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Building Homes and Rebuilding Lives with HomeAid Northern Virginia

By: Kristyn Burr, Executive Director, HomeAid Northern Virginia

HANV - Youth for Tomorrow Ribbon cutting

This month, HomeAid Northern Virginia completed our 116th project to improve and expand housing provided by homeless shelters and supportive housing facilities – helping vulnerable individuals and families in our local area rebuild their lives with a secure, stable place to call home. Our most recent project was collaboration with the Brain Foundation of Fairfax County (another Catalogue nonprofit). With the assistance of HomeAid Northern Virginia, two Brain Foundation group homes that provide affordable, stable housing for individuals suffering from brain disease/mental illness – a population that is particularly vulnerable to becoming homeless – now have new bathrooms, more storage, enhanced common space and more.

HomeAid Northern Virginia facilitates and enables construction and renovation work on shelters, provides significant cost savings and allows organizations serving the homeless to invest their budgets in people-focused programs and services rather than building expenses. We facilitate renovations to shelters and supportive housing properties by bringing together the expertise of the local homebuilder community with the needs of local nonprofits who work to house the homeless.

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By convening and mobilizing the donated expertise, labor, and resources of homebuilders and construction trade partners (suppliers, subcontractors, etc.) who work with HomeAid Northern Virginia, we have completed 116 construction and renovation projects. Together these homeless shelters and supportive housing facilities have served more than 112,000 individuals in our community. Every single project we undertake gives more and more individuals and families safe housing where they can plan their futures and rebuild their lives.

Homelessness in Northern Virginia
Nearly 2,000,000 people find themselves homeless in America each year. A lost job or unexpected illness or injury can easily disrupt a family just getting by. A veteran’s posttraumatic stress, or the courageous decision to flee domestic violence displaces others. Due to the high cost of living in Northern Virginia, even the slightest change can affect a person’s living situation.

Building What Matters Most: A Secure, Stable Home

Stable secure housing has been shown to foster stable employment for adults and greater success in school for children. Access to stable, accessible housing enables families who were separated due to homelessness or housing insecurity to be reunited. At HomeAid, we do more than build housing for the homeless – we change lives.

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From the construction of entirely new shelter buildings to renovating sleeping areas, kitchens, and bathrooms, HomeAid Northern Virginia’s 116 projects have provided $14.7 million of construction to more than 40 nonprofit housing organizations that serve homeless families and children, victims of domestic abuse, runaway teens and other at risk individuals. Importantly, our projects have saved our nonprofit service-provider partners $8.4 million in retail construction costs, while at the same time enabling them to support improvements to provide a safe place for children to do their homework, for parents to get ready for work, and for families to get back on their feet. Instead of dollars spent on construction, our partners can pour more funding into the programs and services – education, vocational training, day care, counseling, etc. – that help individuals and families rebuild their lives.
HANV kitchen transformation
Several of our projects and partners include:

  • Shelter House’s Artemis House, Fairfax County’s only 24-hour domestic violence shelter. With HomeAid’s renovation, the shelter now provides safe housing for up to 8 individuals at a time facing life-threatening crisis.
  • Youth for Tomorrow (YFT), a residential campus for at-risk youth in Bristow, Va. HomeAid completed construction of two new homes on the campus, each allowing YFT to provide shelter and support services to 36 girls who are pregnant, young mothers, homeless, runaways, or survivors of sex trafficking.
  • Loudoun Transitional Housing Program. The program’s eight apartment units that provide transitional housing for homeless families and single women were completely renovated to create a well-appointed and fully-furnished home to help residents rebuild their lives and get back on the road to self-sufficiency.
  • Northern Virginia Family Service. HomeAid expanded and updated its shelter and food distribution center, constructed space for a Head Start day care facility, and renovated housing provided for disabled veterans and homeless families.

Beyond the Brick and Mortar: Enabling a Virtuous Cycle
Beyond the individual benefits to those living in the new/renovated facilities, there is a virtuous cycle of good associated with each HANV project:

  • Upgrades to housing positively impact not only current residents, but future residents for years to come.
  • Enhanced real-estate improves the balance sheet for nonprofits, and improves neighborhoods.

