All posts by Linley Beckbridge

Doorways and Safe Space NOVA Launch New Inclusive Sex Ed Program for Local LGBTQ+ Youth

You + Me = We: Queer Sex Ed

Doorways and Safe Space NOVA are pleased to announce the launch of a new educational program focused on healthy relationships and sexual health for queer youth. The “You + Me = We: Queer Sex Ed” program will use a hybrid virtual and in-person setting over the course of four sessions that will give participants the chance to learn and ask questions about body autonomy, consent, safer sex practices, communication and boundary-setting, and more.

The goal of the program, facilitated by Doorways’ Prevention Specialist Scotney Young and Of Colors Healing, Jerry St. Louis, is to educate and empower LGBTQ+ youth to help them develop the skills needed to practice safe dating, build healthy relationships, and avoid unhealthy relationships and abuse.

“When it comes to sexual and relationship health education, it is not ‘one size fits all,’” said Jordan Costen-Sumpter, founder of Safe Space NOVA. “LGBTQ+ youth deserve sexual health education that is inclusive of their experiences, identities, and relationships while making sure they have accurate information to stay safe and healthy. This program is more than just sex education, we’ll offer tips and tools to help youth feel safer and empowered in love, like, and anything in between.”

Participants will be eligible for prizes including gift cards and more, for every session they attend with the chance to earn up to $20 in gift cards for attending. Free breakfast and snacks will also be provided. Transportation assistance is also available for anyone who needs it.  

The program will begin on September 18 and will run through mid-October. Full schedule is below:

  • September 18 – Orientation and introductions (in-person)
    • 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 
  • September 25 – Session 1 (virtual)
    • 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 
  • October 2 – Session 2 (in-person)
    • 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 
  • October 9 – Session 3 (virtual)
    • 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 
  • October 16 – Certificate and party (in-person) optional attendance
    • 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 

For more information or to register for the “You + Me = We: Queer Sex Ed” program, visit safespacenova.org/programs.

About Safe Space NOVA

Safe Space NOVA is dedicated to providing a safe, accepting, and supportive environment to combat social stigmas, bullying, and other challenges faced by LGBTQ+ youth. For more information, visit safespacenova.org.

Doorways Opens Little Library to Empower Survivors and Children to ‘Dream Bigger than They Could’ve Ever Imagined’

Doorways opened its very own little library to ensure families have a variety of books at “home,” even while they are living in a shelter. Research shows many positive impacts of growing up with books at home and being read to as a child, including a million-word boost in vocabulary by kindergarten. Beyond that, books can open entire worlds to their readers.

The library is part of Doorways’ ongoing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) initiatives. Its curated collection features diverse characters, perspectives, and experiences to empower children to see themselves in stories, as well as those who are different, to help them build confidence, empathy, and understanding. Current titles include The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, Skin Like Mine by LaTashia M. Perry, and The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, plus more.

“Our multilingual collection of books was carefully selected to share characters and stories from all over the world. These books are a representation of our community and our deepest desire for all of our clients and neighbors to feel welcome and belonging,” said Doorways’ President and CEO Diana Ortiz. “This little library allows each of us to see ourselves in beautiful stories and inspires us to see the courage and bravery of our own narratives.” 

Doorways celebrated the library’s official opening with a small gathering of supporters, including its founding sponsor Zarina Ram, architect Jim MacGregor, and artist Alina Sagatov. 

“In all of creation we were given this unique gift and power,” said Ram. “The power of language and words give us the ability to inspire, to create, to connect. My wish is that this little library will give women and children who have survived oppression a chance to experience empathy by walking in another’s shoes through the books they read; an escape to a world beyond that which they know, which will inspire them to dream bigger than they could’ve ever imagined; and a platform to create a future that enables them to realize their deepest desires and passions so they, too, can one day say they were able to live their best possible life to the fullest because they were not alone, felt connected, and could put words to what they already know inside – finding courage and empathy to express and manifest that which is within through the words and journey of another.”

