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The Giving Library

DASH’s founder and Executive Director Peg Hacskaylo just returned from an exciting trip to Houston, TX, where she filmed a video for the Giving Library, a groundbreaking initiative that connects donors to nonprofit organizations through online video interviews. The library’s goal is to help nonprofits share their work while helping philanthropists enhance their strategic charitable giving.

DASH is thrilled to have the opportunity to highlight the innovative work we do and the courageous families we serve, on a national stage. As Peg notes in the video, “In the last seven years, [DASH has] grown to become the city’s largest dedicated safe housing provider for victims and their families and [has] almost tripled the amount of safe housing, through our own programs and in partnership with other providers.  Moreover, our model of services has since become nationally known for our comprehensive and compassionate approach.”

20131010_110943The video will be ready in a few months and we can’t wait to share it with you. In the meantime, check out the photo of Peg filming in the studio.  Thank you so much to the Giving Library and the Laura and the John Arnold Foundation for providing us with this opportunity and for their support as we continue our work to prevent survivors from having to choose between living without a home and living with abuse.

Art Group: From the Children’s Perspective

ArtGroup1Every week Beth and Anne Marie, two of our outstanding and dedicated volunteers from the Red Derby, have been teaching an Art Class to the kids of DASH. The class is a huge favorite among the children; they love the teachers, the fun projects and the chance to unleash their creativity.

photo-1Alice*says that she appreciates the class because of the positive encouragement that she gets: “I can’t draw, but they always tell me I can. Even when I mess up they’re like, ‘oh that’s sooo good!’”(It should be noted that Alice is in fact an amazing artist who last week used feathers and glitter to create a wacky, unique mask.)

Alice also talked about how different and fun the projects are every week, “I didn’t do any of this in art class last year.” The art projects Continue Reading

Welcome to Jennifer Lee, Newest DASH Board Member!


Jennifer Lee (left)

While Jennifer Lee, Senior Consultant at MOI, Inc. is new to DASH’s Board of Directors as of last week, she is definitely not new to the organization. A longtime supporter and friend of DASH, she moved to DC after graduating from Fisher College in Boston in 2005. She first connected with DASH through her work at MOI, a full service interiors and office solutions company. MOI has been a great corporate partner to DASH.

Jennifer’s expertise in creating comfortable, aesthetically pleasing work and office spaces translated into creating those same kinds of spaces for survivors living in DASH residences. MOI and DASH worked together to build beautiful homes for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, with Jennifer playing a pivotal role. This past April, we honored her with the Keystone Award for Leadership in the Development of Housing for Victims of Domestic Violence.

We’re thrilled to welcome Jennifer to our board and cannot wait to work with her in this capacity! Read more about Jennifer and her work with DASH here.

Supporter Spotlight: Meghan Walsh

We’re lucky at DASH to have the support of a number of people we work with, including Meghan – author of the blog below, local architect and DASH champion. Here’s what our Executive Director Peg Hacskaylo had to say about Meghan:

“Since the earliest days of DASH, I have considered my relationship with Meghan to be incredibly valuable and rewarding.  I learned so much from her in the beginning, working on the plans and renovation for DASH; and since, working together on various other construction and art projects.  Meghan has been a tireless and passionate supporter of ours. I couldn’t have asked for a better ally in making DASH a reality and helping to achieve our mission.”

Read more about Meghan’s experience with DASH!


photoI started working with Peg on DASH  in 2008 I believe. She called me for help in renovating a 5 bedroom rowhouse – her earliest vision of DASH.  As Peg’s vision evolved and she found support, that small project grew.  I didn’t hear from Peg for a while after our first conversation.  But then one day she called to request my help on a 27-unit building in Southeast Washington.  She, and I , were very excited about it.  I prepared an extensive feasibility study for the abandoned low rise apartment building, but the building was sold out from under DASH and Peg was back to square one… looking for a home for DASH.   Again, a hiatus in my working on DASH, until one day when she called to tell me that now, it was looking very positive and this time the building was 51 units.   I was thrilled for Peg and for the opportunity to work with her on her vision which had grown ten times since our first conversation.