In this way, our projects are not “done” when they are completed; their impact is felt across individuals and communities long-term. By strategically building what is needed most in Northern Virginia, HomeAid is able to support other nonprofits as we work together toward ending homelessness, one person and one family at a time.

brain foundation renovation image 1HomeAid Isn’t Just For Homebuilders: “Helping Hands”
While we are always recruiting new homebuilders to serve as project “builder captains” and construction trade partners to collaborate with on our projects, we have plenty of other volunteer opportunities as well. The homes and shelter facilities we build and renovate provide comfortable shelter, but that’s typically not all that incoming residents need. Many arrive with little more than the shirts on their back. We started our Helping Hands program to make sure that individuals and families who move into HomeAid-renovated housing have what they need for a fresh start:

  • Our Fill the Fridge program collects gift cards so that homeless families moving into a new home can buy milk, fruit, and other perishables for a healthy start in their new home.
  • Our Welcome Home Baskets include basic but essential items that formerly-homeless families need for their new home, including towels, sheets, pots, dishes etc.
  • Our annual backpack drive ensures that children living in homeless shelters and supportive housing properties have access to a new backpack before the start of each school year; and our annual “Night at the Ballpark” treats hundreds of families living in local shelters to a Potomac Nationals baseball game – quality family time at a sporting event that may otherwise be out of financial reach.

Scout groups, neighborhood groups, school groups, church groups and other community organizations have organized collection drives for our Helping Hands program. These drives help make a house a home and you can make a difference by organizing one for an upcoming project. Learn more at http://www.homeaidnova.org/get-involved/volunteer/.

Volunteers and Tutors Make a Difference at Bridges to Independence

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Bridges to Independence has been working with and for people experiencing homelessness since 1985, when we were founded as the Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless. In 2016, Bridges served a total of 460 individuals: 248 through our housing programs (emergency shelter and rapid re-housing) and 212 in other programs and services (financial literacy, employment services, etc.).

Our mission is to lead individuals and families out of homelessness and into stable, independent futures. We offer aid and support for all family members, helping them attain financial security and move forward into self-sufficiency. As homelessness is often episodic, we work not only with people who are currently experiencing homelessness, but also with former participants to ensure they are able to remain securely housed and do not fall into homelessness again.

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Former client Mohammed, his wife, and their 5 daughters invited us to their home for a visit. It was wonderful to see the family thriving!

Our vision is to end the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Two-thirds of the people we serve are under the age of 18. We provide youth with opportunities to increase self-esteem, gain leadership skills, and improve their overall health/well-being. We strive to give older students the confidence, skills, and tools needed to pursue and complete post-secondary education or vocational training, providing them with a pathway to economic security.

After many years of helping people move into their own homes, we’ll soon get to experience a homecoming of our own! In September, we will move into a brand-new 4,700 square foot training center, directly adjacent to our Sullivan House emergency shelter. The new space will be a hive of activity and will include a children’s room for youth activities, classrooms for job training, a personal counseling suite, and offices for our staff to continue their crucial work to support families in need. We’ll be able to serve more people, carry out programming more effectively, and explore new and innovative solutions for reducing homelessness.

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Gather a team for our Kickball Tournament or volunteer at the event!

Our 12th annual SAFE AT HOME Kickball Tournament will be Saturday, August 5, 2017. Teams, sponsors and volunteers can sign up now at https://bridges2.org/kickball/. We also need volunteers to serve as mentors or tutors, represent Bridges at events, help with office work, and more. For details, see www.bridges2.org or contact Lawson Craighill at lcraighill@bridges2.org.

 

Nourishing Body and Soul at Thrive DC

By Greg Rockwell, Community Relations Manager, Thrive DC

Thrive DC is a “one-stop shop” for homeless services in Columbia Heights. We provide a range of services to help clients take their next step out of homelessness AND avoid becoming homeless in the first place.
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Since 2002, the average rent has gone up $3,000. At the same time, DC has lost HALF of its affordable housing to gentrification and luxury condos.

For the 8,000 – 10,000 already homeless individuals, and the many more living on the edge of poverty, that means DC has literally no room for them. We are experiencing a crisis where people are living on the street without resources and people in housing are just trying to hang on.

Thrive DC acts as an anchor and support system to these people to help them take their next step out of homelessness.

