Leadership Fairfax Honors Community Leaders at 2018 Annual Northern Virginia Leadership Awards – Congressman Gerry Connolly Recognizes Honorees

By | In the News, News, Uncategorized

Fairfax, VA – Leadership Fairfax honored six community leaders for their visionary and innovative contributions to Fairfax County and the region at the Northern Virginia Leadership Awards (NVLAs) on Friday, December 7, 2018 at a luncheon attended by representatives from government, business and nonprofits at Waterford Receptions. Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly addressed the crowd, stating “You’ve got to have passion. You’ve got to really mean it and you’ve got to exude it.”

The annual event highlights leaders who have made a significant impact in the area through a passionate commitment to community partnerships and volunteer service, furthering Leadership Fairfax’s mission to convene meaningful discussions and strategic thinkers to address community issues. The organization bestows awards in six categories. The 2018 winners are as follows. 

Educational Leadership Award: Dr. Mary Ann Panarelli, Director – Intervention and Prevention Services; Fairfax County Public Schools

Nonprofit Leadership Award for An Organization: HomeAid Northern Virginia

Nonprofit Leadership Award for An Individual: Kerrie Wilson, CEO; Cornerstones

Corporate Leadership Award: Custom Ink

Regional Leadership Award: Maggie Parker, Vice President – Communications; Comstock Companies

Trustee Leadership Award: Major Tyler Corey; Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office

The award winners were also recognized by United States Senator Mark Warner’s Outreach Representative in a letter written by the senator, acknowledging the honorees for their commitment to community and volunteer service. This message was continued by Karen Cleveland, CEO and President of Leadership Fairfax who stated, “Our honorees bring our community together and inspire others to be the change they want to see in the world.”

Leadership Fairfax is a nonprofit 501(c)3 that inspires, develops, engages and connects leaders across sectors and experience to impact issues facing Fairfax County and the Northern Virginia region. Through its three programs – Leadership Fairfax Institute. (LFI), Emerging Leaders Institute. (ELI), and Lifetime Leaders Program (LLP) – Leadership Fairfax has graduated over 1,800 community leaders who have logged over 300,000 community service hours serving nonprofits, county commissions and providing direct resource development and services. Leadership Fairfax is located at 8230 Old Courthouse Road, Suite 100, Vienna, VA 22182. For more information, visit or call (703) 752-7555.


2018 Annual Northern VirginiaLeadership Award winners (from L-R): Kristyn Burr, HomeAid Northern Virginia(Nonprofit Leadership – Organization); Major Tyler Corey, Fairfax CountySheriff’s Office (Trustee Leadership Award); Maggie Parker, Comstock Companies(Regional Leadership Award); Grace Spalding, Custom Ink (Corporate Leadership);Dr. Mary Ann Panarelli, Fairfax County Public Schools (Educational Leadership);and Kerrie Wilson, Cornerstones (Nonprofit Leadership – Individual).

Building Hope Newsletter, April 2018

By | News, Uncategorized

Executive Director's Corner

HomeAid Northern Virginia’s Mike Sandkuhler and Cilda Pretorius joined me at HomeAid America’s National Conference in Orange County, Calif.

In March, HomeAid Northern Virginia President Mike Sandkuhler, Operations & Events Manager Cilda Pretorius and I headed west … to Orange County, California, where HomeAid was first founded in 1989 by the Orange County chapter of the Building Industry Association of Southern California (BIA/SC), an affiliate of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

In addition to being where the whole HomeAid movement started, it was an inspiring feeling to be reminded – as we were surrounded by executive directors and staff from most of the national organization’s 17 chapters – that we’re part of something bigger. No matter how one thinks about our own roles in the world – as a cog or a speck – being part of the HomeAid family means that we are not alone in our efforts to end homelessness in our community. As we shared our stories – along with our successes and biggest challenges – I was reminded again and again that homelessness is not a local problem, and we are not the only ones tirelessly working to find solutions to a persistent problem.

