Executive Director's Corner
In March, HomeAid Northern Virginia President Mike Sandkuhler, Operations & Events Manager Cilda Pretorius and I headed west … to Orange County, California, where HomeAid was first founded in 1989 by the Orange County chapter of the Building Industry Association of Southern California (BIA/SC), an affiliate of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
In addition to being where the whole HomeAid movement started, it was an inspiring feeling to be reminded – as we were surrounded by executive directors and staff from most of the national organization’s 17 chapters – that we’re part of something bigger. No matter how one thinks about our own roles in the world – as a cog or a speck – being part of the HomeAid family means that we are not alone in our efforts to end homelessness in our community. As we shared our stories – along with our successes and biggest challenges – I was reminded again and again that homelessness is not a local problem, and we are not the only ones tirelessly working to find solutions to a persistent problem.
It was also intensely gratifying to be reminded of the strength of our Board in Northern Virginia, in a market that is so incredibly supportive of our efforts. I was also honored to facilitate a breakout discussion that focused on our shelter projects. After almost three days of meetings and networking, we headed home with new ideas and a strong feeling of comfort that we are backed by a national organization – and supported by partners all over the nation – that are all working as hard as we are to increase awareness of homelessness, build support for our mission, and continue to change lives.
In the Spotlight
2018 Housing Forum to Study Homelessness’ Complex Needs and Focused Solutions
We are pleased to announce that Norm Suchar, director of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs, will be our keynote speaker for our upcoming Housing Forum. The Office of Special Needs supports the nationwide commitment to ending homelessness and manages a portfolio of programs that provide needed shelter and housing assistance for hundreds of thousands of children, youth, and adults each year. The theme of this year’s forum is “Complex Needs, Focused Solutions.”
In addition, representatives from a wide range of homelessness providers of all types – including non-profit and government agencies – and thought leaders from County Continuums of Care Programs will share their insights through panel discussions and training sessions. Key topics to be discussed this year include:
- Overall State of our Union
– Trends and Ideas
– Challenges, Opportunities and Solutions
- Trauma Informed Care
- Implementing Low-Barrier Services
- Removing Barriers to Permanent Stable Housing.
The Annual Housing Forum has established itself as the region’s most unique and valuable opportunity to take a deep dive into trends and best practices in homelessness, homeless assistance, and at-risk populations. Empower yourself – and learn through collaboration with colleagues – to end homelessness by registering today!
In Your Neighborhood
HomeAid, Brookfield Residential to Renovate Gabriel Homes Property
Four adult men, all long-term residents with intellectual disabilities who are working toward independent living, will soon experience first-hand how it feels to move into a newly renovated and upgraded home: HomeAid Northern Virginia and Builder Captain Brookfield Residential are set to begin a project for Gabriel Homes, owner of the 2,016-square foot home.
The project – the fifth that Brookfield will lead – will focus primarily on improving accessibility inside and outside the 46-year-old home; refreshing and upgrading the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, and basement; painting; and replacing flooring and carpeting throughout.
Rebecca Hartner, executive director for Gabriel Homes, noted that of the seven homes Gabriel owns, this property is the oldest and, after having had a significant number of people move through the building over the years, has been exposed to significant wear and tear.
“Our residents are like you and me,” she said. “If you’re given something nice, you want to take care of it and show it off. It changes your whole demeanor – it makes you happy and proud of where you live and proud of what you’re doing in life. An additional bonus is that when our residents step up and feel more responsible for taking care of their home, it makes it easier on staff. There’s an assumption that group homes aren’t a nice place to live – they’re too institutional – but our philosophy is that our homes should be good enough that we ourselves would move in with our families tomorrow. It’s a high standard, and we’re certainly not perfect, but it’s what we strive for … and HomeAid and Brookfield are helping us achieve that goal.”
Gabriel Homes, founded 30 years ago, is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes independence through residential placement, training and community integration for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Based in Reston, Gabriel Homes serves clients in nearby regions of Fairfax County and gives residents the opportunity to stay in supportive homes for as long as they need to learn the skills they want and need to live independently. The organization’s properties feature tiered levels of support, with the house that HomeAid and Brookfield will soon renovate being a 24-hour care site. The property will be vacated during the renovation process, with the kickoff planned for the July timeframe.