Coat Drive

“There is a spirit of community that infuses the organization. The direct services provided are necessary for the body, but the community serves the soul. Who’s to say which is the more valuable? Both are necessary and both can be found in great measure at Thrive DC.” — Volunteer

In 2019 we will celebrate 40 years of service to DC’s homeless population. In honor of that milestone we are also looking for a new space that we can grow in and provide even better service to our clients.

Emergency Groceries

Our clients are our inspiration, and our relationships with them drive everything we do. We get so excited to see them succeed!

When clients achieve the goals they set for themselves; to get sober, to get a job, to get housing, to re-establish their lives after years of incarceration – that’s what success looks like for us.

A great day includes a client achieving their goals, a big donation of socks or underwear, and a fresh baked plate of our Development Director’s world famous macaroons.

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Thrive DC is located in Columbia Heights, on the bottom level of St. Stephen’s Church at 16th St & Newton St NW. We love volunteers, and need around 20 volunteers a day to help with our breakfast & dinner programs, employment programs, and front desk work.

One of the biggest things people can do is to take our business cards and keep them in their wallet, purse, or pocket. We encourage people to interact with panhandlers as their conscience dictates, but also to always let clients know the next place to get more help.

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Pathways to Brighter Futures

cfpdc2013org-DoorwaysforWomenandFamilies-94291-2541 Doorways for Women and Families is a local nonprofit, community service organization that creates pathways out of homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault leading to safe, stable and empowered lives. The causes of family homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault are profound and varied.

Doorways works to break the cycles of poverty and violence through every interaction we have with our clients and by advocating for systemic policy change. We are successful because we treat each person as an individual, tailoring our programs and services to help every adult and child we serve overcome trauma, build life skills and ultimately unlock their full potential. From immediate crisis intervention to counseling, housing and employment support, we offer real options and multiple pathways to build brighter futures.

Together with our community, Doorways puts thousands of adults, youth and children on paths to brighter futures by providing:

  • An immediate, safe response to our neighbors in crisis, including Arlington’s only 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline (703-237-0881)
  • Safe housing options, from emergency shelter through long-term housing, including Arlington’s only Domestic Violence Safehouse, Safe Apartments and Safe Kennel
  • Comprehensive support services that help our clients achieve and maintain stability, including Children’s Services

At Doorways, we have an unofficial motto coined by one of our team members: “Do for; Do with; Cheer on.”

When clients first arrive at Doorways, they are escaping crisis; basic needs such as safety and shelter are their top priority. In the beginning, we “do for” our clients by seeing to these immediate needs for them. Next, we “do with” our clients by partnering with them to set goals for their brighter futures. Through trauma-informed counseling and other tailored services, we help clients address the underlying causes of homelessness and violence and teach them critical skills for achieving and maintaining stability. Finally, we “cheer on” our clients when they are ready to take steps on their own, celebrating their independence while continuing to support their journeys.

From our immediate response to safe shelter and housing to our Comprehensive Service Model, Doorways empowers our clients every step of the way. Learn more about Doorways unique approach at www.DoorwaysVA.org/our-approach.

Who We Serve

Doorways serves our community’s most vulnerable members: families experiencing homelessness and survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Experiencing any one of these in your life is traumatic, but many of Doorways clients have experienced all three. Family homelessness and domestic and sexual violence impact everyone, regardless of age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. We serve women, men, youth and children; in fact, more than half of Doorways clients are kids. Meet three of our amazing clients, Christina, Erica and Khadeejah, and hear about their journeys firsthand:

 

Hope for a Brighter Future

While the issues of family homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault may seem too pervasive to solve, we know that, together, we can make a difference. Doorways envisions a community where all people live free of violence and have safe and stable housing.

Through the generosity of our partners and supporters, Doorways empowers our most vulnerable neighbors to survive crisis, rebuild their lives and achieve brighter futures. In so doing, we help break intergenerational cycles of homelessness and abuse, building the brightest possible future for those we serve and our shared community. The strength, courage and resilience of the women, men, youth and children we serve inspire us each and every day.

Sharing in our belief in their potential and hope for our clients brighter futures, Doorways dedicated and generous supporters enable us to respond to the increasing demand for safety and the growing complexity of the needs of survivors and families seeking self-sufficiency, despite the uncertain, restrictive funding climate that threatens our ability to deliver lasting change in our client’s well-being.