It was also intensely gratifying to be reminded of the strength of our Board in Northern Virginia, in a market that is so incredibly supportive of our efforts. I was also honored to facilitate a breakout discussion that focused on our shelter projects. After almost three days of meetings and networking, we headed home with new ideas and a strong feeling of comfort that we are backed by a national organization – and supported by partners all over the nation – that are all working as hard as we are to increase awareness of homelessness, build support for our mission, and continue to change lives.

In Gratitude,

In the Spotlight

2018 Housing Forum to Study Homelessness’ Complex Needs and Focused Solutions

Thursday, April 19, 2018
8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Breakfast and lunch are included
Location: Brookfield Residential

Register for the Housing Forum

Registration is FREE, but required.

We are pleased to announce that Norm Suchar, director of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs, will be our keynote speaker for our upcoming Housing Forum. The Office of Special Needs supports the nationwide commitment to ending homelessness and manages a portfolio of programs that provide needed shelter and housing assistance for hundreds of thousands of children, youth, and adults each year. The theme of this year’s forum is “Complex Needs, Focused Solutions.”

In addition, representatives from a wide range of homelessness providers of all types – including non-profit and government agencies – and thought leaders from County Continuums of Care Programs will share their insights through panel discussions and training sessions. Key topics to be discussed this year include:

  • Overall State of our Union
    – Trends and Ideas
    – Challenges, Opportunities and Solutions
  • Trauma Informed Care
  • Implementing Low-Barrier Services
  • Removing Barriers to Permanent Stable Housing.

The Annual Housing Forum has established itself as the region’s most unique and valuable opportunity to take a deep dive into trends and best practices in homelessness, homeless assistance, and at-risk populations. Empower yourself – and learn through collaboration with colleagues – to end homelessness by registering today!

Thank you to Presenting Sponsor Bank of America and to Venue Sponsor Brookfield Residential!

In Your Neighborhood

HomeAid, Brookfield Residential to Renovate Gabriel Homes Property

Four adult men, all long-term residents with intellectual disabilities who are working toward independent living, will soon experience first-hand how it feels to move into a newly renovated and upgraded home: HomeAid Northern Virginia and Builder Captain Brookfield Residential are set to begin a project for Gabriel Homes, owner of the 2,016-square foot home.

The project – the fifth that Brookfield will lead – will focus primarily on improving accessibility inside and outside the 46-year-old home; refreshing and upgrading the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, and basement; painting; and replacing flooring and carpeting throughout.

Rebecca Hartner, executive director for Gabriel Homes, noted that of the seven homes Gabriel owns, this property is the oldest and, after having had a significant number of people move through the building over the years, has been exposed to significant wear and tear.

“Our residents are like you and me,” she said. “If you’re given something nice, you want to take care of it and show it off. It changes your whole demeanor – it makes you happy and proud of where you live and proud of what you’re doing in life. An additional bonus is that when our residents step up and feel more responsible for taking care of their home, it makes it easier on staff. There’s an assumption that group homes aren’t a nice place to live – they’re too institutional – but our philosophy is that our homes should be good enough that we ourselves would move in with our families tomorrow. It’s a high standard, and we’re certainly not perfect, but it’s what we strive for … and HomeAid and Brookfield are helping us achieve that goal.”

Gabriel Homes, founded 30 years ago, is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes independence through residential placement, training and community integration for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Based in Reston, Gabriel Homes serves clients in nearby regions of Fairfax County and gives residents the opportunity to stay in supportive homes for as long as they need to learn the skills they want and need to live independently. The organization’s properties feature tiered levels of support, with the house that HomeAid and Brookfield will soon renovate being a 24-hour care site. The property will be vacated during the renovation process, with the kickoff planned for the July timeframe.

Many thanks to Brookfield Residential for serving as Builder Captain and to the many trade partners who will make this project possible!

In Your Community

Loudoun Hunger Relief Open House Honors HomeAid, Knutson Companies and Trade Partners

HomeAid Northern Virginia, Builder Captain Knutson Companies, and trade partners Eastern ApplicatorsISI FlooringNEKA, and Southern Electrical were honored guests at Loudoun Hunger Relief‘s (LHR) Open House on April 4, when the food pantry celebrated the many stakeholders who have been so instrumental in the organization’s success.

