Category Archives: Press Release

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.

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.”

Doorways Appoints Interim President and CEO

Maureen Devine-Ahl
Maureen Devine-Ahl

Doorways’ Board of Directors announced that it has appointed Maureen Devine-Ahl, Principal, MK Fundraising Solutions, as the agency’s Interim President and CEO. Devine-Ahl brings nearly two decades of nonprofit leadership and consulting experience to Doorways, with a personal interest in serving women and families in our local communities. A passionate advocate for the health and well-being of the social sector, Devine-Ahl founded MK Fundraising Solutions (MKFS), a full-service nonprofit consulting firm, in 2014. Since then, she has partnered with more than 20 local, national and international organizations. 

“Maureen comes to Doorways with a passion for our mission, a strong track record, and deep connections to our community,” said Carmen Oviedo, President of Doorways’ Board of Directors. “We look forward to partnering with Maureen to continue moving Doorways’ critical mission forward.”

“Doorways is a cornerstone of hope and healing for Arlington,” said Devine-Ahl. “I am thrilled to partner and serve as Doorways’ interim CEO for this important work.”

Doorways thanks Caroline Jones, MSW, outgoing President and CEO, for her 17 years of service to the organization and its mission. During her tenure, Jones facilitated significant growth in Doorways’ public and private community partnerships and built a strong, stable organization poised to continue strong service to the Arlington community.

Doorways Announces Executive Transition

Doorways announced today that the agency’s President and CEO, Caroline Jones, MSW, will be leaving the organization in February. Since 1978, Doorways has operated at the many intersections of homelessness, poverty, and intimate partner violence, responding to community members in crisis. Jones has led the agency for nearly a decade, and served as a key leader of Doorways’ client services for the eight years prior.

“On behalf of the board of directors and everyone at Doorways, we sincerely thank Caroline for her 17 years of service to our mission, both as the agency’s leader and as a prominent voice among local and state advocacy groups and continuums of care,” said Carmen Oviedo, Doorways’ Board President. “Caroline has done a terrific job facilitating significant growth in Doorways’ public and private community partnerships and building a strong, stable organization poised to continue strong service to the people of Arlington County.”

“I have worked with Caroline (…) shoulder to shoulder to prevent and end family and youth homelessness, and to expand services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence. She is an extraordinary community leader who strives to strengthen and empower vulnerable families through the services at Doorways and through strong partnerships she has built throughout the community,” said Anita Friedman, Director of Arlington County’s Department of Human Services.

The organization is a statewide leader in providing services for people in crisis. While continuing and expanding the fundamental programming that the organization has for decades provided to families experiencing homelessness and domestic violence, under Jones’ leadership Doorways has grown to include Arlington’s comprehensive 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline (703-237-0881); Hospital Accompaniment Response Program; Safe Apartments to increase emergency shelter capacity and options for survivors; and the Revive Domestic & Sexual Violence Counseling Program for survivors of all ages. Today, Doorways is Arlington County’s sole domestic and sexual violence service provider, and serves more than 3,000 people each year across its programs.

“I’m honored to have served as Doorways’ leader, and I could not be more proud of all we together achieved,” said Jones, who points to her work with clients as her greatest source of learning and continuous inspiration. Looking forward, “I am excited about what the future holds for Doorways,” Jones shared. “This organization’s response is more critical than ever. I will forever be a donor, advocate and ally to this amazing agency that has inspired and taught me more than words could ever capture.”

“Caroline has galvanized community support and investment in Doorways’ innovative and impactful programming,” said Christy Cole, Chair of Doorways’ Emeritus Board. “Thanks to her leadership and the robust foundation built during her tenure, Doorways is poised to grow even stronger in the years to come.”

“We look forward to the next chapter in Doorways’ service to the community and wish Caroline well in her next role serving Arlington as she joins our long-time community partner, APAH, as Director of Resident Services,” Oviedo said.

The Fund for Children, Youth and Families Supports Doorways

The Fund for Children, Youth and Families at the Greater Washington Community Foundation is proud to announce $1.95 million in grants to 46 nonprofits serving disadvantaged children, youth and families across the Greater Washington region, including Doorways for Women and Families.

These organizations will receive grants up to $50,000 for project/program support or general operating support addressing the following issue areas: Stable Homes Stable Families, Foster Care & Adoption, and Academic & Career Success.

“These nonprofits all work to build thriving communities for today and for future generations,” said Bruce McNamer, President and CEO of The Community Foundation. “We are committed to addressing inequities for youth and families to help our most marginalized neighbors—people experiencing homelessness, unstable housing, or underemployment—find pathways out of poverty. These grants allow some of our region’s most effective nonprofits to make a difference around some of our region’s biggest challenges in education, homelessness, and foster care.”

