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Playtime Updates

Check out our latest updates on what's happening at Playtime:

During this time of social distancing and as we approach the giving season, hosting a virtual event is an ideal way to rally your network of family, friends, coworkers, clients, and more to support a local cause close to your heart. 

Creating a safe community is what Playtime does—we give children and families a sense of comfort and belonging through a difficult, scary, and traumatic time.

When the movie Black Panther was released in February 2018, starring Chadwick Boseman in the lead role, Playtime took 30 preteens and teens to see the film, and the kids were beyond excited!

Playtime recently learned that the D.C. Department of Human Services (DHS) will be ending its contract at the end of this month with the Days Inn on New York Avenue as an emergency overflow shelter for families. How does this affect Playtime?

African Americans make up 13% of the general population but more than 40% of the homeless population. And in D.C., 95% of parents experiencing homelessness are Black. Consequently, almost all of the children Playtime serves are Black. The need for more Black role models in our playrooms is crucial.

As a direct service organization, it’s our role to be there for the families and community we serve, and we know that play presents a powerful healing mechanism for children.

We must continue to innovate, to advocate, and meet concrete needs so families get the resources they need and more children can play despite the stress of homelessness, COVID-19, and ongoing racial injustice.

We owe it to the children and families we serve to stand up and show up to the civil rights struggle of our time, so the promise of freedom, justice, and equality in our nation can truly be realized.

With your support we will continue to be there for the families that need us the most in our city. Happy #GivingTuesdayNOW!

Playtime has opted to make the spring edition of The Play Times, our quarterly print newsletter, available online instead of mailing it to our generous donors.

Though the world has suddenly changed, I’m proud of how our volunteers, supporters, board, and staff have stepped up to adapt to ensure children keep playing, and that parents will continue to get the support they need to weather this pandemic.

The city’s new short-term family housing (STFH) sites create a cozier atmosphere, but they lack designated, spacious indoor play areas for children. Puzzles, block construction, art projects, dress up, dancing and indoor basketball takes space. Conflict can arise when kids try to play freely in close quarters.

The tragic death of an 11-month-old should be yet another wake up call for the city that families experiencing homelessness are in crisis and desperately need services that focus on the unique needs of children.

Yesterday, I testified before the city’s Department of Human Services Performance Oversight Hearing with a request that the city fund and place Children’s Services Coordinators in each of its new Ward-based short-term family housing (STFH) shelters.

Welcome to a brand new year – another one full of change for Playtime! Because of you, we are in a strong position to forge forward in providing trauma-informed play programming at two new partner sites. 

Everyone admires how patient Ruben is with all of the preteens and the way he always lends a listening ear. We love having him on our team!

Relationships with our donors and between the parents, children, and Playtime staff and volunteers are the key ingredients that make Playtime magic happen. 

All this anger I didn’t even know I had melted away when I played with a child. ... Children blossomed right before my eyes, and they let out their feelings in a way I never thought was possible, learning important social skills that I learned more haphazardly

Your support funds direct services to children experiencing homelessness in our community. Your immediate impact is clear in the countless stories of our volunteers and staff. Stories like mine.

Seeing the joy the children have has blessed me as I strive to be a blessing to them.

We are pleased to have Khadijah Williams and Ja’Sent Brown, two dynamic advocates for children and youth, join us as our featured speakers at next week's Benefit of Play fundraiser event. 

“I am profoundly grateful for this extraordinary gift, which will ensure more children living in shelters get access to the power of play.”

To launch this program effectively, we need volunteers! We need people to help create a welcoming and fun play space for the children and provide a break for the parents.

"Playtime really supports its volunteers with great workshops and activities."

Does your employer have a workplace giving program? If you have to work for a living, make it work for some giving! 

Join us on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 for the Playtime's 2019 Benefit of Play fundraiser at Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital. 

"Volunteering with Playtime has opened my eyes to the real impact you can have with young kids and the exciting progress you can see over time."

Playtime is there for children and families day in, day out, and you can be too! Join the Playtime Building Blocks, a special group committed to sustaining play programs and providing predictable support to meet the ongoing needs of our youth.

“I feel a lot better about helping the community because I’m not only helping kids have better childhood experiences, but I’m also making the world a better place.”

Diane Lynch joined Playtime in February 2019, volunteering one evening a week at the Hotel Arboretum Overflow Shelter. Once that partner site closed this past June, Diane enthusiastically switched to spending two nights a week with the preteen program at the Quality Inn overflow shelter.

Monthly field trips are an important part of Playtime’s curriculum. And this summer we’ve hosted some pretty unique trips for the children and youth in all our programs.

As a sponsor, your gift will benefit program expansion efforts to reach more children and families experiencing homelessness in the D.C. area.

With your support, we hope to offer around 300 children in our programs the encouragement and support they need for a successful start to the school year in August.

Justine Davenport, our July Volunteer of the Month, started volunteering with Playtime in October 2015 at the DASH Cornerstone Transitional Living Program.

While many of the children live in overflow shelter hotels, the swimming pools we associate with vacationing at a hotel are not open to the families living in these converted emergency shelters.

Playtime is proud and honored to be accepted into the Catalogue for Philanthropy’s 2019-20 class as one of the best local nonprofits!

Since our launch at the Quality Inn overflow shelter hotel in January 2017, we’ve only been able to offer Playtime two nights a week. Little kids (6 months-7 years old) play on Mondays, and big kids ages 8-12 play on Wednesdays. But starting this month, we’re thrilled to be doubling the dosage of play at the overflow shelter and welcoming Madison Sampson, our new Preteen Program Manager!

Penelope “Pennie” Theodorou joined Playtime as a Play Ranger in February 2017 when we launched programming at the Quality Inn overflow shelter on New York Avenue. She has been a dedicated volunteer ever since.

Giving the gift of play is in your hands—literally! A new iPhone app has made supporting Playtime a lot easier.

We are enormously grateful to all who made our spring campaign a huge success!

We love when the children run up and hug us when they arrive at Playtime!

“Playtime Project came in and volunteers came with them, volunteers who really appreciated us.” She didn’t have to worry about her daughter anymore.

Volunteering with Playtime opened my eyes to the fact that so many kids experiencing homelessness, or even in lower-income communities, don’t get the chance to just PLAY and be kids.

We are thrilled to announce that Axar Management, which owns the Quality Inn overflow shelter on New York Avenue, has stepped up as a hero of play! The hotel company is donating the space for Playtime to add two more nights of play at the hotel shelter.

My experience as a Ranger has brought me to reflect on a variety of topics around community, my privilege, empathy, and deference to others’ experience in a profound way I won’t soon forget.

Our programming isn’t simply giving children things to do to pass the time. We put much thought and analysis into the activities and the environment we create for children living in shelters.

I can’t stress enough how wonderful it feels to be a part of these communities and to feel like I’m helping, even in a small way.

As we add up the contributions that came in last month, we are thrilled so many of you chose to ensure hundreds of children living in temporary shelters in the nation’s capital receive the gift of play.