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A Holiday Wish For Mary’s House

Dr. Imani Woody

Founder of Mary's House Dr. Imani Woody (left) with friend/supporter

This weekend’s Holiday Wish Gala is part of the ongoing efforts to fund a new communal-based LGBTQ/SGL-friendly affordable housing community, dubbed Mary’s House (also known as Anacostia Road House). Once completed, the house will feature 15 suites with private bathrooms. Aimed to provide an improved quality of life for its residents, those lucky enough to be part of this community will have access to a hydrotherapy pool, green rooftop garden with walk-track, exercise and yoga room, library and computer room, as well as on-site laundry facilities.

Members of the house must be able to live independently, but with others among common shared spaces. This is not an assisted living facility. This will be a housing environment where seniors will not be able to slip into isolation. Residents stay in contact with neighbors, so that no one is left alone for too long without someone checking in. According to Dr. Imani Woody, President and CEO of Mary’s House for Older Adults, regardless of a senior’s financial status, the number one issue for older adults is isolation. This social isolation often contributes to detrimental health conditions. In line with the goal of improving quality of life for aging members of the LGBTQ/SGL community, the house policies encourage social interaction that can have the opposite impact on physical and mental health.

To live in the house, you must be 60 years or older and abide by community living guidelines. In fact, applicants are required to take some courses before being granted a living space. The courses will outline the concepts of openness, respect and acceptance among residents of the house.

This pre-development stage is still in need of $75,000 and a variety of fundraising initiatives continue in order to be on target for the opening date, set for November 2016. In an effort to meet these goals, Mary’s House is seeking volunteers with experience in crowdfunding platforms, fundraising services and policy writing.

Elderly people in the LGBTQ/SGL community are often tempted to go back in the closet in order to avoid the discrimination found in many assisted living and nursing homes. Woody reminds us “just getting older can be hard.” On top of ageism, many seniors who are searching for a safe habitat are facing homophobia and other discrimination. “We want to create an environment where people can be their own selves,” said Woody.

This is the first year for the Holiday Wish Gala and multiple contributors are working to produce an event worthy of the cause. “This energy has brought together some very talented people,” said Holiday Wish Gala event planner Gladece Knights. Expect to see live performances from Howard Film Major, Chayla Simpson, the a cappella group Song Rise, as well as DC’s Chocolate City Burlesque, followed by the talented DJ D. Chef Tyonne will be serving exquisitely prepared hearty hors’ douevres and guests will enjoy an open bar.

Tickets are $65 plus a $4.57 processing fee. “Funds will go to financing the building of LGBTQ/SGL – friendly affordable housing units for older adults in the DMV,” said Knights. This is going to be a night of dancing, donating and dedicating efforts to providing a safer housing alternative for LGBTQ/SGL seniors. Get more information, buy tickets or make a tax-free donation at Holiday Wish Gala. Those who are interested in volunteering for the event are encouraged to immediately contact Knights at 732-207-8433.

For more alternatives in LGBTQ/SGL – friendly housing solutions, check out the Mary’s House Friendly Homeshare Program. This program matches LGBTQ/SGL-friendly renters with LGBTQ/SGL-friendly seniors who have available space for rent in their home.