In March, HomeAid, Knutson and trade partners completed the $20,000 renovation project at LHR, improving and refreshing the organization’s public waiting room and turning the food pick-up area into a more grocery store-like atmosphere—all to better enable the organization to distribute 1.2 million pounds of food to more than 8,000 people in a year.

Also in attendance at the Open House were Ralph Buona, vice chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors; Bob Wertz, commissioner of the revenue for Loudoun County; Kelly Burk, mayor of Leesburg; and Bo Machayo, Chairwoman Phyllis Randall’s chief of staff. Several community nonprofit partners and LHR and HomeAid Board members were also honored guests. Buona, LHR Board Chair Carol Barbe, Knutson Companies President Don Knutson, HANV Executive Director Kristyn Burr, and LHR Executive Director Jennifer Montgomery provided welcoming remarks at the festive event.

In addition to enjoying refreshments and having the opportunity to answer questions and raise awareness about the important role the food bank plays in the Loudoun County community, Montgomery and volunteers provided tours of the newly renovated food pantry.

HomeAid President Mike Sandkuhler presents a plaque to Builder Captain Don Knutson and Ollin Toller of Knutson Companies at LHR’s Open House.
Knutson Companies and four trade partners renovated LHR’s space, converting a food pick-up area into a space where clients can select their own food items. 100% of the costs of this project were covered by Knutson and the trade partners.


Since HomeAid Northern Virginia’s founding in 2011, more than 289 trade partners have contributed their expertise, time and resources toward at least one of the 120+ projects we have completed locally, worth more than $15.7 million.
Source: HomeAid Northern Virginia

Supporter Spotlight

Making a Difference by Never Taking Life for Granted

Gary Smerk, Business Development Manager for Cox Communications

Every organization has supporters who are so committed that others consider them to be part of the organization. For HomeAid Northern Virginia, Gary Smerk, business development manager at Cox Communications, is one such supporter. In addition to his position with Cox, Gary is a Life Director with the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association (NVBIA), has chaired NVBIA’s Associates Council, and has played an enormous role in raising awareness about HomeAid’s mission among the homebuilding industry’s trade companies, as well as inspiring them to get involved by participating in a HomeAid renovation project. Gary and his colleagues from Cox regularly help out at HomeAid events to ensure we have enough hands on deck to help make our events run smoothly. What is it about HomeAid that Gary finds so appealing? Find out in this conversation with one of our most dedicated supporters!

Q: What has inspired you to give back to the community?

A: I have been involved with HomeAid for about a dozen years and am inspired by the tireless efforts of the HomeAid staff and the NVBIA community. HomeAid is a partnership between home builders and their trade partners (such as Cox Communications), which offers hope in making a difference in the lives of the thousands of homeless men, women and children living in Northern Virginia. We often take life for granted because we live in an affluent area and have many blessings afforded to us. Unfortunately, there are too many people in our area that lack the necessities, like a roof over their heads. Through volunteerism and service leadership, my hope is to make a small contribution to the overall team effort of making a real difference in people’s lives. The gratitude these recipients express when they receive a key to their new living arrangement is what keeps me plugged in.

Q: What attracted you to HomeAid?

A: There are a lot of great causes out there, but choosing one to focus on is probably a bit more realistic than trying to help everyone. HomeAid’s cause – helping members of our community find steady housing – was something I could really get behind and support. I live life daily with a sense of gratitude and knowledge that “no one has ever become poor from giving.”

Q: How did you encourage NVBIA and trade partners to get involved with HomeAid projects? 

A: As past chair of the NVBIA Associates Council, I encouraged our committee and associates to become involved by simply sharing information about HomeAid. Since I’m so active with the organization and it’s a great cause, it was easy for me to tell their story and share information about volunteer opportunities, etc. You know, having a place to call home is probably something we take for granted. Having a family to love and support you is a blessing. And, sometimes those things become so commonplace for us we forget that fact.

Q: How do you answer the question: What’s in it for me?

