When It Takes a Village, And the Village Makes It Happen


“You hear that it takes a village,” Ms. Washington, 30, said. “It takes a state; it takes a network of different programs coming together.”

Last January, Ms. Washington, four months pregnant, left her home in East Berlin, Conn., to get away from an abusive husband. She took her three children with her to her mother’s home in Bellmore, N.Y. Ms. Washington knew the arrangement had to be temporary, and not merely because the apartment was not big enough to properly accommodate the family. She could not risk the chance, she said, that it would become a crutch that would eventually return her to the situation she was trying to escape.

This Times story shows the good things we can accomplish when we invest in effective programs in our community. Washington escaped to Sanctuary for Families, a crisis shelter in Brooklyn, which, among other things, helped her update her resume and strengthened her interviewing skills. She received $1,000 from the Community Service Society to fund college courses that helped her get a certificate in medical billing, eventually landed a job at an eyeglass store, and now earns $40,000 a year. Our system is far from perfect, but when it works, it’s marvelous.

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