Community Family Life Services

A Note of Thanks

We wanted to share a note that Claudia received from a client a few weeks ago. It reminds us of why we love to work at Community Family Life Services.

It reads:

“Ms. Thorne, Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and my family.  You keep me believing in myself because you also believe in me!” Now that is inspiration.


Name: Betty Washington

Job Title: Program coordinator for Family to Family and Administrative Assistant to Ms. Claudia Thorne.

How long have you been working for CFLS? Over two years.

What brought you to CFLS? I am a former client of CFLS and after being a client and seeing the types of services they provide and seeing what they do to empower and move their clients forward I definitely felt it was a place for me.

What’s the biggest reward you get from working at CFLS? Knowing that I meet clients in situations that I was in when I got here and being an instrumental part of their lives. Seeing their faces when they’ve accomplished their goals is very powerful.

Can you tell us one success story you’ve seen? There was a client that had been trying to get a certificate. She completed all of the classes necessary to obtain it but did not have the funds to pay for the physical certificate. Through Family to Family we were able to get her the certificate, which led to a job, which led to money, and finally permanent housing. Her success was going from homelessness to having a stable place for her and her family.

Just for fun, favorite restaurant in DC? Busboys and Poets near U Street.

You can hear more about Betty’s incredible story by watching the CFLS Success Services YouTube video.

Name: Claudia Thorne

Job Title: Executive Director

How long have you been working for CFLS?: Since September 2006.

What brought you to CFLS?: The mission and vision of the organization. Who we serve and how we serve. We are positioned to help children and families living in underdeveloped communities or who have had challenges in their lives.

What’s the biggest reward you get from working at CFLS? Seeing all of the success we help make possible. When a family who was at one time homeless moves into permanent housing. When children succeed in school, when people who were hungry have food and when people with HIV have better health outcomes. When people tell us we have made such a difference in their lives.

Can you tell us one success story you’ve seen? The success of the client who came to speak at the panel event at American University who is now working as a phlebotomist. We had a widowed woman who was unemployed and homeless with an infant and she is also now a phlebotomist. Now she’s ready to get her own apartment. When people are given the basic safety security web and are given the opportunity to know that they can do something, that’s why I am here.

Just for fun, favorite restaurant in DC? Indigo Landing in Alexandria.

Name: April Wills

Job Title: Case Manager, Shelter Plus Care

How long have you been working for CFLS? About 8 months. I am originally from Washington, DC and I worked for another nonprofit with a similar empowerment mission before coming to CFLS.

What brought you to CFLS? Their mission. We work with helping homeless and low income individuals and families. I like working in the helping profession.

Job duties? Perform monthly home visits with clients, assist them with benefits, employment, emergency food and transportation, rental assistance and utility bills.

What’s the biggest reward you get from working at CFLS? Being able to help someone accomplish some type of success. It doesn’t need to be a lot– even if it’s just transportation or information for something that they did not previously know. When I go to a client’s house I’m there for a few hours. It’s deeper than just what’s on the monthly report; they let me know what’s going on in their lives.

Can you tell us one success story you’ve seen? When I first started working at CFLS, I had a client who had arthritis and walked with a cane. Because of physical therapy and the transportation we provided him to get this service, he can now walk the majority of the time without the cane and has a better attitude.

Just for fun, favorite restaurant in DC? Mongolian BBQ in Bethesda.

Name: Connie Highfill

Job title: Employment & Housing Consultant

How long have you been working for CFLS? I have been employed part time at my current position for 1 year.  I have a prior employment history with CFLS that spans a period of 13 years working from the ranks of case manager to director of housing and case management services.

What brought you to CFLS? The agency’s mission to assist and support those in need.

Job duties: I currently work with clients of Trinity Arms and Milestone Place as well assisting walk-in clients with employment needs as follows: career assessment, job training referrals, readiness counseling, resume preparation, job search assistance and post job placement support.  With regard to housing: income evaluation, credit history assessment, permanent housing search.

What’s the biggest reward you get from working at CFLS? Having the privilege of guiding clients to their success in achieving self-sufficiency.

Can you tell us one success story you’ve seen? There are many, but one that comes to mind is a mother and her two children who entered the Trinity Arms program.  She has a history of substance abuse but gained sobriety through hard work and determination.  She located employment and in less than one year attained a management position.  She has also returned to school pursuing certification as an addictions counselor.  She is a true inspiration to her children and those who have the pleasure of meeting her.

Just for fun, favorite restaurant in DC? Rasika, which serves wonderful Indian cuisine.  There are so many to choose from but, this is my current favorite.

A guest post from AU student, Tyler Weingart:

This evening, I attended a panel on homelessness at the American University Library, featuring Community Family Life Services staff members Claudia Thorne, executive director, Angela Bennett, a case manager, and a client of CFLS.

3 members from CFLS spoke at the panel at AU's Bender Library

“Homelessness can happen to anyone,” Community Family Life Services (CFLS) director, Claudia Thorne, said at tonight’s panel discussion in Bender Library. The panel discussion, Solutions to Homelessness, was hosted by Gemma Puglisi’s PR Portfolio class who is involved with CFLS’ public relations revamp this semester.

One of the hot topics in tonight’s presentation was how our generation can get involved with the fight against homelessness. Foundations like CFLS rely on volunteers throughout the year to keep their efforts alive. One of CFLS’ case managers, Angela Bennett, described some of the initiatives students around the district can take part in. “At CFLS we are always looking for volunteers. We could always use help bagging groceries, organizing the food pantry, tutoring children and orchestrating donations.” Angela works as a housing case manager and says one of the best parts about her job is “to serve and help those in need.”

With the current economic situation our country is facing, people are being overwhelmed by unfortunate circumstances. “Here at CFLS we try and find a client’s purpose, tap into their strengths, and inevitably end the cycle of poverty.” It is increasingly important, Ms. Thorne said, that our generation understand the randomness involved with poverty and homelessness. It is not always your stereotypical drug addict or felon, but that homelessness can happen to just about anyone these days. A single mother whose husband walked out on her or a lack of education in today’s increasingly technologically advanced society may result in homelessness. Our generation needs to stand against homelessness and help those who have innocently fallen into an economically deprived situation.

One of CFLS’ visions is to have more participation from local universities. “I would love to have every student here at American registered in our annual walk-a-thon,” CFLS’ director said. Capturing the youth of the district would definitely create a more sustainable fight against homelessness in and around the DC area. Now that CFLS has an active Facebook, Twitter page and Youtube channel, they are well on their way to targeting the right audience to help their cause.


“When people move on, and when you know they don’t need your help anymore, that’s when you know you have accomplished something great,” Angela Bennett declared. CFLS has become a haven to many struggling individuals and families throughout the district, something they are extremely proud of. Now that the message is out, CFLS needs the next generation to take a stand. It will be the graduates of tomorrow who will be able to stop homelessness once and for all.

Thanks for a great night, CFLS!

From left - CFLS' Angela Bennett, Claudia Thorne and client



American University’s Davenport Lounge  has teamed up with Community Family Life Services (CFLS) for a week-long promotion to support solutions to homelessness here in D.C. From February 21st through February 28th, students and community members alike will be given the option to add a dollar on to their beverage order, and all of the proceeds will go to CFLS.

This promotion is held in conjunction with a Solutions to Homelessness in D.C. panel event where American University students will hear the inspirational story of a CFLS client. The panel is set for this Thursday, February 24th at 7p.m. in the American University Library’s Training and Events Room. We hope to see you there!

For more information on these events, check out the CFLS Facebook page.

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