Building Hope Newsletter, December 2017

Executive Director’s Corner

I read this quote today – “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” So, let me be sure to say, “Thank you.” As 2017 comes to a close and I look back on my first year as HomeAid’s executive director, I’m struck by so many acts of generosity and kindness that our supporters – YOU – have shown. Sponsorships and event attendance routinely broke records this year. New partnerships were formed, while organizations and individuals who have been with us since we were founded continue to show up, day after day, year after year. Donations for our Helping Hands program have come from all corners of the homebuilding industry, and our relationship with NVBIA continues to deepen and grow. Everywhere I look, I see people generously giving – of themselves and of their organizations. Our Gala & Auction event, held last month, felt like not just a celebration of a year well-spent, but also a celebration of the hundreds of people who are inspired to give every day, in a multitude of vastly different but equally important ways. I am in awe of you, and I am grateful that you are part of our HomeAid family. From all of us at HomeAid, happy holidays to you and yours!

In gratitude,


Annual Gala & Auction Raises $250,000 for HomeAid

A sold-out crowd of over 450 supporters and guests turned out for HomeAid Northern Virginia’s 16th Annual Gala & Auction on November 4 and raised more than $250,000 through donations, sponsorships, attendance, and live and silent auctions.

The new venue – Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg – was an extremely popular choice, and the night buzzed with electricity as hundreds walked the “Time Tunnel entry,” where they learned about the history of HomeAid on their way to the cocktail reception and silent auction; listened with rapt attention to keynote speaker Jas Boothe, founder and president of Final Salute, Inc., as she shared her powerful story of what it means to be a woman veteran struggling with homelessness; raised their paddles to participate in The Paddle Challenge, raising a total of $120,000, thanks also to a matching gift from Doug and Ann Smith; and celebrated the generosity and tireless commitment that our 2017 Presidents’ Award honorees give to at risk families in our communities. Intercoastal Mortgage Company served as the presenting sponsor of the event for the second year in a row.

Got Photos? Be sure to check out more photos of the Annual Gala & Auction – and download your photo booth best shot!


Presidents’ Circle Awards Honor Community Lodgings, Buhl Electric, Brian Davidson

Nonprofit Service Provider Project of the Year Award: Community Lodgings

Community Lodgings lifts families from homelessness and instability to independence and self-sufficiency through its affordable housing and transitional housing options, as well as community outreach and youth education programs throughout Northern Virginia. In 2017, Community Lodgings partnered with HomeAid on a renovation of its multi-unit supportive housing property in Alexandria’s Arlandria-Chirilagua neighborhood, completely upgrading six existing affordable housing units and adding a seventh two-bedroom unit. A consortium of four Builder Captains also upgraded the property’s onsite learning center, enabling families to take advantage of afterschool and youth mentoring programs, daily nutritious meals, and computer and English as a Second Language classes for families. Congratulations to Lynn Thomas, executive director for Community Lodgings who accepted the award, and her team for all the good work you do in your community!

Trade Partner of the Year Award: Buhl Electric Company, Inc.

A family-founded and family-run company based in Sterling, Buhl Electric Company, Inc., has been in business for more than 50 years and, over the past 16 years, has contributed to 11 HomeAid projects and sponsored countless events and programs. Buhl Electric and its team exemplify what it means to be dedicated, driven, and committed to helping our local community by using their expertise in residential electrical to improve housing facilities for the most vulnerable among us, and they’re unfailingly first in line to help and provide meaningful assistance with our projects that serve our community. Thank you and congratulations to John Buhl, Jr., president of Buhl Electric and an active member of HomeAid’s Board of Directors, who accepted the award on behalf of the company!

Presidents’ Award: Brian Davidson

BRIAN DAVIDSONBrian Davidson, group president of Van Metre Homes, was awarded the 2017 Presidents Award, HomeAid’s most prestigious award for individuals. Brian’s long-time leadership in the community, collaborative approach, and tireless commitment to ending homelessness and supporting our nonprofit partners is exemplary: He understands the strength and power of teamwork – and brings together the builder community with local organizations that provide emergency shelter and other housing – to aid in the construction and revitalization of safe, stable living spaces for those who are rebuilding their lives after experiencing homelessness. His invaluable leadership on our Board and active involvement has inspired us to seek new ways to engage the Northern Virginia building industry and to evolve and respond to the ever-changing needs of our shelter partners. Congratulations, Brian!



Final Salute: Our 2017 Reality Check!

We’ve all had that moment when a well-laid plan unexpectedly heads south, and in home construction, it’s an everyday experience. How many of us have set out to replace, say, an appliance, only to discover that the wiring behind it is bad or the floor beneath it damaged by water damage? Suddenly, a simple project becomes bigger – and more expensive.