Many thanks to Brookfield Residential for serving as Builder Captain and to the many trade partners who will make this project possible!
In Your Community
Loudoun Hunger Relief Open House Honors HomeAid, Knutson Companies and Trade Partners
HomeAid Northern Virginia, Builder Captain Knutson Companies, and trade partners Eastern Applicators, ISI Flooring, NEKA, and Southern Electrical were honored guests at Loudoun Hunger Relief‘s (LHR) Open House on April 4, when the food pantry celebrated the many stakeholders who have been so instrumental in the organization’s success.
In March, HomeAid, Knutson and trade partners completed the $20,000 renovation project at LHR, improving and refreshing the organization’s public waiting room and turning the food pick-up area into a more grocery store-like atmosphere—all to better enable the organization to distribute 1.2 million pounds of food to more than 8,000 people in a year.
Also in attendance at the Open House were Ralph Buona, vice chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors; Bob Wertz, commissioner of the revenue for Loudoun County; Kelly Burk, mayor of Leesburg; and Bo Machayo, Chairwoman Phyllis Randall’s chief of staff. Several community nonprofit partners and LHR and HomeAid Board members were also honored guests. Buona, LHR Board Chair Carol Barbe, Knutson Companies President Don Knutson, HANV Executive Director Kristyn Burr, and LHR Executive Director Jennifer Montgomery provided welcoming remarks at the festive event.
In addition to enjoying refreshments and having the opportunity to answer questions and raise awareness about the important role the food bank plays in the Loudoun County community, Montgomery and volunteers provided tours of the newly renovated food pantry.
Since HomeAid Northern Virginia’s founding in 2011, more than 289 trade partners have contributed their expertise, time and resources toward at least one of the 120+ projects we have completed locally, worth more than $15.7 million.
Source: HomeAid Northern Virginia
Making a Difference by Never Taking Life for Granted
Every organization has supporters who are so committed that others consider them to be part of the organization. For HomeAid Northern Virginia, Gary Smerk, business development manager at Cox Communications, is one such supporter. In addition to his position with Cox, Gary is a Life Director with the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association (NVBIA), has chaired NVBIA’s Associates Council, and has played an enormous role in raising awareness about HomeAid’s mission among the homebuilding industry’s trade companies, as well as inspiring them to get involved by participating in a HomeAid renovation project. Gary and his colleagues from Cox regularly help out at HomeAid events to ensure we have enough hands on deck to help make our events run smoothly. What is it about HomeAid that Gary finds so appealing? Find out in this conversation with one of our most dedicated supporters!
Q: What has inspired you to give back to the community?
A: I have been involved with HomeAid for about a dozen years and am inspired by the tireless efforts of the HomeAid staff and the NVBIA community. HomeAid is a partnership between home builders and their trade partners (such as Cox Communications), which offers hope in making a difference in the lives of the thousands of homeless men, women and children living in Northern Virginia. We often take life for granted because we live in an affluent area and have many blessings afforded to us. Unfortunately, there are too many people in our area that lack the necessities, like a roof over their heads. Through volunteerism and service leadership, my hope is to make a small contribution to the overall team effort of making a real difference in people’s lives. The gratitude these recipients express when they receive a key to their new living arrangement is what keeps me plugged in.
Q: What attracted you to HomeAid?
A: There are a lot of great causes out there, but choosing one to focus on is probably a bit more realistic than trying to help everyone. HomeAid’s cause – helping members of our community find steady housing – was something I could really get behind and support. I live life daily with a sense of gratitude and knowledge that “no one has ever become poor from giving.”
Q: How did you encourage NVBIA and trade partners to get involved with HomeAid projects?
A: As past chair of the NVBIA Associates Council, I encouraged our committee and associates to become involved by simply sharing information about HomeAid. Since I’m so active with the organization and it’s a great cause, it was easy for me to tell their story and share information about volunteer opportunities, etc. You know, having a place to call home is probably something we take for granted. Having a family to love and support you is a blessing. And, sometimes those things become so commonplace for us we forget that fact.
Q: How do you answer the question: What’s in it for me?
