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Safe Housing Champion: Princess McDuffie

Support Beam Award

We are excited to award Princess McDuffie with the Support Beam award at our 5th annual Allies in Change benefit on April 30th. In construction, the “support beam” is that which steadies and strengthens a structure. Mrs. McDuffie has helped to strengthen and steady the lives of the youngest survivors of abuse – children – with fun, creative expression and have truly made a difference in the lives of those recovering from trauma, and we and the families that we serve are all better for it. 


Interview with Awardee, Princess McDuffie

What brought you to the DASH Art Group? I have worked in the domestic violence field for the past 13 years and I have always had a love for creative arts. I was able to merge my passion of working with survivors of domestic violence and my creativity when I saw an advertisement for help needed in the Art Group at DASH.

Why do you think Art Group is an important program at DASH? Children need to be exposed to the arts. They should be able to be creative and have a place that allows them to be expressive. The trauma of domestic violence on children can have a lasting impact on them and having an Art Group gives children the development, growth, and outlet needed to overcome the obstacles that domestic violence may have placed upon them.

What is your favorite Art Project that you have worked on with the kids? I enjoyed working on the framed art projects that were showcased during the DASH Open House as well as the BalderDASH Reception. These items captured the children’s hard work and efforts and they were bid on and purchased by several donors. Personally, I was able to bid and snag a couple of the art pieces at BalderDASH to showcase in the office and at home. They are great conversation starters for guests and colleagues about the great work at DASH.

Why do you think safe housing is an important service in DC? Safe housing allows survivors of domestic violence to continue with their daily lives, have a place that they can call home, and be able to have support and advocacy in the fight against domestic violence.


DASH is an innovator in providing access to safe housing and services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and their families as they rebuild their lives on their own terms.

DASH February Events

The District Alliance for Safe Housing is excited to announce a number of new events and partnerships this February!

2/14: The Valengrinds Day Massacre

Join us on Valentine’s Day for a head banging concert to remember at the Rocketship featuring everyone from Cold Blue Mountain to Clay Davis. For more info check out the Facebook Event.

2/17: Fat Tuesday Beer Tasting at the Red Derby

We’ve got a great event for our beer lovers out there! Oskar Blues presents Dale’s Firkin (What’s a firkin?) with $4 pours starting at 5pm. Get a chance to meet the brewers and discuss fermentation processes, craft beers and micro breweries. All proceeds go to DASH.

2/21: Selfish Dreams Beauty Expo and Fashion Show

The Chicara’s Dreams team is hosting a fashion show and free beauty expo to benefit DASH on February 21st. To purchase a ticket to the fashion show and for more info check out the event page.

2/25: Water Cooler Wednesday

Ad 2 DC is hosting a happy hour at Penn Social to raise funds for the special campaign they are putting on for DASH this spring. More info can be found here.

DASHing into the Community: 1

Art Group Profile: Amanda

We are starting a new monthly blog featuring the community partners and volunteers who contribute so much to the success of the DASH safe housing programs. Amanda volunteers every week in the children’s Art Group. Read below to see what her favorite art project has been!

1. Why did you decide to start volunteering with DASH?

I’ve always had a passion for volunteering.  When I moved to DC two years ago, I was looking for volunteer opportunities that were consistent and that I could really make a commitment to.  I first heard about DASH from one of my friends who was a volunteer.  I was definitely interested in volunteering here based on what a great organization DASH seemed to be.  I also have always had a passion for art.  So when an opportunity presented itself to volunteer on a weekly basis for Art Group, it seemed like it could be a really good fit.  After the first Tuesday night of volunteering for Art Group, I knew that it was actually a great fit!

2.  What is your favorite Art Project that you have created in group thus far?

I really thought about this question, and what I continuously went back to was when we made snowflakes right before the Holidays.  No matter what age the children were, this project presented no requirements or restrictions, like painting in the lines, etc.  They could fold the pieces of paper into any type of fold, could fold it in half, or fold it ten times, and they could cut whatever shapes they wanted to into it.  No matter what, the end result was a beautiful snowflake.  To me, this project really portrayed what art should be; a way to express yourself through creation.  Furthermore, it was wonderful to see how excited and proud the children were when we hung the snowflakes up all over the room.

