Executive Director & CEO Corner

If you’re like me, the very best moments of life since March have been the ones that have made me feel – even for a second – “normal.” Isn’t it funny how what might otherwise be pretty mundane suddenly feels pretty special simply because you get to do it during a year of cancellations? And then there are those moments that are far from mundane – they’re things you look forward to every year – but when they’re not cancelled, you feel like you’ve won the lottery? That was me, last weekend, when I got to take part in an annual metric century bike ride I’ve ridden for years. It’s always a fun time, but this year’s ‘green light’ on the event essentially made me feel like I had been awarded the yellow jersey after the Tour de France!

I felt the same way this morning, when I experienced the sheer joy of being at Raspberry Falls with 150+ HomeAid supporters on a beautiful day, at our 6th Annual Golf Tournament. It was for the sixth straight year sold out – and while that’s always reason to celebrate, this year it felt even more amazing. The excitement and buzz surrounding the event was undeniable, and the day was such an enormous lift up for the golfers, supporters, and staff.

Best of all, the lift up came in two ways: First, I would be remiss to not mention the critically important funds we raised through the event, all of which will go toward supporting our mission of building and renovating housing stock and programmatic facilities for those who are homeless or at risk of becoming so. And with 13+ non-profit construction projects in progress, fundraising has never been so important!

Secondly, the tournament provided an important mental health boost, which I can’t overstate. Face to face interactions, socially distanced conversations, and physical movement are life-giving, and I’m grateful to all of you who came out and enjoyed the day with us. As you’ll read more about in our recap of our 2020 Housing Forum, human connection can also be life-saving. Throughout this month, pay attention to those around you. Ask if they’re okay, or if they need help. As Kevin Hines pointed out, when people are really struggling, they often can’t be the one to reach out; they need someone to reach in.

With Gratitude,

In the Spotlight

Hope, Healing, and Self-Care: HomeAid 2020 Housing Forum Delivers!

More than 150 nonprofit partners, government representatives, Board Members, and colleagues from HomeAid America and other HomeAid chapters coast to coast tuned in virtually to HomeAid Northern Virginia’s Annual Housing Forum, “Addressing the Mental Health Crisis,” on Thursday, September 3, 2020. The program’s lead speakers – Kevin Hines and Gina White – provided deeply moving stories, along with tips for managing pain, that helped participants understand and appreciate the lifesaving importance of listening to and supporting others, while also practicing self-care to ensure that we can continue to be there for others.

Kevin Hines

Kevin, author of  Cracked Not Broken, Surviving and Thriving After A Suicide Attempt and award-winning documentary filmmaker of  Suicide: The Ripple Effect, shared his story of childhood abandonment, mental illness, and a desperate search for someone to notice his pain – and ask if he needed help. When that help never came, he catapulted from the Golden Gate Bridge and realized, the moment his hands left the railing, that he had made a terrible mistake. Thankfully, he became one of the one percent to survive.

“I get to be here today,” he said. “It’s a privilege and a gift. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. Hold gratitude in the pain by building a new way of life, a new way to cope with the pain, and a new strategy for wellbeing. Every 40 seconds, someone dies by suicide. It doesn’t need to be this way; all I wanted was for someone to stop me, but I needed someone to reach in, as I couldn’t reach out first. If you see someone emotionally unwell, look them in the eye and ask if they’re okay. You could save a life. You have the ability to turn a life around.”

“It’s a long and arduous road to recovery, which I’m still in today,” he added. “I’ve been in nine psych ward stays since that day, but I’ve learned to accept new strategies that work for me. Nutrition; exercising; music, art, and talk therapy; and education about bipolar disorder have all helped. I take nothing for granted, and I am open to learning every tool and trick to balance my brain health. We can all do the same for ourselves.”

Gina White

Gina, a mind-body practitioner, followed Kevin’s raw story with her own insights into how – and why – we also need to practice self-care as we work to lift others up. Throughout her childhood, she saw her firefighter/paramedic dad come home enraged. She saw her nurse practitioner mom suffer from chronic depression. It was a secondary trauma that inspired her thesis and launched a career.

“Secondary trauma does have an impact on us,” she shared, “and we need to consciously learn tools and mechanisms for managing it. Mindfulness can be our avenue for that self-regulation; by training our brain to think, notice, and adjust, we can better stay in a ‘window of tolerance,’ where we feel the most balanced. But once we teeter into dysregulation, or hyper- or hypo-arousal, that’s when we can easily become overwhelmed by anxiety, anger, or depression.”

Gina led participants through breathing and listening exercises, demonstrating step-by-step how to redirect our focus and come back to a balanced state. “We cannot be there for others if we’re burnt out. We need to find ways and tools to create mechanisms to calm our nervous systems. Find something that resonates with you. Practice and train. Try mindfulness training for five minutes or 20, or even just three breaths. And don’t judge yourself for ‘not doing something right.’ Acknowledge it and start again. We can always start again.”

