Executive Director & CEO Corner
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”
Fred Rogers always knew how to say just the right thing, and his quote, I’ve noticed, has gotten a lot of attention over the last several years, as we as a country have together weathered heartbreaks and faced sometimes-frightening challenges. And it has never felt more applicable to what I’ve been seeing in the Northern Virginia service community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the last several weeks going to projects that are wrapping up, kicking off, or are in full swing. I’ve been in touch with a lot of our partner providers, and I’ve heard from many volunteers – some of whom are brand new to HomeAid – who want to help and give back. It has resulted in this quiet feeling that no matter where I look, I see beauty in the chaos. Homebuilders and trade partners showing up every day to ensure that homes for those who need them most aren’t delayed. Companies that have continued to donate their expertise, labor, and materials no matter what might be affecting their own day-to-day businesses. Non-profits that are telling me that yes, it feels very dark right now … but that they’re also seeing so many moments filled with light, as teams bond in new ways and find new strategies to reach those they serve. Staff have been redeployed as some aspects of their ‘normal’ jobs have become less critical while other needs have escalated, and they’ve reinvented themselves nearly overnight. People who learned about HomeAid from our interview with NBC channel 4 have called, asking how they can help. People are collaborating, adjusting, and evolving to tackle a challenge not a single one of us have ever experienced before. And out of all of it, I’m reminded how much we as humans really are all the same. We’re strong, and together, we’re better.
In the Spotlight
HomeAid Responds and Evolves to COVID-19
COVID-19 has brought new challenges to all of us, but it’s also bringing out some of the very best in all of us. At HomeAid – and thanks to all of your support and generosity – we’re seeing help come in new and inspiring ways. Thank you to everyone who has helped us “fill the gap” for our partners and for those who depend on us.
HomeAid Northern Virginia’s Board of Directors may be on stay-at-home orders, but with their usual high levels of dedication, engagement, and can-do spirit, the entire Board held its first virtual Board meeting in April with our second on May 13th (left). It was great to see everyone, discuss the now, strategize for the future, and celebrate all that makes this important group of people such a strong backbone for the organization.
Construction and renovation are considered essential services, and HomeAid Northern Virginia’s trade partners are continuing to help us move projects forward while also practicing safety protocols during the pandemic (right). We are so grateful to them for sticking by us and still giving generously of their time and talent.
Because of your generosity, we have been able to donate just under 10,000 diapers; 5,600 wipes; and $3,500 in gift cards to ten of our non-profit partners and individuals over the past few weeks! Some of our gift cards, like the Walmart card pictured here, were even attached to highly coveted packs of toilet tissue which were distributed to those living in tents.
“Windy Hill Foundation is so grateful for HomeAid’s support now and throughout the past several years. The recent diaper donation has made a huge impact on our community. As Windy Hill community’s families comply with Governor Northam’s Stay at Home Order, many are faced with making hard decisions between buying diapers and paying rent and utility bills.”
~ Claire Louis
Director of Programs, Evaluations, and Grants
Windy Hill Community
“HomeAid donated gift cards to ALIVE! House residents at a time when such kindness was much needed. The residents were not working due to the pandemic and, as a single mother, not having income to provide for your family the basic necessities is heartbreaking. The gift cards provided a means to fill a gap made by the loss of income.”
~ Danien (Dee) Johnson, MS, QMHP, LPC-R
Director, ALIVE! House
New information is coming out daily, and in response, HomeAid has established an online COVID resource center including information about where to find emergency financial or food assistance; tips for managing your mental health, stress, and isolation; virtual AA meetings; who to call if you’re dealing with domestic violence; resources and funding sources for our non-profit partners; and information about how this is affecting individuals experiencing homelessness.
Did You Know?
In April, we celebrated National Volunteer Week. Did you know that in addition to the benefits to society, scientific studies have shown that individuals who volunteer enjoy psychological and physical benefits, including increased satisfaction, improved sense of belonging, lower blood pressure, increased protection from Alzheimer’s, and decreased mortality?
Source: Journal of Health and Social Behavior
In Your Neighborhood
Construction in the Time of COVID-19
COVID-19 has changed protocols for living, learning, and working worldwide. Here in Virginia, construction is considered an essential service, meaning that our homebuilders and trade partners are continuing to work on building one of humanity’s most important needs – shelter. And while going to work may provide some sense of normalcy, the conditions under which our partners are working isn’t the same. At HomeAid Northern Virginia, we too have made changes in how we conduct site visits and continue work on our shelter projects that are already underway.
