Building Hope Newsletter, April 2017

Find a Foursome and Register Today for HomeAid’s
3rd Annual Golf Tournament

golf cartsSeptember 22, 2017

7:00 a.m. Breakfast & Registration
8:00 a.m. Shotgun start

Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club
Leesburg, VA


It’s never too early to start perfecting your golf game, and with spring upon us, the time is now! HomeAid Northern Virginia’s Golf Tournament Committee is already making plans to make our third annual tournament the best yet, and now we need YOU to register! This event will sell out, so register today—preferably as a foursome—and contact Kristyn Burr for information about sponsorship opportunities! All funds raised by the tournament will support HomeAid programs such as Helping Hands and the Housing Forum, community-building events such as Night at the Ballpark, and important recognition efforts for our homebuilder and shelter partners.

Presented by
Darvish Construction logo
Darvish Interiors logo

The tournament – the brainchild of John Darvish, Brian Davidson, and Jason McDonough – was created with the goal of giving the homebuilding industry a new opportunity to get together, learn more about what HomeAid does, and build support for its mission. The first two tournaments raised $46,000, and the organizing committee has its hopes set on beating last year’s $30,000 fundraising effort.

golf committee at tournament“We all as citizens have moral obligations to give back to our community, and being in this field of construction, in a free country built on success and capitalism, means that we have to give back to the community,” said Darvish. “We can’t wait for the government to do it for us—it’s up to us to help people in distress.

“I’ve been a board member for 10 years, and after the first few years, we thought we could use golf to help the charity. We couldn’t get it going at the time, but when Brian Davidson—a golf enthusiast—became president in 2015, the timing was right. He, Jason and I had just the right mix of resources to lift it off, and this year, we’d love to take it to an even higher level. Ultimately, we’d like to see the golf tournament ‘on par’ with the Annual Gala in terms of fundraising, through foursome registrations, sponsorships, and a live auction.”

Raspberry Falls is one of the top courses in the area, and with most of the Northern Virginia builders expected to field a team, the day will provide a great opportunity to network in a relaxed setting while giving back to a community and growing community awareness of HomeAid.

Don’t miss out! Take part in HomeAid’s 3rd Annual Golf Tournament, presented by John Darvish Construction!

HomeAid, K. Hovnanian Homes Set to Launch Two Projects for Brain Foundation

K Hovnanian logoHomeAid Northern Virginia and Builder Captain K. Hovnanian Homes are closing in on the start date for two projects for The Brain Foundation—an organization based in Fairfax that provides affordable housing for those suffering from serious brain diseases, such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorders, who are homeless or vulnerable to becoming homeless.

crowded kitchen before renovationIt will be the first time HomeAid has worked with The Brain Foundation, and it’s a partnership that all stakeholders are excited about launching.

“K. Hovnanian and its trade partners have planned a lot of badly needed improvements for both of our properties,” said Trudy Harsh, president of The Brain Foundation, “and I’m thrilled to see these projects taking shape.

“We have four men living in a townhome that we’ve now owned for 11 years,” she added, “and one of the most important aspects of the projects—updating the kitchen and adding storage space and cabinets—will make such an enormous difference. It may seem like a small thing, but when a number of unrelated adults live together, having separate storage space is really important. Other planned improvements, including updating all three bathrooms and replacing old wall-to-wall carpet with hard-surface flooring, will make the house not only look more updated and beautiful, but it will make it easier to keep clean, and that too is such an important aspect of shared living space.”

At the second home, occupied by four women, the HomeAid team will repair and replace crumbling cement stairs outside, replace the kitchen subfloor and floor, and repaint the interior.

Crumbling Stairs“K. Hovnanian has partnered with HomeAid many times,” said Gary Chandler, Virginia division president for the homebuilder. “We feel it’s our obligation as good corporate citizens, and giving back to the communities that have been so good to us seems a great place to start. We also enjoy being part of all the good work that HomeAid does; these projects always give our employees the chance to shine, and they provide a unique way to deepen our working relationships with many of our trade partners. We’re excited to kick off both of these projects and help improve the lives of eight men and women.”

Both projects are expected to get underway this month and should be completed within four to six weeks. Thank you K. Hovnanian and trade partners!

In Your Community

Is Ending Chronic Homelessness Really Possible?

HomeAid’s 2017 Housing Forum examines successes and challenges of finding affordable and effective solutions for the homeless
More than 100 housing and homeless service providers from 44 non-profit and governmental organizations turned out for HomeAid Northern Virginia’s Annual Housing Forum last week, sharing experiences and strategies for addressing the complex needs of—and finding solutions for—homelessness in the region.

Samantha Batko, director of the Homelessness Research Institute – National Alliance to End Homelessness, kicked off the morning with a fascinating and informative historical analysis of regional homelessness rates over the past decade, which since 2010 to 2016 have shown a 14 percent drop in overall homelessness. Batko, whose interest in helping the less fortunate evolved from monthly meal deliveries she made with her mother as a young girl, also shared her views on the four beliefs that she views are key to ending chronic homelessness: rapid rehousing works; assessing and prioritizing need is critical; the value of local data and planning cannot be overstated; and the value of community-based partnerships and services will create and build a supportive community.