Court Advocacy

Everyone’s journey to a brighter future is different each individual has their own story, needs, goals and dreams; their pathways vary. We celebrate victories big and seemingly small: a baby’s homecoming or first steps; a mother’s new, better paying job; a family’s new apartment; a young man’s breakthrough in counseling; a child’s creation in art therapy. Each step forward makes for a great day at Doorways.

We also know that the challenges that arise along the way are part of the journey, and we’re here to help our clients face and overcome them. We’re humbled to be part of their life and see the transformation that is possible. Through Doorways, this support has helped our most vulnerable neighbors achieve the following in the last couple years:

  • 90% of clients experiencing intimate partner violence enhanced their safety by developing a safety plan, obtaining a legal protective order, and/or receiving accompaniment for emergency medical treatment post sexual assault.
  • 87% of households experiencing homelessness exited to safe housing.
  • 95% of children with social-emotional issues received services and treatment to address their needs.
  • 80% of adults improved or maintained employment or earning capacity, and nearly 70% built savings.

Join Our Cause

The time is now. The need for Doorways programs and services has never been greater. Over the past two years, every Doorways program serving survivors of violence has grown. Last year alone, Doorways responded to 1,347 calls to our 24-hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline impacting 2,206 adults and children a record number in the organization’s history.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in America. This month offers opportunities to raise awareness about sexual violence and resources available to survivors in our community, including our 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline, Hospital Accompaniment for survivors seeking medical attention, Court Advocacy, and our Revive Domestic & Sexual Violence Counseling Program, which offers individual and group counseling to survivors of all ages.

Visit www.DoorwaysVA.org/saam to learn how to participate in our awareness days and events, and how to help raise awareness during SAAM. Go to www.DoorwaysVA.org/join-our-cause for ways to stay involved all year long.

Making Positive Life Changes at Friends of Guest House

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Friends of Guest House is a safe place in Northern Virginia for women to successfully re-enter the community after incarceration. While residing at Friends of Guest House the women have the opportunity to secure employment, obtain mental health and medical services, build community connections, and attain stable housing.

Each day we strive to challenge our clients to make positive life changes while also challenging the local community to disregard the stigma of ex-offenders. One of our former residents expressed her goals and the challenges of the preconceived opinion society has of her through a poem:

What do you see when you look at me?
Do you see a project to help you learn something?
or at first do you see a person going through things?
Do you imagine yourself to be better than me?

Oh enlighten me on what you see.
Do you see all the potential that I am trying to unleash?
Or maybe you just see the number that was given to me.

Oh ma’am, oh sir, tell me that you see a better life for me.

Well let me discuss what I see.
I see getting it by any and all means,
a growth that the eye cannot see.
Look into the future and that?s all I need
and maybe then you will be asking me
What do you see?

Our program has demonstrated that re-entry support is essential to breaking the cycle of crime and repeated incarceration. Without support, when returning to the community 70% of ex-offenders re-offend within two years. These numbers change drastically for Friends of Guest House graduates: fewer than 10% re-offend. With this in mind, our program offers three levels of support: Residential, Aftercare, and Outreach.

IMG_0218Our Executive Director, Kari Galloway, works tirelessly to ensure that the organization offers full support to the women we serve. She recently reached her 12-year anniversary with Friends of Guest House. Without her, the program would not be as strong and successful as it currently is. She inspires the staff to work hard and, more importantly, she inspires the women to succeed. Not only does she provide the encouragement and support to each client but she holds them accountable for their actions and offers the constructive criticism they need.

One of the biggest challenges for our clients is securing safe and affordable housing in the DMV. In order to afford the housing opportunities in the local area, our clients need to be able to find job opportunities that offer advancement and growth. Currently clients typically secure minimum wage positions and struggle to afford the local cost of living. Unfortunately, these women will typically decide to return home to unhealthy environments that challenge their sobriety and success.

We hope to address both the need for affordable housing and career oriented jobs through our most recent initiatives. The Workforce Development Program is a six-week program that allows clients to develop their resume, learn interviewing techniques, and obtain an internship and eventually a career. We are also piloting a subsidized transitional house for Aftercare and Outreach clients scheduled to open later this month.