“In normal conditions, we invite our Builder Captains and trade partners to tour a property at the same time, so we can together assess exactly what needs to be done,” explained HomeAid Northern Virginia Executive Director and CEO Kristyn Burr. “Now, we’re staggering the trades’ arrival, scheduling each one independently for separate walk throughs so that there’s never more than two of us in a property at the same time. We’re distancing and taking every precaution to heart. Yet, at the same time, the generosity and spirit of the homebuilding community hasn’t changed at all. Even in these times of crisis, our partners are continuing to put people in need first and moving forward with our projects. It’s incredibly heartwarming to see.”
Scott Alford, Miller & Smith’s vice president of production, noted that during the renovation of a HomeAid project for the Cornerstones Housing Corporation – which continued in the midst of the coronavirus – builders and trade partners have felt more like family than ever. “We schedule the work carefully, and there’s usually only one sub in the house at a time. No one is working on the same thing at the same time, so we’re never in situations where they’re on top of each other. With residential, social distancing is really a little easier – we can spread out and stay in different areas of the house. Commuting is probably the hardest part, since trades are so accustomed to riding together … but they’ve all become like a family unit, working together for so long. Working this way makes many of us feel like we’re quarantining with our families.”
“Everyone is full speed ahead with this project,” he added. “No one has backed out, and everyone has continued to donate their labor and materials. We won’t need to turn around and ask the shelter partner to cover any aspect of the budget, and that feels great.”
In Your Community
HomeAid, Miller & Smith Renovate Cornerstones Townhome
HomeAid Northern Virginia, Builder Captain Miller & Smith, and 16 trade partners have put the finishing touches on a $78,000 full renovation of a townhome owned by Cornerstones Housing Corporation (CHC), 100 percent of which was donated. The townhome is part of CHC’s 60-home scattered-site program, which provides housing for very low-income individuals and families in Reston, Herndon, and Centreville.
“This property was pretty much a complete gut job,” said Miller & Smith Vice President of Production Scott Alford. “On CHC’s application it really wasn’t – they didn’t ask for this level of renovation – but when we see a property in rough condition, we don’t feel good about just making surface repairs or simply painting and updating carpet; we want it to last for many more years, using more durable materials and replacing as much as we can with products that are easier to clean and will stay looking great. So instead of carpet, we installed vinyl planking. We also installed hardwoods on the stairs for greater durability.”
Mike LoRusso, project superintendent with Miller & Smith, agreed that transforming the property rather than just giving it a facelift was the right thing to do, adding, “The project has come a long way, and it’s so gratifying to see how this house started and how it looks today, knowing that it will be going to someone who really needs a new beginning. This is the first time I’ve worked on a HomeAid project, and it’s been enormously gratifying.”
Miller & Smith and trade partners also totally renovated all of the bathrooms and the kitchen, checked the roof and mechanical systems, upgraded the electric, replaced the exterior patio, and cleaned up the yard with new sod and landscaping.
“The need is so great – so many need so much – that it’s hard to put into words how much this project means,” said Michael Scheurer, CHC’s executive vice president for housing & community development. “The people in our scattered site program all have incomes below the 30 percent median, and some of the clients moving into homes like this townhouse are coming straight from our shelter. There are a lot of challenges to get them established and stable, but through care managers, goal setting, and careful planning, most usually stay between three and five years before setting off independently. We are thrilled to have another townhome to help another family, and since the management costs of individual homes like this are much higher than in an apartment building, we really rely on this kind of generous assistance to supplement the grants and subsidies we get from the federal government and Fairfax County. Thank you, HomeAid and Miller & Smith!”
Thank you to Miller & Smith and the following trade partners for renovating and updating another beautiful home for CHC, where a family can now work toward their independence!
Bee & H Electric Company
ECS Mid-Atlantic, LLC
Johnson Drywall & Construction, Inc.
Legacy Contractors Group, LLC
S.B.S. Siding Company, Inc.
Select Construction Company, Inc.
T.A.C. Ceramic Tile Co.
HomeAid's Turnover Program Refreshes Office Space for First Time
HomeAid Northern Virginia’s Turnover Program, implemented in 2018, is designed to help organizations quickly prepare residential units that need new flooring and fresh paint before families can move in. The program – paid for by HomeAid – ensures long-term savings for HomeAid partners and dignified, healthy spaces for the clients they serve. Last month, however, HomeAid put a new twist on our Turnover Program when we replaced all of the flooring in ACTS’ Emergency Assistance office.