A: So many people today ask themselves that question before helping someone else. And honestly, I like to pose the question instead as: “If I was someone in need, how would I want others to help me?” That way, I can walk around in their shoes for a moment and try and see what’s in it for them. Society can get a little selfish sometimes. What’s wrong with just helping someone because they need help? Maybe our world would be a little better if we just helped others without even needing something in return.
Q: Why is HomeAid’s Builders & Friends BBQ of particular importance to you?
A: I have participated in the BBQ (someone needs to pour the beer, right?) and have attended the annual Golf Tournament and Gala & Auction events, to name a few, for a while now. They are fun events but for a good cause. So, what better way to raise money than by offering guests good food and a cold beer? As an employer, Cox is very supportive of employees getting involved with community nonprofits. Actually, I am a member of the Cox Charities Advisory team, which helps select annual grant winners. So, I know deep down that Cox is a member of our community, and just like we want to see our neighbors succeed, Cox does as well.
HomeAid Northern Virginia’s 2017 Annual Impact Report is now available! Download it today and learn how HomeAid and our partners launched nine renovation projects, ultimately investing $1,035,789 in our local communities to help the homeless.
HomeAid Northern Virginia Represents
Representatives from most of HomeAid America’s 17 chapters—including HANV’s 2018 President Mike Sandkuhler, Operations & Events Manager Cilda Pretorius, and Executive Director Kristyn Burr—attended HomeAid America’s Annual National Conference in Orange County. The group shared best practices, discussed opportunities for national partnerships, and provided support to each other as we all work to end homelessness in our respective communities.
In 2017, HomeAid America completed 25 projects, five of which were completed by HomeAid Northern Virginia.
Source: HomeAid America Annual Conference
Did We Meet Our Next Builder Captain?
HomeAid Northern Virginia had a big presence at the always-packed NVBIA Meet the Builder event on March 15, with an information booth to encourage builders and trade partners to get involved in future projects and to talk up our upcoming Builders & Friends BBQ in June. Thanks to all who stopped by!
Cold Ice, Warm Hearts
Thank you, Feld Entertainment, for providing 50 free tickets to Disney On Ice at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax. Children and grownups from local shelters are looking forward to a rare night out as they enjoy this year’s “Follow Your Heart” show together. We appreciate your generosity in always remembering that at least 25 percent of the population we serve are children.
Registration Open Now!
HomeAid’s Builders & Friends BBQ is one of our most popular networking events, and registration for this year’s event on June 21st is NOW OPEN! Ready to put your company name in front of the hundreds of influencers who attend? Sponsorship opportunities of all sizes are also available now; please contact Kristyn Burr for more information. Check out all the fun from last year’s event in our Flickr album.
40 Under 40 Props!
Congratulations to HomeAid Northern Virginia Board Chair Mike Sandkuhler for being named one of Professional Builder‘s 2018 40 Under 40. Mike is vice president of building operations at Van Metre Homes—a longtime Builder Captain partner—and very active with the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association. Congrats, Mike!
ISO Conference Room Furniture
HomeAid is spiffing up our headquarters, and now it’s time to take a hard look at our furnishings … and our conference room needs help! We would welcome the donation of a new or lightly used 12-foot conference table and 10-12 chairs for our meeting space, where we meet with prospective supporters and service providers, and where we hold our staff meetings. It gets a lot of use, and it’s time that we give our own space a little bit of reno love. Please contact Kristyn Burr if you’d like to help.
Save the Date
Annual Housing Forum – April 19, 2018, Brookfield Residential, Fairfax, VA 22030; This event is geared towards those who work to house the homeless.
NVBIA Crawfish Boil – April 26, 2018, 3:30–7:00 p.m., Wetland Studies and Solutions
NVBIA Parade of Homes – May 5-6, 2018
NVBIA Scramble Golf Tournament – May 21, 2018, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., River Creek Club, Leesburg, VA
9th Annual Builders and Friends BBQ – June 21, 2018, The Barn at One Loudoun
8th Annual Night at the Ballpark – August 3, 2018, Potomac Nationals Pfitzner Stadium, for families living in local shelters.
4th Annual Golf Tournament – September 21, 2018, Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club
17th Annual HomeAid Northern Virginia Gala & Auction – November 10, 2018, Lansdowne Resort & Spa