Building Hope Newsletter, March 2017

Register Today for HomeAid’s Housing Forum!

Director of Homelessness Research Institute to Keynote

Thursday, March 30, 2017
Registration: 8:00am (Registration is Free but Required!)
Program: 8:30am-12pm, followed by a networking lunch
Brookfield Residential, 3201 Jermantown Road, Fairfax, VA 22030

Samantha Batko, director of the Homelessness Research Institute – National Alliance to End Homelessness, will keynote HomeAid’s Annual Housing Forum on March 30, ensuring a fascinating and informative look at trends and best practices in homelessness, homeless assistance, and at-risk populations. Ms. Batko is also known for her ability to translate research into improved homelessness policy and practice, and she and panelists will focus and explore these and other topics during the “Complex Needs and Promising Solutions: Interventions for Housing and Homeless Service Providers”-themed Forum.

Small group discussions will flow from the morning session’s topics, giving attendees a unique and valuable opportunity to meet and learn from shelter partner colleagues, share best practices, and gather take-away strategies from community leaders in the field.

Empower yourself—and learn through collaboration with colleagues—to end homelessness by registering today! Special thanks to Brookfield Residential, for the use of its beautiful meeting space, and to the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, for its generous $5,000 grant in support of this important program.

Do You Know 1

HomeAid, CalAtlantic Complete Townhome Renovation for At-Risk Family

HomeAid Northern Virginia; Builder Captain CalAtlantic Homes; and 18 trade partners have completed the renovation of a three-bedroom townhome in Reston owned by Cornerstones Housing Corporation. The $26,000 invested in the project was donated in full by CalAtlantic and trade partners, enabling Cornerstones to assign a full-time caseworker to the single mother and two children who are now living in the home.

“With the funding we were able to save through the generosity of all who worked on this renovation, a family of three—who were in danger of permanent homelessness—are now benefiting from a caseworker who is providing them with financial and job counseling, educational support, and childcare,” said Michael Scheurer, vice president of housing and community development for Cornerstones. “Having a go-to person will make all the difference for this family, and will allow us to help a single mom reach self-sufficiency within two or three years. If we had a checklist of everything an affordable housing unit should have, this unit has it: easy access to public transportation, a school, a community pool, and shopping. And on top of all that, it’s now one of the most nicely renovated and updated properties we have.”

CalAtlantic and their team primarily remodeled a badly outdated kitchen, installed new flooring, painted, and updated lighting and bathrooms throughout. Outside, they replaced a hazardous wood deck with a concrete patio and landscaping, as well as brought in an arborist to prune a dangerous tree limb hanging over the house. The result is a bright, welcoming and safe home.

Tim Bates, president of the Mid-Atlantic division for CalAtlantic and a former HomeAid Northern Virginia Board member, said of the project, “This entire effort went really well in large part because of the timely cooperation of the contractors and vendors involved. John Castagnola, our vice president of operations, and Michael Gates, our construction manager, oversaw and coordinated the entire project while also juggling the delivery of dozens of homes during that time for CalAtlantic. They have a lot of responsibilities, but they stepped up and got this done smoothly and on time.”

“Working with HomeAid is something we’re proud to do,” he added, “and we recognize personally and at the local level that whenever we have the opportunity to bring comfort and quality of life to someone, we need to do it. It’s part of our company’s overarching philosophy of giving back, and we are firm believers in that philanthropic outlook.”

Thank you, CalAtlantic and trade partners, for providing a mom and her two children a home and the support they’ll need to reach self-sufficiency!

Ace Carpentry
Atlantic Building Supply
Augustine Plumbing
B&W Excavation
Builders First Source
Capital Tristate Electrical Supply
DCF Contracting
Eastern Applicators
Horizon Contracting
Masterbrand Cabinetry
McCrea Heating and Air
Progress Lighting
Reston Glass
Star Concrete
T.A.C. Ceramic Tile Co.
Virginia Marble & Granite
Washington Lanehart Electric

When Builder Captain CalAtlantic Homes took on the renovation and update of a townhome owned by Cornerstones Housing Corporation, it was immediately clear that flooring would be a huge scope of the work needed. With worn carpeting and aged vinyl flooring throughout, it would be an impossible job to update and beautify the home without replacing nearly all of it.

And for that, CalAtlantic turned to T.A.C. Ceramic Tile Co., a vendor partner of the company’s for more than 30 years and a long-time partner of HomeAid Northern Virginia’s.

“T.A.C. donated—in full—both the luxury vinyl plank flooring, carpet, and installation,” said John Castagnola, vice president of operations for CalAtlantic. “They consistently do an outstanding job, and we were glad to have the opportunity to work with them on a project that means so much to our company.”

