Amy Ciciora

  • published Decrim Donation 2022-04-13 09:52:03 -0400

  • published DC Bike Party 2022 2022-03-15 11:05:19 -0400

    Join DC Bike Party in helping to restock HIPS' Food Pantry!

    DC Bike Party Rides With Purpose! HIPS is the featured charity for DC Bike Party's Funk Ride 2022 on
    Wednesday, May 11, 7:30pm at Dupont Circle Fountain.
    Follow DC Bike Party on social media for more details on this and other rides!


  • published Women's Wellness 2022 2022-02-08 13:22:49 -0500

    Women's Wellness 2022

    In the summer of 2020, because HIPS has a vision to care for everybody (sometimes taking on a lot!), we created the Women’s Wellness Program, thanks to a grant from HAHSTA at the Department of Health. The program seeks to boost self-esteem, provide a safe community, and support cis women of color experiencing homelessness, partner violence, or a range of health related issues. 

    Pictured: Clients create affirming and empowering Valentine’s Day cards for themselves in 2021.

    HIPS staff outreach to women in need of support by tabling on H Street, visiting shelters, or just meeting women in the streets. They have a variety of individual needs. For folks experiencing homelessness or living in an abusive home very often don’t feel they have a safe space to share or even be. To ease some of these feelings of vulnerability weekly meetings are offered to talk and address mental health issues clients might be experiencing. Basic needs are addressed with hygiene kits containing toothpaste, tampons, new socks and other necessary items.  Coping skills for grief and loss are discussed as well as various useful topics like job readiness training, job interview prep, and information on getting a GED. HIPS’ own take on art therapy is also offered. Painting supplies and freshly made smoothies offer a safe space where clients can feel a part of something and discuss their work when their art pieces are finished. Imagine how normal that feels? 

    Boosting confidence is also important. By creating a buddy system, where clients are paired up with one another, women have someone to go with them to appointments or to offer support during childcare exchanges with former partners that may have been abusive. Peer to peer support is something HIPS is all about. Who better to understand the situation than a person with lived experience? 

    Holidays aren’t forgotten either. Valentine’s Day in particular is celebrated wholeheartedly. Teddy bears, balloons, chocolate covered strawberries, and cupcakes are part of the fun, but maybe even more meaningful are the valentines. The women write encouraging love notes to themselves, cultivating self-love and encouragement from within. And yes, this year we will celebrate again on February 14th.  

    There are 215 women participating in the Women’s Wellness Program. The only requirement to participate is a desire and need. As always, HIPS is about taking down barriers to care and human kindness, not creating them.  

  • published Board Member Q&A Lauren Webre 2022-02-08 12:52:12 -0500

    Board Member Q&A Lauren Webre

    Lauren Webre


    Lauren Webre is a D.C. based education researcher, programmer, and performing artist. Lauren has a diverse background spanning social work, trauma-informed care, efficacy research, relationship coaching, data analysis, and exotic dance. They are honored to be working with HIPS toward dignity and harm reduction for those who most need it.

    We asked Lauren why she wanted to join the Board at HIPS.

    Initially, joining the board was proposed to me by outgoing board member Jon Zucker. I, like many I'm sure, did feel intimidated - I've never been on a board! Jon and I had connected through theater, and when we first met, I was writing a screenplay about my time as an exotic dancer (I haven't finished it ;) ) . I carry a strange perspective on the field by virtue of having done it while working toward a masters in social work (also unfinished) and having started in my 30s. I've got all kinds of work experience in theater and hospitality and research - even consulting at this point - but wouldn't think of myself as a board member! But having close connections to sex workers of various kinds and  witnessing the impact of FOSTA SESTA made me aware of how policy can change the safety of vulnerable people. I'm also just fundamentally the sort of person who feels compelled to help others, particularly when aware of a struggle - so being offered a chance to help those who are helping is always something I'll work to do. Additionally during my psychology and social work degrees, I focused heavily on the relationships between sexuality, gender, and mental health. It was the example of other exotic dancers that led me to finally embrace my own gender-queerness, and I know personally how transformative a little bit of support and acceptance can be in finding peace in who you are. Perhaps most importantly, having internalized a systems perspective from social work and understanding how one barrier in life leads to so many others. So the mission of HIPS couldn't feel MORE personal to me. Treating drug users and sex workers with dignity is a kind of humane-ness that's hard to come by, but I understand how compassion is the only way to open the gates forward for the marginalized. I know all to well also how the trans-folk and the gender non-conforming experience all degrees of violence and marginalization, and that there's a relationship between addictions and a lack of acceptance. So the fact that we focus our services on people who face the MOST challenges - trans folk, sex work communities, and those struggling with housing and addiction - feels like one of the most important places to focus effort and care. I believe HIPS holds the power to heal, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to support the mission. I think the scariest part of joining the board was committing to fundraising, especially after periods in my own life of financial scarcity. Jon helped me understand that there's no consequences here for needing a learning curve, which is that same kind of compassion that opens the doors to motivation. But I've also seen how expressing my personal connection to a mission can motivate others to action - so I'm excited to focus some effort, communicate my passion, and hopefully see it blossom into support for the organization. In candor, I think for someone like me, being on the board of HIPS is a huge opportunity to learn about nonprofits and their needs and functions, as well as a way to integrate my past into a public social identity that garners respect more than derision. I think overcoming the imposter syndrome of 'Me? on a board of directors?' is just one more step in my own empowerment - and that's exciting! I think it'll widen the landscape of opportunity in my own future, and I hope to give this kind of forward momentum back to others I know who've lived through THEIR struggles with marginalization and transformed them into action and compassion. Believe it or not, there's even MORE to this already wordy story I hope I can figure out how to communicate concisely in the future. 