The Emergency Assistance program was established to assist families and individuals in crisis with an immediate emergency, particularly when facing the disconnection of their power or water. During normal operations, ACTS helps up to 100 households a month, with clients all coming to the ACTS office to meet with caseworkers and get help.
The office space, unfortunately, was less than professional. “The whole building had old, ugly brown carpet throughout, with cheap tile in the lobby,” said ACTS CEO Steven Liga. “It was really bad and, quite honestly, was demoralizing for staff and didn’t make clients feel valued or respected. When COVID hit, a silver lining was twofold: evictions were suspended, making our assistance program less critical, and we needed to redeploy staff to other missions so that they could work remotely. With a completely empty office, it was the perfect time to replace the flooring, and Kristyn Burr at HomeAid jumped on the opportunity. There is no way I could have done it on our budget, and we are just so grateful. The crew did a fantastic job, it’s beautiful, and it will be a gamechanger for our staff and our clients!”
ACTS’ staff were so excited about the upgrade, they also all repainted their own offices. “The whole office space looks incredible,” Liga added, “and everyone cannot wait to come back to work in our ‘new’ office. This is a real treat – thank you, HomeAid!”
Did You Know?
The most recent Volunteering in America report (2018) found that 77.34 million adults, or 30.3%, volunteered in 2017. Americans volunteered nearly 6.9 billion hours, worth an estimated $167 billion in economic value. Millions more are supporting friends and family (43.1%) and doing favors for their neighbors (51.4%), suggesting that many are engaged in acts of “informal volunteering.”
Source: Corporation for National and Community Service
Making It Count
Arts in the Park: HomeAid's Newest Way to Make Memories!
After nine joyful summers of treating families and individuals living in local shelters to a Night at the Ballpark – where we hosted hundreds at an evening baseball game at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge – the team moved operations to Fredericksburg, effectively ending our ability to continue that tradition. But knowing how important it is to create family memories and eliminate the stress of “how will I pay for it?” for parents, HomeAid Northern Virginia is pleased to announce a new partnership with Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts! Our plan is to present our 1st Annual Arts in the Park event for our shelter partner staff and clients this summer, depending of course on COVID-19 protocols and re-openings.
All of our guests will be provided with admission tickets to a show at Wolf Trap’s “Children’s Theater-in-the-Woods,” along with a boxed lunch that can be enjoyed in the beautiful park. In addition to introducing families to a featured musical group, we are excited to help welcome them to the National Park Service’s only park dedicated to the performing arts while also celebrating a day of music, food, free parking, and the outdoors.
Our first Arts in the Park is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, July 18, featuring the Okee Dokee Brothers, an independent American bluegrass and American roots children’s music duo from Minneapolis. We will of course keep you updated if we need to shift the date, but in the meantime, here’s how you can help:
- All questions and requests for tickets must come through Case Managers. Please let Cilda Pretorius (703-953-3525) know how many tickets your organization, along with family names, will need for staff and families that will attend – we want to avoid “no shows” as much as possible to give more people a chance to attend.
- Your sponsorship can help send staff & families from local shelters to our 1st Annual Arts in the Park Event at Wolf Trap – and you will receive recognition on our event signage and on our website.
HomeAid Volunteers: Our Unmatched Heroes of Giving
In honor of #NationalVolunteerWeek, we wanted to take this opportunity to focus not just on one individual, but instead to recognize ALL of the volunteers who have generously donated their time and talent to us this year. We know it sounds cliché to say we couldn’t do this without you … but truly, we couldn’t. Every project, every event, every dollar raised, and every individual we help is the result of the time, love, and dedication of all of our supporters and partners. And while this year is presenting new challenges we couldn’t have imagined even a few months ago, we are still completing projects and helping support those who need us most.
A special thank you to the following 2020 volunteers: Miriam Goldin | Patti Brownstein, PLB Promotions | Patricia Booker, KTGY Architecture + Planning | Kim Calavas, ABW Appliances A Better Way | Lesley Negri, K. Hovnanian Homes – Virginia | Shap Bashar, Wells Fargo | Lewis Lee, Luck Stone | Missy Elliott, Sherwin Williams | Karn Ford and Kim Fritts, Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. | Jenn Keesling, Van Metre Homes | Kristin Norris, John Marshall Bank | Scott Schunk and Tim Thompson, Reico Kitchen & Bath | Ray Lamberti, Wells Fargo | Todd Canape, Republic Distributing Company | Jana Gilbert, ENG Groupe | Tierra Faggins and Eunice Robinson, Cornerstones | Jana McDonald | Maryam Kaymanesh, Sight and Sound Systems, Inc. | Bob Narod, Bob Narod Photography | and last but not least, Emery Venus.
