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Graphic: No Kings Collective

Healthy Living, Inc. Partners with Chef Kwame Onwuachi + No Kings Collective for Annual Fundraiser

Come for the food and good cause, stay for the art and music. We’re talking about nutrition and food consciousness-focused nonprofit Healthy Living, Inc.’s fundraiser this Thursday at No Kings Collective‘s new gallery and event space in Northeast DC. 

For years, the nonprofit’s Mark Weinberger looked for ways to collaborate with No Kings’ cofounders Peter Chang and Brandon Hill. Fresh on the heels of the artists’ newly opened space Good Fast Cheap DC, they decided to team up and totally transform the nonprofit’s annual fundraiser experience – including select dishes curated by James Beard Award-winning Kwame Onwuachi, executive chef at The Wharf’s Kith/Kin. 

“This is the first annual fundraiser in which we have been so fortunate to enact partnerships with highly reputable forces in the DC Metro area pertaining specifically to arts [and] culture and event production,” says Weinberger, the nonprofit’s youth program manager and assistant executive director. “We’re also very much excited for our youth and family constituents to interact with Chef Kwame and experience his food, as we do our best to expose them to notable chefs who are seeking to make an impact in a national conversation regarding natural food and culture.” 

While past fundraisers featured guest speakers such as Top Chef contestants Eric Adjepong and Joy Crump, this fundraiser is a full-on sensory experience including big culinary names like Lechon Belly, Cielo Rojo, Stellina Pizzeria, Green Plate Catering and more in addition to Kith/Kin.

“First off, the food is going to be great,” Chang says. “You have an all-star chef lineup. We have a great beverage program with cocktails and other bites. The exhibit from Hen House [DC] will still be up, and a portion of their proceeds will be going toward Healthy Living, Inc. as well.” 

The event was a natural fit for the No Kings’ new 6,000-square-foot event space. Good Fast Cheap is currently housing “Tiny Show 2” by the aforementioned art collective Hen House, featuring works produced by more than 100 female, trans and non-binary artists. Works will be available for purchase during the fundraiser, which Chang hopes can serve as a launching pad for future nonprofit programming.

“If you can help at a younger age, that’s where all the foundations are laid,” Chang says. “If kids can’t eat properly or if they’re buying junk food, it paves the way for disease early on. I believe in [Healthy Living’s] mission because [Weinberger] gets kids to keep their bodies healthy. That helps in school and in them pursuing any arts. For us, it’s important for that foundation to be there. We want to be able to open the space up to nonprofits to program stuff without feeling the burden to rent a space.” 

Weinberger adds that aside from all the delicious food and wine, the most rewarding and impactful aspect of this event is having “the chance to provide an enjoyable night out to the youth and families who benefit from our programs and services.”

But the most important part of the evening, he adds, will be to continue the nonprofit’s mission of providing education and healthy cooking outreach programs. 

“Every year, we bring a good amount of students, parents, participants of all ages to our annual fundraiser. They enjoy the food, the music, the art and the relaxing atmosphere. This event is very much intended to honor their support and presence, as we are partners just as much with the youth and their families.” 

Don’t miss Healthy Living, Inc.’s annual fundraiser this Thursday, November 21 from 7 p.m. – midnight. General admission tickets are $65, which include food, open bar and the opportunity to participate in a charity art auction curated by Hen House DC and No Kings Collective. Click here to purchase tickets.

Good Fast Cheap DC: 524 Rhode Island Ave. NE, DC; www.nokingscollective.com

Photo courtesy of DASH

Q&A with District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH)

At Red Derby’s latest Tiki Party, each umbrella-topped rum punch was another few dollars donated for notebooks, backpacks and more back-to-school gear. The restaurant in NW, DC raised over $1,500, supporting the child residents of District Alliance for Safe Housing ,or DASH. Their goal before summer’s end is $3,000. 

DASH serves domestic violence survivors and their families to provide them with temporary housing in DC for up to 24 months. During this time, survivors work with an advocate to plan for an independently sustained life, safe from their abuser. Their next fundraiser, the DASH Kids Art Show Silent Auction, will be Thursday, September 13 at Red Derby, 6 p.m.

On Tap spoke with DASH’s executive director Koube Ngaaje, community housing program manager Crystal Jacobs and director of development Meghan McDonough about their services and common issues associated with shelters and domestic violence.

On Tap: What were the options for domestic violence survivors before DASH was formed in 2006?
Koube Ngaaje:
We call the residents survivors of domestic violence because they have survived a lot to get to where they are, and housing is really scarce in DC, let alone affordable housing. So before DASH came on the scene, these survivors had to choose between being homeless or staying in an abusive relationship. We try to make sure they never have to make that decision. So they have a safe space that they can go to.

OT: How is your housing model different from other shelter services?
Crystal Jacobs:
We have two scattered-site programs. For one, the population is [survivors of] domestic violence and/or sexual assault. The other program, which is fairly new, is specific for HIV as well as domestic violence. You have to have a dual diagnosis of both in order to access the program. But in general, [for] our families transitioning, we do like to make that step seamless. In the Empowerment Project we give them [free housing for] 24 months – at the end of the 24 months we want to make sure that their renting history is clean. Our goal is not to give full month’s rent from here to stay. Our goal is to help them get to the next steps.
KN: When a lot of people hear the word “shelter” or “homeless services provider,” they automatically do think of dormitory style. Being truly apartment-style [makes DASH different]. It’s tough when you’re in dormitory style because you’re working with people who have experienced so many forms of trauma. The ability for a survivor to have their own space: their own kitchen, their own bathroom, helps take away some of those pressures of community style living. Because of that we are able to house, in this building, male survivors and female survivors. [Each room houses] different configurations of families – from a one person household to a six-person household with children, a 16-year-old male living with a grandmother, or a family who has little ones from six months all the way up to 15. So that flexibility is unique to DASH.