“We like to give back to the community and to those who are less fortunate,” said Kevin Callaway, vice president of quality and customer relations, “so saying, ‘Yes!’ to these projects is always an easy decision. We do HomeAid projects every year, feeling it reflects positively on our company and, more importantly, it makes us feel good to be able to give others a hand up—not necessarily a hand out.”

In 2013, HomeAid Northern Virginia named T.A.C. Ceramic Tile Co. its 2013 Trade Partner of the Year, recognizing the company for consistently going above and beyond in its service to HomeAid. To date, the company has worked on 21 HomeAid projects for a total investment exceeding $87,000.

“This company and their team,” Russell S. Rosenberger, Jr., HomeAid Northern Virginia’s 2013 president, said, “truly exemplifies what it means to be dedicated, driven and committed to helping our homeless.”

T.A.C. Ceramic Tile Co. was founded in 1984 and specializes in new home construction and light commercial construction. The company works directly with national, regional, and local builders and has a design center in Manassas, Va., and in Elkridge, Md.

HomeAid Builds on What Matters Most

Since 2001, HomeAid Northern Virginia has completed more than 114 housing projects for the homeless, with a retail value exceeding $14.6 million. In 2016 alone, we—along with our Builder Captains and Trade Partners—invested more than $1 million into our community, as we completed seven building and renovation projects that impacted 1,871 men, women, and children who were facing homelessness in Northern Virginia. And, we saved shelter partners $677,000 in funding—precious dollars that shelters could instead direct toward programming for their clients.

But our story goes back even further than our own 15 years: In 1989, the homebuilders association in Orange County, Calif., wanted to give back to the community by building homes for the homeless rather than writing a check. The program grew, ultimately inspiring a national charity—HomeAid America. The organization now has 17 chapters nationwide and has completed the renovation or construction of more than 470 housing projects worth more than $215 million, nearly half of which was donated to the recipient charities by the builders and subcontractors on those projects.

“Over 9,000 new beds have been created nationwide, and it’s estimated that about 270,000 people formerly experiencing homelessness have spent at least one night in a HomeAid shelter,” said Peter Simons, a former Beazer Homes division president and now the CEO of HomeAid America.

Since our own chapter was founded by members of the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association, we have made it our mission to give new hope and build new lives for those who need it most. We have never lost sight of the fact that no one plans to be homeless: Research has shown that more than 80 percent of the total homeless population is made up of people who have experienced a life-altering event, such as job loss, natural disaster, divorce, abuse, or illness. These situationally homeless people need a second chance to get back on their feet, and having a safe, stable home to regain their footing is critical for attaining self-sufficiency.

We’re proud to give them that chance, but we need your help. We receive NO government funding to fulfill our mission; instead, we depend on the donations of individuals, companies, and foundations to help end homelessness in Northern Virginia and provide individuals and families with a safe, stable place to live. There are many ways to make a powerful difference in an individual’s life through your involvement in HomeAid: You can contribute to our Annual Campaign; participate in workplace giving and employer matching programs; sponsor an event; make in-kind donations; or volunteer, whether by organizing a backpack drive or purchasing household supplies for families that have moved into a newly renovated home. Make 2017 the year you make a difference!

Making it Count

Change a Life, Using your Time and Talent

Not everyone works for a homebuilder, and not everyone has the skills needed to build and renovate housing and shelter facilities for HomeAid’s shelter partners. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t volunteer or support HomeAid’s mission of building new lives for the homeless!

Some of the best opportunities to help in an impactful way are available through our Helping Hands program—which provides household essentials, including cookware, bed linens, towels, shower curtains, and dishes, as well as grocery gift cards, to individuals and families moving into recently completed HomeAid projects. These donations also help shelters redirect critically important funding toward programs rather than having to spend it on household items.

“When families in our community are struggling to feed themselves and keep a roof over their heads, there are often only hard choices and tradeoffs that no person would willingly accept for their family,” said Cornerstones’ CEO, Kerrie Wilson. “Grocery gift cards received from HomeAid donors and volunteers have empowered people recovering from homelessness by giving them the ability to choose and purchase exactly what their family needs most from grocery stores—particularly the more nutritious perishables that are rarely available through pantry services.”

Similarly, a gift of household essentials can feel life-giving to those who would otherwise go without: “Many families have very few belongings when they move into a home,” added Lesley Hatch, vice president and COO of Good Shepherd, “and it would take them months to buy the most basic of everyday household items. HomeAid’s ‘Welcome Home Baskets’ go a long way in helping our clients make their house a home while stretching their precious funds on other, more critical priorities.”

