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October 12, 2017

Today construction on Georgetown Ministry Center’s renovation has officially begun! While the Center will be closed for the next few weeks, we will have a daily check-in area located in a tent outside of the Center entrance from 9:30-11:30am each morning. Guests are welcome and encouraged to stop by for coffee, food donations, and to receive mail, toiletries, socks, etc!

Listed below are the schedules & locations of alternative options for showers and laundry during our renovations:

Mondays and Tuesdays (St. John’s Church, 3240 O St, NW)
3:00pm-6:00pm
Number of Showers: 4
Loads of Laundry: 1

Thursdays and Fridays (Christ Church, 3116 O St, NW)
12:00pm-2:00pm
Number of Showers: 2
Loads of Laundry: 1

We will provide information with additional resources as they become available!

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October 2, 2017

After nearly 30 years at the helm of GMC, our Executive Director, Gunther Stern, was interviewed for a feature post in the Georgetown Business Improvement District’s byGEORGE Blog, originally published on September 28, 2017:

“Greg Sherman was a Northwestern graduate, trained constitutional lawyer, and a father of two. He died in 2006 on a bench by the C&O Canal, homeless. Four years later, a medical examiner pointed the family to Gunther Stern, Executive Director of Georgetown Ministry Center–and the person who’d identified the body. In this week’s byGeorge, Gunther shares how a college cab driving gig sparked his interest in helping the homeless, the one symptom of mental illness that no one’s talking about, and the greatest lesson he’s learned over three decades.”

Read the post here.

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September 12, 2017

Exciting renovation plans are in the works at Georgetown Ministry Center! Last fall, the Share Fund offered to help GMC drastically improve its space. With additional support from the Arcana Foundation and Georgetown University’s Office of Campus Ministry, construction plans are approved and the renovation will begin in early October.

This idea came about because every day, 50 to 70 vulnerable homeless people visit our well-worn space. Our 13-year-old shower has a cracked floor, our hot water heater doesn’t keep up with the demand in the winter, our roof leaks during heavy rainstorms, and the center is often standing room only.

To improve the quality of our services, an architecture firm came up with a plan to expand our space in an ingenious way. Their plans include the installation of higher efficiency equipment, the ability to do more loads of laundry and offer warmer showers in the winter, the addition of one bathroom, the improvement of storage space for supplies, and the transformation of an office into a medical clinic for our consulting psychiatrists and doctors.

While this project will dramatically improve our program, it will require us to close for about 7 weeks. We can’t thank the Share Fund enough for making this possible. We look forward to keeping you updated on the progress and are eager to return to an improved day center!

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September 12, 2017

GMC is happy to share that Alfred Ricketts has received housing after experiencing more than 40 years of homelessness! We are excited to share Alfred’s story with you and thank our many volunteers, donors and supporters who helped along the way. Congrats to Alfred!

Alfred Ricketts, 70, sits on a metal stool across from his Case Manager, Sabrina Burrell, in her tiny, rectangular-shaped office in the back of Georgetown Ministry Center (GMC). His hands are neatly folded in his lap and tufts of curly black hair, fringed with gray, peek from beneath his black baseball cap. He is dressed in a black T-shirt, gray cargo shorts and black woven sandals — all items purchased on a recent shopping trip. Alfred began coming to the Center regularly almost two years ago and since his first meeting with Sabrina, she’s seen him wear the exact same clothing every single day.

That is, until today.

Today, Alfred’s outfit is new, but it is perhaps the least of what he has to newly celebrate. The week prior, after a year’s worth of casework and advocating on his behalf, Sabrina presented Alfred with keys to his very own apartment: a place to call home after spending more than 40 years without one.

When asked how he felt upon receiving the keys to his new home, Alfred pauses, shakes his head in momentary bewilderment and says in a low, incredulous tone, “I was, like, in a state of shock. I didn’t think it would happen that quickly after being homeless so long.”