OT: Do you provide job assistance as well?
CJ:
[Within 24 months] That should be one of the goals if you’re not employed, how can you get employed so you can live in the community on your own? Sometimes people are successful and sometimes some people aren’t. We’re not like a job bank. We get resources, we put them out there, we encourage them to seek those services and see exactly what that can look like for them.
KN: And that is really unique to DASH, that premise of having the survivor be the determinant factor in what success looks like for them. It’s not a cookie-cutter approach, nothing is required of a survivor to do in order to participate in services and receive services from us. And some people are with us for the full 24 months. Some people come in and, based on where they are, can make steps and move out of our program within 12 or 18 months. Some people are only here for six months.

OT: What are some misconceptions and stigmas associated with domestic violence?
KN:
A misconception is that domestic violence only happens behind closed doors. But the truth of the matter is one out of every four women have or will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. In 2016, we served about 366 survivors and their families. In 2017, we served 688 survivors and their families, and we are well on track to surpass that for this fiscal year. We know in the coming years we’ll be called upon to do even more, especially because the cost of living continues to rise in DC. DASH has always been an innovator in that space of domestic violence and homelessness, and the reason why our programs do so well is that we’ve got the data to back it up, we know these services work.
Meghan McDonough: DASH does welcome male survivors. Typically people may think of domestic violence affecting only women, or even only women of color, and that’s not true. It affects all communities.
CJ: We have the transgender community that accesses us, something else that makes us unique. Transgender singles have a lot of barriers in itself. So gender identity in certain shelters can look different ways depending on the shelter. We’ll take your 16 year old son. A lot of shelters are like ‘if they’re over 12 they can’t come here.’ So we’ll take what other shelters don’t want to deal with. We have an array of folks here, it doesn’t look one way.
MM: Because we provide apartment-style living here, a lot of other shelters are dormitory style so that sets up limitations right there for male survivors or women with teenage male sons.

OT: Why do you think the number of survivors is increasing?
KN:
I think there are higher incidents of domestic violence. And not only are there more instances but people are probably more comfortable coming forward now, given the narrative that’s happening on the national and global scale. But we also recognize that for as many survivors that come forward for assistance, there are probably just as many who don’t. One of the biggest populations that we’re seeing an increase is in our elder population. Sometimes it’s not physical or sexual abuse, it’s emotional abuse… [survivors] being emotionally abused for 30 years, [and] have no sense of identity when you come into a program like DASH. One of our older residents said “this is the first time I’ve been able to prepare my own meals.” Or another resident who said “my abuser keeps calling me,” and we’ve said why do you keep answering? “Because I’ve always had to answer.” Well, [now] you don’t have to answer. Those instances tell us the occurrences are becoming more prevalent but there is also more work that has to be done.

Support DASH’s mission by visiting their website for more information and ways to donate, and/or by attending the DASH Kids Art Show Silent Auction on Sept. 13 at 6 p.m.

Red Derby: 3718 14th St NW, DC; www.dashdc.org

Photo: Denizens Brewing Co.'s Facebook page

Denizens Brewing Co. Highlights Forgotten Causes A Year After Trump’s Inauguration

Denizens Brewing Co. has one message for the Trump administration: we’re still here.

Denizens General Manager Stephanie Nale says she saw many people come together and congregate at the brewery when Donald Trump was inaugurated, marking a time that saw great division among different groups. To reignite that unity, the brewery wanted to host a celebration and gather people together again, but also to celebrate the causes that Denizens feels the Trump administration has ignored – whether that be women, immigrants or climate change, to name a few.

To remind the administration that these groups and their supports are not going anywhere, Denizens will be hosting the four-day event “We’re Still Here.” From Thursday, January 18 through Sunday, January 21, the brewery will put a spotlight on a different organization each day with a focus on DMV chapters, and donate 10 percent of that day’s profit to that organization.

Thursday’s featured organization will be Ayuda, a DMV-based, immigration-focused organization; Friday will be Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington; Saturday will be ACLU, an organization that protects and defends rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution; and Sunday will be the Climate Reality Project.

“These organizations [are] some we’ve supported before, and some of them we are just continuously standing behind and we want to give them a chance to shine within our own community,” Nale says.

Each day of the event will have information about the cause-of-the-day spread throughout the taproom, whether it’s people from that organization talking to patrons or literature available to read. In addition, Denizens will be releasing a new beer in celebration of the weekend.

Denizens prides itself on being a place where everybody is welcome, and Nale says she hopes this event will unite people together again, as they were a year ago, and spark healthy conversations where people can feel free to voice their thoughts.

“We do definitely have our own opinions” Nale says. “We don’t force [them] upon anybody; we really try to make that clear. But we’re also not going to be afraid to say, ‘Hey, these are the things we do believe in.’ So just come and join us, and hopefully we can start a conversation.”

Visit Denizens Brewing Co. from January 18-21 to take part in their “We’re Still Here” event. Entry is free.

Denizens Brewing Co.: 1115 East-West Hwy. Silver Spring, MD; 301-557-9818; www.denizensbrewingco.com