“Empowering women isn’t charity… it’s simply a matter of clarity,” insisted Valerie B. Jarrett, Senior Advisor of President Obama, as she took the podium to give the keynote address at N Street Village‘s annual Empowerment Luncheon at the Mayflower Hotel Wednesday afternoon.
Invited to speak to a crowd of the non-profit’s supporters, staff, alum, and current program participants, Jarrett detailed the N Street journey from its humble beginnings as a collection of sleeping mats on the floor of a church to Washington’s largest and most successful support organization for homeless women.
“The Village is a tangible, vibrant beacon of hope that proves each day the tremendous power each of us has to help transform the lives of women who are homeless,” said Jarrett, who highlighted the organization’s focus on dignity and measurable outcomes, as well as a financial case for N Street’s work.
“Just one person experiencing chronic homeless can cost [society] between thirty and fifty thousand dollars a year… on the other hand, connecting someone to permanent housing, with the services they need for support — good services and stability — will initially cost [less]… no question that it is also a smart investment.”
Echoing her case was Lynda Rush, an N Street Village Alumna on hand at the luncheon who also spoke about her journey from addict to college student. Rush took advantage of N Street Village’s broad spectrum of services and advocacy to overcome her addictions, gain stability and life skills, train for a job, and set an ultimate goal for the highest educational degree available to help those in a situation just like the one where she earlier found herself.
Summed up Jarrett, “That’s America… And America is a place where everyone should have a safe and stable place to live because that’s who we are.”
*Images credit Maresa Patterson