Founded in 1983, Win began as a shelter for four homeless women and their combined six children. Since then, Win has evolved to become a leading, non-profit agency and the largest provider of shelter for homeless families in New York City. We serve close to 10,000 homeless women and their children each year.
Win has sharpened its focus from offering shelter and support to homeless women and children, to providing comprehensive programs and services that enable homeless families to succeed in life and break the cycle of homelessness. Groundbreaking programs developed by Win are: Win Academy, Income Building Program, Children’s Afterschool, Mentorship and Recreation.
The Way To Win journey begins within the over 1,200 units of housing Win operates across New York City. Simple but safe, quiet, clean, and private, each unit has a kitchen, bathroom, and living/sleeping space. Upon entering a Win shelter, each family receives an Essentials Kit which includes basic necessities for setting up their unit, such as new sheets and towels; pots, pans, dishes, and flatware; and bathroom necessities like toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and toilet paper. Dignity and comfort are important to help families settle in so they can begin to focus on their life transformation rather than on struggling to survive.
All Win families include one or more minor children and nearly all are headed by women. Helping these mothers nurture their children is the primary goal of all of Win’s children’s programs – from babies through teens. All Win programs are age-appropriate and staffed by trained Head Teachers and Assistant Teachers, providing both safe haven and educational environment for all ages. Developmental assessments are offered to determine if an individual child is in need of specialized services, and referrals are made to qualified community organizations. Each Win shelter has an on-site NYC Department of Education liaison to help moms determine the best educational environment and location for their school-age children, and ensure a comfortable transition for the children themselves. After-school, school holiday, and recreation programs offer homework help, group activities such as games, arts and crafts, dance and literacy projects, and special field trips throughout the city. All the while children are cared for, their mothers are able to focus on their education, skills training, and job search.
Because of their personal histories, many Win mothers lack essential life skills that we often take for granted. Win seminars include basic through advanced parenting skills that present possible parent/child scenarios and include role playing by participants. Classes in creating and living within a budget and paying bills on time teach moms the importance of financial responsibility – a critical success factor for taking control of their lives. Organizing skills, like maintaining a calendar, are also vital for Win moms as they increase their understanding of how to schedule their children’s events – school, after school, medical appointments, etc. — as well as their own appointments with government agencies, classes, potential employers, and more.
Health and well-being are all vital to a mom’s ability to take and sustain control over her family’s life as well as her own confidence and general well-being. Homeless moms and their children are more likely to be in poor health because of their situation and lack of access to primary care. At Win, moms are counseled on how to identify their own and their children’s medical needs, and to understand the importance of wellness such as annual exams and dental care. Issues such as mental health, domestic violence, substance abuse, healthy nutrition and healthy self-image, exercise, and hygiene are tackled through outside referrals and on-site workshops.
Win’s educational emphasis is on developing and improving mom’s skills so she can elevate her job potential. Computer instruction, resume writing, and interviewing skills are some of the many competencies she develops with the support and guidance of Win professionals. Win also recognizes that identifying and addressing educational deficits is crucial to individual growth and therefore provides additional support in the area of self-improvement.
The homeless moms entering a Win shelter have typically experienced traumatic situations and challenges in life that have ultimately resulted in their “giving up.” Discouraged and lacking the ability to change their situation on their own, they need to be inspired and motivated to succeed. Case Workers work with Win moms to set their own goals and work towards changing their mindset and dejected spirit, and encourage moms to feel proud of the progress they make over the time they are in our shelters. Classes are held in self-advocacy, personal discipline, accountability, time management, and business conduct –- areas of personal development that have tremendous impact on a woman’s ability to confidently achieve independence.
Win works with each mom to help her secure and maintain a stable job that provides a steady income. Win encourages goal-setting that will foster job growth leading to steadily increased income and works with agencies that specialize in placing moms in jobs that are suited to their knowledge and skill set.
All of the work Win does for and with our moms has a single overarching goal: to enable families to have a real home, a place where mothers (and fathers) can raise their children in safety, peace, and dignity. We absolutely believe that every woman and child who comes through our doors has the potential to reach for and attain a better life for themselves and for future generations, ultimately breaking the cycle of homelessness.
Win has nearly 335 permanent supportive apartment units offering continued counseling and other supportive services for mothers/families with special needs, including:
• Young mothers who have aged out of foster care
• Mothers in recovery
• Families who have survived domestic violence
• Families with multiple instances of homelessness
• 90% of the women who graduate from Win and are in supportive housing are still in the same apartment two years later
• Win houses nearly 10% of the homeless families in New York City.
• Win has ten family shelters in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens with individual family units housing over 1,200 homeless families each night.
• Win has nearly 335 units of permanent supportive housing offering continued counseling and other supportive services for mothers/families with special needs.
• This year, Win placed over 700 families into permanent housing.
• Every night Win provides shelter for more than 4,600 people — including more than 2,700 children. Win provides services to close to 10,000 people a year.
• In the past year, 1,174 Win clients have achieved employment gains through Win’s Income Building Program.
• 53% of Win’s homeless moms are employed.
• With nine on-site daycare centers plus after-school educational and recreational programs, Win provides childcare services for homeless children of all ages.
• Camp Win, a specialized day camp, serves close to 1,000 homeless children during the summer and every school break – helping children maintain their educational focus while allowing their moms to concentrate on rebuilding their lives.
• Win has more than 500 full- and part- time staff members, and a dedicated roster of over 1,200 volunteers