Mary Virginia Abe
Photographed by Dawnesha Coffin, age 18
Mary Virginia has been homeless since 2006. She grew up on a farm in West Virginia and moved to the D.C. area to attend college. Throughout the years she was a file clerk for various companies. She became homeless due to identity theft—a roommate opened credit cards in her name and accumulated a huge amount of debt on the cards that Mary wasn’t able to pay back or get reconciled. While she was homeless and living in a shelter, Mary Virginia was diagnosed with cancer. She fought it off with the help of the community of friends she had formed at the shelter. She is most proud of the fact that she has gotten her life back together and has her dignity and self-respect back. She now does extensive volunteer work with a shelter called N Street Village, with the National Coalition for the Homeless, and at a local school, teaching kindergarten.
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