Executive Director's Corner
It’s hard to think of a better way to start off a new year than with a new partner or a new event, and this year, we’re doing both. Just this week, we kicked off a renovation project for a brand-new partner—Loudoun Hunger Relief (LHR)—which is doing incredible work in our region’s fastest growing and richest county. It’s so easy to forget that struggle is all around us—and in Loudoun County, there are segments of the population who are homeless, housebound, or barely getting by. LHR serves food and support to every population, and they go the extra mile for their clients, whether it’s encouraging the homeless to get to a shelter for further services or providing breakfast and snacks to food-insecure students when they’re not in school. Then, in March, we’ll be trying out a brand-new fundraising and networking event at TopGolf Loudoun, with two of our most dedicated Board members being the inspiration behind the idea and co-hosts of the event. We have a lot of dedicated golfers in our support network, and I’m excited to try out a venue where weather won’t matter and where we can easily gather everyone under one roof for sport, friendship, and refreshments. Whether you’ve always wanted to try out golf or are an experienced player, I hope you’ll join us as we continue to toast a year that is shaping up to be one full of new support, new energy, and new collaborations.
In the Spotlight
Play Golf (and Stay Warm!), Network with Top Home Builders and Trade Partners
Old Man Winter may not be out of here yet, but that doesn’t mean that golfers have to stay home—especially on March 1, when HomeAid’s Brian Davidson, Van Metre Homes, and John Buhl, Buhl Electric Co., will host GolfAid, a fundraiser for HomeAid, at the popular TopGolf Loudoun complex. The golfers’ mecca, which features climate-controlled hitting bays, full-service restaurant and bars, and private event space, will welcome HomeAid supporters for three hours (4:00-7:00 p.m.) of unlimited golf, networking with home builders and trade partners, great food, and a full bar. Registration is $250 per person, with a large portion of every registration going to support HomeAid Northern Virginia.
“John and I are big golfers, and since we already have the HomeAid Golf Tournament, we wanted to do something different,” explained Davidson. “John had attended another event at TopGolf and saw that it had so much to offer … it’s equally attractive to beginner through expert golfers, and because we’re not all spread out on a course, networking with the entire group—instead of just your foursome—is so much easier. We’ll have more time to really talk about and raise awareness of HomeAid’s mission, and with a heated venue, it won’t matter what the weather is doing. It’s also a simpler event to organize for our first time out—we hope it’ll be a unique way to gather HomeAid supporters together during an otherwise ‘off’ month while still offering the fun of golf, food, and drinks.”
Mid-way through the evening, John and Brian will challenge golfers to a top golf contest, with the top three golfers taking home bragging rights and tee time for a foursome at some of the best courses in the area. A raffle for a three-month corporate platinum TopGolf membership will be available, as well.
For more information, contact Cilda Pretorius at 703-953-3525.
In Your Neighborhood
HomeAid, Van Metre and ACTS Prepare New Space for Women’s Empowerment Center
HomeAid Northern Virginia, Builder Captain Van Metre Homes, and 19 trade partners are nearing the completion of a $60,000 renovation project for ACTS’ Women’s Empowerment Center, which will allow the organization the capacity to serve a broader population of women and families in the Prince William County community.
The project involved turning a 2,452 square-foot basement into classrooms and offices, where women will now receive diverse training provided by ACTS and community partners, as well as comprehensive case management. Upstairs, first-floor office space was converted to a suite for a 24-hour, live-in residential coordinator.
Thank you, Van Metre Homes and the following trade partners, for giving women the gift of greater economic independence and self-sufficiency.
Alliance Contracting Group LLC
Atlas Plumbing LLC
B&K Distributors, Inc.
Buhl Electric Company, Inc.
Builders Floor Service
Color World Paint & Drywall
Falcon Heating & Air Conditioning
Miller & Associates
Sight and Sound Systems, Inc.