Next up, please put your hands together for the hardworking members of our Board of Directors and the companies they work for that make it possible for them to do what they do for us. Their dedication – and the commitment of their companies – is the foundation for all that we do, and they are the backbone of our organization. We are grateful today and every day. Thank you!
Stanley Martin Homes and GivingTuesday
Stanley Martin Homes, Northern Virginia has selected HomeAid Northern Virginia’s “Builders for Babies” diaper and wipes collection program as the recipient of its Giving Back 2020 campaign. The company set up an Amazon wish list for items to be delivered directly to HomeAid’s offices, which we will then distribute to our shelter partners for their clients in need. Thank you to all of our friends at Stanley Martin for thinking of us! Click here to donate today!
At the start of every HomeAid America Board meeting, a chapter director is asked to provide a Mission Moment, and, in April, our very own Kristyn Burr was tapped for the second time in a year. She focused her comments on the impact COVID-19 has had on people in our community, especially those affected by domestic violence, as well as its effect on non-profits that work with those experiencing homelessness. Kristyn also shared insights into how HomeAid Northern Virginia is managing the growing need in our region.
Thank you, Bank of America for your generous donation of $25,000, $15,000 of which is going towards our current project with Operation Renewed Hope updating a home in Alexandria, VA to better house veterans transitioning out of homelessness; $5,000 to help fund our 2020 Annual Housing Forum in September; and $5,000 to help with the current crisis.
Homebuilding Leaders in the News
In April, Construction Junkie featured four construction humanitarian organizations that are making a serious positive impact during our country’s fight against the coronavirus, and we were thrilled to see HomeAid America recognized!
Earlier this year, Taylor Morrison Home Corp. was named BUILDER’s 2020 Builder of The Year; in March, Chairman and CEO Sheryl Palmer – who also currently serves as HomeAid America Board President – shared with BUILDER magazine what she views as “the power of her organization’s – and our society’s – shared purpose in prevailing. The other, simply, gratitude for the underlying meaning of what builders do for a living.” Read the insightful and uplifting interview in the April issue of BUILDER.
Please join us in congratulating Madeline Walker, our former part-time programs and communications specialist at HomeAid Northern Virginia, for her promotion to a new full-time position as communications manager! Madeline joined our team in February 2019, after having worked within the marketing departments at several non-profit organizations throughout the DC and VA area.
“I’m blessed to have been given this opportunity to work with HomeAid full time,” Madeline said. “HomeAid’s mission speaks to my heart and soul as a person who wants to give back to the community and help as many people as I possibly can. The people I work for and with are indescribably amazing, and I went from working three part-time jobs to now having one full-time job which, in addition to the stability it provides, allows me to be home with my husband and two girls (29 months and 9 months) every single evening. I cannot wait to see the amazing work we will accomplish in the days and years ahead.”
Save the Date
Brunch with Benefits – Presented in partnership with The Construction Management Podcast, THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED – NEW DATE TBD, Lost Rhino Brewing Company, Ashburn, VA (10% of proceeds go to benefit HomeAid Northern Virginia!)
Women in Building Industry Spring Networking – NEW DATE: Thursday, June 25, 2020, Paradise Springs Winery, Clifton, VA (Collecting home essential items for HomeAid’s Helping Hands program.)
1st Annual Arts in the Park at Wolf Trap – Saturday, July 18 2020, 10:00 a.m., Children’s Theatre in the Woods at Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Rd, Vienna, VA
11th Annual Builders and Friends BBQ – NEW DATE: Thursday, August 13, The Barn at One Loudoun, Ashburn, VA (Registration now open!)
Housing Forum – NEW DATE: Thursday, September 3, 2020 (This event is geared towards those who work in the field. FREE with registration.)
6th Annual Golf Tournament – Friday, September 18, 2020, Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club, Leesbury, VA (Registration now open!)
SN Mortgage Benefit Trap Shoot – Friday, October 2, 2020, Bull Run Shooting Center, Centreville, VA (Details coming soon – proceeds to benefit HomeAid Northern Virginia!)
19th Annual Gala & Auction – Saturday, November 14, 2020, Lansdowne Resort & Spa, Leesburg, VA