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Come see our beautiful clients in action on April 4th at Sara Campbell’s Boutique 320 Prince Street – in Old Town, Alexandria from 6-8pm for a Friends of Guest House fashion show featuring current clients! It’ll be a fun evening to learn more about partnering with our organization while pampering our clients and giving them some time in the spotlight!

Friends of Guest House always welcomes volunteers, donations, and questions. Please visit us at www.friendsofguesthouse.org for contact information!

Hello My Sunshine People! Transforming Lives with Open Arms Housing

by Marilyn Kresky-Wolff, Executive Director, Open Arms Housing, Inc.

Open Arms Housing, Inc. (OAH) establishes homes for some of the most vulnerable women in Washington, D.C.
blog-march13Janet Starke waves to a passing neighbor outside of her new home in N.E. D.C. With support from Open Arms Housing, women like Janet, who were previously homeless, have moved into permanent homes with a welcoming and supportive environment.(Photo credit: Kate Patterson/For The Washington Post)

This Women’s History Month, we think of women in need of housing who have been overlooked for many years who finally have a place to call home.

Our mission is to provide permanent supportive housing for women who have a wide range of mental and physical challenges, and who have lived for prolonged periods on the streets and in shelters.

Open Arms offers individualized services in welcoming environments, using a Housing First approach. The Housing First approach does not require agreement to mental health treatment or sobriety as a criteria for obtaining housing, which is important to expedite getting women off the street and out of shelters. Our vision is to be a leader in the eradication of long-term homelessness for women in Washington, DC who have a variety of mental health and physical challenges.

During this year’s Women’s History Month, we are excited to report a growing national spotlight on the women we house. Open Arms is proud to be among agencies across the country who are engaging in a national campaign called the “One in Four Initiative”. This initiative addresses the stunning fact that 25% of the nation’s homeless population is female and seeks to identify how their needs differ, as well as highlight solutions to meet their needs; from housing alternatives that build community, to treatment modalities that recognize an almost universal experience of sexual and physical trauma, to the opportunity to reawaken needs for self-expression, creativity, and self-worth.

OAH has long recognized the need for specially designed housing services for women. Single buildings, with onsite support services and activities are critical. OAH developed two buildings with efficiency or one-bedroom units, equipped with full kitchen appliances and private bathroom, onsite support service staff, and overnight resident assistance.

A wonderful day at OAH is when one of our longest residing residents says “Hello my sunshine people!!” Or one in which a woman for the first time accepts mental health services with a caring professional…or paints a canvas in art class…or reaches out to a fellow resident who has suffered a loss in her family…or testifies before the D.C. City Council on the need for affordable housing… or tells her personal story of recovery.

Over the next few months, we look forward to finding housing in the wider community for 51 additional women, through a new contract from the D.C. Department of Human Services, which will more than triple the number we currently help. We will be able to offer greater choice in housing, with case managers providing mobile services and linkage to community resources. Each person’s case manager will help her move in, furnish the apartment, make adjustments to living in the community, coordinate the community services, and support her efforts to live independently.

At OAH, we measure outcomes such as 95% housing stabilization rate, 85% resident satisfaction, 100% resident engagement in relationship with support staff, 95% participation in program activities, 70% of participation in mental health and/or substance abuse treatment, and 95% application for all financial benefits for which client is eligible.

Help us support the new residents of our Permanent Supportive Housing Program by donating “Move-in bags” with household supplies, personal hygiene products, and linens.
Join us for An Evening of Food, Drinks and Celebration in Rockville, MD on March 30th at 6:30 – R.S.V.P. to marilyn@openarmshousing.org For more information, please contact us at info@openarsmhousing or call 202-525-3467.

Do More 24

There’s still time! Nonprofit organizations across the region are participating in DoMore24 (until midnight tonight!) a day of giving towards community causes. So many of “the best” charities featured in the Catalogue are raising funds today — for soccer uniforms, to publish teen authored books, to provide legal services to homeless individuals and low-income refugees and so much more.

Need some inspiration? Check out our listing of great nonprofits here!

