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20 Years of Playtime

As Playtime Project’s 20th Anniversary year comes to a close, we would like to reflect on how much we have grown, how we have adapted to new challenges that arose, and how our commitment to children and families experiencing housing insecurity has remained our driving force.  

Starting with only a few passionate volunteers at what was once the largest shelter in DC, Playtime now has 16 staff members, a volunteer force over 150 strong, and weekly programs at nine shelter, school, and community-based sites. We’ve got babies learning to walk and talk in Playtime, alumni thriving in college, and everything in between to be grateful for this holiday season. 

Over the past two decades, Playtime has weathered many changes along with the families we are privileged to serve. Homelessness went up and down and then back up again. Unsafe, warehouse-style shelters housed hundreds of children, then closed, scattering families across the region. The pandemic forced us all to adapt, and make sure children have access to play wherever they are. Our PlayKit program expanded to reach more populations of children, hidden behind closed doors. And through our commitment to follow the children where they are, we expanded beyond shelters to bring Playtime into classrooms and communities, where families live their lives.  

Amidst the ups and downs, Playtime’s commitment to children and families experiencing housing insecurity has always been constant. It brings us joy to see children learn and heal through play at each site we serve. Parents tell us their children ask to return to the shelter after they move so they can attend Playtime. Now, more children can participate in Playtime in their community. One mom told us she was nervous about her daughter starting middle school, but thankful for all the skills she has gained through Playtime that will help with her transition. This feedback from families and the children themselves keeps us going. 

We’d like to extend a big thank you to all the staff, volunteers, donors, community partners, and families who make Playtime a safe haven of community for children experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness. We are excited to see what the next 20 years of Playtime brings!