At HomeAid, we have these moments all the time, particularly during larger renovation projects that go well beyond cosmetic updates – and while they may be cause for some headaches, they also serve as excellent reminders of why HomeAid’s deep bench of industry experts can make all the difference to our nonprofit partners.

When Jas Boothe, founder and president of Final Salute, Inc., first came to us in 2015 about renovating a home her organization had purchased in order to house up to 10 veteran women and their children, it seemed like a pretty straightforward project. Soon enough, though, we learned that a previous architect’s plans hadn’t been approved, so we brought in one of our own architect partners – at a fraction of the cost. Next came zoning and permitting processes with Fairfax County, which our partners helped navigate for almost a full year. Currently, we’re working through asbestos inspections and remediation, with ADA and sprinkler system considerations next.

“The HomeAid team is full of experts in the field, who are experts in this often-arcane world of building codes, permits, and rules and regulations,” said HomeAid Northern Virginia Executive Director Kristyn Burr. “Our shelter partners are all experts in aspects equally important to solving homelessness – but rarely does that mean they also have the contacts and expertise that’s needed for navigating the permitting, zoning and building process. The end result may have taken us longer to achieve than we wished, but we also will be confident knowing that this home will be safe and secure for 10 moms who served their country and their children who have already survived wars, separation, and homelessness. We are proud to be part of their recovery.”

“Having HomeAid support us lets us focus on our mission and our bottom line, and they brought with them a unique level of expertise that we don’t have and never thought we would need,” added Boothe. “HomeAid’s partners fought each battle along the way for us, and we are so grateful; simply put, we were uneducated on what it takes to see a project through. We thought once we were approved, that would be it … we didn’t realize that there would be approvals on top of approvals that had to be made. Having them at our backs is the kind of support we needed.”

Special thanks to the many partners who are bringing the Final Salute to fruition, including Van Metre Companies Foundation, The Home Depot Foundation, Bank of America, Builder Captain Winchester Homes, WC Ralston Architects, and dozens of trade partners.


It’s a Wrap!

2017 HomeAid Northern Virginia Impact

2017 projects infographic



Making it Count

Partner Donations Make Big Difference for Helping Hands Program

According to Charity Navigator, the American charitable sector is the largest in the world, with Americans contributing nearly $400 billion in 2016 plus $260 billion in volunteer time. And, it’s estimated that between 40 and 50 percent of those totals come during the winter holidays!

At HomeAid Northern Virginia, we see significant giving all year long, with major grants and in-kind donations from partners of all sizes; but during the holidays, we too see a welcome uptick in contributions, particularly to our Helping Hands program, which encourages grocery gift card and household essential donations for individuals and families moving in to recently completed HomeAid projects.

Special thanks to the following partners for your generosity this month!

  • Intercoastal Mortgage Company—which just sponsored our Annual Gala & Auction—is collecting diapers and blankets at their Christmas party.
  • Frontpoint Security dedicated its most recent staff Happy Hour to us – and we received 20% of all proceeds and a collection of household essentials for our Welcome Home baskets.
  • NVBIA Custom Builder’s Council is collecting blankets and warm socks at their holiday mixer tonight.

Want to help before the year is out? It’s not too late!

  • Shop with Amazon Smile: If you’re planning to do your holiday shopping on Amazon this year, designate HomeAid as your beneficiary (search for Housing Trust Fund of Northern Virginia, Inc.), and Amazon will donate a portion of each purchase to us at no cost to you.
  • We are always looking for volunteers to coordinate drives for grocery cards and household essentials; learn more about our Helping Hands
  • Learn about other ways to volunteer in the region.



Jerry Berman Looks Back on Rewarding Year and Forward to Exciting Future

Jerry Berman initially heard about HomeAid through his involvement with NVBIA, and the more he heard, the more he began to think that becoming involved with HomeAid would not only be good for his company’s team members, but that it would also be a good way for his company to give back to the community. As builders, they were in a unique position to help.

“Eventually, one thing led to another, I ended up on the board, and I have loved it ever since,” he said. With his term as 2017 president winding down, he reflects on his year and looks forward to many additional years volunteering with HomeAid. “This year has been a tremendous honor,” he said. “I am really lucky to have had this opportunity, and I am thankful for it.”

Q:  With your term as president of HomeAid’s Board coming to a close, what would you say has been your favorite thing about serving?

The way the HomeAid board is structured, every board member has an opportunity to contribute, and every member really does contribute. So, serving as president is really not that different than serving on the board. One thing that I really enjoyed as president, though, was the chance to work with other nonprofits and community organizations. HomeAid’s president and executive director typically attend fundraisers and award dinners for other local charitable organizations, and I enjoyed the chance to meet the wonderful people who are involved in these organizations and learn how they, like us, serve the community. And, of course, we always enjoyed and were honored to be recognized for the contributions that HomeAid makes to the community. Those are some of the special things that I will always remember.