The DASH building was a very challenging renovation project because of its extremely solid construction, and the constraints of budget.  Working with Peg and the team at DASH was a wonderful way for me to gain insight into what DASH does on a daily basis. Understanding issues of security, community, and safety were key as the project developed.  Working on a building as the architect, you spent lots of time together with the team at the building during its construction with weekly and sometimes bi-weekly visits.  At the end of this process there is a bittersweet feeling of happiness at the completion, yet loss because of the relationships that were developed for that moment in time.  I think Peg understands this as do all of the staff at DASH, for everything is in transition at DASH, all of the time.

photo_1By the end of the project, Peg knew me not only as architect, but she also learned that I have a fine arts background and I have done some public art and community projects, both in DC and in Brazil, through Axis Mundi, Inc., a non-profit that I founded in 2004.  When the Redskins alumni joined with KaBoom to build the playground in the front yard, she asked me if I could create a project to involve younger folks who live at DASH.  Peg had visited my home in Bloomingdale and seen the mosaics I made and incorporated into the design of my house. We had spoken about bringing some of this to DASH and this was the chance. Axis Mundi contributed materials to the project and we started to make the mosaic panels for DASH on the day of the Redskins playground build.

The mosaics that I like to make are broken tile mosaics.  I particularly enjoy this process because it feels healing to me. When we see a piece of broken tile by itself, our tendency is to consider it garbage.  When we break a plate or cup, we throw it away usually.  But when I begin to put them into a mosaic, I see that each broken piece has its distinct place amongst the other broken pieces. In life, I have had my failures and experiences that have hurt me, or that I might not like.  I tend see these experiences as unworthy, unimportant or ugly and want to throw them away, just like a broken plate.  And yet in combining these “failures” into a complete mosaic – my whole life – it is something spectacularly beautiful and incredibly unique… there will never be another exactly the same.  The act of laying each piece into place may seem monotonous or tedious to some.  But I find it soothing, and healing.  And I am always amazed at the end result.  While I plan out the overall image – a flower, a spiral, a beach scene, or just a field of a particular color, there is a joyful spontaneity and randomness to the placement of each individual piece.  It requires patience, some discipline, and time, but it is an enjoyable process with an always surprisingly beautiful end result. It is also a fun thing to do socially.  The day we made them at DASH I had some great conversations with all those volunteering.  And since then, I have spent time with my friends completing them and we too have had the opportunity to work on something constructive, while have long talks about life, joking and laughing together through the messy process of creating something beautiful.

Today, when I visited DASH to drop of the mosaic panels, I had a few flashbacks to the many stages of the building, from the run down apartment building it was prior to DASH, to the challenges that came up through the middle of construction process to the moment of completion, and move-in.  I don’t have a day-to-day role at DASH anymore, and it makes me happy to be asked for an ID when I come through the door anonymously.  It is a feeling that is hard to describe.  Kind of like being a broken piece of tile that found its spot in a beautiful mosaic flower. Thank you DASH for letting me be a part of you too!

Beautiful Playground!

photoOn Saturday, September 15th, DASH hosted a group of volunteers from Clark Construction to work on making the DASH playground safer and more beautiful. The volunteers met at 7am with DASH staff to drink coffee and eat delicious cheese and bacon muffins generously made by a IMG_1130talented Clark volunteer. Due to the hard work of the Clark volunteers, DASH now has fresh wood chips to ensure the children’s safety; a freshly cleaned playground; more durable, stained, outside furniture; beautifully hung murals that were created by DASH children during our playground build photo_1with KaBOOM!; and no more weeds! The volunteers from Clark Construction also spent time putting in colorful stepping stones painted by DASH children in the Red Derby sponsored Art Group. They look absolutely beautiful! A huge thank you to Clark Construction for providing the manpower, the materials and the expertise for our playground re-beautification. We are so grateful for Clark’s continued support of DASH and look forward to working together again in the future!

Art, Healing, and Community

DASH_LINE_003As part of our ongoing, wonderful community DASH_LINE_001partnership with The Red Derby, we’re pleased to announce that two Red Derby staff, Ann-Marie VanTassell and Beth Hansen, started an Art Group/Class for DASH’s children every Tuesday night at our Cornerstone Facility.  The class is a huge success and we could not be more grateful to Ann-Marie and Beth for DASH_LINE_005bringing this experience to DASH as part of their innovative, new non-profit, The Arcade, which is dedicated to promoting and educating art in Washington DC, and whose goal is to establish studio and workshop space for artists in the area to enable artists to have a dedicated space to continue their craft both affordably and in a creative, collaborative environment, and to continue teaching and encouraging children to create art. They accomplish this through their arts programs for youth groups in the city, and they use their fundraising events as a space for education.