3.  What’s your favorite thing about volunteering with Art Group?

Seeing what the kids create from week to week, and how they’re able to express themselves through art.  Selfishly, I would also say that it forces me to focus on and appreciate the here and now and leave everything else at the door for at least an hour and a half.  I think sometimes the focus and appreciation of the present gets lost in the busy shuffle of everyday life. It also provides a humbling reminder on a weekly basis of what matters most; the importance of community and taking care of one another in that community.

4.  Why do you think that Art Group is an important program at DASH?

As cliche as this sounds, to me, art can be therapeutic on a diversity of levels.  If you’re having a bad day or whatever you may be going through, doing art on any level – whether it’s painting, cutting shapes, coloring, or creating a Monet-like masterpiece; it forces you to focus on what you are doing in that moment and takes your mind off of everything else, if even for a short period of time.  Basically, it’s like a breath of fresh air for your mind.

Art Group at DASH is important because for an hour and a half, it provides an opportunity for the kids – no matter what their age is – to focus on creating something that is completely unrelated to anything else, and provides that mental breath of fresh air.  Further, I think that through creating something like a piece of artwork that they are excited about and proud of, it helps build their confidence through a tremendously fun mechanism.


5 Ways to Participate in Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month! Take action this October to show your dedication to ending domestic violence in your community.

1. Donate to a local domestic violence shelter

Many women escaping abuse fall into homelessness or remain in abusive situations because of the scarcity of safe housing. At domestic violence shelters, such as DASH, safe housing is provided so victims don’t have to choose between living with their abusers or being homeless. Consider making a donation to DASH safe housing today!

2. Buy Your Ticket to BalderDASH on October 30th

BalderDASH is a fun, lively evening reception to celebrate DASH’s impact as DC’s largest dedicated safe housing provider for survivors. BalderDASH is held each year in October and will take place this year on October 30th at the Mansion on O Street. Tickets include a tour of the unique venue (and many secret passageways), a jazz quartet and refreshments.  Buy your ticket before they run out!

3. Can’t come to BalderDASH? Find another event!

Check out the DC Domestic Violence Awareness Month Calendar coordinated by the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The calendar includes everything from marches to dance parties all organized by local organizations committed to ending domestic violence in the District.

4.  Wear Purple on October 23rd for Purple Thursday

October 23rd is Purple Thursday, a day to raise awareness of about domestic violence as an office, a family or an organization. Wear your brightest purple and post a photo with the caption #SpeadtheLoveDC. Register here.

5. Engage with DASH on Social Media

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to join in the conversation and share messages of hope that domestic violence is unacceptable and that all survivors deserve a chance to rebuild their lives on their own terms.

6 things you need to understand about domestic violence

1. Domestic violence is all about one person maintaining power and control over another. It isn’t a one-time loss of temper, it’s a pattern of intentional abuse.

2. Domestic violence isn’t just physical abuse, it’s emotional, psychological, financial and sexual. Domestic violence is put downs, threats, isolation and jealousy.

3. Domestic violence does not discriminate, it occurs in every occupation and income level, across all races, sexual preferences and gender identities, and in every family type.

4. Domestic violence is a learned behavior. It isn’t caused by alcohol abuse, anger management or stress. Abusers see it growing up, in their community, family, peer group or school.

5. Don’t ask, “why doesn’t she just leave.” Questioning the intentions and actions of victims of domestic violence contributes to a culture in which victims are blamed for their abuse, instead of abusers.

6. There is no right way to be a survivor of domestic violence. Every person has a different experience with abuse and deserves support and respect as they make their own choices regarding their relationship.

October is domestic violence awareness month. Purchase something from the DASH Amazon Wish List to directly impact a survivor of abuse and their family.

International Visitor Leadership Program

On Wednesday, August 13th two DASH staff attended a Department of State-sponsored International Visitor Leadership Program entitled “Combating Gender-Based Violence.” Michelle Linzy and Afusat Olaifa were joined by representatives from Break the Cycle, The Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project (DVRP) and hosted by the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence. They met with five visitors from the Palestinian Territories who work in the domestic violence field in order to share experience and information. The purpose of the event was to “examine various social service agencies involved in the prevention, treatment and assistance to victims of domestic abuse.” The visitors represented the continuum of domestic violence services provided in the Palestinian Territories.

  • Saeda N.N. Alattrash: Director of the Mehwar Center, a shelter and referral center for survivors of abuse.
  • Nidal K.A. Alawawdeh: Public Prosecutor working mainly on cases of violence against women.
  • Maysoon Sayyed Ibrahim Qawasmeh: Head of the Palestinian News Agency, Wafa.
  • Sherin J.S. Shalabi: Psychologist for the Palestinian Working Women Society for Development.
  • Shadi K.D. Zidat: Project Coordinator at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy.

