Playtime Makes All the Difference

Posted by on Aug 31, 2018 in Blog, Featured Stories, Playtime Live |

By Melanie S. Hatter, Communications Coordinator

Mom and baby

Photo by Melanie Hatter

Walking home, “Tiana” tried to rush her three children passed a pile of belongings that had been dumped on the street – the sign of a recent eviction from her apartment building.

“Mommy, are those our things?” asked her daughter.

Tiana took a closer look; sure enough, there was her couch, her television, her children’s clothes, all her family’s possessions.

“Had I known they were going to do that, I would’ve made sure my kids didn’t see it,” she said, reflecting on that day almost two years ago. She had known she was behind on rent but had received no warning that her life would be dumped out on the curb.

Her father had recently passed away and it seemed everything was falling apart. He had been a big financial support, and without his help, her family struggled to make ends meet.

Tiana, her partner “William,” and their three children found themselves moving in to D.C. General Family Shelter where they remained for a year and a half.

During this time, William struggled with depression and mental health issues, and Tiana gave birth to their fourth child. “Living there [at D.C. General] was so depressing. I cried every day.”

What made all the difference was the Playtime Project, she said. “We got more from Playtime than from the shelter. During the holidays, they were always looking out for the kids. The only thing the kids liked was Playtime.”

2018 Health Fair

Playtime’s 2018 Annual Health Fair at D.C. General

Tiana appreciated getting diapers and Pull-ups through Playtime’s partnership with the Greater D.C. Diaper Bank, as well as the annual Health Fair and Back-to-School drive. Thanks to the support of our volunteers and donors, Playtime is able to offer, not only respite for parents and activities for children experiencing the stress of homelessness, but also much-needed resources for families.

Tiana was especially grateful for the support and encouragement she received from Playtime staff members, Ron “Mr. Ron” Sheffer, Site Manager at D.C. General, and Social Worker Sonia Gahimbare.

For example, Tiana noticed her youngest boy and baby girl were having respiratory problems after moving into D.C. General, and both were in and out of the hospital. Sonia helped Tiana request a reasonable accommodation through D.C.’s Department of Human Services, and in May, Tiana and her family were finally moved to an apartment provided by Community of Hope, which offers a variety of services to those experiencing homelessness, including housing and healthcare.

“Everything is so much better here, and the kids love it,” she said of her new temporary home, where she has her own kitchen. William is doing better and is job hunting, and Tiana is looking to get into a job training program.

“I don’t want to be back in this situation,” she said. “Especially for the kids.”

Learn how you can help Playtime support families experiencing homelessness.

Melanie joined Playtime in October 2016. She is an author and a former journalist with a long career in communications. She serves on the board of the Hurston/Wright Foundation and is a participating author in the PEN/Faulkner Foundation’s Writers in Schools program.