On the flip side, rental markets are tightening and affordable housing is scarce—making concerns about the country’s current administration, appropriations and discretionary funding, healthcare, and tax reform all the more important. “Advocate and call your elected officials,” Batko urged. “Local voices will be the most influential, and remember to leverage the strength of faith-based organizations.”

A panel discussion moderated by Karen Cleveland and featuring Jon Frederick, Alexandria Housing Development Corporation; Meghan Huebner, The Alternative House; Meredith McKeen, Northern Virginia Family Service; Ben Noll, Friendship Place; and Shannon Steene, Carpenter’s Shelter, also provided real-world advice on a wide range of issues, including working with young adults who are survivors of domestic violence but are still recovering from their childhood trauma; collaborating between jurisdictions for veterans; building relationships with multiple boards and government entities for the greater good; and working with individuals who have insufficient income, addiction, or eviction records.

Attendees were highly complimentary of the morning’s speakers, focusing on the “deep and helpful content” that is “applicable to increasing capacity for agency services and community engagement.”

discussion group at forumLater, attendees broke into roundtable discussion groups to debate topics such as implementing coordinated entry; landlord engagement; immigration orders and resources for the homeless community; resource gaps and needs; aging populations and housing needs; and coordinating advocacy efforts.

Overall, the Forum was overwhelmingly rated by attendees as valuable to very valuable, with attendees calling the 2017 Forum the best and strongest in three years and giving extra kudos to the speakers, topic choices, the wealth of information provided about upcoming projects, and the presence of a State Representative, who was able to provide government context for much of the discussion.

A reporter attending the Forum for the second time also wrote a feature article for The Connection Newspapers that explored the realities and successes of ending homelessness, with particular attention paid to the positive result of a shift in strategy toward rapid rehousing.

Making it Count

7th Annual “Night at the Ballpark” & Backpack Drive Moved to July

July 28, 2017
Pfitzner Stadium
Baseball fans celebrated Opening Day of the 2017 Major League Baseball season this week, and the moment wasn’t lost on HomeAid Northern Virginia: We have finalized plans for our 7th Annual “Night at the Ballpark, moving this popular event a month earlier, to July 28 at Pfitzner Stadium. While a lot will remain the same—we will offer Potomac Nationals game tickets, free concessions, and parking passes to 300 parents and children from area homeless shelters—the schedule shift will mean July fireworks after the game and (we hope!) lighter summertime traffic.

We also hope the date shift will help make our annual Backpack Drive even more successful; in years’ past, when the outing was held in late August, we found that many of our ballpark guests had already purchased backpacks for the school year. We hope a much earlier distribution of backpacks will save many more families what can be a significant expense!

Sponsorships to help offset the cost of parking, tickets, and concessions are being accepted now—please contact Cilda Pretorius at 703.953.3525 for more information. And, continue to watch for more information in the months to come about how you can help support this important event, which Anna Smith, director of development for Pathway Homes, Inc., has said can be life affirming. “All of our clients have very limited incomes, and they rarely have the opportunity to enjoy a night out at a ballgame with friends and family on a summer night. For many, the lack of income—and, for some, symptoms of mental illness—lead to isolation, and activities like the HomeAid baseball game help mitigate those feelings of loneliness and accelerate recovery.”

John Buhl Shares Enthusiasm and Knowledge as Trade Partner on HomeAid Board

John Buhl in HomeAid shirtJohn Buhl, president and owner of Buhl Electric, brings a unique viewpoint to HomeAid’s Board of Directors. Having completed his first year on the Board, John has shared his valuable insight as a Trade Partner with HomeAid’s leadership and agrees that Trade Partners are crucial to the organization’s success.

“We don’t want to take advantage of any of the trade base, and we do not want to hurt them financially,” he said.  “But we want them to be involved and to feel like they are part of the mission. HomeAid brought me onto the Board to give a Trade Partner’s perspective on how HomeAid’s operations affect the builders and trades—it’s one of the reasons I’m here.”

Q:  Why is it important to have Trade Partners on the Board?

A:  Let’s say I have “x” amount of dollars or goods and services to donate in a given year. If Toll Brothers asks me to contribute, and another builder asks, and yet another, it’s in their interest to make sure they don’t strain the subcontractor base. When your biggest client asks you if you will make a charitable contribution, of course the answer will be yes. But HomeAid is careful to not take advantage of any of the trade base. I always say, ‘I’ll tell you when it hurts.’ But I’m all in. I think HomeAid is just a wonderful thing to be a part of, and the synergy that goes on between the builders and subs during these projects is an incredible thing to watch.

Q:  How many projects have you done with HomeAid, and are there any that stand out?

A: I did several jobs over the years—15 to 20—for various builders. They are all meaningful in their own right. One of the things that I do is go out and vet the projects. Of course, you want to do them all, and the process is fascinating. The Youth For Tomorrow (YFT) home really stands out. I was impressed with how fast Stanley Martin turned that first YFT home over. And I worked on the YFT project with Toll Brothers. I thought both were just fascinating projects; the number of people who the program touches is just an incredible legacy and to see what it’s grown into in about 30 years is pretty amazing. But all of the projects are amazing in their own right, both big and small.