Forty years is a long time half a lifetime for most, if we’re lucky. For Alfred, it’s been more than half a lifetime spent living in homeless shelters, subway cars and on street corners. Originally from New York, Alfred has faced mental and physical challenges since birth, including partial blindness in one of his eyes. These challenges have contributed to difficulties he’s had in retaining employment earlier in his life and they made him an easier target for predators once he found himself living on the streets as an adolescent.

While experiencing homelessness in New York, Alfred was robbed repeatedly and the city eventually became what he describes as “a nightmare.” During his time there, he says he did his best to “stay out of trouble,” continuously praying to God for protection. In 1985, after New York had become unbearable, he found his way to DC. It would be 26 more years – not until 2006 – that GMC’s street outreach team would first encounter him living on the streets of our nation’s capital. The meeting had been a long time coming, but it would prove to be a turning point in Alfred’s life.

Alfred began regularly coming to the Center in 2015, around the same time that Sabrina began working as a Case Manager. Both new to their respective Center roles that year – Sabrina as a service-provider and Alfred as a guest in need of service – they embarked on a series of “firsts” together.

“He was my trial-and-error child,” Sabrina says, referring to the challenges she faced as a then-novice Case Manager navigating bureaucratic systems to obtain Alfred’s birth certificate, ID, and social security benefits. “He’s like my baby. I went through it with him.”

Sabrina played a vital role in Alfred being housed in a very timely manner by the system’s standards. She was a fierce, vocal advocate on Alfred’s behalf and her diligent efforts were successful in her “trial-and-error child” being approved for a Housing Voucher in near record-time: less than two months from the day he was matched with one of DC’s Permanent Supportive Housing Programs (PSHP) to the day he moved in.

When asked what he’s been up to since being housed, Alfred shares he’s been visiting art galleries and museums (the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space has been a favorite), taking “quiet strolls” (enjoying nature, the sky, the clouds, trees, rocks and animals), and reading books (ones on architecture are his favorite).

“I look back on how far I came,” Alfred reflects, “I never thought I’d get this far.” For Alfred, now that he has the safety and security of his own home, the possibilities seem endless as to how far he can still go.

 – Carolyn Landes
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September 5, 2017

This year, Georgetown Ministry Center (GMC) marks 30 years of service to people experiencing homelessness in our community. In anticipation of its upcoming annual benefit, the Spirit of Georgetown, GMC invites you to a special Q&A conversation with author, journalist and host of the 2017 Spirit of Georgetown, Sally Quinn, and Leon Weiseltier, of Brookings Institute, writer, critic, philosopher and magazine editor.  They sit down to discuss her new book, Finding Magic: A Spiritual Memoir, touching upon the topics of spirituality and the ways our various faiths unite us all and shape our views on how to care for people who are less fortunate, as is GMC’s mission.

The event is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP on our Eventbrite page.

Tickets to the 2017 Spirit of Georgetown will be available for sale at the event. Copies of Sally’s book will be for sale and she will be available for book-signing after the Q&A.

About Leon Wieseltier: An American writer, critic, amateur philosopher and magazine editor, Wieseltier served as the literary editor of The New Republic from 1983 to 2014. He is currently the Isaiah Berlin Senior Fellow in Culture and Policy at the Brookings Institution and a contributing editor and critic at The Atlantic.

About Sally Quinn: A quintessential Washingtonian, Quinn is an author, television reporter, and journalist who has worked and socialized with the city’s movers and shakers for several decades. For Quinn, the thread tying together the varied facets of her life is spirituality. The creator and moderator of The Washington Post’s religious blog OnFaith.com, the most visited religious site on the web, Quinn focuses on the values and rituals that have given her life meaning.

About Spirit of Georgetown: The Spirit of Georgetown is Georgetown Ministry Center’s highly-anticipated annual benefit. Held every fall in a historic Georgetown home, GMC honors someone who has helped make its work to find solutions to homelessness possible. This year’s Spirit will be hosted by author, journalist and long-time Washingtonian, Sally Quinn, and will honor Mayor Muriel Bowser for her leadership on issues of homelessness.

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