    We also asked when and where they are the happiest?

    Right now. I'm living my best life today. I'm on vacation with a loving partner, I have 2 fantastic cats. I'm openly queer in my life in DC, I'm training circus arts in my spare time, I'm singing with my music partner on weekends, I'm progressing in my data analytics career and I'm learning how to harness social good will to aid the under-served. Hard to ask for more, no?

  • published Board Member Q&A 2022-02-08 12:44:17 -0500

    Board Member Q&A

    Gabrielle C. Newell, Board Vice Chair


    Gabrielle Newell is committed to boosting the effectiveness and equity of our safety net services. Gabrielle is a proud Washingtonian who came to HIPS in 2014 first as a volunteer, and in 2019 as a Board Member.  Her paid work is in  the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families, where she leads work to make safety net programs more effective and equitable.  Gabrielle is a committed organizer who believes in the power of collective effort to meet our needs. 

    I joined the Board because when I was a volunteer, I developed a deep respect for the talented HIPS staff and clients and wanted to do what I could to make sure they had the tools and resources to continue to succeed and feel valued by the organization.  As a native Washingtonian and a Black woman, I've seen this city gentrify violently and I'm sensitive to the lack of investment in ensuring Black and queer people continue to have a place to belong in DC.  HIPS is leading the way in resisting these forces by providing affirming services.   And as an organizer with mutual aid efforts, I've witnessed the powerful role of HIPS in campaigns in DC to decriminalize sex work and drug use, as well as to provide stable jobs for members of our community.   I joined the Board to support our incredible staff, and it's an honor to continue to do that.

  • published Send Some LOVE 2022-01-31 13:17:17 -0500

    Send Some LOVE

    Please email [email protected] with:

    Your Valentine's NAME and EMAIL ADDRESS

    Include any personal message you'd like to include too!


  • donated 2022-02-14 11:07:56 -0500

    Send Some LOVE

    Make a donation of $5 or more in honor of your Valentine and HIPS will send them an e-Valentine.

    Make your donation then you will be asked to send your Valentine's NAME and EMAIL ADDRESS to HIPS. 

    You can also include a personal note! 


  • published Ms. Kathy 2021-12-20 15:42:08 -0500

    Ms. Kathy

     The Heart of HIPS

    Kathy “Ms. Kathy” Vann is a Level II Certified Addictions Counselor that leads groups at HIPS for those who choose not to use drugs. She describes her approach as unconventional, believing that you must “first come from the heart and appeal to a person’s spirit.” She shared a little about her ‘angel’ CoCo and how their connection began and grew. 

    I believe ‘gifts’ are given to us by the Universe in the most amazing sizes, shapes and forms.  CoCo is one of them.  I’d been working as a Level II Certified Addictions Counselor at HIPS for a few weeks, facilitating Recovery based therapeutic group sessions. It had been a huge challenge to entice clients to enter into the sessions.  The HIPS ‘Drop In Center’ is a popular visiting place for people experiencing homeless and drug users.  

    One day, CoCo entered into the room.  She was disheveled and appeared to be homeless.  I don’t recall what the topic of the day’s discussion was, but she quietly remained throughout the session listening.  Lunch was offered.  CoCo ate with our small group.  From that point on she participated on a daily basis.  She appeared very interested in the group topics. CoCo spoke quietly.  Her speech was muttered and it was at times challenging to understand her words.  However, when she spoke she always presented a profound message.  We would wait with ‘baited breath’ to receive the knowledge that would come from a person whom the group least expected to receive it from!

    CoCo became an important and integral part of our small community within the HIPS community.  I believe it was her blatant honesty when sharing that we appreciated the most.  

