Executive Director & CEO Corner

There’s already so much noise in the new year, but I’m setting it aside, and I hope you’ll join me, at least for a moment. Because right now, right here, I’d like to really focus on what’s ahead. The idea of a fresh start motivates many of us to make improvements – whether personal or professional – that will enhance the world around us. And one way we can do that is continued introspection and educating ourselves with the goal of looking forward and being the change we want to see.

This new year, which also represents our 20th anniversary, I am so excited, full of hope, and confident that the best is yet come. Construction has remained an essential service for an essential need, and we have so many incredible projects in our pipeline. Our mission has not been compromised and in fact, may be more important than ever. Our nonprofit partners have seen an unprecedented uptick in need of their shelter and housing services, as well as the critical programs they offer for healing and moving forward. Our ability to support them in their construction and renovation needs, all while saving the organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars and the mental drain it takes to oversee such projects, is not just unique but is beyond valuable to all of those impacted. The spaces we touch provide dignity and hope, as well as safety and security in a time of need to clients, volunteers, and the hard-working staff alike.

On the surface, homelessness seems straightforward. Most envision tents under an overpass or an individual holding a sign at an intersection with a plea for help. But it is so much more than that, and when we pause and listen to those in our community who are unsheltered and hear their stories, we broaden our understanding of the real issues and feel a deeper sense of connection with one another and ultimately achieve perspective and empathy. We awaken to the complexities of life and how intertwined our human struggles really are, which reminds me of a Wayne Dyer quote that I have always loved: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Thankfully most of us cannot directly relate to what it is like to experience homelessness, but all of us can relate, in one way or another, to the various causes of homelessness. Divorce, domestic violence, addiction, mental health issues, former incarceration, the loss of a job… just a few situations but barely scratching the surface. Being human is messy and the reality is none of these experiences define us as people; for most, they are merely a difficult chapter in a very long, beautiful story. By better understanding these causes of homelessness, we can start to mend the cracks in someone’s foundation and give them the hand-up to lead a more fulfilled life. HomeAid supports the holistic approaches our nonprofit partners take to support our neighbors in need, because we believe that housing AND a continuum of care strengthen an individual’s ability to heal and move forward, which in turn strengthens our entire community.

No matter what this year throws at us, our village will be hard at work rebuilding lives. Won’t you join us?

Happy 2021!

With Gratitude,

In the Spotlight

HomeAid Northern Virginia Kicks Off 20th Anniversary

We’ve been looking forward to this year for a long time, and after the year that was 2020, it feels even more celebratory! But at last, it’s 2021 – and our 20th anniversary of building new hope for families and individuals experiencing homelessness through housing and community outreach. We’re pretty proud of our track record, but from our view, we know our work is about so much more than numbers. So throughout the year, we’ll be highlighting and celebrating some of our accomplishments, both in this newsletter (be sure to check out our Making It Count section for our monthly “20 Years, 20 Ways of Making an Impact” installment) and through events and other communications.

Yes, we’ll share the numbers behind our work, but we also hope to paint the full picture of what our efforts really mean – from our biggest, most resource-heavy projects all the way down to our smallest collection drive efforts. Because we know that for the recipient – whether it’s an individual in crisis moving into a brand new home or a single mom doing some grocery shopping for her family – we are making an enormous impact on the lives of those we help serve. We know that having a place to lay your head at night is critically important, but so is having a place to store your things, having a desk to do your homework or complete a job application, selecting foods you love rather than just what’s available, and never having to choose between whether to pay for a baby’s medicine or a fresh pack of diapers. We serve people who are just like you and me, who have hopes, dreams, and needs. The impact we make is real; get ready to celebrate with us all year long!

Did You Know?