Van Metre B.A.S.E
Velasquez Contracting is a Company to Count On
Velasquez Contractors Inc., or VCI as the company is best known, is one of the biggest framing companies in the area, and a long-time partner for Van Metre Homes. So when it was time for Builder Captain Van Metre to build its team for the ACTS’ Women’s Empowerment Center renovation, Mike Sandkuhler, the company’s vice president of building operations, knew exactly who to turn to: VCI Owner Sammy Velasquez.
“Sammy’s company does all of our new-build work, and he’s a great man,” Sandkuhler said. “He and his company have been strong partners with Van Metre for years, and they’ve been continual supporters of HomeAid. They’ve worked on many, many projects for HomeAid, and I was pleased to see them step forward for this project, too.”
“We like to give back to the community, and we like working with HomeAid,” Velasquez said. “We did all the carpentry and framing work for the ACTS project, just as we did the framing for HomeAid’s Youth For Tomorrow project in 2017. We like being able to help in any way we can.”
VCI, based in Chantilly, Va., was founded 29 years ago. For more information, call Sammy Velasquez at 703-929-2130.
In Your Community
Alexandria City Honored with 2018 Audrey Nelson Community Development Award for HomeAid-Renovated Community Lodgings
The City of Alexandria’s Office of Housing was honored on Friday, January 25, with the National Community Development Association’s (NCDA) prestigious Audrey Nelson Community Development Award for its support of the substantial rehabilitation of the Community Lodgings (CLI) property in Alexandria. The renovation of the six-unit apartment building, including the reconfiguration of space to create a seventh two-bedroom unit, was led by HomeAid Northern Virginia and Builder Captains Brookfield Residential, Evergreene Companies, M/I Homes, and Richmond American Homes.
The $1,059,411 project addressed the critical need to preserve the City’s stock of affordable housing, particularly for underserved families in Alexandria, many of whom have fled domestic violence or are chronically homeless, and was a collaborative effort between CLI, the City of Alexandria Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) funds from HUD, HomeAid of Northern Virginia, BB&T, the four Builder Captains, and a network of HomeAid trade partners.
“The project not only contributes to preserving affordable housing in the City, but it provides an opportunity for underserved families to live comfortably and independently,” Lynn Thomas, CLI’s executive director, wrote in the award nomination. “It gives these families stability, so they can be empowered to become self-sufficient. For residents at Community Lodgings, self-sufficiency means they can access transportation, amenities, and supportive social services, which all make a positive and meaningful impact on their lives. Additionally, every homeless person who lives in these units in turn reduces strain on other parts of social-services system, from hospital emergency rooms to homeless shelters.”
The prestigious award is named after Audrey Nelson, the first Deputy Executive Secretary of NCDA. Nelson grew up in an inner-city Chicago neighborhood, which was a target area for the local Model Cities Program. Very involved in her neighborhood and driven to serve low-income people, she died at the age of 29 due to cancer.
HomeAid was proud to join CLI and the City of Alexandria at the awards ceremony to share in the excitement of having such a worthy project recognized – congratulations to all of our partners!
Making It Count
New Partner Spotlight: Loudoun Hunger Relief
HomeAid’s newest partner—Loudoun Hunger Relief (LHR) in Leesburg—will soon be working with Builder Captain Knutson Companies to renovate and refresh the organization’s public waiting room and turn the food pick-up area into a more grocery store-like atmosphere.
But who is this new partner, and how is it that LHR—located in the country’s richest county—last year distributed 1.2 million pounds of food to more than 11,000 people—including groceries to seniors and the disabled, and breakfast and snacks to food-insecure students?
LHR’s story is really a story about what happens when a community grows exponentially quickly: Before 1991, Loudoun County was mostly rural with a small population. Church-based food pantries could handle need, but as the County started to grow, it became increasingly difficult to find food-on-call. A woman who worked for the County’s government social services department wanted to help, forming a non-profit supported by faith-based organizations, where food could be available more regularly and where volunteers would have a consistent way to get food to those who needed it. Fast forward to today, and Loudoun’s population has quadrupled, and that non-profit – LHR – is now a $3.2 million organization with 10 staff members and 340 volunteers, who last year worked 12,000 hours. This year alone, they’ve already served 472 individuals, averaging between 50 to 75 families a day, six days a week, with enough groceries to feed a household of four three meals and snacks for three days.
