Donate to DASH today! Your support empowers survivors and their families across the DC region.



On Saturday November 3rd, 2012, more than 250 volunteers from the Washington Redskins, Wells Fargo, the Salesforce Foundation, the District Alliance for Safe Children (DASH), organizers from KaBOOM! (the national non-profit dedicated to saving play for America’s children by creating play spaces through the participation and leadership of communities), and residents of the Washington D.C. community will join forces to build a new playground at DASH’s Cornerstone Housing Facility, the District’s largest dedicated safe housing program for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and their families.

DASH acts as a safe haven for women and their children by providing long-term safe housing and services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and their families as they rebuild their lives on their own terms.  We help them move toward not only safety, but also hope, independence, family, peace, and everything that “home” represents community programs.  We want to be a place where people can find “help, hope and healing.”

DASH needs the community’s help to make this playground project a success for our children.  You can sponsor this exciting project by volunteering on prep or build days (Nov. 1, 2, and 3), making a monetary donation, donating food and/or snacks for the 250 volunteers, or loaning/donating other needed materials such as tents, chairs, tables, coolers, heaters, etc. Please see the detailed list below to find out what is still needed and how you can be involved!

We hope you will be our partner in transforming the lives of children who need our help.

If you have any questions, please contact Dana Arneson at darneson@dashdc.wpengine.com.



You can help sponsor the playground with a monetary donation by clicking HERE and writing “playground” where it says Designation, or sending a check to P.O. Box 91730, Washington, DC 20090, or contacting Dana Arneson, DASH’s Development Director, at darneson@dashdc.wpengine.com.

You can also sponsor the playground by donating items DASH needs to gather in the next month to build this playground for our children.




Prep Day 1—Thursday, November 1st

  • Breakfast (for 30 volunteers)
  • Lunch (for 30 volunteers)
  • Drinks-non water (for 30 volunteers)
  • Snacks (for 30 volunteers)

Prep Day 2 –Friday, November 2nd

  • Breakfast (for 30 volunteers)
  • Lunch (for 30 volunteers)
  • Drinks (for 30 volunteers)
  • Snacks (for 30 volunteers)

Build Day—Saturday, November 3rd

  • Breakfast (for 200 volunteers)
  • Lunch (for 200 volunteers)
  • Drinks (for 200 volunteers)
  • Snacks (for 200 volunteers)



  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Large Tents
  • PA System
  • Coolers for food
  • Space heaters



Volunteers do not have to be trained, skilled or have any special tools!

  1. 1. DJ: for Build day Saturday, November 3rd
  • will be present on site throughout build from 8am-2:30pm to play music for the volunteers and keep the energy level high.
  1. Certified First Aid Provider for Build Day: Saturday, November 3rd
  • will be present on site throughout build from 8am-2:30pm
  1. 3. Build Day Captain (16-20 needed)
  • will be assigned 10-20 volunteers, attend training on Prep Day, and arrive very early on Build Day morning to help set up the site


  1. Volunteer for Prep Day 1—Thursday, November 1st: 8:00am-5:00pm (30 needed)
  1. Volunteer for Prep Day 2—Friday, November 2nd: 8:00am-5:00pm (20 needed)
  1. Build Day Volunteer—Saturday, November 3rd:

8:00 AM:                    Registration and Breakfast

8:30 AM:                  Kick-Off

11:30-1:30 PM:          Lunch in shifts for all volunteers

2:30 PM:                    Ribbon-Cutting and Dedication Ceremony

  1. Registration Volunteer to oversee registration for Build Day November 3rd: 7:30-2:30pm (4 needed)
  1. Food Service Volunteers to staff food service area, set up and serve breakfast and lunch
  • Saturday, November 3rd: 7:00am-2:00pm (8 volunteers needed)

Home. Means. Safety.

(Cross-posted with National Alliance to End Homelessness Blog)

By Peg Hacskaylo, Executive Director, District Alliance for Safe Housing

Trudy[1] had been living in an apartment with her boyfriend and their son for about 2 years when the abuse from her boyfriend became more frequent and more intense. She wanted to move out but couldn’t afford to live on her income from her job as a cashier at a local retail store. One night, when her boyfriend had another violent outburst, Trudy called the police. When they arrived, an advocate was with them to help her determine what services she needed. She said she couldn’t stay in their home because, if her boyfriend went to jail, she couldn’t afford the rent and, if her boyfriend was released, she wouldn’t feel safe there. So the advocate placed her and her son in a hotel paid for by compensation available to crime victims. She could stay at the hotel for up to 30 days while she tried to figure out what she would do.