Whether you were able to tune in live or plan to catch the program online, the impact of this year’s Housing Forum cannot be denied. Equal parts uplifting and gutting, educational and inspirational, be sure to also tap into the many resources that both speakers have made available to ensure we can all practice important life-giving and life-lifting strategies.

Many thanks to Chief Strategist for Fairfax Health, Housing and Human Services (HHHS) Dean Klein for helping moderate our program. And, thank you to the hundreds of supporters who joined us for this year’s virtual Housing Forum – we loved knowing you were taking part!

Did You Know?

45,390 American adults died from suicide in 2017, including 6,139 U.S. Veterans, and the number of Veteran suicides exceeded 6,000 each year from 2008 to 2017.
Source: U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

In Your Neighborhood

Operation Renewed Hope Project Kicks Off, with Completion Date Planned in time for Veteran’s Day

HomeAid Northern Virginia, Builder Captain Christopher CompaniesKTGY Architecture + Planning, and 24 trade partners have kicked off what is expected to be a $106,000 renovation and expansion project on a single family home recently purchased by Operation Renewed Hope Foundation (ORHF). The project will enable ORHF to provide quality housing to even more of our nation’s homeless Veterans and – thanks to a majority of the cost being covered through grants and donations – provide supportive services to help break the cycle of homelessness, such as transportation, furniture and household items, dental care, business attire, and employment networking.

The split level home, currently featuring three bedrooms and 1.5 baths, will be expanded to a four bedroom, three full bath home by converting a carport into a bedroom with an en suite bath; converting the upstairs layout into two large bedrooms with a ‘Jack and Jill’ shared bathroom; and renovating a basement bedroom with an en suite bath. In addition, Christopher Companies and trade partners will completely renovate and update the kitchen, shared living spaces, flooring, electric and plumbing, light fixtures, roof, and exterior siding and landscaping.

Deborah Snyder, LTC (R), US Army, president & CEO of ORHF, is looking forward to seeing the Foundation’s service capacity expand, with what will result in a critical new ability to house four more individuals or a family in need. “We’ve helped more than a 1,000 Veterans since we launched in December 2011, with most Veterans staying with us anywhere from 90 days to six months. By operating on a Housing First method, our goal is to get Veterans into housing as quickly as possible so that they can establish themselves, get back on their feet, and regain independence and employment quickly. This house is new to us, and we can’t wait to welcome Veterans into what will be the most beautiful home in our program!”

“It’s a big job,” said Christopher Companies Project Manager Justin Havenner, “and – along with our Project Superintendent Keith Ashcraft and Director of Purchasing Jim Buehler – we are honored to take on this HomeAid project. We have commitments from all of our contractors and suppliers, and we have set a goal to finalize the project by November 11, Veteran’s Day.”

In addition to donations from supporters and trade partners, the project is also being financed through a grant from Bank of America, via HomeAid America.

Did You Know?

In 2017, the suicide rate for Veterans was 1.5 times the rate for non-Veteran adults, after adjusting for population differences in age and sex.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

In Your Community

HomeAid’s Golf Tournament a SOLD OUT Success!

Golfers, Sponsors Raise Over $125,000!

We had an absolute blast this morning with 150+ of our fabulous supporters, hitting the links shotgun style at our 6th Annual Golf Tournament! Thank you to all of you who came out for a great day at Raspberry Falls, and for all of our incredible sponsors who made the day such a success – together we raised over $125,000! It was a great morning of networking, golfing, and business building, and it was great to see all of you.

Our participants enjoyed a 1st hole vodka bar and 11th hole bar; a long-drive pro on hole 11, hole-in-one prizes, a custom tee gift, and some of the best raffle gifts we’ve ever had! In partnership with Raspberry Falls, we also made protocol and procedure adjustments to keep all participants safe, including face coverings while inside the Clubhouse, boxed breakfast and lunch meals, sanitizer in every golf cart, and social distancing where applicable.

Special thanks to:

Did You Know?

More than 20 percent of veterans with PTSD also suffer from an addiction or dependence on drugs or alcohol. And, people with PTSD have a harder time overcoming addiction than those without it; the symptoms of withdrawal combined with the symptoms of PTSD amplify negative feelings and emotions that may lead to a relapse.
Source: Addiction Center

Making It Count

HomeAid Annual Gala & Auction Transitions Online in 2020, MASKerade: Coming Together While Apart

Save the date for HomeAid Northern Virginia’s 2020 Gala & Auction, set for November 14 … in your living room! Yes, we are going virtual, and we are planning what will be an amazing event featuring many of the things that make our Gala so special to all of us. We’ll enjoy live and silent auctions, as well as a paddle challenge. We’ll lift up the work we do through videos highlighting some of our most important work and spotlighting the lives we impact. We’ll put our hands together to celebrate the presentation of our annual Presidents’ Awards, and we’ll thank all of our incredibly generous supporters and sponsors who make our work possible. We can’t wait to join together with you at MASKerade 2020 – please mark your calendars today to join us on November 14th!

