By Lindiwe Vilakazi

At the dawn of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, My Sister’s Place, a community organization providing care to support victims of domestic violence and their children , opened the doors to a new office space location. The new site helps the organization expand its services to provide continued shelter and domestic needs for those looking to restart their lives.

To celebrate the new space, which will host up to six families, My Sister’s Place, along with Amerigroup DC, held a ribbon cutting on Oct. 3. Amerigroup DC also presented a $55,000 check to help continue supporting the many families that walk through the My Sister’s Place doors.

“We are standing in our new office space which is so critical, especially as inflation and housing is such a critical issue in D.C.,” said Mercedes Lemp, executive director of My Sister’s Place. “The number one thing for the clients that come to us is safety and shelter.  It’s bad enough having to deal with the barriers of domestic violence, but then to have to do that in Washington, D.C. which is so hard, so we are so grateful for the support.”

Lemp highlighted the hope for people to seek shelter and support from My Sister’s Place to sustain safety and resources in order to pick up the pieces and regain a new life independent of their formerly abusive circumstances. The new housing space includes modern apartment-style units including full kitchens, stainless steel appliances, televisions, and more.

Amerigroup has graciously supported My Sister’s Place’s ‘Fresh Start Fund,” a financial lifeline provided to families to support health care costs, bills, clothing, child care, food, education, legal fees, and more. Over the past year, the ‘Fresh Start Fund’ has helped fulfill 700 client requests, totaling roughly $400,000 of funding utilized to propel families into success including tuition payments to fulfill courses, laptops, clothing, and other essential needs.   

Jasmine Seville, health director at Amerigroup DC, spoke to the district health care provider finding the importance of supporting the various intersecting vulnerabilities that many clients tend to experience beyond physical health ailments.  

“Health care is more than just doctor’s visits, it’s also being able to screen for those needs that make sure that you are holistically well, so we are excited to be able to support the Fresh Start Fund, and looking forward to what they do moving forward,” Seville said.