“Our portions are generous, and although much of the food is pre-packed, we have copious bakery products that individuals can ‘shop,’ and we are always working to get more fresh produce to put out,” said Jennifer Montgomery, executive director at LHR. “Homeless individuals can come in every day for food, and anyone can come for bread every day. Otherwise, we serve each family up to two times per month.
“The reality is, it’s really expensive to live here. The United Way put out a study that showed that in order to live in Loudoun as a family of four with daycare needs, a family needs to earn $94,000 a year—and that means living paycheck to paycheck with zero savings,” she added. “That’s the crux of the problem, and it’s reflected in the fact that our surveys show that 70 percent of those we serve are working, while 11 percent are seniors. These aren’t people ‘living off the government’ … you just can’t live in this county without a job, and the people we serve are your neighbors and your kids’ classmates. They’re families working hard and trying to make ends meet, spending the majority of their funds on housing and transit, without much left over and no safety net. While we will serve families twice a month, the majority only come once a month, showing us how fine a line many are living on … they need us as a BandAid gap between paychecks, so there may only be a few days a month they need help, and I’m glad we’re here to help them bridge that gap.”
The HomeAid-led renovation will mean big changes for the organization, and staff and volunteers are excited to see it come to fruition.
“One of our biggest challenges is that at 4,700 square feet, we’re small for the number of people we serve,” Montgomery added. “We really love putting things out for choice—everything from bread to sweets, vegetables to deli items—but the way we’re set up, it means that people waiting in line can see those in front of them shopping and perhaps taking some of the things they really hoped for. It causes so much anxiety and unhappiness, and it steals so much dignity from people who are working so hard to provide for their families. This project will keep the lobby separate and allow a hallway that will house the items for choice selection, which will give families more autonomy over their selections, more privacy while they shop, and more dignity and less waste as they can choose what they want and will use.”
“An Eagle Scout is making slanted market tables for us, and we’ll have a three-door refrigerator. We’ll be able to check people in and allow them to privately select what they want, pick up their pre-packaged items, and exit out another side. We’ll have more space for restocking, and the whole experience will feel more dignified and streamlined. We are super excited and so grateful … when [Don Knutson] asked us what kind of granite we wanted, I was just overwhelmed – I couldn’t believe we’d get granite! He admonished us to stop thinking like a non-profit, and I’m just so excited for what this will mean for our clients. We work so hard to make this a welcoming and fulfilling experience, and this renovation will really advance that goal.”
Photographer Bob Narod’s Generosity is Picture Perfect
In 1995, Bob Narod was at a NVBIA meeting, discussing the budget for an upcoming NVBIA event. “When the photography issue came up, I thought I could help out by offering our services at no charge for the event,” he said. Nearly 23 years later, Bob is still volunteering his company’s photography services not just for NVBIA, but for HomeAid Northern Virginia as well.
Bob’s company, Bob Narod, Photography, LLC, which includes his son, Brendan, and daughter-in-law, Melody, is a perfect example of the many generous volunteers that HomeAid is lucky enough to rely on, as HomeAid simply could not reach so many in need of housing without volunteers like Bob and his family.
Q: What was the first HomeAid event that you worked on?
A: The 2003 Gala and Auction—it had a theme of “Catch a Falling Star,” and I remember that the fundraising event featured famous actress impersonator, Shannon Benton, as Marilyn Monroe. It was a lot of fun, with many great subjects to photograph, and it gave me a wonderful feeling being able to contribute to such a great cause.
Q: You have been very loyal and generous to HomeAid over the years; what keeps you so committed?