The DASH representatives enjoyed the conversation immensely. They were able to discuss issues and partnerships with law enforcement, governmental support, and safety and confidentiality practices. Michelle, the DASH Addictions Specialist, said that the event caused her to reflect on the work that she does every day with survivors, “I realized there is always more we could be doing.” Michelle and Afusat also enjoyed connecting with Break the Cycle and DVRP and hearing about the great work that other domestic violence organizations are doing in DC.

Both Michelle and Afusat felt motivated and grateful after meeting with the Palestinian representatives, who are doing great work to combat domestic violence in Palestine.  Michelle states, “the men and women we met with are doing everything they can to ensure that survivors have what they need.”

The big takeaway from the event was that regardless of nationality we are all working towards one common goal: to end domestic violence. “Domestic violence doesn’t know age, country or color. It doesn’t discriminate.” said Afusat, Resident Advocate and Children and Family Activities Coordinator, “I am so glad I went, it gives me the motivation that I need to continue working with families at DASH.” Andrea Gleaves, of DCCADV, who organized the event echoed Afusat’s sentiments, “Ms. Alattrash said it best when she said ‘we are all advocates,’ the challenges that we face here working for survivors of domestic violence are similar to those they face in the Palestinian Territories and across the world.”

We look forward to more opportunities to share experiences with other like minded domestic violence advocates. A big thank you to Andrea Gleaves and the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence for inviting us to attend!



“If everyone helps to hold up the sky, then one person does not become tired.” – Askhari Johnson Hodari

The DASH Wellness Program

Langan Denhard is our Health and Wellness Intern at the Cornerstone site. She is a senior at the University of Maryland studying Community Health.

After about a year working with DASH, my time with this organization is wrapping up as I prepare for life beyond graduation.  Before I say good-bye (for now) to the staff and residents I’ve grown to love, I’m taking a moment to reflect on our wellness programming—where we are now, and how DASH can continue to grow.

At DASH, we provide services to fulfill the 7 dimensions of wellness that contribute to physical, emotional, and spiritual well being.

Social wellness: the ability to connect with and relate to other people.

Many survivors of domestic violence may lack close relationships and support systems.  Abusers often use emotional manipulation to isolate their victims and the effects of that can last beyond the abuse.

We promote social wellness by building a safe, secure community within our program.  Cooking with Afusat, the monthly cooking class led by one of our advocates, is among our most popular programs.  Afusat also leads monthly birthday parties for all residents to attend.  Our regular family movie nights are highly attended and allow the children and mothers to relax.

We also host a variety of groups that promote more intimacy and trust between our residents, allowing them to discuss shared trauma and personal experiences.  As part of my internship, I developed “Free to be Me,” a four-part course on healthy relationships and safer sex.  The course is currently being successfully implemented by two volunteers.

Occupational wellness: preparing and making use of personal gifts, talents, and skills to achieve a feeling of enrichment and purpose.

Our residents blew us away at our Winter Talent Show, showcasing their abilities to sing, act, dance, and play instruments.  Other residents use their artistic talents to make our building beautiful.  Our hallways are decorated with masterpieces made by our child residents during our weekly Art Group.

Alondria, our Economic Empowerment Advocate, helps our residents prepare for, find, and maintain employment.  On May 8th, our residents will have the chance to showcase their skills for our first ever Networking Night.

Physical wellness: maintaining a healthy body and seeking medical attention when needed.

Our physical wellness program keeps growing!  On Saturdays, we have our Double Fitness Feature: Weightlifting with David followed by an hour-long Zumba dance party.  On Sundays, women and teen residents can participate in Yoga.  Kid Yoga is held on Monday evenings.

Free to be Me and Let’s Talk are recurring programs that promote sexual health. We also hold one-time workshops on topics such as HIV, breast health, and contraceptive choices.

Seasonally, we receive an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables from a nearby farmer’s market. When paired with our popular cooking class, residents gain the skills to prepare healthy meals for themselves and their children.

Emotional wellness: includes the ability to cope with challenges, to accept self and past mistakes, and to develop stress management techniques.

Because of our low-barrier access to services model, we serve clients dealing with varying levels of trauma, and thus varying levels of emotional wellness.  This dimension is particularly intertwined with the others, but many of our programs are specifically focused toward the emotional wellbeing of our residents.

