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Playtime Updates

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

When the landscape of family homelessness began to change in the District of Columbia, Playtime knew we had to adapt in order to continue to follow the children wherever they are. As families facing housing insecurity are often pushed out of expensive D.C. to surrounding suburbs, one of the most logical places for Playtime to expand to was next door Prince George's County, Maryland.  

With Playtime’s families and partners, our long-term goal is to break the cycle of family homelessness, making sure all children have the opportunity to play, learn, and grow in safe spaces.

I will miss the smiles, the giggles, and countless inquisitive faces peering back at me through the camera’s lens. Each picture brings back memories of the children posing, frowning, grinning, or completely oblivious to the camera.

Starting September, Playtime will become a partner with J.C. Nalle Elementary School in Ward 7 to provide play programming and resources twice a week!

Homelessness never takes a vacation and going on a trip is a luxury most families we serve cannot afford. That’s why Playtime works to create extra-special experiences for children living in shelters.

Returning to in-person play this spring was a joy not only to us but to many of our volunteers, whose commitment is deeply appreciated.

Playtime has formed two exciting new partnerships to broaden Playtime’s services across the region.

Playtime has evolved with the changing landscape of homelessness in our effort to meet the needs of families living in shelter across Washington, D.C. And this month is no exception.

Join us for our #DidUPlay2day spring campaign to help Playtime bring play to more children living in shelters across the District.

When Playtime advocates for “service-rich environments” inside shelter settings, we mean including services for children whose needs deserve prioritization.

Playtime's mission has grown to not only provide trauma-informed play activities, but to advocate for the hundreds of children who cycle through the city’s homelessness network.

Playtime’s focus is always on how to better serve our children and families. With this in mind, we recently made the difficult decision to restructure at the management level to ensure fiscal responsibility and continued support of our mission.

The outpouring of support from so many of you was both overwhelming and humbling. You allowed us to fulfill our mission in new ways.

Your ongoing support gives children like Hanif, Ebony, and Christi a supportive and safe space to play for the holidays and the year ahead.

Through persistence and creativity, Playtime makes a difference for each child by forming a strong connection with them and tailoring play activities to fit their needs. Building these relationships is key to assessing how best to help our Playtime children and families.

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.