And as a bonus, several of our charities have matching funds to double the impact of your gift today. Take a look at these Catalogue charities, listed by category:

ARTS

ENVIRONMENT & COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT

EDUCATION

HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES

Around Town 11/1-11/7

Happy November! Catalogue nonprofits are kicking off the month right with lots of great events all around the area. Let us know if you are heading to one (and you never know, you might even see us there!). Don’t have time to get out to an event? Request a copy of our brand new catalogue (out on November 1st!) and get to know our new class of nonprofits!
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Guest Post: HomeAid Northern Virginia

Catalogue nonprofit HomeAid Northern Virginia is in the business of connecting local housing organizations and emergency shelters with professional homebuilders, trade partners, and sub-contractors who can offer the best renovations at the lowest costs. In this guest blog post, Executive Director Christy Eaton discusses one partnership that helped change the lives of hundreds of homeless residents. Read more about HomeAid Northern Virginia on their website, and learn more about other Catalogue nonprofits working to end homelessness here.

Public-Private Partnership Results in Renovation for Transitional Housing Program – and Brings Hope to Formerly Homeless Women and Families

By Christy Eaton, Executive Director, HomeAid Northern Virginia

The Washington, D.C., area is the ninth most expensive place to live in the U.S., with area homeowners averaging $8,798 in monthly living expenses and renters averaging $6,444 (Council for Community and Economic Research). In Virginia, 15 percent of children are living in poverty (Kids Count).

In Northern Virginia, home to some of the nation’s richest counties, nearly 1,000 children in families were identified as being homeless in 2012 (Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments).

It’s a dichotomy that HomeAid Northern Virginia has been seeking to change since we were established in 2001. We have built and renovated homeless shelters, transitional houses and other facilities throughout Northern Virginia in an effort to end homelessness in a region where many think no such problems exist. But we don’t do it alone: working with homebuilders, trade partners, government officials, and private and corporate donors, we have completed 77 projects with a retail value of nearly $12 million more than half of which was donated and has allowed service providers the ability to focus millions more of their funding on programs and services for their clients rather than on facility repairs. Together, we’ve given new hope to more than 20,000 individuals and families who are struggling to make ends meet in our region.

What is perhaps most critical to our success is our ability to develop public-private partnerships between homebuilders, non-profits and government agencies. For one of our most recent projects, a $250,000 renovation of eight apartments at the Loudoun Transitional Housing Program, we brought together the Loudoun County government, which owns the property; Volunteers of America Chesapeake, which operates the transitional housing program at the shelter; and homebuilders Miller & Smith and Winchester Homes to lead the renovation, along with 32 trade partners, suppliers and manufacturers.

I worked closely with builder captain project managers Scott Alford, operations manager, Miller & Smith, and Brian Phebus, director of production, Winchester Homes; Russell K. Snyder, president of Volunteers of America Chesapeake; and Hope Stonerook, deputy director of the Loudoun County Department of Family Services. Together, as a team, we were able to bring this project to completion, on time and on budget. It was a partnership in the truest sense of the word, and everyone throughout Loudoun County will benefit.

The homeless families and single women who live in the transitional shelter are, of course, among our greatest beneficiaries. Living in well-designed, high-quality homes returns much-needed dignity to peoples lives and boosts their self-esteem, allowing formerly homeless clients to regain confidence and long-term stability.

In fact, Scott York, Chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, pointed out that providing housing and supportive services to homeless families and single women has had very real impact: “Since the Department of Family Services began managing the program in 2006,” he said, “more than 200 individuals have been served. In the last five years, 96 percent of the people discharged from the program have moved to a permanent housing situation.”

Upon seeing their new apartments for the first time, we heard one mom say, “I was completely shocked to see the new rooms; what a feeling to have the help my family and I are getting through this program, and to be able to come back each day to these rooms. They’re like luxury apartments, and they make me feel worth something.”

Interestingly, the Loudoun facility was, according to Hope Stonerook, a joint effort between the County and the building industry when it was first built in 1991. “Even then,” she said, “the County donated the land, and the building industry donated the materials and labor.”

Finding two Builder Captains to take on the job of renovating all eight apartments this year was not difficult: Miller & Smith has worked with HomeAid Northern Virginia on nearly 10 other projects, and Winchester Homes has served as Builder Captain for a half-dozen of our projects over the years. Both companies are committed to corporate philanthropy, have made giving back a core value, and are always among the first to step up and do whatever it takes to help us make a difference in the lives of those who need help.