With COVID affecting hypothermia and homeless shelters to operate as normal, more than 900 people have transitioned into Quarantine, Protection, Isolation, and Decompression (QPID) Hotels since April 16, 2020, with locations operating across Fairfax County. The QPID Hotels are managed by several non-profit partners, including Cornerstones, FACETS, New Hope Housing, and Shelter House.
Source: Fairfax-Falls Church Community Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness

In Your Neighborhood

HomeAid Northern Virginia Wraps Up Renovations for ACCA

In progress shot. This 100-year old building is sporting a new roof, HVAC, and other updates to safeguard furniture – and volunteers – that support those experiencing homelessness.

A unique collaboration involving HomeAid Northern Virginia, Annandale United Methodist Church, Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA), and 4 trade partners have largely completed a renovation project for ACCA which runs – among many human services supporting those in need – a furniture donation and distribution service. The furniture staging area, housed in a 100 year old building that once served as the AUMC Boy Scouts meeting place and located on the AUMC campus, was in bad shape, with a leaking roof that threatened the stored furniture’s condition and made working conditions for volunteers challenging. Work included replacing the roof, taking down an interior chimney, and updating electrical and lighting and repainting. The building will be repainted once warmer weather arrives.

The furniture donation and distribution program – managed by Don and Mary Lee Di Spirito, who also oversee 200 volunteers – has over the past 20 years provided furniture to more than 25,000 people. “This community service is enormously important to those coming out of shelters and the at-risk populations,” said Home Aid Northern Virginia Executive Director and CEO Kristyn Burr, “and this project will make a big difference to them. It’s a new model for us, as we’re working directly with the provider and trades without a dedicated Builder Captain, but it’s going well and we’re glad to provide this help.”

We’ve lived in this area for 45 years,” Don and Mary Lee said, “and we’ve been working with those experiencing homelessness for 43 of those years.  We started with ‘nomadic shelters,’ which were essentially a network of churches that rotated hosting people who needed shelter before the County had brick and mortar shelters. Eventually, that model led to shelters. Managing this furniture program for ACCA has been our focus for the last 23 years, and we’ve seen people who might just need one item to families who literally need everything. This is such a densely populated expensive area, and this service makes a real difference; knowing that furniture will no longer be endangered in an old, leaking building will make a huge impact.

“It will also be a big change for our hundreds of compassionate volunteers, who work so hard to help us collect and distribute gently used furniture donations.  They are using two trucks to pick up and deliver furniture, all on a 100 percent volunteer basis.  We are so grateful!”

Did You Know?

According to the Capital Area Food Bank’s 2020 Hunger Report, the number of children in the Greater Washington metro area facing food insecurity could increase from 132,000 to 211,000 within the year; in Fairfax County, there were already more than 23,000 children not getting enough to eat before the COVID-19 pandemic. That number has increased significantly in the months since March 2020.
Source: Food for Others

In Your Community

Builders for Babies Provide Ray of Sunshine at the Holidays

Volunteers delivered 30,000 diapers and 40,000 baby wipes to 19 local non-profits on December 14, bringing cheer and comfort to countless families.

The weather outside may have been frightful, but members of HomeAid Northern Virginia’s Board – along with dedicated staff – brought the joy of the holidays to 19 local non-profit organizations when they delivered an astounding 30,000+ diapers and 40,000+ baby wipes on a cold and rainy day in December. All of the recipient organizations serve families and single mothers with young children, ensuring the comfort of our community’s littlest citizens and allowing non-profits to target funding to other critical needs.

All of the donations were part of our 3rd Annual Builders for Babies Collection Drive, and while there are too many individuals and companies to recognize here, we see you, we are grateful to you, and we thank you!

Special thanks to John Buhl Jr. with Buhl Electric Company, Inc., for his generosity and hands-on help on our distribution day, and additional thanks to the following Board Members who braved the rain to deliver diapers and baby wipes to our non-profit partners in need: Steve Gray, Brian Davidson, Bryan Guidash, Curt Anderson, Jason McDonough, Scott Canan, and Mike Sandkuhler. Also, a huge shout out to Stephanie Carrington at TAC Tile and the Country Club of Fairfax for their donations and delivery help!