Tapping into volunteers’ unique skills can also provide a rewarding opportunity to help the families and individuals in our community who need it most: Anyone with the time and talents to help teach life skills and strategies—whether that’s cooking, saving at the grocery store, tutoring, space organization, or creating and sticking to a budget—can be paired with a small group of homeless clients who are seeking to better their circumstances and become more productive citizens in our community. A photographer has even volunteered to take photographs of moms and their children, giving the priceless gift of a family portrait for a family who would otherwise never be able to afford such a luxury.

Find out more—and offer your time and talent—today!

Do You Know 3

Christy Zeitz Reflects Back on Her Time with HomeAid

In the eight and a half years under Christy Zeitz’s leadership, HomeAid Northern Virginia has grown in every way: Though its mission has not changed, its partnerships, projects, events, and, most importantly, number of people reached have increased exponentially. Although she does not take sole credit for this growth and attributes the success to HomeAid’s Board of Directors, Builder Captains and trade partners, donors, and other volunteers, there is little doubt that her leadership has played a large role. This month, Christy leaves HomeAid for a new professional opportunity. She has been named executive director of Fellowship Square, an organization that provides affordable housing for very low-income seniors.

In this Q&A, she looks back on her time with HomeAid and looks forward to a new challenge and finding new ways to help end homelessness.

Q:  What has been the biggest change during your time at HomeAid?

A:  HomeAid started with a modest plan that it would build or renovate one shelter each year for a service provider in Northern Virginia.  By the time that I got involved in 2008, they had started to see that there was a greater need from shelters, and more builders were interested in taking on HomeAid projects. But by 2009, there was a lot of uncertainty in the homebuilder world as the Great Recession was upon us, and none of us knew how things would work out.  Amazingly, HomeAid was able to complete all the shelter projects requested of us in 2009 because of the ongoing commitment of the Board of Directors and our Builder Captains. That was certainly one of the proudest moments in HomeAid’s history – being able to answer the call to the community in the tough years following the Recession. We also started making changes internally in how we approached the business of HomeAid.

We really started going about this more systematically in terms of a process for more thorough vetting of projects, setting goals, and bringing in as many in-kind donations for the projects as possible. The Board really started to get a sense of not only the potential impact we could make but also the generosity of their colleagues, and of the homebuilding industry in general. HomeAid has become a go-to resource for local shelters and has helped them meet their vision—both in terms of building and renovating homes that serve the homeless, but also in terms of saving them funding that can then be used for other programs and services. There are now more people who really acknowledge the important role that HomeAid has in the community. I don’t think that was there before.

Q:  Can you talk about initiatives that have started during your time at HomeAid?

A:  We’ve started a number of new initiatives and programs, always with the goal of elevating HomeAid’s reputation among homebuilders, trade partners, our shelter partners, and in the community in general. A main focus of trying new events or programs has always been to not bite off more than we can chew. We are still a very small organization and need to balance new initiatives and programs with our capacity to deliver a quality program or event. Whether it’s the early idea of an event or the year-over-year success of a program, it’s not something that I alone can take credit for because everything that I do the HomeAid Board has been part of.  The Housing Forum, for example, has turned into something that is to some degree on everybody’s calendar each year. It’s a unique gathering of Northern Virginia service providers and government agencies working in the housing and homelessness world. There’s no other conference like it, and it has grown over the years to become an important part of the dialogue in the community for solutions to end homelessness.

The Builders & Friends BBQ is an event that we started about seven years ago as a way to thank our trade partners for all of the work they do on our projects. While each project has to have a Builder Captain to get started, we also really appreciate our subcontractors, trade partners, and suppliers that provide the materials, labor, and expertise to get the work done. The barbeque is a way to recognize their contributions to the work that we do.

The Golf Tournament was started a couple of years ago as a new fundraiser for us. When the Freddie Mac Foundation closed several years ago, we lost a major grant that we relied upon. The Board decided that we needed to fill that funding gap, and a few passionate golfers on our Board decided that a golf tournament made sense. It’s been a success; we have met all of our fundraising goals for the tournament, and I am sure we’re going to do that again.

Q:  Can you comment on how the Board has made an impact on the day-to-day operations of the organization?

A: I have worked for a number of nonprofits in my career, and I can easily say that the HomeAid Board sets a very high standard for engagement and support. They commit 100 percent of their time, money, and effort to reaching our goals. They all give and participate fully, and it’s a very active, hard-working board. The fact that they meet monthly illustrates that they are very committed to the organization. I wouldn’t have been able to stay as long as I have, and we wouldn’t have seen the success that we’ve seen, without the strong commitment of the Board.  They really step up with whatever needs to be done, and they volunteer to get it done. Whether it’s a project that needs a Builder Captain or phone calls that need to be made for Gala sponsorships, every board member is willing to do what they can to make sure that everything is done in the best interest of HomeAid. The Board has been excellent at making good decisions and helping me move the organization forward.