By her second week in the hotel, Trudy had called every resource given to her to find another place to live, to no avail. She finally went to the city’s intake center for homeless families but they told her that she wasn’t considered homeless because she wasn’t living in a shelter or on the streets. By the end of the month, Trudy went back to live with her boyfriend, who had been released from jail, because she had run out of time and had nowhere else to go.

But when her boyfriend’s abuse continued, Trudy again began searching for another place to live. She reached out to the local battered women’s shelters and was eventually able to get space for herself and her son for up to 90 days. When her time there was about to run out, she again went to the central intake center, only to be told that she was still ineligible for housing because the shelter she was living in wasn’t part of the city’s homeless housing system. Trudy left the shelter to live in a friend’s basement until she could figure out her next step.

Stories like Trudy’s are all too common in the District of Columbia and throughout the U.S. Women are one of the fastest growing groups of homeless people in the country (Goodman, Fels, & Glen, 2011), and domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness among single women and women with children (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2005). In one large-scale study, 92 percent of homeless mothers reported experiencing sexual or physical abuse in their lifetimes (Browne & Bassuk, 1997). The limited availability of safe and affordable housing options frequently results in women falling into homelessness after exiting abusive situations (National Institute of Justice, 2008), and homelessness dramatically increases their risk of suffering episodes of sexual assault and other kinds of abuse (Goodman, Fels, & Glen, 2011).

When we founded the District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH) in 2006, our initial plan was to create a safe emergency-to-transitional housing facility for survivors of domestic violence. At the time, the demand for housing for victims displaced from their homes was overwhelming and the resources to meet the need were scarce. The D.C. police annually received over 30,000 calls for domestic violence incidents and approximately 1,200 families were being placed in hotels for lack of available emergency shelter beds. There were then a total of 48 beds for women and children escaping abuse and fewer than 200 units of transitional and long-term housing for families exiting shelter.

We soon realized, therefore, that our primary objective would help only a fraction of those who needed it. We spoke to women on a daily basis who told us that they needed help not just accessing safe housing programs, but permanent safe housing. We heard from advocates that survivors needed help keeping their permanent subsidized housing or getting into affordable, rental housing. We needed a broader strategy to solve this problem.

Our strategy, a combined effort on three fronts to achieve greater housing accessibility for survivors from shelters to permanent housing, involves:

  • Creating additional safe housing
  • Facilitating access to existing housing programs
  • Preventing victims’ fall into homelessness

Under this strategy we worked with homeless and housing providers to ensure their housing was accessible and safe for victims. We worked with landlords to ensure they didn’t inadvertently discriminate against victims in rental housing. And we worked with domestic violence service providers to help them advocate for victims in the District’s complex housing system. As our strategy developed, so did our programs, and soon we had a continuum of housing support for survivors, wherever they turn for help.

Notably, our strategy has evolved into something more than just creating more, and more responsive, housing for women and families. It’s become about changing the way we see the problem, which lies directly at the intersection of domestic violence and homeless/housing services. Because at that nexus there is a disconnect that creates a sort of double-jeopardy for victims – putting them further at-risk of homelessness and abuse. We learned that domestic violence service providers and homeless service providers function in numerous parallel ways – in the same jurisdiction, with many of the same sources of funding, and almost always serving the same clients – but generally remain siloed and apart.

Domestic violence service providers traditionally focus on crisis intervention with victims, with an emphasis on protecting them from the threat of violence. Homeless and housing providers traditionally have focused on protecting their programs from the potential for transience, in the belief that survivors of domestic violence won’t last in their programs because they will leave to reconcile with their abusers, and the threat of violence that survivors present, thereby screening survivors out of their programs. While these concerns may be legitimate, they may also serve to keep women in perpetually unstable situations or force them to return to abusive homes for lack of other safe housing options.

