Teresa* and her 15-year-old son came to DASH’s transitional housing program, Cornerstone, in September of 2011, fleeing their home after years of destructive emotional abuse by Teresa’s husband. Over the years, her morale and self-worth had been diminished by constant belittling and manipulation, and she arrived at Cornerstone without a job, money, or sense of hope.
Through her work with Cornerstone’s advocate team, Teresa’s self-esteem has been restored. Staff members have noticed her increased exuberance and determination, evident not only in her attitude, but in her actions. Teresa recently enrolled at the University of the District of Columbia to work towards a Child Development Associate degree. After a difficult search - assisted by working closely with her resident advocate, as well through help from community partners like Wider Opportunities for Women - she has been offered a job working in an after school program. Additionally, Teresa is now serving as DASH’s first resident intern, assisting staff members in developing and maintaining Cornerstone’s Wellness Center.
DASH’s innovative approach to advocacy, focusing on upholding the dignity of residents, has had a clear impact on Teresa. In a recent letter to Cornerstone staff, she wrote, “I thought and worried about many things when I began this journey. I mostly worried about the tough and even unsafe places my son and I would have to inhabit. Instead, I have come to rest in a place that has a beauty I was denied for many, many years and I am being assisted by people who see me as a person and not a problem.”
*Name has been changed to protect the confidentiality of DASH residents.