For Deborah Shore, caring is not enough. For more than two decades, the founder and leader of Sasha Bruce Youthworks, D.C.’s only emergency center for young people, has helped countless children and teens better their lives by providing them safety, security and most of all, love.
GW honored her lifelong, personal outreach to Washington’s endangered youth Jan. 26, awarding her the first-ever Bender Prize for her “leadership and civic dedication.”
But after nearly a quarter-century of tireless community service, Shore could not be present to personally accept the honor. The Make-A-Wish foundation, which grants wishes to terminally ill young people, sent the Shore family to Hawaii last week. On the same day she found out she won the award several weeks ago, doctors informed Shore that her teenage son’s cancer had come out of remission, said Barbara Porter, director of public affairs for GW.
Selected from more than 165 nominations by a committee of prominent Washingtonians, Shore received $25,000 and a sculpture by John Safer in recognition of the award, funded by the Dorothy G. Bender Foundation Inc. Thomas Bruce, president of SBY, outlined Shore’s long history of work with at-risk youth in a three-page nominating letter emphasizing her devotion to the District’s children and adept managerial skills.
“Every day children in need come to SBY because they have no where else to turn,” he wrote. “To provide a safe refuge for children, Sasha Bruce House is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. No child is ever turned away.”
Shore opened the doors of the Sasha Bruce House in 1977 but perceived the need for such a haven several years earlier. While still a college student, Shore quickly developed an interest in helping the runaway and destitute youth flooding the Dupont Circle and Georgetown areas, where she lived. Through her street-work counseling, she led the young people to local shelters and in some cases, even back to their own families.
“After all these years there is one thing I know for sure: I never saw a kid succeed without getting love from somewhere,” Shore said in a 1997 letter to SBY supporters. “We do our best to help parents give their kids the love they need. But if this is not possible, then at SBY, all children receive the love and support of people who care about them . because every child has the right to grow up with hope, happiness and love.”