    CoCo is Haitian. She surprised the group one day when she began to speak fluent French! She shared a traumatic story about her mother’s death when Coco was a very young child. She adored her mother. When her mother died, Coco and her siblings came to New York City to live with relatives. She still has difficulty speaking about this terrible time in her journey of life.

    When I met Coco she used drugs on a daily basis and identified her occupation as a sex worker. No matter how her previous day went CoCo always showed up to group the following day. We had become a ‘family’, all from different experiences, trials, and walks of life. The group grew to greatly respect one another’s life choices. There remained a certain type of freedom from negative opinions and judgements, as well as safety from harm’s way inside our small room. 

    When the Covid19 pandemic hit, the group was postponed for over a year.  However, when the Covid19 restrictions allowed, we reunited.  We spent summer Thursdays in parks near the Anacostia River.  HIPS staff members frequently joined us.  CoCo then moved to a special type of shelter in Baltimore.  She still made her way to D.C. to attend our group sessions.  A few months ago, Coco entered a drug treatment facility outside of the District.  She returned drug free with a renewed attitude of clarity!

    She remains faithful to our group, appearing consistently and sharing with an honest and excitedly open heart.  She is my ‘Angel’.  

    Thank You, Universe!

  • published Candid Almond 2021-11-29 12:37:42 -0500

    Candid Almond

    Artist Gives a Portion of Sales to HIPS 


    One of our greatest gifts is when local folks care enough about our mission to help raise the donations that make our work possible. Deb Almond is one of those people, and we were excited to reach out and learn a little more about them!

    - How did you hear about and get involved with HIPS? 

    I'm from London, UK and came to the US in January of 2014 on a fiancee visa to marry my American husband. For the first 6 months or so of living here I didn't have a work permit, social security number, or bank account and there wasn't a lot I could do. So, I began searching for a place to volunteer where I could use my training and education and meet new people. After googling sexual and reproductive health organizations in DC, I knew that HIPS was the first place I had to contact. I ended up volunteering a few mornings a week for about 3 months in 2014 where I spent most of that time writing a protocol for Hep C testing. I loved the people I met there and was grateful for the opportunity to learn more about my new city.

    - Is there anything you want to share about your background or education? 

    I got my MSc in London in the control of infectious diseases in 2012-13 and had already spent some time working in sexual and reproductive health in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and my home city of London. I continued that work with the Terrence Higgins Trust - the UK's largest sexual health organization - and then with a big international organization when I finally found fulltime employment here in DC. My focus has always been on sexual health and young people, especially those with limited access to good services and information. That took me all around the world, but I was growing increasingly aware of the need for essential services locally and I knew from my time at HIPS that there were so many talented people working towards Reproductive Justice and harm reduction here in DC. 

    - Tell us more about donating 10% of your sales 

    Eventually I turned my side hustle, Candid Almond, into a full time business and began selling my artwork on a larger scale. I felt that given the budget cuts to some of the essential services HIPS offers and knowing first hand the importance of the work they do in the community, the best impact I could have was through raising money and awareness. Since October 2020, I've given 10% of profits from every purchase directly to HIPS and have shared their information with hundreds of customers. My business is growing slowly but surely and so will my continuing donations to HIPS! I sell art prints, greeting cards, pins, tote bags, mugs, and throw pillows from my website and in a new popup shop called ShopHER located on the second floor of Union Station.

    -Anything else interesting you’d like to share? 

    Although I'm not a DC native, I've been here for 8 years and consider this my US home town. I live in Trinidad, NE with my husband, daughter, and son who is due any day now! I gave up my job in January 2020 because it wasn't allowing me to be the partner, mum, or friend that I wanted to be. Since then I've been working on Candid Almond full time and I've never been so broke or happy! 


  • Decrim Poverty DC Launches

    #DecrimPovertyDC is a grassroots advocacy coalition committed to decriminalizing poverty by working to end stigma, violence, criminalization, and other forms of oppression against people who are targeted by the state for ‘crimes of poverty,’ including drug use, sex work, housing insecurity, citizenship status, and incarceration history.

    Read more

  • published HIPS MAT for OUD in MAT clinic 2021-10-26 14:00:10 -0400

    HIPS MAT for OUD

    Why MAT Matters

    The HIPS MAT for OUD (Medically Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder) program is known for taking the patients others won’t — whether they suffer from complex trauma, chronic homelessness, or years of mistrust of the medical establishment. HIPS MAT meets patients where they are and we get results that others don’t.

