Hollywood star Richard Gere is set to present awards at this year’s annual gala hosted by N Street Village, a social service agency in Northwest Washington that celebrates and empowers homeless and low-income women.

Gere, a Golden Globe winner who has starred in such movies as “Looking for Mr. Goodbar,” “American Gigolo,” “An Officer and a Gentleman” and the blockbuster “Pretty Woman,” will present awards to clients, volunteers and supporters of N Street Village.

More than 600 people are expected to attend the gala, which is scheduled for March 15 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, and is co-chaired by Tom Baltimore and Hillary Baltimore. Honorary co-chairs are: U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) and his wife, Kasey Crowley; and U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-California) and his wife, Marie Royce.

Since N Street Village opened its doors in 1972 pledging to “be there,” it has remained open to thousands of women 24 hours a day, every day, working to transform lives.

N Street Village, which provides a continuum of supportive services and housing to help women achieve stability, is one of the largest providers of services in D.C. to homeless women.

Some of the women who arrived at N Street Village had been abused, others suffered mental illness, some had health problems, and some had lost their jobs and had nowhere else to turn.

N Street provided them housing and recovery programs to help with their healing.

More than 90 percent of its clients suffer from addiction and mental illness, which advocates for the homeless say often leads to instability in housing.

More than 70 percent of its clients have suffered trauma, including physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

Fifteen percent of the clients report being HIV positive. Some of the clients have endured health problems, job loss, eviction and home foreclosure.

N Street village offers food, clothing, showers, crisis support, mental health counseling, psychiatry, and medical care and addiction recovery groups.

N Street Village, which has 51 affordable housing units, also offers case management, job training and placement.

A few years ago, I wrote a Washington Post Magazine piece about two women who sought help at N Street Village, where their lives were transformed. In 2009, the women attended the People’s Inaugural Ball, organized by Fairfax County philanthropist Earl W. Stafford, who was inspired to throw the ball for the disadvantaged, the homeless, the dying, the wounded and the disabled — people overlooked by society.

Somewhere in the crowd that night stood homeless people, wounded service members, flood survivors. If you looked into the ballroom, it would have been hard to distinguish the millionaires from the people who had only pennies in their pockets. They would dine on lobster and steak, nibble on white chocolate. They would shake hands with celebrities and dance until night moved into day. No one would know that a ripple of change was making its way through the crowd that night, and that the People’s Inaugural Ball, celebrating the first African American president in U.S. history, would transform lives one by one.

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