Youth Help Project Legacy of Slain Daughter of Diplomat
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The two unmarried teen-agers playing with their babies and watching a television soap-opera didn’t know Sasha Bruce’s story, but they remembered her mother coming to visit their home for troubled girls.
″She was very attractive ... very nice,″ said one of the teen-agers, referring to Evangeline Bruce, international hostess and socially prominent widow of former diplomat David K.E. Bruce.
Mrs. Bruce was active in setting up the house for teen-age mothers, and helping to organize five other programs for young people with problems in the nation’s capital.
The house, where five young mothers now live, is part of Sasha Bruce Youthwork Inc., named for Mrs. Bruce’s daughter who died under mysterious circumstances nine years ago at age 28.
″I would have had to give my daughter up for adoption,″ said Anne, one of the teen-agers whose real names could not be used because they are wards of the state.
The young mothers, who had been abused or neglected as children, learn how to feed, change and care for their babies in a comfortable, homey environment on the top two floors of a townhouse in the shadow of the Capitol. The girls also complete high school or attend classes in computer science or other vocations.
The house is a haven, a ″nice big family,″ according to one girl who left home at 12 and said she survived on the streets by staying with friends, dealing drugs and working in a fast-food chicken restaurant.
Then she got pregnant and was allowed to come to the group house two months before her baby was born.
It was the family and friends of Alexandra Bruce - Sasha - who helped make this project and others a reality after she was shot at the family’s Virginia estate in 1976.
The death first was classified as a suicide, but a subsequent investigation led to an indictment against the young woman’s Greek husband, Marios Michaelides.
Michaelides, who lives in Greece, was never brought to trial because of a treaty that bars the extradition of Greek nationals to the United States.
Following Sasha’s death, her family sought to lend its support to a program that helped troubled youth, a concern of Sasha’s while she was a student at Radcliffe.
The Bruces settled on an outreach program for runaways that operated in the basement of a church in Washington’s fashionable Georgetown section. It was just a few blocks from the Bruces’ huge house filled with antiques, art and pictures from the years they lived in exotic capitals from Peking to Paris.
″We wanted to do something in Sasha’s memory,″ Mrs. Bruce said in a brief telephone interview several days after she held a fund-raiser for the Youthwork that raised an estimated $50,000.
Youthwork, with an overall budget of $1.5 million and 50 staff members, is headquartered in a big, white-brick house. The top floors are designated as the Sasha Bruce House, a shelter for 15 girls and boys under 18 years who stay an average of three weeks.
In part because of Mrs. Bruce, a number of well-connected Washingtonians sit on the Youthwork’s board, including Lilly Guest; Susan Mary Alsop, the writer formerly married to newpaperman Joseph Alsop, and Jane Halaby, the mother of Jordan’s Queen Noor, the former Lisa Halaby.
Dorothy Harris, president-elect of the National Association of Social Workers, said even though the Youthwork projects are not unique in the United States, there is a ″dire need″ for similiar, well-run programs that provide a supportive atmosphere for youth.
″We could avoid a lot of problems down the line with this kind of program,″ she said.