    Read more

  • published Sign On to Support HIPS 2021-09-16 09:13:46 -0400

    YES! I Support HIPS

    Since 1993, HIPS has worked to address the social, economic, and health disparities faced by people in DC's street economies. HIPS has grown from an outreach and referral service operating out of a passenger van, to a holistic and comprehensive harm reduction based program offering clinical, social service, harm reduction and advocacy. 

    36 signatures

    HIPS advances the health, rights, and dignity of people and communities impacted by sex work or drug use by providing non-judgmental harm reduction services, advocacy, and community engagement, led by those with lived experience. 

    We envision a world where all people engaged in sex work and drug use are empowered and can live healthy, self-determined, and self-sufficient lives free from stigma, violence, criminalization or oppression. 


    Add signature

  • published Decrim Sex Work 2021-08-30 15:05:01 -0400

    It's time to decriminalize Sex Work

    36 signatures

    The Community Health and Safety Amendment Act of 2019 is the culmination of years of work advocating for the rights and protections of Sex Workers. First introduced in 2017,  this legislation was carefully revised after thousands of hours of community engagement, petitions, and countless hours of meetings with community members and city council. After the Sex Worker Advocates Coalition (SWAC)* gained  five council members’ support as sponsors and cosponsors, this thoughtfully crafted  bill was reintroduced in June of 2019. In October of that year a  monumental hearing was held that lasted well over 14 hours. Despite hundreds of DC residents testifying in favor of this groundbreaking legislation, outside detractors (both national and international) won out over local support. As a result of detractors' scare tactics it never made it out of the judiciary committee for a full vote.  

    Then, just as the SWAC was regrouping and ramping up efforts, Covid19 hit and the movement really stalled. 

    That brings us to the here and now. We need support for the movement as the coalition redoubles efforts to fight to Decriminalize Sex Work for the many who’s survival is dependent on this work. 

    We seek to:

    •  Halt harmful police interactions
    • Promote freedom and increase sexual health 
    • Increase access to resources, housing, and healthcare 
    • Remove  barriers to other employment opportunities

    These barriers to safety, stability and health are particularly hardest on Black transgender women, femmes and gender non binary/non conforming folks. Most of whom have the least amount of access to safe housing and are most likely to be under employed/unemployable (due to lengthy criminal records for survival sex work).

    Please sign on and join this fight.  Your support of these human rights means critical change for so many. The time is NOW.


    *The Sex Worker Advocates Coalition (“SWAC”) was formed in October 2016 as a small working working group discussing the current status of sex worker rights in the District. By January 2017, the coalition had established defined principles and guidelines. SWAC is a group of individuals and organizations promoting the human rights, civil rights and liberties, health, safety, and well-being of sex workers and people profiled as sex workers in Washington D.C. and advocating for legislation and other policy changes to challenge the system of criminalization of sex work. SWAC’s mission is to support and advocate for the full decriminalization of consensual sexual exchange in the District. 

    Learn more about SWAC

    Add signature

  • signed up on Mailing List 2021-08-13 10:13:07 -0400

  • donated 2021-08-13 09:59:28 -0400

    Webinar Registration

    HIPS is offering both free of charge and sliding scale admission to our Suboxone, Ethics and Stigma Webinar!  

    We love this explanation of "Sliding scale, a tool for economic justice"  from Worts & Cunning. 

    Check out these bits from that conversation and we encourage you to read the blog!

    • The sliding scale is a tool that allows for a product or service to be obtained at multiple price points based on the circumstances of the purchaser.
    • The sliding scale represents the idea that financial resources, including income, are not and should not be the only determining factor in whether or not someone can access services/care/etc
    • Teachers deserve to get paid and students deserve classes which recognize the multiple realities of economic access and privilege that exist.

     We encourage  you to examine your own situation and make an appropriate donation.

    Donation suggested sliding scale: 

    $100 - This level of support covers one person's participation in the webinar AND supports the participation lowest and free participants.  

    $75 - True Cost This is the true cost of offering our webinar,  "If you are able to pay for "wants" and spend little time worried about securing necessities in your life, you have economic privilege and power in our community. This price is for you."

    $25-50 Middle Cost
    This level reflects the practitioner's acknowledgement that paying the full cost would prevent some folks from being able to attend, but who do not honestly find themselves reflected in either descriptions for the highest cost or the lowest."

    $5 - Lowest Cost
    Our lowest cost "represents an honest acknowledgment by the teacher and practitioner that there are folks whose economic circumstances would prevent them from being a part of classes if there was not be a deliberate opportunity made for them to access services at a cost that is reflective of their economic realities." HIPS would add that often these folks' participation is critical and important to a full and equitable conversation. 

    0$ - HIPS offers this level for folks for whom registering via a credit card presents a significant barrier to participation. If you would like to participate at this level, your RSVP will suffice and you can close this window!