Q:  What changes have you seen in fundraising over the past eight and a half years?

A:  HomeAid has had strong fundraising in the past, but what is significant is that during the downturn, we were still able to reach our fundraising goals. While everything was imploding in the builder world, companies were going out of business, and banks were no longer lending money for homes or construction. But we were still able to raise funds from builders and trade partners, banks, attorneys, and others in the real estate industry — even when the worst of the recession was upon us. That really came down to the commitment of our Board and the relationship that they have within the industry.

We have had successful fundraising every year. Again, the Board is not afraid to get on the phone if they need to, and they’re excellent about opening doors for me to go talk about the HomeAid model and what we do. We also put on some great events, like our annual Gala and Auction. We have put in place all the right ingredients needed to meet strong fundraising goals year after year. And being included in the Catalogue for Philanthropy—a guide that evaluates charities for their impact, cost effectiveness, and transparency of finances—for the last six years shows that we are good stewards of the funds raised, using donations for what they were intended.

Q:  How do you feel about the years you spent at HomeAid?

A:  Eight and a half years ago, I was looking to move from a national organization to one that was very local and one where the work I would be doing would be tangible – something where I could see the results. I wanted to be able to see that my efforts were making a difference in somebody’s life. HomeAid delivered on that big time. When we first do a site visit and I can see the condition of the house or facility, I understand the struggles that the shelter goes through trying to build up somebody’s dignity and help them overcome their circumstances in a place that really is not warm or welcoming. When we get a builder and project team involved to renovate that property and then come back and see it, it is amazing.  You know it’s going to be life changing for everybody who walks through that door. I’ve seen it on homeless clients’ faces when they come to the home for the first time. They’re amazed that people they don’t know care about them enough to give them a brand new home to live in.  Many of the homeless clients would have never dreamed they could live in a house like that.  The changes start right there. We hear it over and over from our shelter partners: that the projects we do for them make such a difference in the family’s life and that they are on the road to improvement the moment they walk through the door. The kids are doing better in school, there are fewer health issues, the parents are showing up for all of their counseling sessions, they’re getting their lives back on track. That has been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. It’s not something that ever gets old. I can go back and watch project videos from a few years ago, and it will still bring tears to my eyes because I know it made a difference back then, and that same house or shelter is still making a difference. It’s been very rewarding to be able to experience this.

Q:  What are you looking forward to most about your new job?

A:  It struck me early on, as a person who likes to get to the root of a problem, that one of the major causes of homelessness in Northern Virginia is a lack of affordable housing. That means that people who are employed don’t make enough money to be able to afford a place here in Northern Virginia where they can raise their family and pay their bills. It’s virtually impossible for someone earning minimum wage to find a house that they can afford. I became more interested in the affordable housing issue and how it impacts homelessness. I knew that we were never going to be able to end homelessness as long as people could not afford a place to live. Affordable housing has become a bigger and bigger issue as home prices continue to rise. So, I felt that it was time for me to take the next step in my career because I have such a strong interest in this issue. This opportunity came up at Fellowship Square, which provides affordable housing for very low-income seniors. I am looking forward to getting more involved in this issue, getting to know what the needs are for the senior population, how organizations like Fellowship Square are answering that call, and what more needs to be done and that I can help to make that happen.

Q:  What will you miss most about HomeAid?

A:  I will miss being a part of the process of seeing projects from the very beginning to final completion. I will also miss the relationships that I have developed with some of our key partners. Whether it’s builders, board members, or donors, I will miss being around the inspiration and passion that they all give to HomeAid. It really made my job as executive director very rewarding.

Q:  What is your hope for the future of HomeAid Northern Virginia?

A:  I want to see HomeAid continue to do the work that they are most suited for – working with shelter partners and renovating homes and facilities to serve the homeless and those in need. I do think there will be opportunities for HomeAid to play a bigger role and be a key player in coming up with solutions to end homelessness. Whether it’s the affordable housing issue, or whether it’s related to connecting job-ready workers from our shelters with the construction industry, for example, which has many vacant positions. HomeAid can connect the two. I think that there are some unique opportunities that HomeAid can capitalize on because of the intersection of for-profit and nonprofit sectors. My hope is that HomeAid will take advantage of some of these opportunities and play a leadership role that no other organization would be able to.

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Register Today for HomeAid’s Housing Forum, HomeAid, CalAtlantic Complete Townhome Renovation for At-Risk Family, Trade Partner Spotlight: T.A.C. Ceramic Tile Co., HomeAid Builds on What Matters Most, Change a Life, Using your Time and Talent, Christy Zeitz Reflects Back on Her Time with HomeAid