DASH_LINE_007Most recently, DASH’s Children’s Art Group held its first Art Show at Cornerstone.  Our resident children proudly provided tours of the works to their families and community members. The beautiful pieces represented projects ranging from an “About Me” magazine to prints made from melted crayons and paint mixed with water and soap. It was a wonderful opportunity to photocelebrate our children’s hard work and support healing from trauma through creative expression. Michael Henderson, Edgewood resident and a valued member of the DASH community, attended the art show and shared the following:  “The value of this type of expression for children cannot be described in an email. But I’ve seen the work you’ve done with the photo-1children and how you’ve engaged the community and, well, thank you. The art work was wonderful!”

Thank you to all of those who attended and a HUGE thank you to our volunteer art teachers Anne-Marie and Beth and to our photo-3extended family at the Red Derby.


To learn more about Ann-Marie and Beth’s work at The Arcade, click here: http://thearcadedc.blogspot.com/2013/03/dash-art-group.html.


DASH Founder and Executive Director Blogs from Kabul

Our founder and executive director Peg Hacskaylo is in Kabul and will be in other parts of Afghanistan on sabbatical for the next three months. She’s traveled there to visit domestic violence housing and shelter services, run by Shukria Khaliqi. Shukria visited DASH last year for three days. Follow along as Peg blogs for The Huffington Post from Kabul. Here is her first post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-a-hacskaylo/the-currency-of-change_b_3254787.html.


Thanks to the leadership and support of Mark Bergel and A Wider Circle, families moving into housing with DASH had their new households fully furnished and equipped, ready for them to easily and quickly move into their new homes and begin rebuilding their lives. When DASH doubled the number of families housed through our Empowerment Project, A Wider Circle provided everything needed to help them move into their apartments seamlessly. With the simple mission of helping children and families lift themselves out of poverty, A Wider Circle does so much more. They ensure that families who have escaped abuse, leaving everything they had behind them, not only have a safe place to live but everything need to make it a home.

We would like to honor Mark Bergel, the Executive Director of A Wider Circle, with our Building Brick Award. In construction, the building brick is that which makes up the substance of the structure. A Wider Circle’s help to ensure that the families at DASH are provided with more than just a safe place to run, but the ability to establish new homes – quickly, easily, and comfortably, the way a home should be – helps change lives. Read the interview with Mark Bergel below, and remember to buy tickets to the Allies in Change Luncheon here:

I believe that we can end poverty, that it is the single greatest blight on our society and on our world. I believe that poverty leads to so many other destructive forces and I am deeply devoted to working to end it.

My relationship to our nation’s capital is simply that it provides the perfect opportunity to show what is possible when people come together to address a major problem. I have spent many, many days in all parts of our capital city and am always shocked that we allow poverty to endure and two worlds to exist side by side in the same land. I think we owe it to every ideal on which this nation was born and every ideal we hold sacred in our lives to end poverty. To me, DC is a metaphor for the connection that is needed in this world.

If you are doing anything of importance in this city, you will hear about DASH. It was
fairly early in the life of A Wider Circle, the organization I founded in 2001, that I came across DASH and forged a relationship with its leadership.

I believe that the work that DASH does – and the way it is done – is a real uplift. DASH and its leadership represent truly the best in social service, and we need to serve in an extremely high-quality and dignified way. That is what I see with DASH.

A mutual desire to serve well – that is what brought us together. A Wider Circle’s relationship with DASH is a true partnership. They provide support in many ways for our work, and we respond with urgency when a family from DASH is in need of our support.

While it may not sound unique, what stands out about DASH to me is the exceptionally
professional manner in which is it is managed and in which its programs run. It may not seem unique to be a consistently high-quality and first-class operation, but the way in which DASH is managed makes me feel good about how the women and families they serve will be supported.

Unfortunately, domestic violence is almost synonymous with poverty, so I am connected with domestic violence much more than I expected to be. In fact, I always say that it would be difficult to meet a woman who was born and raised in poverty and did not face some form of violence. Every conversation is heartbreaking, but at the same time, motivating. So, to be a part of what DASH is doing, and to partner in the effort is among the most important things that I and A Wider Circle do. We are deeply committed to confronting the issue of domestic violence and to making sure that those who have been victims of it can realize a future filled with positivity and joy.

Spotlight on Allies in Change Awardees: MOI and Jennifer Lee

DASH’s longtime corporate community partner, MOI, is this year’s recipient of the Keystone award.  MOI not only works with DASH to build awareness and support for the cause of safe housing and safe lives through events, they also donate their time volunteering and organizing much-needed drives for DASH’s women and children.  MOI has also donated endless amounts office furniture for DASH staff and its staff has helped design our office spaces.  Jennifer, Senior Consultant for Commercial Interior Solutions, explains more about this wonderful partnership below, and remember to buy tickets to the luncheon here:

My name is Jennifer Lee, I’m a Senior Consultant at MOI. MOI is a Commercial Furniture Dealership with 30 years of experience providing clients with comprehensive furniture solutions.

