Amber Tucker, Howard University News Service
Deborah Shore, CEO, and founder of the Sasha Bruce Youth Work (SBY) dedicated her life to giving back to her community. Born and raised in Washington D.C., Shore explains how she’s “always felt a need to change the dynamic of the District.”
“My journey began over 44 years ago in an effort to help a friend heal from losing her oldest child. Now I live every day helping our next generation,” Shore said.
Jonathan Moore, a staff member at the Sasha Bruce House, said, “I’ve worked with Deborah for 13 years, and she gives her all every day. These kids mean the world to her and her spirit is full of love. God made this work just for her.”
The violent death of Alexandra Bruce, the daughter of esteemed socialite hostess Evangeline Bruce, sparked Shore’s passion for giving back. Alexandra, known as Sasha, was fatally shot in 1975 at the family estate. Police suspected Sasha’s husband of her killing, but he but fled the country and was not extradited to face charges.
Devastated, Evangeline Bruce enlisted the help of several friends to create the Sasha Bruce Youth Work organization. Among these friends was Shore, an individual that played a crucial role in getting the organization off the ground.
Shore stated, “In the beginning days we were just an outreach program. We would walk the streets of D.C. leaving no stone unturned finding children and teenagers in need of somewhere safe to stay for the night.”
While we used a church to house some of the children, I would go out and network to get more financial support for the non-profit. It wasn’t until a dear friend of mine, Evangeline Bruce, reached out to me in efforts to help us establish a real building, a dedicated space to help these children thrive,” Shore continued.
In 1977, Shore opened the Sasha Bruce Youth Work House. The organization was initially an outreach program. It later evolved into a youth shelter when Evangeline Bruce donated a building for the charity.
The District of Columbia saw an increase of 40.5% in homelessness– within the last decade alone, according to 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report done by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. From 2007-2017, D.C. saw a 142.7% increase of homeless people in families with children and teenagers, according to Shelters to Shutters.
Jasmine, a young woman in the program who declined to give her last name, said, “I was living at home with my parents, and I had been sexually abused by my step-father. The Sasha Bruce house saved me.” They took me in, and it was the warmth of being here. Deborah “truly is a mother figure.”
Jessica Bisqut, a former member of the clinic, said, “I was one of the first people ever in her clinic, and now I work for her."
"When I was 16, I remember thinking how someone could love someone like me. [Shore] cleaned me up put me in therapy for drug abuse and sexual assault and even helped me graduate,” Bisqut continued.
“They took me in, and it was the warmth of being here. Deborah truly is a mother figure,” Jasmine, the young woman living at the Sasha Bruce house, said.
“These kids need someone to be there when they feel they have nowhere else to turn. And I love being that person for them. I look to inspire these kids and ignite a community that helps one another. And I wouldn’t change a single thing,” Shore said.