Q:  What were some of the biggest challenges that HomeAid encountered during your tenure as president?

Finding new builders to get more involved – that’s consistently our biggest challenge. There are a fair number of builders who have been involved for a very long time and have remained committed and involved. As we continue to do more projects and renovations, we rely on builders to lead the way. Going back to the well as many times as we do with the same group is difficult. So, what we tell builders is just try it once, and we promise that you and your staff will really like it. The work that we do is very rewarding, and it is a welcome diversion from what builders do every day, when they are working to make a profit. This is a different kind of reward, and it is more than satisfying.

Q: What were some highlights of the past year with HomeAid?

Every project is special, but the opportunity to see the clients who are going to move into a renovated home continues to be the best part of HomeAid. To see the happiness and disbelief that they are going to have a comfortable home, and knowing that this will help them in their lives, makes it all worthwhile.

In terms of a particular project, Community Lodgings was very exciting. We completely gutted a seven-unit apartment building in Alexandria and rebuilt and redecorated it. There is a learning center there too. I single it out because we did the project in a different way than how we have typically done them: For this project, there was a consortium of builders, because it was an $775,000 project and we weren’t able to get a single builder to step up as Builder Captain. So, we put together a consortium of four Builder Captains who agreed to do it, and it worked really well. Typically, we all compete with each other in the industry, but in this case, everybody worked together very well, of course. It was a great project and probably the highlight of the work we did all year.

Another highlight was the Annual Gala. It’s always great, but as president, you get a lot more involved in the planning and the decisions that need to be made. You get to see behind the scenes how much effort goes into making the event happen, and it’s remarkable. There is a committee that has been doing it for a number of years that gets very little accolades for the amazing work that they do, and they create this great fundraising event every year. It was the best year ever, and the whole night is a lot to be proud of.

Q:  What will you miss about serving as board president of HomeAid?

I’m going to stay very involved with HomeAid. I plan to remain on the board, and I don’t plan on missing anything. In addition, there are certain duties that the immediate past president has, so there won’t be a whole lot of change – I just won’t be signing the checks like I was before.

I will also be involved on some HomeAid committees. For example, the Shelter Projects Committee initially vets the new applications for work; we go out and visit the home or shelter and really assess whether it fits within our mission, and we meet with the organization. We are always interested in helping, but we want to work with organizations that we know are set up to successfully maintain a new or renovated property. I really enjoyed serving on that committee, and I will probably get back into that.

Q:  What is it about HomeAid that makes it so valuable to the community?

There is not a lot of help available for people in need and for those who are struggling with homelessness. So many people, even in our wealthiest neighborhoods, do not have homes. In Loudoun County, the wealthiest county in the country, there are hundreds of people without a place to call home. It is a tough situation to climb out of without some help, and HomeAid is valuable because it provides housing that is dignified and similar to what others live in. The homes that HomeAid builds can provide a sense of pride and a ray of hope for people who move into them. That’s very special, and everyone benefits from that. HomeAid is a great organization, and we’re very lucky to have the best staff, board of directors, volunteers, builders, and trade partners of any other organization. Everyone is so involved, and they all make it special.

Q:  Other than serving the building industry and HomeAid, what do you like to do in your free time?

Number one is family. I have a wife of 43 years, four great kids, and one grandchild. Family has always been number one for me. I also love to travel and do so as much as possible – one of my sons has lived in Japan and China, and my daughter is in Germany, and we have visited them both often. We would travel even if they weren’t there, but having them there is an extra benefit. Also, I love to play golf. I’m lousy at it, but I love it.

Q:  What are your hopes for the future of HomeAid Northern Virginia?

Our vision as an organization has changed some in the past couple of years. Kristyn, our executive director, is so forward-thinking and willing to try new things, all with the same goal of helping people with housing needs. We are really moving in a direction of slightly expanding our mission, but not significantly outside of the housing umbrella. We have been exploring some new possibilities; for example, we are talking with a church in Fairfax that has some property, we are talking with a care provider organization, and with a group that does construction for the homeless, similar to what we do. We are looking into collaborating with them, and we have never done anything like that. We are working with a tent city in Prince William County where there are a lot of people struggling with homelessness, and we are exploring ways to help them. We are partnering with SEVA Truck, which provides hot meals. We are spreading our wings, and a lot of good things will be happening in the future.

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Annual Gala & Auction Raises $250,000 for HomeAid, Final Salute: Our 2017 Reality Check!, It’s a Wrap! 2017 HomeAid Northern Virginia Impact, Partner Donations Make Big Difference for Helping Hands Program, Jerry Berman Looks Back on Rewarding Year and Forward to Exciting Future