Somehow camp went deep into my heart…I got to express my grieving with other people. It took the last bit of crying out of me.”
– 11-year-old camper
Breaking Down Barriers
The Center is unique in its focus on breaking down barriers to accessing our services. Through the years, we have learned that very often, it is precisely those who most need the services we provide who have the most difficulty accessing them in traditional ways. For this reason, we have prioritized
- going out into the community to provide services where our clients already are, such as schools (we currently partner with 20 schools under our RSP program), other non-profit organizations or providers that serve our target population (e.g., Sasha Bruce, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, NW and SE Domestic Violence Intake Centers), crime scenes, juvenile detention centers (New Beginnings), etc.
- providing services in a format or modality that is tailored to the specific needs of the client, such as non-verbal, expressive therapies for children (e.g., play and art therapy), specialized body-oriented interventions (such as Somatic Experiencing, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), group formats, and through creative partnership with Arena Stage, etc.
- continuing to build capacity to allow for delivery of services in other languages for clients for whom English is a second language.
- offering no-cost (grant-funded) and sliding scale rates for impoverished or low-income clients.
Responding to Community Needs
The Center is continuously making an effort to improve and build on our current programs to strengthen their impact and expand their reach. Two significant expansions are among our major programmatic achievements this year:
The Wendt Center became a grantee of the prestigious National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), funded by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). We received a five-year grant to supplement our school-based Resilient Scholars Project (RSP) with a critical, intensive home-based component (including therapy and case management services) for high-need children and families with extensive exposure to trauma. For the first time ever, our staff will be able to meet with students and their families in the home setting, assess their need for basic services and provide evidence-based therapy to maximize our clients’ chances for enduring, positive outcomes.
We also received major support to launch a 24/7 Crisis Response Continuum in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Department. This program represents an expansion of our crisis intervention services at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, where we have been providing support and counseling to individuals coming to identify their deceased loved ones for two decades. Under our new partnership with MPD, Wendt Center clinicians respond directly to the scene of homicides to provide family members and other loved ones with a safety net of crisis intervention and support as they try to cope with the devastating effects of homicide.
While grief and loss will always be at the core of our identity, our clinical expertise translates effectively to the treatment of trauma. Over the years, we have expanded our formal programs specifically to address the needs of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, abuse, and other traumas. Statistics show that the residents of the District of Columbia are disproportionately impacted by violence and trauma. More often than not, our clients’ lives are marked by loss and not just one, but multiple traumatic experiences. This year, one of our major funding partners – the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants (OVSJG) has reported that 43% of all crime victims seeking mental health services from OVSJG-funded organizations receive these services at the Wendt Center.
They have amazing counselors. They’re growing so much – there’s such a need for them out there.
– Kim Shiff, supporter