WL Sponsored: The Brave Grace of Sasha Bruce

by John Arundel

An elegant reception and dinner at the Residence of the British Ambassador held for the longtime supporters of Sasha Bruce Youthwork.

Tracy Bernstein, Christian Clerc and Meg Clerc support of Sasha Bruce Youthwork, which addresses urgent needs of at-risk youth and their families, gather for cocktails, dinner, and a chance to meet two beneficiaries of the program at the British Embassy. Image by James R. Brantley.

Lamb cooked to a delicate perfection and vanilla bean cheese cake adorned tables of the intimate seated dinner hosting DC-based Sasha Bruce Youthwork at the Residence of the British Ambassador May 9.

A grand doorway inside the Residence befitting a Jane Austen novel opened up to an English garden resplendant with Spring flowers and laurel hedges. Here, cocktails on the terrace were served.

As dinner was served, a room full of all hosts and longtime supporters of Sasha Bruce Youthwork listened raptly about the extraordinary work of Sasha Bruce, which meets the urgent needs of at-risk youth and their families in Washington, including services like their teen mothers program, home-based counseling, temporary emergency shelter, independent living facilities and HIV/AIDS help.

Former Ambassador Stuart Bernstein and Wilma Bernstein. Image by James R. Brantley.

NBC’s David Gregory, host of “Meet the Press” and a mentor of a Sasha Bruce at-risk teenager, spoke poignantly about his work with a Sasha Bruce at-risk teenager.

Also on hand were Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and his wife Andrea Mitchell, NBC’s Chief Washington Correspondent.

The Washington Performing Arts Society Children of the Gospel Choir performed a beautiful gospel harmony that lifted the hearts and inspired the seated guests.

A resident of Sasha Bruce’s transitional housing, the formerly homeless teen Kala Nelson, spoke eloquently about realizing her independence with the help of Sasha Bruce counselors and mentors. Nelson spoke with a brave grace that evoked tears among a few of the attendees, telling of her triumph into healing out of homelessness and prostitution.

Levi Thompson, who because of the assistance of Sasha Bruce now works as a trainee for youth in Ward 8 , civicly engaging students of Ballou high school of Southeast Washington. Thompson told the room that he is now realizing his dream of higher education.

Deborah Shore founded Sasha Bruce Youthwork in 1974 as the Washington Streetwork Project. At that time, suburban street kids and out-of-town runaways congregated in the Georgetown and Dupont Circle areas.

With a small staff and a few volunteers, Shore counseled these young people on the streets. The Washington Streetwork Project established its first home when Christ Church in Georgetown donated basement space for a youth drop-in center. The focus of the organization’s early work was to help young people sort out what brought them to the streets and reconnect them to home.

SBY Youth Levi Thompson, Deborah Shore and SBY Youth Kala Nelson. Image by James R. Brantley.

In 1976, Shore and the Washington Streetwork Project came to the attention of Evangeline Bruce, wife of Ambassador David Bruce, following the tragic death of their daughter Sasha.

Evangeline Bruce donated funds to start a youth shelter in memory of Sasha, who had helped troubled youth as a volunteer when she was in school. Shore opened Sasha Bruce House in 1977 to provide troubled youth with a safe haven from the dangers of the streets.

The Washington Streetwork Project grew and changed over the next two decades in response to the changing needs of DC’s troubled young people and families.

Programs were added to bridge the gaps in available support services for youth. As street work became only a small part of the organization’s activities, the name of the organization changed to Sasha Bruce Youthwork.

These days, Sasha Bruce Youthwork is one of the largest and most experienced providers of services to youth in Washington, DC.

Dina El-Shenoufy, Former Representative Jane Harman, Toni Bush and George Stevens, Jr. Image by James R. Brantley.

“Our work helps young people find safe homes, achieve and maintain good health and mental health, create and strengthen supportive and stable families, explore opportunities in education and careers, and become tomorrow’s leaders,” said founder and Executive Director Deborah Shore. “Through our 18 professionally staffed programs located throughout the city, we’re helping young people and families discover their own abilities to transform their lives.”

For more information, log on to www.sashabruceyouthwork.com

FRIENDS OF SASHA: Mr. and Mrs. Adam Bernstein, Mrs. William “Buffy” Cafritz, Dr. and Mrs. Ronald I. Dozoretz, Mr. and Mrs. Bob Eccles, Ms. Andrea Kirstein, Mr. and Mrs. Peter B. Kovler, Mr. and Mrs. George C. Stevens, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Zients, and The Capital Group Companies Charitable Foundation.

Dwight Bush and Riley Temple. Image by James R. Brantley.

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