Donations are of course always welcome; check our online wish list if you’d like to help!

Did You Know?

In Virginia, about one in every five adults cannot afford their rent or mortgage during the COVID-19 pandemic, a smaller share than nationwide.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Making It Count

20 Years. 20 Ways of Making a Difference.

After 20 years, 150 projects, over $18 million invested in our communities, and more than 167,000 lives changed for the better, we know that we’ve made a difference for our non-profit partners and the people they help and serve every day. And starting with this issue of Building Hope, we’ll focus on 20 ways we think we’ve made the biggest impact – so that by year’s end, we’ll have celebrated our very own “20 ways for 20 years.”

Supporter Spotlight

Leading – and Loving – HomeAid Northern Virginia into its 20th Year

It’s hard to overstate the contributions that John Buhl, Jr., president of Buhl Electric Company, Inc., has made to HomeAid Northern Virginia since he joined our Board in 2016. We can look to his company’s support of HomeAid through donations and in-kind services and expertise on 14 different HomeAid projects. We can hat tip his generous support of HomeAid through sponsorship of numerous events, including the Gala, the annual Night at the Ballpark, and the Builder & Friends BBQ. He co-founded our Golf Tournament. And in 2018, we honored John with our Presidents’ Award in recognition of his willingness to regularly be “first in line to help” and provide meaningful assistance to the projects serving our region’s communities. Now, he’s stepped up as our 2021 president. Through it all, his positive, glass-half-full nature keeps us laughing and moving forward; read on to find out what he’s looking forward to in his new role with us!

Q: What are your hopes for 2021?

A: Most importantly, I’d like to be as successful a leader as Jason [McDonough] was; he was just a great inspiration and always gave a much-needed level of calmness to everyone during such a crazy year. No matter what we faced as an organization and as a Board, Jason calmly led us through. I’d like to continue that by supporting whatever Kristyn [Burr] and her team need, and I will always strive to do the best I can under the circumstances.

I imagine that – like 2020 – one of our biggest challenges will be tied to our fundraising efforts. We did a remarkable job in 2020, but 2021 is going to continue to make it hard. We will need to continue to shift our strategies; if we can’t do a traditional fundraiser like GolfAid, which puts people too close together at the host venue, we need to find other inventive ways to get out and see each other and raise funds. I’ll do a third-party golf outing – traditional golf makes it so easy to see each other face-to-face while remaining distanced – and we’ll keep looking for other alternatives. The nonprofits we support all need help so badly – their clients’ needs are off the charts – and I think it’s our role to look outside the box and think of new ways to raise funding and support. The Board is full of innovative and smart people, and I am confident we will have another great year of fundraising, connecting safely, and keeping HomeAid Northern Virginia a key player in ending homelessness.

Q: You’ve become one of HomeAid’s most involved and hardest working Board member and volunteer. What keeps you saying yes?

A: I first learned about HomeAid through several friends who served – and continue to serve – on the Board, and when they talked about it, I knew it was something I needed to learn more about. I started going to functions and was struck by how many good people I met. I think good people gravitate to other good people, so I was honored to join the Board when asked. There’s such a positive synergy between members, where good people work together for a tremendous cause.

Q: What do you view as the primary role and contribution of HomeAid Northern Virginia’s Board?

A: I’m a big believer that in this world, you get what you give. My philosophy is also to take a certain portion of your annual income and give back to the community. So I’ve lived my life with that philanthropic outlook, and HomeAid has given me purpose. I can see where the money is going and how it’s making a difference – it’s all so tangible. Take the diaper drive, for example. I personally helped deliver diapers and wipes last month, and seeing the appreciative smiles of recipients really brings it home. There’s so much impact to what HomeAid is doing. Working with HomeAid just feels good.

Q: What’s your biggest takeaway from 2020?

