Service Spotlight: Georgetown Ministry Center
In 1984 Freddy could not escape the grips of a harsh DC winter. Elderly, homeless, and hopeless, Freddy’s life and death came to personify the struggle of the chronically homeless. In The resulting community reaction led the Georgetown Clery Association and Georgetown University to establish the Georgetown Ministry Center in 1987.
More than two decades later, the GMC is “seeking lasting solutions to homelessness one person at a time.” GMC operates a drop-in center at 1041 Wisconsin Ave. NW where homeless people can get help obtaining housing, benefits, mental health services and employment opportunities. The center also includes shower and laundry rooms. For homeless people who are reluctant to ask for help GMC staff members visit campsites under bridges or on the streets, offering psychiatric help and social services and distributing blankets and other supplies to protect against weather related illnesses and deaths.
GMC also coordinates a winter shelter program, housed in neighborhood churches on a rotating basis . The shelter program operates from November through mid-April and provides an opportunity for shelter residents to establish supportive relationships with staff and church volunteers. The program employs a “safe-haven model” encouraged by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The model, with its homey, friendly and comfortable low-demand environment, is designed to appeal to vulnerable and service resistant homeless people.