|Housing Forum Focuses on Veteran Homelessness, Rapid Rehousing|
|HomeAid Northern Virginia’s Annual Housing Forum is one of the region’s most unique and valuable opportunities for meeting and learning from shelter partner colleagues, and last month, more than 60 representatives representing 40 organizations met to discuss veteran homelessness and the challenges and successes of the rapid re-housing model.
The morning was a study in contrasts: Attendees listened in near-total silence as Keynote Speaker Kerry Turner, a U.S. Army Captain and spokesperson for Final Salute, shared personal and often heartbreaking stories of homelessness among women veterans. Later, animated conversation reigned, as attendees broke into roundtable discussion groups to debate topics such as funding, cross-jurisdictional collaboration, and the differences between housing singles and families.
A panel discussion moderated by Karen Cleveland and featuring Blair Copeland, Carpenter’s Shelter; Oliver Reid, New Hope Housing; Minerva Labrador, Northern Virginia Family Service; and Michele Porter-Will, Volunteers of America Chesapeake, also provided sound advice for establishing critically important relationships with landlords. The honest and open format of the panel, which included strategies for finding housing for those with a criminal background, led one attendee to remark, “I liked the panel format – and I liked that people didn’t sugarcoat [the challenges].”
Overall, the Forum, themed “Creating Partnerships, Strengthening Communities that Keep the Homeless Housed,” was overwhelmingly rated by attendees as valuable to very valuable, with one attendee commenting on one of the most important take-aways of any good conference – empowerment – when she said, “This forum allowed me to open up a conversation with my supervisor on better servicing my clients.”
In a milestone moment for HomeAid, a reporter attended the Forum for the first time, writing a feature article for Centre View that explored the “war on homelessness” in a region with limited affordable housing.
|HomeAid, Christopher Companies Partner with Pathway Homes for First Time|
For three women working to embrace their ongoing recovery from mental illness, having a stable home is critical to their ability to focus on their needs and futures. And now, thanks to an $11,000 project completed for Pathway Homes last month by HomeAid Northern Virginia, Builder Captain Christopher Companies, and seven trade partners, the women have a renovated and updated home in which to recover.
“Self worth and feeling good about life is easier when you know people care about you,” said Anna Smith, director of development at Pathway Homes. “This home—with a totally updated kitchen and bathroom—is so much brighter and more modern now, and the work that’s been put into making this feel more like a home means so much to these women, all of whom also share a history of homelessness or were at risk of becoming homeless. They have a lot to focus on, as they continue to learn how to manage medications and focus on their recovery, and being surrounded by beauty means so much. They’ve faced a lot of stigma over the course of their lives, and seeing something like this done for their benefit is truly an inspiration.”
“Our company has a long history of supporting HomeAid and being involved members of NVBIA,” said Mike Sandkuhler, project manager for Christopher Companies, 2016 president for NVBIA and HomeAid board member. “It’s part of our shared mission to provide shelter for those who cannot provide it on their own, and it’s an honor to serve and to see all the good that comes out of our efforts. It’s not always easy coming to terms with how some people live, and anything we can do to provide and improve other community members’ homes is something we’re glad to do.”
This marks the first time HomeAid Northern Virginia has partnered with Pathway Homes, which provides permanent supportive housing to adults with serious mental illness and co-occurring disabilities in Northern Virginia.
|Thank you, Christopher Companies, and the following trade partners for giving three
women a stable, safe home so that they can focus on their recovery!
|HomeAid Establishes Discretionary Fund for Emergency Assistance|
|Fund will fill gap between limited shelter funding and client needs|
When HomeAid Immediate Past President Brian Davidson and Program & Operations Manager Kristyn Burr toured a townhome owned by Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services, Inc., last month, they went with the intention of completing a site visit to assess the home for a future renovation project. What they found instead was a single mom—who had recently moved into the property—with four children ages three to 11, with virtually nothing more than the clothes on their backs.
“The shelter had provided them with the basics, but after being homeless and on the move for so long, they were truly starting from scratch,” said Burr, “and with limited funding, there’s only so much shelters can do. But as a mom myself, it broke my heart to see not a single toy, minimal furnishings, and mattresses on the floor. Staff from Good Shepherd brought over a desk for the oldest boy a desk for homework, and he lit up with excitement … but then his little sister wanted a desk too. I knew we had to do something.”
HomeAid’s Executive Director Christy Eaton and Shelter Care Chair David Cogley agreed, and they set up a discretionary fund that will now allow HomeAid to offer immediate assistance in emergency situations.
“This is what we’re here for,” Burr added. “Even if it’s not project-related, this is now an additional way that HomeAid can make an impact and go above and beyond our building and renovation projects. This family needed help, and having the ability to make such an immediate difference meant the world to them. Whether we can offer help before, during, or after a project shouldn’t matter—if we can help, we will.”
HomeAid provided the family with $1,000—split between gift cards at Value City Furniture and Target—so that the family and their caseworker can together prioritize needs and make purchases. The family was also connected with Women Giving Back (WGB), formerly a HomeAid Northern Virginia program that provides free clothing and accessories to women and children from area shelters. WGB became a 501(c)3 organization last year.
