HerStory Ensemble

                    HerStory Ensemble Newsletter Summer/Fall 2017

HerStory Ensemble's primary goal is to address the social and economic justice issues of homelessness. Our work provides an opportunity to bring focus to the issue of homelessness and advocacy efforts to end it.


Update on Senate Bill 49- Delaware's Homeless Bill of Rights

On June 14, 2017, the Judicial and Community Affairs Committee chaired by Senator Margaret Rose Henry of the Delaware State Senate heard testimony regarding Senate Bill 49 -AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 6 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO HOMELESS PERSONS also referred to as the Delaware Homeless Bill of Rights.  The bill states that "An individual's housing status should not be a basis for discrimination. This bill establishes a 'Homeless Individual's Bill of Rights' that provides rights to protections for individuals experiencing homelessness, including protections from discrimination while in public and while seeking access to housing, employment, and temporary shelter. This bill vests important investigatory and enforcement authority with the State's Division of Human Relations and the State Human Relations Commission, simialr to their roles with Delaware's Equal Accommodations Law and Delaware's Fair Housing Act."

Both testimony supporting the bill and raising concerns about the bill were offered. A point was raised for the need in clarity regarding some of the bill's language and intent. Most of those signed in to testify did not get an opportunity to do so due to time limitations. Among them was Christina Showalter, Executive Director of the newly formed Housing Alliance Delaware. The bill remains in committee as Senator Bryan Townsend (sponsor of the bill) and others supporting this important legislation address the issues raised. It is our goal to have this legislation pass the Delaware Senate and House of Representatives in 2018.

Please contact HerStory Ensemble for our advocacy postcards to share in community. Help us spread the word that "Discrimination has No Place In Our Great State!"




2017 Human Right To Housing Conference Report Released

 Housing Not Handcuffs-

 National Forum on the Human Right to Housing, Washington, D.C.

According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, over 150 advocates, attorneys, current and former homeless individuals, funders, reporters, and government representatives from over 100 organizations across the country gathered to strategically advance our collective work against criminalization of homelessness and for housing.

HerStory Ensemble participated on a panel that shared information and discussed local and state advocacy efforts addressing homelessness and its emerging issues. Much focus was given to the developing Homeless Bill of Rights for the State of Delaware. To read the 2017 conference report visit www.nlchp.org.

7/25/2017                           HerStory Ensemble In Community

Thank you Ms. Em (Emlyn DeGannes), owner of MeJah Books, Inc. and author of the newly released "Affirmations of Intention for Peace-Filled Living" and co-author of "Letters to Ms. Em." Enjoyed an insightful afternoon at the MarketPlace, Chester, PA discussing both books and sharing about the work of HerStory Ensemble.  We at HerStory Ensemble appreciate your contribution to community well being and encouragement in supporting those experiencing homelessness, at risk of homelessness, and formerly homeless. Pictured (left to right: Rhonda Celester (HerStory Ensemble), DeBorah Gilbert White (HerStory Ensemble), Community Member, and Ms. Em.    


Peace Train: Next Stop - HOUSING



HerStory Ensemble will present "Peace Train: Next Stop - HOUSING" as part of Delaware's Peace Week events, September 17 - 24, 2017.  "Peace Train: Next Stop - HOUSING" is an interactive presentation on homelessness, its emerging issues, and remedies. The impact of Delaware's pending Homeless Bill of Rights and the National Housing Not Handcuffs campaign are central to the presentation and the meaning of peace for those who do not have safe, affordable, and secure housing.

Date: September 24, 2017

Place: Bear Library- 101 Governors Place, Bear, DE  19701

Time: 2:00 - 4:00 PM

                  For more information about Peace Week Delaware Events visit                                                              www.peaceweekdelaware.org



Peace Train: Next Stop- HOUSING Has Left The Station! 

