankful for all of our volunteers and donors who have helped us create stability for 83 individuals and 25 families have a place to call home this holiday season.

“Me, my husband, my two sons, and my grandson were all living in the same home.  I knew that if something happened to my husband that we wouldn’t be able to afford rent.  He was really sick, and that’s what happened.  

I went to a shelter that had a 30-day stay.  I ended up staying there for 3 months because they liked my attitude.  A lot of girls would come in and their spirits were broken and I had that uplifting thing.  I like to make people laugh so I kept them laughing and they kept me around.  

I went to stay with my mom, from my mom I went and stayed in my storage unit.  I stayed in my storage unit for about a year and a half, maybe two years. I found a social worker who helped me.  She was the best; she was only supposed to help me one year but she helped me two years because she liked my attitude.  She got me into the Bennett House. Once I got that key in my hand I said ‘nothing is ever gonna be the same’ and it hasn’t.  

That was three years ago.  I’m ready to get out there and do it on my own.  With my husband, I was with him for 32 years, I never had to pay a bill.  Once I got here it taught me the responsibility of, you have to pay your rent, you have to buy your own food.  I’ve learned how to budget my money…”

“I like the women at the Bennett House.  There’s always good ones… Veronica is a gem.  When they put her in here they knew what they were doing.  She’s like a mentor. She makes sure that you pay your rent every month.  She knows that was something hard for me to do, to pay my rent, because I never had to do that before…”

“To me, WHC has been the greatest experience of my life.  And I’ve had some good experiences and I’ve had some bad; this is the greatest.  It helped me plant my feet and it gave me stability. I’ve grown a lot and I’ve learned a lot.” – Christine

There is a long waitlist for people who housing in programs like the Women’s Housing Coalition. With your help, we can continue to grow and help more people individuals and families have many happy holidays to come.

Make a donation today:

Every Person Has Value

Every Person Has Value

Imagine feeling like you aren’t someone of value to society. People pass by but never look at you. You have been homeless for several years, moving from shelter to shelter and from friend’s house to friend’s house. You are running out of options. It is not safe staying outside alone. What would you do? Would you continue the daily trudge of moving night after night? How long can you keep this up?

In Leslie’s case, she was able to get housing and supportive services here at the Women’s Housing Coalition where she found hope and friends who cared. She discovered programming to help her grow in spirit and in stability. With the help of her case manager, Leslie started setting goals, then…meeting them. Now that she’s working a few days a week, she dreams of having her own place. With your support, we can help women like Leslie find value and achieve their dreams. “Women’s Housing Coalition gave me my life back, they really did: with the structure, with letting me see that I can be someone. I’m not just a homeless older lady; I am somebody. That’s what WHC brought back tome.” – Leslie

For Christine, losing her husband to a severe illness put her and her sons out on the streets. She was able to find housing for her sons, but she began bouncing from relative to relative until her only option was to live in her storage unit. Thankfully, Christine found WHC. Here she learned how to budget her money and use her case manager as a mentor in responsibility. She found value. With your help, women like Christine can get back on their feet and find value. “To me, WHC has been the greatest experience of my life…It helped me plant my feet and it gave me stability. I’ve grown a lot, and I’ve learned a lot.” – Christine

Because of supporters like you, for the first time in over ten years, we expanded our housing and supportive services from 98 to 108 households. That’s 10 more opportunities for people experiencing homelessness to regain their value. 83 individuals (like Leslie and Christine) and 25 families have a place to call home this holiday season. Because of you, we are able to provide them with the tools to find stability. Our hope is that all of our residents will begin to recognize that they are more than the situation they were in. They are more than someone who experienced homelessness. They are somebody! They have value!

With your support, we can make our hope a reality.

Make a donation today:

Senseless Violence in Baltimore City – Getting People the Support They Need

Senseless Violence in Baltimore City – Getting People the Support They Need

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 470,000 homicides occur globally each year. If you take into account suicide and war-related deaths, the number rises to over 1.6 million violence-related deaths. Millions more suffer violence-related injuries and trauma. 

Some of the dominant risk factors for violence are social disruption, poverty, poor interpersonal dynamics, insecurity, societal acceptance, and power imbalance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses the Social-Ecological Model to understand the factors that influence violence. This model shows that tragic acts of violence often rise from the complex interplay between individual, relationship, community, and societal factors. 

Individual factors that contribute to someone’s ability to be violent include age, education, income, substance use, or history of abuse. When identifying relationship factors, one looks at how a person’s close relationships influence their behavior and contribute to their experience. Settings, such as schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods, create the community factors that impact someone’s tendency towards violence. To identify societal factors, one looks at social and cultural norms that support violence as an acceptable way to resolve conflicts. 

