The Washington Post Selects SOME as Helping Hand Beneficiary
January 9, 2018
SOME was selected as a beneficiary of The Washington Post Helping Hand. Beginning November 13, columnist John Kelly highlighted SOME’s work through his column:
For three weeks Annette stayed in the SOME “safe house” on O Street, a restful pause before the real work began: three months at SOME’s Maya Angelou House in the mountains of West Virginia. (Men stay nearby in Exodus House.)
“You just work on yourself to build yourself back up — because you think you’re worthless,” Annette said. “You don’t know why you were put here. All you can think about is that you’ve made a mess of your life. And I had a child that stayed with me during my whole drug use. My child is 39 years old, and she didn’t get to see me clean until she was 37.”
For years in the 1970s, people would show up at all hours of the day and night at a low, stone building in the unit block of O Street NW hoping to drop off stray dogs and cats. The building had once been an animal shelter but now served a two-legged clientele: people who were hungry and knew they could find a meal at a charity called So Others Might Eat.
The Rev. John Adams, the president of SOME, still chuckles at the memory. (“We told them they had to go up to Oglethorpe Street” where the new animal shelter was, he said.)
The nonprofit has grown a lot in the 40 years since then, not just in real estate but in scope: If you are poor or experiencing homelessness or addiction in Washington, you can probably get help at SOME.
Tyrica Hooks had a lot of jobs. She didn’t want another one.
“I wanted a career,” said Hooks, a 38-year-old from the District.
She threw herself into [SOME’s] five-day-a-week program, taking all the health-field-related classes that were offered. Her instructor saw potential in Hooks, even if it meant knocking off some rough edges.
“I’m sitting like this in class,” Hooks said, demonstrating with a slouch and a scowl her first few days at SOME’s CET program. “She’s like: ‘Nuh-uh. Sit up.’ It’s like she molded me into the person that I became.”
Tibby is a 3-year-old white German shepherd. And while a dog can’t find a homeless person a home, fix a hungry person a meal or give a job to someone who’s unemployed, she can put her head in your lap and, for a while at least, make you forget all those things.
A dog can make you feel human.
“Not to sound corny, but it’s the literal sparkle in somebody’s eyes that have darkened. When they walk in the door, with the adversity that they’re facing, to see that spark come back is why I’m here.”
SOME does a lot of things — addiction treatment, for example, and providing affordable housing — but baked into its very name is its origin as a soup kitchen. Every day of the year, SOME serves free breakfast and lunch to Washingtonians who otherwise might go hungry.
After lunch, I spoke with Jovan A. Middleton. He’s been coming to SOME to eat for the past five years, on and off. He’d spent the previous night at an emergency hypothermia shelter in the Kennedy Recreation Center.
“If it wasn’t for this place, a lot of people would be really hurting, like bad,” said Middleton, 35. “They’d be out here suffering.”
I was astounded when Patrick Walsh told me how many people called in the four hours that So Others Might Eat opened its housing intake line in September.
Four hundred. Four hundred families in desperate need of somewhere to live in Washington, unable to afford a place on their own.
But 400 wasn’t how many people called.
“We answered 400,” said Walsh, program manager in SOME’s Family Services department. “A lot of people didn’t get through.”
You can support The Washington Post Helping Hand by donating here.