The Community Foundation administers the Fund for Children, Youth and Families, charged with implementing its grantmaking by the former Freddie Mac Foundation. This is the third grant cycle of a five-year implementation structure. The Community Foundation continued to employ a substantial, rigorous, and highly competitive grantmaking process for the Fund for Children, Youth, and Families’ third and latest grant cycle. The grantmaking process utilizes a grant review committee of regional partners, issue experts, and staff to review grant applications against the criteria established by the Freddie Mac Foundation before its wind down.

The organizations who received grants stood out through our substantial, rigorous and highly competitive grantmaking processes, in which the Community Foundation utilized a grant review committee of regional partners, issue experts, and staff to review grant applications against the criteria established by the Freddie Mac Foundation before its wind down.

“The Community Foundation received over 200 proposals totaling approximately $8.6 million in funding requests,” said Tonia Wellons, Vice President of Community Investment at The Community Foundation. “The funding opportunity highlights the intense need in the community and the great value that organizations throughout the region offer in responding to this need.”

In mid-late 2019 The Community Foundation will release information regarding the 2019 Fund for Children, Youth and Families grant cycle.  Please visit www.fund4cyf.org for more information.

ABOUT THE GREATER WASHINGTON COMMUNITY FOUNDATION

Since 1973, the Greater Washington Community Foundation has been a champion of thriving communities and a catalyst for change made possible through local philanthropic engagement, effective community investment, and civic leadership. The Community Foundation works with donors and partners to make a real difference every day in the District of Columbia, Montgomery County, Northern Virginia and Prince George’s County by aligning resources and leveraging shared interests to amplify impact. As the region’s largest local funder, The Community Foundation has invested more than $1.2 billion to build more equitable, just, and enriching communities where all residents can live, work, and thrive.

ABOUT THE FUND FOR CHILDREN, YOUTH AND FAMILIES

The Fund for Children, Youth and Families was established to invest in the betterment of underserved children, youth and families in the Greater Washington region – specifically to invest in organizations achieving significant impacts across the fund’s three issue areas and eight outcomes. Through its grantmaking, the fund supports effective organizations working to make the community healthy and stable. Please visit www.fund4cyf.org for more information.

Doorways Selected by Amazon for Employee Match Campaign

Amazon employees can learn more about getting involved here.

Now through September, Amazon employee gifts to 20 select nonprofits matched one-to-one up to $5 million total

Arlington, VA – June 11, 2019 – Today, Amazon announced that the company is matching employee donations to 20 select charities that address housing and homelessness in its two headquarter regions, Arlington and Seattle, through September 30, 2019. Doorways is among the organizations selected to receive these donations and a portion of up to $5 million in one-for-one matching funds from Amazon. Amazon focuses on building long-term, innovative, and high impact programs, as well as programs that support immediate needs. Doorways’ comprehensive response includes emergency shelter, long-term housing and supportive services that ensure clients’ immediate safety and build long-term stability.

“Together with our employees, we will donate to nonprofits located in Washington State, Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia, whose missions support affordable housing and people experiencing homelessness,” said Jay Carney, SVP, Global Corporate Affairs at Amazon, in their press release. Furthermore, Amazon is committed to helping all children and young adults, especially those from underrepresented and underserved communities, have the resources and skills they need to build their best future.

“We are honored and grateful to be chosen by Amazon as a community partner addressing housing and homelessness,” said Caroline Jones, MSW, Doorways President and CEO. “We see tremendous opportunity and potential to fill a critical gap in our community for families and young people in particular.”

Over the course of the last five years, transition-aged youth—those ages 18 to 24—have been the fastest-growing population that Doorways serves. Youth now comprise 40% of adults living in Doorways’ Family Home shelter and HomeStart Supportive Housing Program. Some are still in school, and some are parenting children of their own. Recent groundbreaking research from Voices of Youth Count, an initiative of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, found that 1 in 10 transition-aged youth experience homelessness each year. Chapin Hall found that youth with less than a high school diploma or GED had a 346 percent higher risk for homelessness; unmarried parenting youth had a 200 percent higher risk; and Black or African American youth had an 83 percent higher risk. As their research shows, early intervention is essential to preventing these youth from becoming trapped in cycles of poverty, homelessness and violence.