Many cities that face high rates of violence are finding a way to create safer environments. They’re implementing policies and strategies that encourage mentoring for young children that actively engage communities in building solutions, and that create effective, accessible mental health services. The Group Violence Intervention (GVI) program has been called the “Boston Miracle” for its success in bringing their city’s youth homicide rate down 63%, and it’s being implemented in other cities around the world. Effective violence mitigation strategies include social involvement, poverty reduction, interpersonal skills training, education, awareness, and community support. 

Baltimore has seen more than its fair share of violence this year. How can we create a safer Baltimore?

At the Women’s Housing Coalition, we are doing our part to support our community by creating stability with proper housing, offering counseling and other programs to ensure success and relieve stress for our families and individuals. We also support our residents with continuing education for our staff by attending trainings like Mental Health First Aid.  Mental Health First Aid trains coaches, police officers, teachers, faith leaders and other caring individuals to look for signs of mental illness and how to respond with appropriate intervention strategies.

Senseless acts of violence can make us feel helpless, but there are ways that you can take action to prevent violence.

There is much that we can do in our cities and towns to build connection, caring and community. Citizens of all races and ethnic backgrounds can work together to make our lives better. Baltimore has a wide range of programs that offer mentorship and educational opportunities to our youth and disadvantaged citizens. 

You can volunteer your time and talents in a way that will create a huge impact on others. Programs like MBRT connect students with volunteers and mentors to ensure high school graduation and make college an option for everyone. You can donate money to an organization like Women’s Housing Coalition or the many Maryland Nonprofits that step in and assist people in the ways they need it most. 

Preventing violence is a civic responsibility, and only together can we translate individual good deeds into community change. 

Make a Difference on Giving Tuesday

Make a Difference on Giving Tuesday

This year, Giving Tuesday falls on December 3, 2019. This day is a time when communities, individuals, and organizations come together to raise awareness for the causes that matter to them. Giving Tuesday has surpassed one billion dollars of donations since its inception in 2012!

You can join the movement and help create change in your community.

The Women’s Housing Coalition needs your support to continue to create stability for families and individuals who are some of the 2,294 homeless citizens in Baltimore City alone. We are excited to have 5 new families joining us this year, but we need your help. 

There are many ways you can donate your time or money to support the Women’s Housing Coalition.

It requires $15,000 to support one person for a year. Your monetary donation on Giving Tuesday will help keep an individual or family in a safe home so they can thrive. You can also support the WHC monetarily by hosting a fundraiser on Facebook

With five new families joining us we need lots of household items like kitchenware and linens. You can purchase new goods for our families and make a donation to the Women’s Housing Coalition

Part of how we help people thrive is by giving them the right support including workshops on finances and career placement. If you have a special skill that you could share with our women, or you would like to bring some friends to help us maintain our houses, we would greatly appreciate you volunteering your time. 

There are many ways that you can have an impact on people’s lives and create change in your community. We hope you join us on Giving Tuesday! 

The Margaret J. Bennett House

The Margaret J. Bennett House

The Margaret J. Bennett Home opened in 1902 as a boarding house for women. Mrs. Bennett, widow of Francis Worthington Bennett, an auctioneer, died in 1900 with no children. Mrs. Bennett provided $150,000 in her will towards opening the house for women, which remained open into the 1970s.  

In the 1900’s a room and two meals daily started at $8 – $12 a week, then increased to $27.50 a week in the 1920s and housed females from 14 – 40  years old.   Some of the early house rules included:

o   No excessive use of cosmetics

o   No smoking

o   No advertising from the house

o   No bringing employment into the home

o   No alcohol

o   No food in the bedroom

o   No use of electric or gas

o   No oil appliances

o   Mandatory house meeting attendance

o   Guest visits were $1.50 per day 

o   Curfew started at 9:00 p.m. and moved to 11:00 p.m. in the 1920s

Today, the Margaret J. Bennett Home continues to serve women in Baltimore. The WHC took ownership of the building and celebrated its groundbreaking in 1999. It currently houses 30 individuals in 29 single room occupancies and 1 apartment. In 2016 a basement space was renovated to create a gym and cooking demonstration kitchen. At the beginning of 2019, the health suite that was first opened in 2011, but had not been used in recent years, was reopened with new occupants – Health Alliance Associates, Inc. They provide an integrated model of primary care, behavioral health, medication therapy management and peer recovery outreach for persons recovering from homelessness, mental health disorders, substance abuse disorders, and other traumas. Health Alliance has been a great partner to us, providing same or next-day appointments to any of our residents in need of their services, and to the community at large, as most of their patients are from outside our program.

At the Women’s Housing Coalition, we are grateful to our staff, patrons, and visionaries, like Mrs. Margaret Bennett, for helping us fulfill our mission to create stability for families and individuals with safe housing.

If the Margaret J. Bennett Home is also a part of your history, we would love to hear about it. You can email to share your story as part of our upcoming 40th anniversary.