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July 28, 2017

This week, Georgetown Ministry Center said a reluctant farewell to its Volunteer Coordinator, Melissa Bernard.

Melissa served as the Volunteer Coordinator at GMC for the past year as part of her commitment to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC), an organization whose mission is to engage its faith-committed volunteers in vital service within poor communities. After completing her undergraduate degree at Boston College in 2016 – a school she chose largely in part for its devotion to service and social justice – Melissa felt she wasn’t done growing in her faith with other young folks and wanted to continue to devote herself to the service work she had begun in school. “I really discovered a lot of what it meant to be spiritual to me at Boston College and wanted to continue to do that. I didn’t feel ‘done’ with a lot of the work I was doing,” she said.

In her placement through JVC, Melissa’s duties included working for the Georgetown University Campus Ministry and Center for Social Justice where she was responsible for coordinating homeless outreach programs, including scheduling volunteers for GMC and the hypothermia outreach program in the winter. She also played a huge role in organizing GMC’s 2016 5k Fundraiser, a task that she says, while challenging, was one of the highlights of her year. “I’d never done anything like that,” she said of planning the race. “I wanted it to be a really spectacular event for all involved and to hit our fundraising goals. Getting to work with Sarah (GMC’s Development Manager), churches in the area, so many community members and Georgetown students to make that happen – it was stressful at times but really worth it.”

Melissa goes on to begin a new job at Georgetown University and said she will miss the relationships she formed with guests at GMC. Prior to this experience, while she had served the homeless community before in different capacities, such as volunteering at soup kitchens, she said she “never really sat down with folks experiencing homelessness and listened to how difficult it is for them. I don’t think my year would have been as fulfilling if I didn’t have the chance to meet so many of our guests and form relationships and hear their struggles and their joys.”

We are grateful to Melissa for her many contributions over the past year and we wish her the very best in her new role at Georgetown University. From everyone at GMC, thank you, Melissa – you will be missed!

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July 25, 2017

Georgetown Ministry Center welcomes Dr. John Tarim, M.D., as its new Consultant Psychiatrist! Dr. Tarim is currently a 4th year Psychiatry resident at George Washington University after earning his M.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and his B.A. from Columbia University. He will be providing psychotherapy and medication management for guests in the Center, in addition to serving those experiencing homelessness in our community through street outreach. Welcome, Dr. Tarim!

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July 18, 2017

Save the Date!

The Spirit of Georgetown, Georgetown Ministry Center‘s annual celebratory benefit, is fast-approaching! This year’s 30th Anniversary celebration will be hosted by author, journalist, television commentator, and longtime Washingtonian, Sally Quinn, in her beautiful Georgetown home. Join us for an evening of spirits, savories and celebrating 30 years of ending homelessness, one person at a time.

The Spirit of Georgetown

October 19th, 2017

6:30 – 8:30pm

3014 N St NW, Washington, DC (Home of Sally Quinn)

 
For sponsorship information or to purchase tickets, please visit spiritofgeorgetown.org.

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July 3, 2017

Ross Goodwin

“It was hard to leave the Center today,” said Ross Goodwin on June 28th, his last day serving as Georgetown Ministry Center’s Consultant Psychiatrist. He is leaving after two years of providing psychiatric evaluations, ongoing therapy and medication management for its guests, in addition to accompanying Executive Director, Gunther Stern, on weekly street outreach to visit those experiencing homelessness living on the streets. The end of Ross’ time at the Center – an experience he describes as “wonderful” – coincides with the completion of his General Psychiatry residency at George Washington University. He will go on to begin his Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship at Johns Hopkins University.

Center guests came to rely on Ross’ presence over the past couple of years. “The fact that the guests at the Center came to expect me to be there, and noticed when I wasn’t there, and it meant something to them that I was there – I think that was the most rewarding thing,” said Ross. “To matter to people in that way – in a professional capacity and in a human encounter.”

Ross feels this is the work he was born to do. He became interested in psychiatry arguably late in medical school; initially thinking he wanted to be a pediatrician, he found he liked the notion of addressing a person in a holistic way, including addressing family systems as they pertain to childhood development. With this discovery, Ross entered his general residency at GW knowing he was interested in child psychiatry, an area where he felt the most himself and that he could naturally do the most good. His time serving adult guests experiencing homelessness at the Center has allowed him to observe how the interplay of mental health and socioeconomic factors play into an individual’s health and emotional, physical and intellectual development. “Understanding the importance of early support and intervention and how that can play out – we see the results of that in the people we serve here,” Ross said.

While Ross’ time at the Center as its Consultant Psychiatrist has come to an end, he describes the experience as rewarding and says he would like to remain involved in the future. “It’s been very meaningful to get to participate and have an impact on those lives, to understand people better,” said Ross. “To learn a lot about resilience and strengths that people show in the face of great adversity, how persistent people are, and resilient and hopeful … to get to be part of utilizing that hope and identifying those sources of strengths that might be hard to find or for them to see in themselves – it’s been rewarding.”

We thank Ross for his invaluable service and contributions to Georgetown Ministry Center over the past two years and we wish him all the best in his future. We will miss you, Ross!

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June 30, 2017

Today is our summer intern, Eliza Smith’s, last day with Georgetown Ministry Center. Eliza has served an important role within GMC over the past 5 weeks, serving our guests in the Center, participating in street outreach, providing support to our development team, and spearheading the reorganization of our Clothing Closet. We are grateful to Eliza for her time and many contributions, and her sunny demeanor will be missed by guests and staff, alike!

Eliza Smith, GMC Summer Intern

Before she leaves us, we asked Eliza to write a short piece about her experience at GMC that we’d like to share:

My name is Eliza Smith and I am currently a rising second year student at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA. I arrived at GMC in May to complete a five week Supervised Ministry internship as a part of my masters program. Eager to enter a new context, I learned about GMC from my family friend, Alex Bullock, and was then connected to Gunther and the team. I have had the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of GMC over the past month, spending a substantial amount of time in the day center, participating in street outreach and learning about development and fundraising.

Throughout my time at GMC, I have learned that adequate assistance is only possible with a deep understanding of context. Though I have completed two prior internships within the realm of transitional housing, GMC has reminded me that using the term “homeless” as a blanket descriptor can often be misleading. While my previous internship experience has often involved working with recently evicted homeless families, GMC has been my first exposure to the long-term street dwelling population. As I have learned the stories of many of our guests, I have been amazed by the length of time some have been surviving on the street. It has not been uncommon to encounter someone who has been homeless longer than I have been alive.

The past month has been an excellent lesson in redefining what is, ultimately, “successful”. Though many have received housing in large part due to the assistance of GMC, there is an understanding that effort cannot and should not end there. There is also a recognition that some who qualify may refuse housing for a variety of reasons. In many ways, to discuss homelessness in our context is to also discuss mental health and healthcare. Many suffering from mental illness also have anosognosia, a lack of awareness about their condition. This often makes treatment and maintenance of care complicated. The goal of GMC is not a seamless, unrealistic or stream-lined approach toward housing, but rather community and comprehensive support for those who are on the street. This requires an acknowledgement that different people need different things, making the work largely relational. While some need case management, others simply want a shower. On the same day that some have come to meet with a psychiatrist, others have stopped by for 30 minutes of internet access.

As a seminary student on the ordination track for the Presbyterian Church, I am particularly interested in how this understanding can better inform congregational perception of mission and outreach. Instead of “blind participation” in philanthropic endeavors, I believe that church communities have a responsibility to be deeply engaged in the world in which we live and serve. Part of this involves being well informed, taking into account why and how we should deliberately participate in responsible advocacy and service.

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