Q:  Do you serve on any HomeAid committees?

A:  I’m on the Shelter Projects Committee, the Golf Committee, the Finance Committee, and the new Ad Hoc Committee, which focuses on the general purpose of HomeAid going forward. We are looking at the best way to use our funds to give back to the community in the best way.

The Golf Committee plans the golf event and makes sure it’s full and well-sponsored. It’s golf, and it’s fun. It’s a grand time, with a bunch of positive people. Also, doing it for a cause feels great—it’s a fun and easy way to raise money for people who are less fortunate.

Everything that HomeAid does is successful. These people are real movers and shakers. Everybody has a positive attitude. Success is not an option; it’s just expected, because the people you have on the Board and staff are incredible. They can tackle anything—whether they’re throwing a golf outing or doing a fix-up in Arlington—nothing is impossible with HomeAid. It’s pretty amazing.

Q:  You have a reputation as someone who is always willing to step up when there is a need. What is it about HomeAid that makes you so dedicated?

A:  I have been very blessed to be a part of this industry. It’s provided for me and my employees throughout the years. We have been in business since 1959, so it’s a long time. It’s just a good thing to give back. When I joined these committees, I thought, ‘This is just an awesome thing to be a part of.’  It fits my personality of who I am as a person, and I find that there are a whole bunch of other people who are like-minded. I just think this is what I should be doing. It’s great.

Q:  What is the best thing about being a community philanthropist?

A:  I’d say it’s the culture at HomeAid. You feel it from the very first Board meeting, the synergy of great people who are there to give back to the community. It just gives you a feeling of pride and fulfillment that you are doing something for people who are less fortunate than you. It’s a contagious feeling that everybody in there has got a hold of the rope, and they’re all pulling together. It’s amazing.

Q:  How did you get into the electrical business?

A:  My dad started the company in 1959 out of Vienna, Va. It was a very small company that focused primarily on residential in Arlington, Vienna, and McLean. My dad was big on schooling, so he sent me to Elon for college, and he was a big proponent of Dale Carnegie and other leadership and corporate training programs, which helped me in my career. When I graduated in 1987 with a marketing and economics degree and moved to Ashburn Village, all of this growth blew up around us. I was kind of in the right place at the right time. So, we went through several growth periods; in 2005, I think we wired 5,000 houses. I don’t think I would want to do that again—it was pretty crazy—but when I was a young man, I wanted to do it all. I wanted to be the best I could be. Of course, then the recession came, and that was kind of humbling. I have been through two or three recessions; my dad has been through six. But we’ve had some good times as well. It’s a volatile business, but it’s a very good business as well. There are peaks and valleys. I’m not a very good electrician, unfortunately, but I’m a pretty good businessperson. I really believe people do business with people they want to do business with, and if you treat people well, they treat you well in return. Our industry is very loyal. And that’s one of the great things about HomeAid—there are all good people on that Board. I love going to Board meetings.

Q:  Why do you think HomeAid is important to the community?

A:  It takes tremendous leadership to help the less fortunate, and HomeAid takes the know-how of being able to do things that other people cannot do for themselves, and offers affordable solutions to pretty complicated problems. You go into some of these places where people don’t have anywhere else to go, and we see HomeAid vetting these projects and seeing what can be done. HomeAid is a great problem solver.


Kathryn KovacsKathryn Kovacs, formerly the events manager at Arlington Free Clinic, has joined HomeAid’s staff as our program manager.

During Kathryn’s tenure at the Arlington Free Clinic, she managed three committees and all aspects of the Clinic’s two flagship events, the Bites & Blues Dental Fundraiser and Annual Benefit Gala. In 2014—the Clinic’s 20th anniversary—the Gala was attended by a record 900 guests and grossed $1.5 million, nearly 50 percent of that year’s operating budget.

“Her experience planning events to build relationships with local organizations and businesses, fundraising, boosting awareness of the organization, and managing a website conversion will tie in perfectly with the goals of HomeAid Northern Virginia,” said HomeAid Executive Director Kristyn Burr. “We’re excited to support her interest in growing her project management experience as we continue to grow as an organization ourselves!”

“HomeAid has made such a difference in the lives of homeless individuals and families in Northern Virginia and I am so excited to be a part of this effort,” Kovacs said. “After several years in fundraising and events, I am looking forward to working on programs that directly impact those in need in our community. I can’t wait to start really digging in to HomeAid’s Shelter Care projects.”

Kovacs graduated from The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., with a bachelor of arts in Chinese language and culture and also attended universities and colleges in Beijing, China; Prague, Czech Republic; and Cannes, France.

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Find a Foursome and Register Today for HomeAid’s 3rd Annual Golf Tournament!, HomeAid, K. Hovnanian Homes Set to Launch Two Projects for Brain Foundation, Is Ending Chronic Homelessness Really Possible?, 7th Annual “Night at the Ballpark” & Backpack Drive Moved to July, John Buhl Shares Enthusiasm and Knowledge as Trade Partner on HomeAid Board, Welcome Kathryn Kovacs