Doorways is a community-based nonprofit providing shelter, supportive housing, and services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as youth and families experiencing homelessness. Learn more and get involved at www.doorwaysva.org/donate.

Doorways Named ‘One of the Best’ Nonprofits by the Catalogue for Philanthropy

Doorways Named ‘One of the Best’ Nonprofits by the Catalogue for Philanthropy

As it Celebrates its 18th Anniversary Working in the Greater Washington Region, the Catalogue for Philanthropy is Proud to Honor Doorways

WASHINGTON, D.C.—June 2, 2021—After an intentional application and selection process, the Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington has selected Doorways to be part of the Class of 2021-22. Doorways has undergone a rigorous review process conducted by a team of more than 170 local community advocates, and has been found to be a critical local nonprofit. Potential donors can be confident that the nonprofits in the Catalogue are worthy of their support.

Doorways is the only community-based nonprofit serving survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Arlington and the City of Falls Church. Doorways serves survivors as well as youth and families facing homelessness across their entire journey, from shelter to independence, with supportive housing and programs like mental health counseling, financial guidance, and employment counseling. Doorways seeks to address the cycles of abuse, homelessness, and poverty in a proactive and nimble way, meeting their clients where they are and offering them support that enables long-term stability.

This year, more than 70 percent of the organizations featured in the Catalogue are women-led, and over 40 percent are BIPOC-led, including Doorways. The Catalogue network now includes more than 400 vetted nonprofits working in the arts, education, environment, and human services sectors throughout the region.

“People want to get involved in their community—they want to make a difference, close to home. Based on our rigorous review process, we believe that Doorways is a critical local nonprofit in our region,” said Matt Gayer, Co-Executive Director of the Catalogue for Philanthropy.

“We are so honored to be named ‘one of the best’ by the Catalogue for Philanthropy, reflecting Doorways’ decades-long track record of success in our community, and the daily commitment of our hardworking staff and volunteers to serve,” said Diana Ortiz, President and CEO of Doorways. “We believe that violence, abuse, or homelessness have no place here, or anywhere. But we also know the difficult truth: as many as 1 in 3 people are abused, and almost one-third of those experiencing homelessness are families and children. We know that our Black neighbors, people of color, immigrants, and the LGBTQIA+ community are disproportionately impacted by these traumatic experiences. We are grateful to the Catalogue for recognizing Doorways’ unique role in serving Arlington and the City of Falls Church as absolutely essential.”

The Catalogue believes in the power of small nonprofits to spark big change. And they believe in Doorways to continue to further that positive change, working each day to lift up, strengthen, and enrich our local community.

The Promise of Healing and a Safe Community for All

While our country has taken a firm step towards healing and accountability on the Derek Chauvin trial this week, we recognize that our work is far from done. Our sense of relief is brief and countered by other tragic occurrences, including the deaths of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, 13-year-old Adam Toledo, and 20-year-old Daunte Wright.⠀

Doorways joins many local, regional, and national leaders and organizations in this journey towards hope and meaningful change, witnessing and actively working to dismantle the pervasive systems of oppression that affect the lives of many of our clients, staff, and supporters.⠀

As an anti-violence organization, we recognize that the loss caused by abuse will not be restored, and the pain will not go away easily, but the promise of healing and a safe community for all remains our anchor and motivation today. Our commitment to peace and justice continues as we work towards creating pathways out of homelessness, domestic violence, and sexual assault, leading to safe, stable, and empowered lives.

Open Letter Supporting Trans Women and Girls

Doorways joins GLADD and more than 465 feminist leaders standing in solidarity with transgender women and girls in honor of Women’s History Month and Trans Day Of Visibility. See the open letter now.

