I opened the envelope from a long-time supporter and out fell an old newspaper article. “We had a baby on Jan. 19 – all 31 of us,” it began. “We were all up on one of the coldest nights of the century to herald the birth of a baby girl. It wasn’t planned that way, but you never know what’s going to happen in a shelter for homeless women in the heart of Washington.”
The story of the birth of a baby girl in the bathroom one cold and icy night in the winter of 1991 is a part of Calvary’s history that I had heard before. But I hadn’t seen this article written by Rosemary Brown, the board member who was volunteering that night. “Just as I was about to tell them they were dreaming and to go back to bed, I heard it – the baby’s wail. That wonderful wail that brought a glimpse of hope and happiness to a shelter that deals with broken dreams. That wail had “down-and-outs” scrambling for clean towels, grabbing blankets, praying, crying and laughing.”
While much has changed since these early days when Calvary was located in the basement of a church, at the heart of it Calvary is much the same. It is still a place where women come when they face challenges that seem insurmountable. Women still rally around one another – in good times and bad – sharing a genuine community with one another. And, sadly, it is still a place that our city needs because women are still fleeing violence in their homes, losing jobs and apartments, struggling with illnesses that knock them down for
Most importantly, it is still a place where miracles happen. Maybe not so obvious as the birth of a baby, but miracles nonetheless. Women with “broken dreams” find new ones. They start over, learning from their failures, facing up to their disappointments, and doing the hard work its takes to end their homelessness. They find support from one another and use the resources available at Calvary to create new futures for themselves. What happens here isn’t magical, but it is a miracle – miracles born from struggle and pain but filled with the opportunity for new life.