A: So many people today ask themselves that question before helping someone else. And honestly, I like to pose the question instead as: “If I was someone in need, how would I want others to help me?” That way, I can walk around in their shoes for a moment and try and see what’s in it for them. Society can get a little selfish sometimes. What’s wrong with just helping someone because they need help? Maybe our world would be a little better if we just helped others without even needing something in return.

Q: Why is HomeAid’s Builders & Friends BBQ of particular importance to you?

A: I have participated in the BBQ (someone needs to pour the beer, right?) and have attended the annual Golf Tournament and Gala & Auction events, to name a few, for a while now. They are fun events but for a good cause. So, what better way to raise money than by offering guests good food and a cold beer? As an employer, Cox is very supportive of employees getting involved with community nonprofits. Actually, I am a member of the Cox Charities Advisory team, which helps select annual grant winners. So, I know deep down that Cox is a member of our community, and just like we want to see our neighbors succeed, Cox does as well.


2017 Impact

HomeAid Northern Virginia’s  2017 Annual Impact Report is now available! Download it today and learn how HomeAid and our partners launched nine renovation projects, ultimately investing $1,035,789 in our local communities to help the homeless.

HomeAid Northern Virginia Represents

Representatives from most of HomeAid America’s 17 chapters—including HANV’s 2018 President Mike Sandkuhler, Operations & Events Manager Cilda Pretorius, and Executive Director Kristyn Burr—attended HomeAid America’s Annual National Conference in Orange County. The group shared best practices, discussed opportunities for national partnerships, and provided support to each other as we all work to end homelessness in our respective communities.


 In 2017, HomeAid America completed 25 projects, five of which were completed by HomeAid Northern Virginia.
Source: HomeAid America Annual Conference

Did We Meet Our Next Builder Captain?

Cilda Pretorius and Kathryn Kovacs at meet the Builder on March 15.

HomeAid Northern Virginia had a big presence at the always-packed NVBIA Meet the Builder event on March 15, with an information booth to encourage builders and trade partners to get involved in future projects and to talk up our upcoming Builders & Friends BBQ in June. Thanks to all who stopped by!

Cold Ice, Warm Hearts

Thank you, Feld Entertainment, for providing 50 free tickets to Disney On Ice at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax. Children and grownups from local shelters are looking forward to a rare night out as they enjoy this year’s “Follow Your Heart” show together. We appreciate your generosity in always remembering that at least 25 percent of the population we serve are children.

Registration Open Now!

HomeAid’s Builders & Friends BBQ is one of our most popular networking events, and registration for this year’s event on June 21st is NOW OPEN! Ready to put your company name in front of the hundreds of influencers who attend? Sponsorship opportunities of all sizes are also available now; please contact Kristyn Burr for more information. Check out all the fun from last year’s event in our Flickr album.

40 Under 40 Props!

Congratulations to HomeAid Northern Virginia Board Chair Mike Sandkuhler for being named one of Professional Builder‘s 2018 40 Under 40. Mike is vice president of building operations at Van Metre Homes—a longtime Builder Captain partner—and very active with the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association. Congrats, Mike!

ISO Conference Room Furniture

HomeAid is spiffing up our headquarters, and now it’s time to take a hard look at our furnishings … and our conference room needs help! We would welcome the donation of a new or lightly used 12-foot conference table and 10-12 chairs for our meeting space, where we meet with prospective supporters and service providers, and where we hold our staff meetings. It gets a lot of use, and it’s time that we give our own space a little bit of reno love. Please contact Kristyn Burr if you’d like to help.