“We acknowledge with clarity and strength that transgender women are women and that transgender girls are girls. And we believe that honoring the diversity of women’s experiences is a strength, not a detriment to the feminist cause. All of us deserve the same access, freedoms, and opportunities. We deserve equal access to education, employment, healthcare, housing, recreation, and public accommodations. And we must respect each person’s right to bodily autonomy and self-determination.”

 

Statement of Support for our Asian American Pacific Islander Neighbors

Statement of Support for our Asian American Pacific Islander Neighbors from Arlington’s Safety Net Nonprofits

As organizations supporting marginalized people in our community, we condemn xenophobia of all kinds. We stand in solidarity with our Asian American Pacific Islander community members, especially as they face rising incidences of harassment and violence. We continue to work toward the well-being and inclusion of people of all races, ethnicities and religions, and to use our voices to elevate their dignity and humanity. See statement and Safety Net Nonprofit signers.

Doorways Announces New President and CEO

We hope that you and your loved ones are safe. We planned to make the following announcement today before recent events unfolded. We still want to share this exciting news with you as planned, but did not want to do so without first acknowledging the violence in our neighboring community. Such acts of violence impact all of us, and can be particularly frightening for survivors who may be triggered by these events. If you need support, we encourage you to text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor and access free support 24/7.

Diana Ortiz, M.Ed., LPC

Doorways’ board of directors announced today that they have appointed Diana Ortiz, M.Ed., LPC as the agency’s president and CEO. Previously, Ortiz spent nine years as a key leader of Doorways’ client services, including its domestic and sexual violence programs, homeless services, children’s services, and supportive housing.

With nearly 20 years of experience in the field, Ortiz is a passionate leader and advocate who has dedicated her entire career to working for the wellbeing and safety of children, youth, and underserved populations. “Every inch of who I am is committed to Doorways’ mission,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz originally came to Doorways in 2009 as the Child Mental Health Specialist, providing therapeutic interventions to children and families who had experienced a wide variety of trauma. She was promoted to Clinical Director in 2012, and oversaw the spectrum of client service delivery for the organization for more than five years, including domestic and sexual violence programs, homeless services, HomeStart, and children’s services. During her time at Doorways, Ortiz also served with several community-wide efforts, including Arlington’s Action Plan to End Homelessness and Project PEACE. After leaving Doorways, she moved to Japan, where she served as Family Advocacy Program Manager with the Marine Corps Community Services. After nearly three years in Iwakuni, Japan, Ortiz and her family returned to the Arlington area, with Ortiz serving as the Director of Social Services for Ayuda.

“We are thrilled to welcome Diana back to Doorways as our next leader,” said Carmen Oviedo, Doorways’ board president. “With her extensive experience and knowledge of the services we provide, the complex dynamics of this work, and the essential role Doorways plays in the lives of so many, Diana is poised to lead the agency in growing and adapting to the changing world around us. The board and staff are also eternally grateful to Maureen Devine-Ahl, who has served as our interim president and CEO for most of 2020, successfully leading the agency through a truly unprecedented and challenging time in preparation for this next chapter.”

As for the future of the organization, Ortiz envisions Doorways as a leading nonprofit that sets a standard, provides best practices, and has new and creative ways to work with a community that thrives. “I am committed to continue working with underserved communities and leading the next generation of advocates and social services professionals while making systemic changes in our local community to improve the safety and well-being of our neighbors.”

What it’s like to learn online from inside a homeless shelter – The Washington Post

“The shuttering of schools nationwide in March immediately shattered any semblance of stability for millions of homeless children who depend on schools for food, emotional support, or even just a warm, uncomplicated place to think,” wrote Hannah Natanson. “Trying to learn inside shelters for the past nine months, students have faced spotty WiFi, crowded rooms, high noise levels and harassment from some peers who deduce, over Zoom, that they lack a home.”

Read more in the Washington Post to learn what it’s like to attend school virtually while living at Doorways and other shelters.

The child in the photograph above is a model whose image has been used for illustrative purposes only.