Acupuncture is regularly provided for our residents as pain and stress management.  Our grief counseling groups, provided as needed, help residents work together to move past trauma.  Monthly Let’s Talk groups provided through Metro TeenAIDS allow residents a chance to discuss shared stressors like parenting, body image, and relationships.

Environmental wellness: this refers to the ability to make a positive impact on the area surrounding us.

Though residents stay for a maximum of 2 years, it’s important for our residents to feel a sense of ownership over the building and surrounding community.  Our wellness coordinator, Annabeth, leads gardening activities to beautify the area surrounding Cornerstone.

Revolution: DASH, our community service-learning group for kids and teens, spent an afternoon picking up trash around our neighborhood.

Intellectual wellness: engaging in creative activities to increase knowledge and skills.

Our groups allow our residents to learn from each other; we try to incorporate a discussion component as much as possible into our programming.  Madeleine, another UMD intern, leads a weekly journaling group on Fridays.  Our recurring parenting class promotes new ideas in effective black parenting.  By popular request, we are now in the beginning stages of introducing a book club.

Do you have something to add to our Wellness Program?  Contact Annabeth Roeschley, our Wellness Coordinator, and/or Mari Vangen-Adams, our Volunteer Coordinator.

Share-A-Haircut for DASH!


In need of a haircut? Visit a local Hair Cuttery!

On February 4th and 5th, when any client (adult or child) purchases a haircut at Hair Cuttery, they will match that haircut by donating a free haircut certificate to DASH!  The free certificates will be given to women and children residents at DASH.  Help spread the word!


4th Annual Allies in Change Awards Luncheon


Each year, DASH recognizes those community partners who have made a difference in the lives of women and children facing homelessness due to domestic violence.

This year we are excited to welcome back Erika Gonzalez of NBC4 as our Mistress of Ceremonies.

And we are thrilled to have Yvette Cade as our keynote speaker who will share her inspirational story of survival as she escaped domestic abuse.  Ms. Cade was a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show and has focused her survival on speaking out against domestic violence in communities around the country.

Join us on April 2nd as we honor those who continue to be an ally in the community to amplify our mission and work to ensure that every home is a safe home for survivors of abuse.

Purchase a ticket or be a sponsor!

When:  Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 12:00PM to 1:30PM

Where:  Hyatt Regency at Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC

For more information on the Allies in Change Awards Luncheon, please contact Tameka Martin at tmartin@dashdc.wpengine.com or Meghan McDonough at mmcdonough@dashdc.wpengine.com.

DASH Receives National Award for Innovation in Safe Housing

On Monday, December 16, the District Alliance for Safe Housing, Inc. (DASH) was named as one of four national awardees of the Mary Bryon Project’s Celebrating Solutions Award for its innovative work in providing safe housing for victims of domestic and sexual violence in the District of Columbia.

The Mary Byron Project was established in 2000 in memory of the young woman whose tragic murder led to the creation of automated crime victim notification technologies. As a nationally recognized thought leader on domestic violence, the Mary Byron Project cultivates and supports efforts that extend beyond crisis management to attack the root causes of this epidemic and help build safer, healthier communities.  They created the Celebrating Solutions Awards to showcase and applaud local innovations that demonstrate promise in breaking the cycle of violence. They select programs that can serve as models for the nation and offer $10,000 cash awards in recognition of their pioneering efforts. Nominations are judged by a panel of experts in criminal justice, health care, and public policy, and other disciplines that address domestic violence.

DASH is being recognized for their ground-breaking model of providing housing for survivors who face homelessness as a result of abuse.  Throughout all of their programs, DASH works to ensure that domestic violence survivors, regardless of their circumstances, have access to a full range of housing options and that they don’t have to become homeless in the first place just to become safe from violence.  Since then, through their model, partnerships, and example, they have helped change how safe housing is operated throughout the District and have helped hundreds of survivors find a safe place to call home.

“We are thrilled to be honored by the Mary Byron Project with the Celebrating Solutions Award” said Peg Hacskaylo, Executive Director of DASH.  “Women are one the fastest growing groups of homeless people in the country and are also more vulnerable to be victimized while homeless.  Through this award, we can continue to highlight our work to ensure that hundreds of families become safe from abuse without facing life on the streets.”  Funds will be used to support DASH’s safe housing programs.

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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