This month we would like to introduce you to N Street Village staff member Grace Park. Grace is working as a Residential Support Services Program Assistant as part of her Lutheran Volunteer Corps service year. She is a graduate of Messiah College where she studied English with a writing concentration. Grace is a lover of books, spoken word, music, and art and she is passionate about social justice and peace.
NSV: What inspired you to work at N Street Village?
GP: When I was first applying to the Lutheran Volunteer Corps I was specifically looking for places that offered direct service work since I had more experience in advocacy and organizing. While I knew how important advocacy work was, I knew that policy alone could not drive social change. I wanted to gain experience in one-on-one relationship building in order to better understand how larger structural problems in society impact people’s daily lives. N Street Village seemed like a very unique and important space in D.C. since it currently serves more than half of the homeless women in the city.
NSV: What story about a woman we have served has stuck with you most?
GP: I think working with women in recovery and listening to their narratives has been a very humbling experience for me. Many of the women have experienced some kind of abuse — whether it be physical, emotional, or both, and yet, the fact that they have brought themselves to a program of recovery is amazing. It reminds me of an inspiring quote by one of my favorite writers, Alice Walker, “Though we have encountered our share of grief and troubles on this earth, we can still hold the line of beauty, form, and beat. No small accomplishment in a world as challenging as this one.” Being with women who are much more experienced in life than I am has transformed the way I think about the world and my place in it. On a very individual level, it has been a privilege building relationships with women from all walks of life, and it is these relationships that continue to challenge me to reflect on the larger systemic issues that continue to imprison certain groups of people, whether it is by race, class, gender, or sexual orientation. As women, I think there are many things we still need to unlearn and heal from, and the women I meet here every day have shown me that we cannot do it alone.
NSV: What do you do on a daily basis at N Street Village?
GP: I am a program assistant on the Residential Support Services team and I am largely responsible for the 3rd and 5th floors. The 3rd floor is permanent supportive housing for women with mental illness and the 5th floor is a recovery housing program for women with co-occurring mental health and addiction issues. My favorite part about being a program assistant is having the space to be creative and accompany women on their personal journeys.
NSV: Describe working at N Street Village in 3 words or less.
GP: Invigorating, communal, and reflective.