Fortunately, with the advent of Rapid Re-Housing and Trauma-Informed service models, both domestic violence and housing/homeless service providers have excellent tools to begin addressing this gap. At DASH, we help families move into permanent housing units straight from crisis and bypass the range of emergency, transitional, and permanent housing programs, allowing them to “transition in place” and facilitating moves for families at-risk of imminent violence to other units within the city.  We also work with survivors to help them cope with the trauma they’ve experienced and regain a sense of self-determination. And all of this is accompanied by constant Wellness and Safety planning to help survivors effectively ensure their own safety from abuse.

The elimination of homelessness is the express goal of advocates, funders, and governments across the country and has been for a long time now. And while a good deal of progress has been made in getting individuals and families housed, preventing their fall into homelessness, and increasing the availability of options across the housing spectrum, victims of domestic and sexual violence have, until now, seemed to defy conventional wisdom. With these new models of service, this doesn’t need to be the case – not for Trudy or anyone else.

[1] Not her real name, based on a true story.

DASH Presents to Fairfax County, VA Conference

Yesterday, Peg Hacskaylo, DASH’s Executive Director, spoke to a gathering of domestic violence and housing advocates to discuss ways in which they can adopt the DASH model of safe housing in Fairfax County, Virginia.  Peg spoke about DASH’s Safe Housing programs and initiatives, as well as how to advocate for additional permanent, affordable housing for survivors.

The Fairfax County Commission for Women advises the County Board of Supervisors on issues related to women and girls in the county.  In response to the increasing need for housing for survivors of domestic violence in the region, they convened the dialogue to develop strategies and recommendations which will be written up in a white paper to be presented to the Board.

DASH Benefit Compilation CD Release Show at Black Cat

Southern Problems

DASH celebrated the release of a compilation CD with 16 tracks to benefit the organization this past week at The Black Cat, our hometown rock club. The CD came out on Exotic Fever Records, and copies are available both on the label’s site here and through Itunes by searching its title – “And Tonight the City Safely Sleeps.” Proceeds go directly to support DASH’s work.

Cat Furniture

Cat Furniture started off the show with homemade signs to spell out D-A-S-H on their shirts. They kicked off the set with their song from the comp, Beepy. After their set, Hugh McElroy, formerly of the prominent DC band Black Eyes, treated the audience to a compelling a capella set. Capping off the night was Southern Problems.

One of the best parts of the event was seeing the musicians

Hugh McElroy

meet DASH staff, for whom they already had a lot of respect. The event did well with over 60 people attending. Thanks so much to the bands who played and to Black Cat for hosting! If you have not gotten a chance yet, pick the comp up now and check out this review of it here on the Washington City Paper’s blog – including a preview track!

Catfish for DASH! #justinsfishfry

We had an amazing time at Justin’s Fish Fry this past Saturday in support of DASH!

Thank you so much, Justin Schuck, for pulling together such an enjoyable and generous event to benefit the women and children in our programs.

Thanks go to Justin’s dedicated crew of friends and helpers as well! The day would not have been possible without Michele WalkBrandon ReavisTimothy Charles BriscoeViolaine OrbanStephen Joseph (from Goûter) and Matthew Rhoades & Luis Gomez from Borderstan.

Justin and team served a delicious full course meal to over 120 people! The catfish, hush puppies, greens, and fried desserts received rave reviews all around. Most importantly, they raised critical funds and donations for our residents at DASH.

What a fun party and perfect way to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon!   We could not be more grateful to have community partners like Justin!

Cornerstone Dinner with RUBIES Women’s Ministry

Last Saturday, Cornerstone residents were treated to a night of food and entertainment by Shekinah Glory Deliverance Church RUBIES Women’s Ministry. RUBIES members arrived at Cornerstone with trays of delicious ribs, chicken, potato salad, and green beans donated by Dale’s Smokehouse in Indian Head, MD. They also brought gifts, toiletry items, and other much-needed items for DASH participants. Before the dinner began, the women and children participated in a game and listed to a beautiful song performed by a RUBIES member. The volunteers expressed their solidarity with Cornerstone residents and reminded them of how special and brave they were to leave an abusive relationship. All participants left the event full of fantastic food and grateful for a wonderful evening. DASH is so thankful to Shekinah Glory Deliverance Church for reaching out to us and providing residents with such a memorable night!