Doorways’ programs and services, including its innovative Pathways for Youth, impacted more than 4,100 adults, youth and children last year alone. Ninety-seven percent of residents in Doorways’ emergency shelters were people of color, and 97 percent were women. Sidney, a young woman of color, described Doorways as “a do-over, and a fresh start.” She became homeless before her senior year of high school. Her school guidance counselor connected her with Doorways, who welcomed her into the Family Home, where she lived throughout her senior year. While supporting her in school, Doorways also provided Sidney with the resources and skills she needed overcome the negative impacts of trauma and to build a brighter future, including helping her continue immediate and plan long-term educational goals and secure an apartment of her own after she graduated. Today, Doorways continues to support Sidney as she works toward additional education and career goals. Doorways is proud to share that Sidney has been stably housed for nearly two years.

For youth like Sidney, Doorways offers the only support of its kind in the community. There is no dedicated youth shelter in Arlington. Doorways has only one Youth Advocate dedicated to providing the essential, developmentally targeted supports that young people need. Through its Revive Domestic & Sexual Violence Counseling Program, Doorways provides Arlington’s only trauma-informed counseling for children, teens and adults who have experienced intimate partner abuse, which often occurs before, during and after homelessness. Doorways’ Children’s Services provides dedicated support for kids of all ages impacted by homelessness and domestic violence who are living in shelter or supportive housing.

“There is already a gap between the need and this community’s response,” said Jones, “and the need is only growing. I am so proud of what our team and our community has accomplished so far, yet there is so much more to be done. Joining forces with a partner like Amazon would be a game-changer for these youth and for generations to come.”

Amazon also announced a $3-million one-time gift to the Arlington Community Foundation. “Since 2000, Arlington County has lost nearly 90% of its market affordable housing stock. Amazon’s donation is a significant investment in our community and will support critical issues like housing affordability that are important to Northern Virginians,” said Jennifer Owens, the foundation’s President and CEO, in the release. Amazon chose to support the foundation “because of their work and progress on housing stability and helping families improve their quality of life,” said Carney. “We believe this gift can help offer additional housing and support services for our neighbors in need.”

“Together with Amazon and our partners, we can change homelessness in this community,” Jones said.

Doorways’ Youth Specialist named a “Connect with Kids Champion”

Carlyssa Winstead, Doorways’ Youth Specialist, was named a “Connect with Kids Champion” by the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families.

The Connect with Kids Champions award was created by Mary Ann Moran in 2004 as a way to recognize people in the community who go out of their way to develop positive, supportive relationships with youth and inspire others to do so. Learn more.

Doorways Awarded Top Rating from Charity Navigator

Local Nonprofit Celebrates Anniversary Year with Another 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator

Doorways’ strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency have earned it a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator. This is the 10th time that Doorways has earned this top distinction in the last 10 years.

“Doorways’ exceptional four-star rating sets it apart from its peers and demonstrates its trustworthiness to the public,” according to Michael Thatcher, President and CEO of Charity Navigator. “Only a quarter of charities rated by Charity Navigator receive the distinction of our four-star rating. This adds Doorways to a preeminent group of charities working to overcome our world’s most pressing challenges. Based on its four-star rating, people can trust that their donations are going to a financially responsible and ethical charity when they decide to support Doorways.”

“This adds Doorways to a preeminent group of charities working to overcome our world’s most pressing challenges.”

Using objective analysis, Charity Navigator awards only the most fiscally responsible organizations a four-star rating. In 2011, Charity Navigator added 17 metrics, focused on governance and ethical practices as well as measures of openness, to its ratings methodology. These Accountability & Transparency metrics, which account for 50 percent of a charity’s overall rating, reveal which charities operate in accordance with industry best practices and whether they are open with their donors and stakeholders. On June 1, 2016, Charity Navigator upgraded its methodology for rating each charity’s financial health. These enhancements further substantiates the financial health of four-star charities.

“Receiving our tenth four-star rating during our 40th anniversary year is a testament to Doorways’ ongoing dedication to accountability, transparency and financial integrity,” said Caroline Jones, MSW, Doorways’ President and CEO. “Since 1978, our donors have given to support their neighbors in times of crisis and empower our clients to build futures free of homelessness and abuse. Doorways is proud and thankful to have earned our supporters’ respect, trust and confidence; we could not provide our life-changing programs and services without our donors’ financial investment in our clients’ safety and stability.”

“Doorways is proud and thankful to have earned our supporters’ respect, trust and confidence; we could not provide our life-changing programs and services without our donors’ financial investment in our clients.”

Doorways’ rating and other information about charitable giving are available free of charge on www.charitynavigator.org.