I work and play in DC!  I first heard about DASH back in 2009 when we hosted an art show that raised funds and awareness for DASH. It also gave members of the industry an opportunity to showcase our artistic talents.

When DASH was renovating the Cornerstone building MOI donated furniture as well as our services for design, labor, and project management for their staff offices.

DASH knows firsthand how large the need is locally for safe housing and support services. They bring vital awareness needed to educate others on the cause and effect relationship between domestic violence and the prevention of homelessness.

Their low barrier policy and the passion that their team has for the mission along with their unbridled resolve to give their residents the tools/skills needed to rebuild their lives with the respect and kindness they deserve.  DASH addresses the need for services and local housing for victims and assists with getting them into safe, supportive environments, where they can find success at their own speed. DASH is nationally recognized for their best practice model organization.

I feel passionate that women and children should be protected from violence and sexual abuse. Having a sense of security and safety in your home…this is the most basic need most of us take for granted. All women should have an alternative housing solution to living in an unsafe environment or on the streets.

“We” in the global sense, are ALL affected by domestic violence, sexual abuse, and homelessness.

Spotlight on Allies in Change Awardees: Sasha Carter

On April 24th, DASH will hold its 3rd Annual Allies in Change luncheon, honoring individuals and community partners who have supported the organization’s work to provide relief to survivors of domestic and sexual violence, through emergency and long-term safe housing, and innovative homelessness prevention services. We are doing a series of interviews of our awardees beforehand to share a bit more about them. This blog focuses on The Red Derby, a local, neighborhood pub, and its wonderful and generous founder and owner, Sasha Carter. The Red Derby provides DASH with incredibly generous donations throughout the year,  making sure every single DASH resident has food and gifts for every holiday, big and small, and school supplies/backpacks when the kids return to school each year. And the Derby’s generosity doesn’t end there! Two of their wonderful staff, Ann-Marie VanTassell and Beth Hansen, have also started an After School Art Group for DASH kids ( to read more about this wonderful group, click here).

Remember to buy tickets to the luncheon here.

Sasha Carter had the following commentary on The Red Derby’s iinvolvement with DASH:

D.C. has been my home since I moved here in 1988.  Over five years ago, my husband and I opened the Red Derby, a local, neighborhood pub in the Petworth section of D.C. Upon opening, one of our friends, Jordan Fitzgerald, told us about DASH and asked if she could host a fundraiser at the Derby.  We said, yes, of course.  Remembering back to that first event, although there was a rain storm combined with an unexpected street closure, the fundraiser was a success.  That was when we first started to learn about DASH.  A couple of months later, with Mother’s Day on the horizon, we thought it would be a great idea to host our own fundraiser for DASH.  We pulled our staff and our regulars together, and made it happen.  That was the first of many fundraisers we were to give.  Since we have been open, over the years we’ve focused on the following events for DASH:  Halloween costumes and candy, non-perishable food for Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas gifts, Easter egg baskets, mother’s day gifts, and a back-to-school drive over the summer (for back packs and school supplies).  We have tremendous support from our staff and our regulars for all the DASH fundraisers we host.  In fact, this February two of our staff members began a pilot after school arts class at DASH.

Why do we host a DASH fundraiser every couple of months?  Because we wholeheartedly believe in and support DASH and we want to help in any way we can.  With the tremendous growth D.C. has experienced over the past ten years, DASH provides an invaluable component to D.C.’s landscape; it helps make D.C. not only a vibrant world class city, but also a community that cares.

Moms and kids are the nucleus of our society.  We must be a community that takes care of, protects, and helps to grow this nucleus.  Domestic violence and sexual abuse are full on attacks to the safety of this nucleus.  By providing safe housing for up to two years and access to a whole range of social services, including financial counseling to help restore damaged credit and regain financial footing, DASH makes sure we are that community who takes care of our own by helping our own to rebuild their lives on their terms.

As a local, neighborhood pub, that is part of the D.C. community, the Red Derby wants to support DASH to succeed in its extremely important goals and mission.  We are honored to be able to help in any way possible.

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United Way: #9391 | CFC: #99008
District Alliance for Safe Housing | PO Box 91730 Washington, DC 20090
202-462-3274 | info@dashdc.org | 501(c)(3) | #71-1019574