A: I could write a book … but to really drill it down, I’d look to HomeAid’s ability to get innovative and creative and not let the pandemic stand in the way of our goals. We can survive anything – we’re not going to stop. We just need to think of creative ways to reach our goals, because there’s always a way forward.

Joining John Buhl on the 2021 executive committee are Jason McDonough (John Marshall Bank), immediate past president; Scott Canan (Toll Brothers), vice president/president-elect; Soledad Portilla (Beazer Homes), secretary; and Rick Cole (The Long Companies), treasurer. Portilla is also serving as NVBIA’s 2021 president.

Two new Board members will also be joining the team in 2021: Please help us welcome Scott Shelton, SN Mortgage Company, and Tom Twomey, Stanley Martin Homes. Please also join us in thanking Jon Adler, president, Dream Finders Homes, who is stepping down from our Board after serving for five years. We so appreciate your insights and contributions over the years!

“I so appreciate the cause, the purpose and the leadership direction of HomeAid Northern Virginia. And I look forward to supporting HomeAid in every way, shape, and form with my time, effort, and resources.”

Scott Shelton, Executive Regional Manager, Mid-Atlantic States, SN Mortgage Company

I am thrilled to be joining the HomeAid Northern Virginia team, and I am thankful for the opportunity to support an important mission. I am honored to be a part of the long-standing  relationship between Stanley Martin Homes and HomeAid.

~ Tom Twomey, Division President, Northern Virginia, Stanley Martin Homes

Announcements

Our 150th Project – and More – in 2020
HomeAid Northern Virginia’s Annual Impact Report is in production now; be sure to check your mailbox in February to find out how – in spite of the challenges COVID-19 threw at us – we completed our 150th project, served people in need, supported non-profit partners, reimagined our fundraising events, and continued to thrive.

GolfAid 2021 Canceled
Safety is always a top priority, so while we are very disappointed to have to cancel what would have been our 4th Annual GolfAid at TopGolf Loudoun on March 4, 2021, we know it’s the right thing to do given COVID metrics and required safety protocols. We look forward to seeing you back out in the bays in 2022 when it resumes!

Join the Hunt!
SN Mortgage is organizing a “Treasure Quest Adventure Hunt” in April 2021, with a prize of $7,500 to the winning team – and proceeds from registration fees benefiting HomeAid Northern Virginia! The scavenger hunt will have a homebuilding theme, and if successful will be expanded to other SN Mortgage offices with local HomeAid chapters nationwide. Let’s make this third-party event a huge success so that it can grow beyond Northern Virginia – best of all, it’s outdoors, fun, and safe! Stay tuned for more information.

Thank You
Huge appreciation to the Van Metre Family Foundation, for your generous donation of $10,000 toward our end-of-year campaign. We are proud to partner with you!

And, a hat tip to Lennar Construction, which recently stepped up to serve as Builder Captain for a new project we’ll be doing with New Hope Housing in Alexandria. We’re excited to have you back as a Builder Captain, and we are looking forward to getting this project rolling with you.

Save the Date

4th Annual GolfAid FundraiserTHIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED

Great American Living Awards 2020 – Thursday, February 18, 2021, Virtual

Women in the Building Industry Spring Mixer – Thursday, April 21, 2021

Crawfish Boil – Thursday, April 29, 2021

SN Mortgage Treasure Quest Adventure Hunt – April 2021 (All proceeds to benefit HomeAid Northern Virginia. More information to come.)

2021 Annual Housing Forum – Thursday, May 13, 2021, Location: TBD

CBC Summer Mixer – Thursday, June 3, 2021

12th Annual Builders & Friends BBQ – Thursday, June 17, 2021, Location: TBD

Women in the Building Industry Winery Event – Thursday, June 24, 2021

7th Annual HomeAid Golf Tournament – Friday, September 17, 2021, Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club, Leesburg, VA

20th Annual HomeAid Gala & Auction – Saturday, November 13, 2021, Lansdowne Resort & Spa, Leesburg, VA

In-person events pending Virginia State COVID-safety guidelines.