Watch for more information in the coming weeks, including details on joining the video platform, sponsorship opportunities, and how to tap into HomeAid’s Gold, Silver, and Bronze house parties, which can mean bottles of champagne and swag bags delivered to your home on the day of the Gala!

Supporter Spotlight

Golfing for Good

Willy Lutz

Willy Lutz, PGA, has what many of us would consider a dream job: As the director of golf and general manager at Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club, he spends his days on the rolling fields of a beautiful golf course in Loudoun County, welcoming pros, duffers, and everyone in between. But behind the scenes, he of course does so much more – and for HomeAid, that means working with us to host golf tournaments which have, over the last six years, raised nearly $463,000. With our 6th Annual Golf Tournament also at Raspberry Falls, we loved working with one of our most enthusiastic and committed partners; anytime Willy is involved, we’re bound to have a good time and enjoy a great event! Find out how we first connected with Willy, and why he and Raspberry Falls have continued to be such an important part of our success.

Q: How did you originally find out about HomeAid, and what inspired you to get involved through your support of our golf tournament and all that goes in to making them a success?

A: HomeAid was introduced to me about four years ago by Brian Davidson at Van Metre, when he was interested in hosting a charity golf event that would raise funds for HomeAid. In my role as general manager at Raspberry Falls, I worked with the executive director and special events coordinator at the time to plan, host and execute a fantastic event filled with many leaders and dignitaries in the local building industry. We learned a lot the first year, but the thing that sticks out most is just how much support HomeAid received. Most events are lucky to get 72-100 players their first year; HomeAid sold out within a few weeks of advertising the event and had a full field of 144 golfers. They have had similar or better results ever since! It’s a real testament to the quality of the people who support and work for and with the organization.

Q: HomeAid’s golf tournament has such a welcoming home at Raspberry Falls … in your view, what is it about golf tournaments that makes them so attractive – and so consistently successful – as fundraisers?

A: Consistency and service are what makes Raspberry Falls tick. While we have a lot of seasonal staff who come and go, the core employees do a great job of maintaining a customer focused environment and who pride themselves on anticipating customer needs. “You bring us the golfers, we’ll take care of the rest!” If you’ve ever met Gilbert, you know exactly what I mean. From the golfer’s perspective, I think that an opportunity away from the office while surrounded by so many people in your respective industry is a welcome experience. It gives people a chance to socialize and network in a way that is not possible through traditional association meetings or business platforms. Add in the spectacular views of Loudoun County from a few of Raspberry’s elevated tee boxes, and you have a great recipe for success!

Q: What has most surprised you in learning about homelessness in Northern Virginia?

A: I am a resident of Loudoun County and while I feel like I am truly blessed to live in this amazing corner of the world, I was most surprised to hear that homelessness is everywhere. It is not just an inner city problem; it literally touches every neighborhood in every community.

Q: What do you love most about your career?

A: That’s an easy one for me – I love the people. I have met so many people from so many walks of life over the span of my 20-year career that I can’t even ballpark a number. I have met a President of the United States; elected officials; movie stars; sports stars from the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL; golfing greats like Arnold Palmer; and so many wonderful people who have so much passion for this crazy game of golf that I love and turned in to a career. Without question, what I love most is the people I meet and get to work with every day.

Announcements

Thank You!

Wow! HomeAid’s 150Campaign was a huge success, raising over $32,000 in celebration of 150 projects completed. Thank you to the individual and corporate donors who supported this important campaign and took an important step toward ensuring that we can replicate our success going forward.

Thank you to Fairfax RISE, for your generous $10,000 grant donation. It will make an enormous difference in our ability to continue our mission – particularly during a year when fundraising is more important than ever.

And, a hat tip to NVBIA’s Custom Builders Council for making us the beneficiary of their diaper and wipes collection effort! Your donations will keep our littlest humans dry and comfortable while lessening the very real financial pressure on their moms. Thank you!

Save the Date

Women in Building Industry Spring Networking NEW DATE: Thursday, October 15, Paradise Springs Winery, Clifton, VA (Collecting home essential items for HomeAid’s Helping Hands program.)

19th Annual Gala & Auction – Saturday, November 14, Lansdowne Resort & Spa, Leesburg, VA

4th Annual GolfAid Fundraiser – Thursday, March 4, 2021, TopGolf Loudoun, Ashburn, VA