Save the Date

Annual Housing Forum – April 19, 2018, Brookfield ResidentialFairfax, VA 22030; This event is geared towards those who work to house the homeless.
NVBIA Crawfish Boil – April 26, 2018, 3:30–7:00 p.m., Wetland Studies and Solutions
NVBIA Parade of Homes – May 5-6, 2018
NVBIA Scramble Golf Tournament – May 21, 2018, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., River Creek Club, Leesburg, VA
9th Annual Builders and Friends BBQ – June 21, 2018, The Barn at One Loudoun
8th Annual Night at the Ballpark – August 3, 2018, Potomac Nationals Pfitzner Stadium, for families living in local shelters.
4th Annual Golf Tournament – September 21, 2018, Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club
17th Annual HomeAid Northern Virginia Gala & Auction – November 10, 2018, Lansdowne Resort & Spa

Newly Renovated Loudoun Hunger Relief Center Distributes Food with Dignity, Compassion

By | News, Uncategorized

The newly remodeled collection and distribution center, completed by HomeAid Northern Virginia, upgrades food pick-up area into a welcoming grocery store-like atmosphere

April 5, 2018 – Leesburg, VA: Loudoun Hunger Relief (LHR) unveiled its newly renovated lobby and “client choice” food selection room at an April 4 celebration attended by LHR supporters, community leaders and local officials. The upgrades include a separate lobby for customers and a wide hallway that can better house food items for choice selection, giving families more autonomy over their selections, more privacy while they shop, and – as a result – more dignity while receiving food from Loudoun Hunger Relief’s distribution site.

“At Loudoun Hunger Relief, compassion and dignity have long been core values of our service to our neighbors in need,” said Executive Director, Jennifer Montgomery. “Now, we have a space that better reflects the underlying purpose of the work we do here. We want to make sure that no one in Loudoun is hungry, and we also want to make sure that all feel the welcome, compassion and respect that every human being deserves.” Explained Montgomery: “We love putting items out for choice—everything from bread to sweets, vegetables to deli items—but the way we were set up, it meant that people waiting in line could see those in front of them shopping and perhaps taking some of the things they really hoped for. It caused much anxiety and unhappiness, and it ultimately stole dignity from people who are working so hard to provide for their families. This renovated space now separates the lobby and waiting area from the food selection/client choice area – solving these issues, preserving dignity and giving our clients a space that serves them so much better. We are grateful to HomeAid Northern Virginia for the opportunity to make these improvements to better serve our communities.”

The renovated space was designed, constructed, outfitted and finished completely through efforts of HomeAid Northern Virginia, which builds and renovates homeless shelters and supportive housing facilities via the donated expertise, labor and resources of local homebuilders – enabling nonprofit organizations such as Loudoun Hunger Relief to invest more of their budgets in supportive programs and services rather than building expenses. Knutson Companies led the project as builder captain. Four of its trade partners and subcontractors – Eastern Applicators, ISI Flooring, NEKA Granite Marble Quartz, and Southern Electric Services Company – donated materials and labor to complete the project.

The remodel transformed a “dreary” and non-functional space into a cheerful, welcoming place with a private check-in desk and upgraded the food pick-up area into a more grocery store-like atmosphere. The remodel also added a room for shelving bakery goods and produce, allowing clients to select what they know their families will eat.

Thanks to Builder Captain Knutson Companies and its construction trade partners that contributed labor and resources to the Loudoun Hunger Relief project!

Eastern Applicators
ISI Flooring

NEKA Granite Marble Quartz
Southern Electric Services Company

About Loudoun Hunger Relief

Loudoun Hunger Relief (formerly Loudoun Interfaith Relief) is the largest food pantry in Loudoun County and has served the community for 27 years. Last year LHR provided 1.2 million pounds of food to more than 8,000 individuals. 40% of those served are children. LHR distributes food to families six days a week, year round. Loudoun Hunger Relief was voted Loudoun Chamber of Commerce 2014 Nonprofit of The Year, Leesburg Today 2015 Reader’s Choice Nonprofit of The Year, the Loudoun Times Mirror 2015 and 2017 Nonprofit of the Year, Loudoun Now 2016 Favorite Non-Profit. For more information on LHR, please visit      

About HomeAid Northern Virginia

HomeAid Northern Virginia, a chapter of HomeAid America, engages the resources and interests of the homebuilding community and its corporate partners in order to undertake new construction and major renovations to properties owned by homelessness service providers that help homeless individuals and families gain stability and get back on the road to self-sufficiency. The organization was started in 2001 by members of the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association (NVBIA), and since then, has completed more than 119 projects valued at more than $14.7 million, serving more than 98,500 homeless individuals.