DASH and the National Alliance to End Homelessness

This week, DASH staff presented three workshops at the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference, exposing homeless advocates from across the country to DASH’s unique approach to safe housing for survivors. The conference, which featured over seventy workshops for the thousands of attendees, provided an excellent opportunity for DASH staff to gain valuable insight from many of the nation’s leading experts on homelessness, as well as to impart their own wisdom. Moreover, due to DASH’s status as a nationally-recognized best practice model organization, they were able to emphasize the intersection of domestic violence and homelessness to conference attendees, using their expertise to educate many homeless advocates with little knowledge on how to work with domestic violence survivors.

DASH Community Housing Director Shakeita Boyd

Prior to the conference’s official start on Tuesday, DASH’s Community Housing Program Director Shakeita Boyd presented a section on safety planning in the “Improving Safety and Services for Survivors of Domestic Violence” workshop.   DASH offered guidance to housing providers on how to support survivors in their program to plan for safety.  As survivors move through the homeless system, it is imperative that homeless organizations are aware of the dynamics of domestic violence and are able to address emotional and physical safety concerns and assist survivors using a trauma informed lens. This pre-conference session offered homeless service providers an innovative approach to effectively address the needs of survivors in their housing programs. Other highlights of this session included; best practices for case management and developing successful organizational partnerships to benefit survivors.

DASH Housing Resource and Training Manager LaToya Young

Later in the week, Shakeita also presented “Selling Your Program: Landlord Engagement and Rental Assistance Strategies.” This session focused on the importance of developing strong landlord relationships in order to foster rapid rehousing. Shakeita discussed successful elements of DASH’s Empowerment Program, which is a national model for providing scattered site, apartment-based long-term housing for survivors.  Attendees learned about developing successful marketing tools such as short-term rental subsidies to encourage landlord cooperation and engagement.

DASH Housing Resource and Training Manager LaToya Young

Finally, on Wednesday, Housing Resource and Training Manager LaToya Young presented “Public Housing Authorities: Partnering to End Homelessness,” a discussion on the relationship between community housing assistance programs and public housing authorities (PHAs). The session emphasized strategies that many PHAs and community programs have used to develop partnerships to assist homeless families.  LaToya discussed how she partners with the DC Public Housing Authority (DCHA) to address the unique housing barriers survivors face, including facilitating safety transfers  and training DCHA staff on housing protections afforded to survivors.

Even when domestic violence was not the primary focus of the workshops they presented in, Shakeita and LaToya were able to educate attendees on various ways housing, homelessness and domestic violence intersect. DASH is grateful for this opportunity to share our message to so many homeless advocates and to create new partnerships to ensure that safe housing is a reality for everyone.

New ‘Bright Space’ Provides Children Displaced by Domestic Violence A Unique Learning and Play Environment to Help Them Thrive

Grand Opening of Bright Space at DASH

Today the District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH), Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, P.A., and the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children officially opened our Bright Space® learning and play facility for children living in the emergency-to-transitional housing of DASH’s Cornerstone Residence. The children living in this special residence have been displaced by domestic or sexual violence, along with their mothers, and the Bright Space will provide a dedicated safe, warm, enriching area to play, learn, and thrive.

Studies have shown that children of all ages flourish when they have a safe place in which to explore the world around them, filled with books, toys and activities. Children experiencing stress associated with witnessing violence and experiencing homelessness especially need access to these kinds of child-friendly spaces that are key to social and emotional development.

“We hope this Bright Space will bring comfort to families and children during an especially difficult time” said Bright Horizons Center Director Rebecca Weiss who led the team of child care employees in charge of creating the Bright Spaces room within the shelter.

This Bright Space will provide a place for children to play. Children like five-year-old Mary who came to Cornerstone with her mother, who was battling drug addiction, had been incarcerated, and experienced violence at the hands of a former partner. Mary’s mom credits her daughter as her inspiration to heal and get back on her feet, often referring to her as a “gift from God,” and a second chance to live her life in a positive way.

Bright Space Learning and Play Facility at Cornerstone Residence (DASH)

“This Bright Space will offer many of the families who enter our program every year a comfortable place to play and simply experience the joy of being a child or parent,” said DASH Executive Director Peg Hacskaylo.

