After a turbulent childhood, Monica Coe’s mother asked her to leave their home. With nowhere else to go, Monica ended up in Shepherd’s Cove Emergency Shelter. She was angry and disoriented, leading to more troubled behavior. As a result, she was transferred to the Patricia Handy Place for Women shelter in D.C. There, she had good case managers who helped her bring more meaning into life.
Monica started loving herself more, did things that made her happy, rekindled old friendships, and made new ones. She got a job at Burlington Coat Factory because the interviewer saw her future and not her past. Monica realized that family doesn’t have to be formed with blood ties; it exists in many different forms.
“It is a beautiful feeling when others step in,” she said. “This human warmth saved me from the precipice. I was so depressed. The supportive people along the way gave me light.”
In 2021, she was offered a room at the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA on Rhode Island Avenue and a chance to become more independent. She loved the freedom of movement, the modern rooms, and the color purple of the interior design.
Monica handled her freedom so well that she was one of three recipients of the 2023 Steinbruck Award organized by N Street Village. This award honors those who have transitioned successfully from homelessness to independence. Monica credits her transformation to an inner flame of hope inside that was kindled by faith, the support of others, and grit. “I had to find the true Monica and then never look back,” she said. “This needed courage.” Now, Monica is getting an IT certification and finishing her associate degree. She has lost 57 pounds.
“Each plant goes through different stages in different circumstances. One has to keep watering the plant and soon it will blossom. When we blossom, life happens.” – Monica Coe.