“The family had very few belongings when they moved into their home,” added Lesley Hatch, vice president and COO of Good Shepherd, “and it would have taken them more than a year to save enough money to buy the basics—things like bed frames, dressers, lamps, clothing, toys, and kitchen items. They are thrilled with the generosity of HomeAid and the opportunity to have an apartment that now feels like home.”
|McDonough Brings New Relationships and New Event to HomeAid|
Jason McDonough, one of the newer members of HomeAid Northern Virginia’s Board of Directors, is also senior vice president, real estate lending officer for Cardinal Bank, in McLean, Va. By combining his career experience with his service and volunteerism with HomeAid, he is a valued partner in advancing HomeAid’s mission.
Q: As a senior vice president in the banking industry, how did you first become involved with HomeAid?
A: I’ve been with Cardinal Bank for 10 years. In 2011, I started to manage Cardinal Bank’s sponsorship contributions and participation with the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association (NVBIA). Through that process, I was introduced to HomeAid, met Executive Director Christy Eaton, and began to learn about the wonderful things HomeAid was doing in our community. Through my position at Cardinal Bank, I provide construction financing to many homebuilders in the region, and a lot of my clients were building or revitalizing older homes in Northern Virginia. When I would go out to see the properties, I would notice that there were appliances and other items that were still functioning, so my first personal initiative with HomeAid was a partnership in 2012/2013, when we came up with an idea to facilitate getting some of these items from houses that were being torn down into local shelters. That was the start of my personal involvement and relationship with HomeAid.
I also realized that while I couldn’t be out there swinging the hammer, and I’m not helping to build a house or renovate a bathroom, I could add value behind the scenes by serving on various HomeAid sub-committees in an effort to help generate funds for the organization, which we can use to facilitate new and improved housing for those in need.
As I continued to see the great things that HomeAid was doing in the community, I advocated for the bank to play a larger role and expand our sponsorship level at HomeAid’s Annual Gala. I knew from that point that HomeAid was an organization that I wanted to dedicate my time to.
Q: You are fairly new to the HomeAid Board of Directors. How did you first become involved on the Board, and what do you enjoy about serving?
A: I managed a number of builder relationships through my position at Cardinal Bank, had experience in coordinating charitable event planning, and was truly passionate about philanthropic efforts in the community and especially the efforts of HomeAid. I was asked to join the board, and I began my term in the first quarter of 2015. It’s been a great experience to be in the room with the caliber of professionals who comprise this board and to see the inner workings of the organization. I have had the privilege of being involved in a number of ways—from board member to Gala Committee member, and helping form our annual Golf Tournament. I also serve as the HomeAid liaison on NVBIA’s board.
A: Two other board members and I recognized that our board was comprised of a number of industry professionals with a passion for golf; that industry trade partners would welcome an opportunity to have some fun while supporting HomeAid’s efforts; and that there was a need for an additional fall event to help generate proceeds. For those reasons, we conceived, developed, and hosted our First Annual HomeAid Golf Tournament at Raspberry Falls Golf and Hunt Club in October 2015. It was a remarkable event; we sold out to 144 golfers, a feat acknowledged by the golf pro that he had never seen that before for a first-time tournament. We raised a considerable amount of funding for HomeAid and knew when it came together that it was something special and could grow in the future. The Second Annual Golf Tournament will be this September, and we just started rolling out sponsorship opportunities. Last year was an opportunity for me to jump in and get my feet wet, to make an impact, and to put my experience at charitable event planning to work for HomeAid.
Q: As a board member, what are your thoughts about HomeAid Northern Virginia’s 15th anniversary this year?
A: There is undeniable need for an organization like HomeAid in Northern Virginia. The fact that the organization has completed more than 100 projects, invested close to $13 million, and impacted nearly 100,000 community members for the betterment of this community is truly remarkable. The leaders of this organization, some of whom have been involved since the beginning, are comprised of some of the largest homebuilders in the area, and they are taking their time to focus on making our community better. HomeAid Northern Virginia is making an impact that is felt by so many, and it’s amazing to be a part of that.
Q: What is the most exciting part of your involvement with HomeAid?
A: The collaboration among board members. These individuals are bankers, attorneys, CPAs, homebuilders, and other professionals, all coming together for one common goal: to do right for others in the community. They are not being compensated—they are dedicating a significant amount of their time, and many of them have been involved for years! One of the most fascinating things to me is the commitment of those who are doing right in the community.
Q: What are your hopes for the future of HomeAid Northern Virginia?
A: On the immediate horizon, it is going to be critical for HomeAid to establish mutually beneficial partnerships with companies and other charitable organizations, like Youth For Tomorrow, to collaborate with and align our interests in an effort to expand our outreach. We need to continue to partner with homebuilders in this region to improve aging shelters and to construct new shelters as well. Personally, I am thinking about the future of the organization; how to preserve the integrity of the organization while discovering new and creative ways to help it grow. I hope I can continue to be involved with this great organization for many years to come.
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