A: We really enjoy working for HomeAid. The cause is so important, and we love seeing the results and the gratitude felt by the people who benefit from the completed projects. We have photographed so many HomeAid events and projects – at least 75 or more – including ground breakings, ribbon cuttings, dedications, construction and completion of projects, barbeques, golf tournaments, auctions, and more. They have each been special in their own way, and it gives us pride to work on these projects for HomeAid.
Q: What are some of your favorites?
A: A couple of them stand out: The Carpenter’s Shelter opening and the Youth for Tomorrow events were very touching. The Gala and Auctions, of course, are always fun. Really, I enjoy them all, and I am always so impressed by the generosity of the attendees. We especially enjoy the Golf Tournament; the participants are always happy to be taking time off of work to golf, network, and ‘talk a little trash’ with their friends at this event. It is a great atmosphere and one that we are always delighted to be involved with.
Q: It must be very rewarding to work for a family company; can you talk about how you got into the photography business?
A: I began my photography career in 1971 after spending two years in the Army as a clinical lab instructor. While in graduate school, I was introduced to an established commercial photographer, and I eventually became his associate. Many years later, my son, Patrick, married Melody and brought her home from Tennessee. She needed a job, and I needed an assistant, and now we’ve been together for almost a decade. My youngest son, Brendan, is also a full-time photographer and image processor for us. He is not seen as often as Melody or myself, but his role is just as important. It is very rewarding to work with my family, and it is especially meaningful to work with an organization like HomeAid, which does so much for the community and for those in need of housing. We plan on photographing HomeAid events long into the future – we consider them part of our family.
Zabiullah Nekzad has joined HomeAid’s staff as our events coordinating intern. He is enrolled in Training Futures, a six-month workforce development program of Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS) that is accredited by the Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC). The program curriculum includes courses in computer skills, records management, business communication and writing, and organizational behavior, and enrolled students also attend professional development workshops and weekly speakers club meetings.
“Before I came to the U.S., I worked for DynCorp International as an interpreter/translator in the Ministry of the Interior for eight years, translating between the U.S. Army and Afghanistan Police personnel, plus translating reports from around the country. Through my work with the U.S. Army, I was offered an opportunity to come to the U.S. and in September 2014, I received my Visa and came with my family to Virginia.”
“Since then, I have worked as a cashier, delivery driver, and volunteer, before a friend enrolled in Training Futures encouraged me to apply for the next cycle,” he added. “Through Training Futures, I’ve been able to improve my computer skills, and I will earn my certificates in PowerPoint, Word and Excel by the time I graduate. I’ve learned a great deal about record management, customer service, business communication, and public speaking, and I’ve performed several presentations and have attended workshops like time management, business chemistry, and conflict resolution. I feel well prepared to work in any position, and working at HomeAid has been a big opportunity for me as I learn how to work on different projects and improve relationship building and office skills. I hope to eventually work full-time in an administrative support role in Northern Virginia.”
Call for Spring Interns
Our summer internship program is filling fast, but we still have positions open for the spring; if you know a student looking for meaningful work experience, please send them our way! An internship with HomeAid can launch a career, and we have opportunities in a variety of positions. To apply, send a cover letter and resume to email@example.com.
NVBIA President’s Ball
A round of applause to 11 local Wal-Mart stores for your generous $7,500 in grant donations; all of the funds will go toward supporting our mission of building homes—and new lives—for Northern Virginia’s homeless men, women, and children.
Save the Date
GolfAid for HomeAid – March 1, 2018, 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. TopGolf Loudoun
Annual Housing Forum – April 19, 2018, Venue TBD. This event is geared towards those who work in the field; more information will be available soon.
NVBIA Parade of Homes – May 5-6
NVBIA Crawfish Boil – April 26, 3:30 – 7:00 p.m. Wetland Studies and Solutions
9th Annual Builders and Friends BBQ – June 21, The Barn at One Loudoun
8th Annual Night at the Ballpark – August 3, Potomac Nationals Pfitzner Stadium, for families living in local shelters
4th Annual Golf Tournament – September 21, 2018 Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club