On a sunny and warm Sunday afternoon in Bear, Delaware, members of HerStory Ensemble presented "Peace Train: Next Stop- HOUSING as part of Peace Week Delaware 2017. The presentation was an offcial event of the Second Annual Peace Week Delaware statewide observance.  Rhonda Celester, and Theresa Randall portrayed women who were experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessnesss sharing their stories as they rode the Peace Train. DeBorah Gilbert White served as conductor of the train. The event has been proclaimed as moving and infomative, and members of the audience have requested consideration for encore performances. Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long shared her thoughts about Delaware's work on the issue of homelessness and the lack of housing as a healthcare issue. The afternoon provided an opportunity for people to learn more about the pending Delaware Homeless Bill of Rights, and the National Housing Not Handcuffs campaign.  The presentation was the second community awareness, education, and advocacy event developed by HerStory Ensemble's Community Empowerment Institute (CEI).  

If you or your organization would like to experience Peace Train: Next Stop Housing, please contact HerStory Ensemble to book a performance and discussion session. 

Peace Train: Next Stop: HOUSING cast; DeBorah Gilbert White (conductor Harriett T), Theresa Randall (passenger Cecilia Ware), and Rhonda Celester (passenger Nouveau (Nu) Riche).

HerStory Ensemble members and supporters.

Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long addressing the group regarding homelessness and Healthcare.



By Rhonda Celester

         On Sunday afternoon, September 24, 2017, HerStory Ensemble's original first staging of “Peace Train: Next Stop- HOUSING” pulled into the Bear Library as a part of Peace Week Delaware 2017. The mission of “Peace Train” was to bring awareness to the pandemic rise of homelessness throughout the United States by bringing focus to various stories about its causes.

        As Conductor Harriett T (DeBorah Gilbert White), made her way through the audience checking tickets and announced the upcoming stops; Hope Avenue, Prosper /Bank Street, Society Hill, and Housing. She transformed the theater into a commuter train and the audience its passengers. Two more riders were to board before journeys' end; Cecelia Wade (Theresa Randall) who boarded at Hope Avenue, and Nouveau Riche (Rhonda Celester) boarding at Prosper /Bank Street. During the commute from Hope Avenue to the last stop Housing, the three women shared their personal stories.

They spoke with passion about unforeseen cataclysmic events, devastating illness, ageism and stability  made fragile due to stagnant incomes, and the ever increasing state of an out of control housing market. These issues bring focus to the changing well-worn face of homelessness.  People experiencing homelessness are a larger and more diverse group than the most visible individuals who survive on the streets. The women on “Peace Train” were representative of some of them. This dramatization conjured up something powerful.  The conversation initiated during and after the interactive performance was indicative of the safe space created by the characters, and allowed the other “passengers” to share their own stories.

 Peace Train: Next Stop- Housing was the second event developed by the Community Empowerment Institute (CEI), the educational arm of HerStory Ensemble.  For the past five years HerStory Ensemble has collaborated with, and been an ally to other organizations working to get Delaware’s Homeless Bill of Rights (SB49) passed and to eradicate the stigma attached to poverty and loss of housing. Contact HerStory Ensemble to book a performance of “Peace Train: Next Stop- Housing".



Housing and Hope for Every Child:

A Look at Childhood Homelessness and Parenting


       Summary of National Homeless Awareness Month- November 2017

As we near the end of observing National Homeless Awareness Month 2017, be mindful that there are efforts across the country to pass legislation that supports the digniety and humanity of people experiencing homelessness.  In Delaware Senate Bill 49 assures all people regardless of housing status equal access to live in decent, safe, secure, and affordable housing. 

"An individual's housing status should not be a basis for discrimination. This bill establishes a 'Homeless Individual's Bill of Rights' that provides rights to protections from discrimination while in public and while seeking access to housing, employment, and temporary shelter." - Senate Bill 49, Delaware State Senate 149th General Assembly

To learn more visit legis.delaware.gov and encourage our State Senators to pass this important legislation.