The center’s construction and opening was largely made possible by a donation from the law firm of Shulman Rogers located in Potomac, Md. The firm is celebrating its 40th anniversary through A Special Year of Giving in which they have dedicated themselves to civic engagement and giving back to the community that contributed to their success. The donation to Bright Spaces is just one in a series of 12 volunteer projects the firm will lead during their anniversary year.

“For 40 years, we have dedicated ourselves to not only serving our clients, but to also serving the community we call home,” said Lawrence A. Shulman, founding partner of Shulman Rogers.  “As we celebrate our 40th Anniversary, we continue our dedication of service, philanthropy, and support.”

DASH Executive Director Peg Hacskaylo and Board Chair Julia Wright

The Bright Space was also made possible through the generous donations of Bright Horizons Division 2, Hoppmann Audio Visual, Capital Commercial Flooring, James G. Davis Construction, Diamond Contracting, Inter-American Development Bank, and DASH Board Chair Julia Wright.


About DASH

DASH is an innovator in providing access to safe housing and services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their families as they rebuild their lives on their own terms. We seek to strengthen and expand the local safety net for survivors by providing high quality, voluntary services that are responsive to their individual needs and by engaging lawmakers, community members, service providers, and survivors in the movement to make safe housing more accessible in the short-term and less necessary in the long-term.

DASH’S Cornerstone Program is our emergency-to-transitional housing program, and the District’s largest dedicated safe housing program. It provides 43 units of safe housing where residents may live for up to 2 years.  In the year and half since opening, DASH has housed more than 150 women and children at Cornerstone. More information is available at https://dashdc.wpengine.com/

About Bright Horizons Family Solutions

Bright Horizons Family Solutions is the world’s leading provider of employer-sponsored child care, early education and work/life solutions. The company operates child care and early education centers across the United States, Europe and Canada. The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children was founded in 1999 to help forward the vision of Bright Horizons Family Solutions to brighten the lives of children, youth, and families in crisis. Bright Spaces is a program of the Foundation, creating dedicated play areas in shelters and community agencies that serve children in crisis. There are currently more than 260 Bright Spaces open in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, and Ireland that serve more than 10,000 children and families every month. More information is at www.brighthorizonsfoundation.org.

About Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker

Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, PA is the largest independent law firm in the Washington Metropolitan suburbs. Founded in 1972, the firm and its attorneys and staff are committed to client service, a relentless focus on problem solving and an underlying compassion for its clients and community. The firm has a general practice with experience ranging from corporate law, to real estate, to litigation to estate planning and family law. Additional information on Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker and its practice areas is available at www.shulmanrogers.com.

First Green Bean Harvest at Cornerstone

This weekend Cornerstone saw our first harvest of beautiful green string beans! The kids who helped put these beans in the ground reaped their harvest. Too tasty to wait for the stove, we were rinsing and munching them raw right out in the garden. Handfuls of basil, rosemary, and cilantro went home with residents, too. These harvests even inspired several impromptu garden tours for residents who had not yet seen what’s growing.

Next up: tomatoes!

A Happy Mother’s Day at DASH

Every holiday is worth celebrating, but for the busy families living in DASH programs, holidays sometimes go by unnoticed. Luckily, this Mother’s Day, DASH received generous gifts from local organizations to make the holiday memorable for everyone.

Following their incredible donations for other holidays throughout the year, The Red Derby donated Mother’s Day gift bags for Cornerstone residents and Empowerment Project participants. Each bag was beautifully decorated and filled with unique gifts meant to remind moms how special they are. Thank you to The Red Derby once again for all that you do!

Over the past few years, DASH has undergone many changes. Despite these changes, DASH has always counted on Jewish Women International to make Mother’s Day extraordinary for our residents with their annual donation of flowers and OPI products. This year, residents were particularly delighted by the variety of nail products and beautiful flowers donated. DASH is so grateful for JWI’s continued support in celebrating the courageous women in our programs.

Thank you to all of our donors for brightening special occasions for our residents! If you are interested in making a donation for a special event or holiday, please contact Dana Arneson, Development Specialist, at 202-462-3274 x 1228 or by email at darneson@dashdc.wpengine.com.

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