For this project, all eight apartments now feature entirely new kitchens with granite countertops, seating and custom-designed tables with peninsula tops; upgraded bathrooms with custom shelving; laminate hardwood flooring in the entry and living areas; improved light fixtures, electrical systems and plumbing work; built-in storage by each bed; bedding, doors, blinds and wire closet shelving systems; and interior furnishings.

Interior design team, Carlyn and Company Interiors + Design, helped maximize functionality of the relatively small apartment spaces, focusing on maximizing storage and reconfiguring the living space. They transformed plain, small apartments into homes that residents could feel proud of.

For the $250,000 project, 87 percent of the total cost was donated by builders, trade partners and HomeAid. The remaining cost, a little more than $30,000, was paid by Volunteers of America Chesapeake. There was zero cost to Loudoun County taxpayers.

“We couldn’t have imagined the transformation made possible by this partnership,” Volunteers of America’s Russ Snyder told me, “and because of it, we can change lives and give people independence. So many people in our communities are living on the edge due to loss of employment; loss of primary support in the household; domestic violence; medical or mental health issues; and a lack of affordable housing and without fail they’ve always been thankful for whatever we could provide them. But we knew that they could have a much better experience through this renovation. They’ll be happy to come home now.”

I knew Russ was right when I heard another mom say, “I think that these rooms are really good for my children. They see these rooms, and they know that there are people who care about us. These rooms give all of us something to work toward – the people who did this for us are God’s angels.”

Smart renovations and design maximized the functionality of eight apartments at the Loudoun Transitional Housing Program, turning small, stark spaces into beautiful, welcoming ones.

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After:

Investing in Ending Homelessness

It’s budget season in DC, and the nonprofit/social sector community has been rallying lately around several different budget priorities for FY2014. We’ve written before about the One City Fund and the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region circulated a petition to fully fund adult literacy programs. Today, another issue caught our eye on the DC Fair Budget Coalition’s blog about tackling homelessness in the District. Many Catalogue nonprofits currently work with individuals and families experiencing homelessness in DC (as well as Maryland and Virginia), and we’ve shared posts before from organizations like Washington Legal Counsel for the Homeless and FACETS. In this article, Danielle Rothman from the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project shares her experience working at DC General and urges the DC City Council to fully fund the Housing First and Local Rent Supplement Programs tenant-based voucher programs in 2014.

A key theme in this piece is the fact that falling on hard times and into homelessness can happen to anyone. The profile of a struggling single mother who kept fighting for herself and her daughter, only to face an onslaught of new challenges, inspires compassion even for those most removed from poverty in the Greater Washington area:

Nicole is a 30-year-old woman with a knock-out smile. She exudes warmth and joy, and when she greets you with one of her signature hugs, you can’t help but feel a little happier. Nicole’s 7-year-old daughter, Taylor, is a bubbly little girl, with a flair for drama and a mischievous sparkle in her eye. If you saw Nicole and Taylor walking down the street, you might notice their close relationship, or maybe the energy they radiate. Perhaps you wouldn’t notice them at all, because they seem so much like any other mother-daughter pair. You would probably never guess that Nicole and Taylor are residents of the DC General Emergency Family Shelter, DC’s largest shelter for homeless families. You would certainly not be able to imagine the countless ordeals that they have been through…

Nicole’s ordeals included drug-addicted and absent parents, sexual assault, raising a daughter alone, and the financial pressures of students loans and family illness, and then her daughter’s own experience with sexual abuse. Each one of those challenges is more than most of us probably experience in a decade. And, Rothman notes, Nicole is not alone:

In my two years of working at DC General with the Playtime project, I have met a college educated mother of two who lost everything when she escaped domestic violence, a family where both parents lost jobs they’d had for years, a father who had to leave his job after his wife left because he could not find evening day care for his two little girls, and even a mother who used to volunteer at a homeless shelter. Much like Nicole, she never thought she would end up living in a shelter herself. These stories are common, and they are powerful reminders that homelessness can happen to anyone. We as a community must pull together to support these families and help them find solid ground again.

The DC City Council has the opportunity to help address the challenges faced by Nicole, and others staying at DC General and homeless shelters around town, by funding the programs mentioned above. However, the responsibility to help and make a difference goes beyond our local government, and lies with each member of the Greater Washington community. Consider getting involved with a Catalogue nonprofit that works with those experiencing hunger or homeless as a donor, volunteer, or advocate – more information online here.