This month, we would like to introduce you to N Street Village staff member Justine Finley-Simonds. In 2011, Justine began serving as an overnight supervision and dinner volunteer at our night shelter, and her role there evolved into a full time program assistant. Recently, she has transitioned into a new position, a Bethany Women’s Center Advocate, at our drop-in day program. Justine shared with us more about herself and her experience at N Street Village.
“I moved to DC a few summers ago with the hope that I could indulge in the city’s historical gems for a few months, and then go back home in the fall to continue my graduate education in World War II military history. Shortly after I arrived, a friend told me about N Street Village and its volunteer opportunities. Stirred by faith and interested in a service opportunity during my summer stay, I started to spend the night as a volunteer at Luther Place Night Shelter. I quickly began to understand more about the people of this great city that are often overlooked and felt a compelling reason to stay longer. It’s been three years since that summer, and I’ve gone from a transient student volunteer to a Washingtonian and a proud member of the staff at N Street Village.”
NSV: What inspired you to work at N Street Village?
JFS: I was initially inspired by the staff and the comprehensive nature of the facilities; I liked the way each program was so well-rounded. Ultimately, however, it was the women who inspired me most. These women, who have lived entire lives before coming to us, find the strength to begin again. Ask any staff or volunteer – it’s always the women.
NSV: What do you do on a daily basis at N Street Village?
JFS: I recently accepted a new position in a different department at N Street Village. I am working as an Advocate in our day program, Bethany Women’s Center and I am really excited about it! On a daily basis I assist our crisis care program, teach a class about the power that women hold in the world, teach classes in our Learning Lab, and coordinate all of the meal and activity volunteers for Bethany Women’s Center.
NSV: What do you wish other people knew about N Street Village?
JFS: N Street Village breaks the mold for women’s social services. I wish every member of the District knew that there was a place for them at N Street Village, whether it be as a staff member, volunteer, or client.
NSV: As someone who works with N Street Village volunteers nearly every day, what impact do you see our volunteers having on our community?
JFS: Volunteers have a huge impact because they are 100% a part of the community. I love being witness to the relationships that are carefully grown and maintained between our volunteers and clients. I have an enormous amount of respect for the long-term folks that commit to their community like our volunteers do, and even more respect for the women here who open up to them and let them become a part of their daily lives.
NSV: Describe N Street Village in 3 words:
JFS: Engaging. Comprehensive. Gracious.
NSV: What is your favorite YouTube video and why?
JFS: I love this little girl’s enthusiasm. She is the most positive person I’ve ever seen, not to mention adorable, confident, and hilarious. She is so grateful for the little things like pajamas, school, and haircuts. I think everyone should give thanks the way this little one does!