Building Hope Newsletter, November 2017

Executive Director’s Corner

Next week, our nation will recognize our military on Veterans Day. Last week, many of us at HomeAid were reminded that women veterans often have vastly different experiences than their male counterparts, when we were honored by Final Salute, Inc., at their Ms. Veteran America event in recognition of our work on a transitional home for women veterans and their children. We heard intense stories from 10 women also honored at the event, who have surmounted challenges ranging from homelessness to assault. It was both empowering and heart-wrenching, and it reminded me of my six years as a military spouse, when I saw for myself the gaps and discrepancies between men and women in the military. VA benefits cannot reach all of our nation’s veterans, and today, women veterans are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. Worse, we’re not even capturing the true story of how many women have no place to call home: “Point in time” counts of the homeless don’t include those who bounce around between friends and/or family—which is what most mothers do in order to protect their children. Ms. Veteran America was an important event for a host of reasons – it gave a voice to women whose stories must be told, it recognized the millions of women who have bravely served our country, and it reminded me that something as simple as a renovation on one home can have a powerful ripple effect throughout a community. I’m proud that HomeAid and our partners are at the center of ensuring that ripple gets started.

In gratitude,


HomeAid Honored with “Stand-Up Award” by Ms. Veteran America

On October 8, HomeAid Northern Virginia – along with Winchester Homes, Home Depot Foundation, and Van Metre Foundation – was honored by Final Salute, Inc., at the 6th Annual Ms. Veteran America event in recognition of our strong support of women veterans. All four organizations are involved in the 2017 renovation of “Karen’s Home” in Alexandria, owned by Final Salute, which upon its completion will provide housing for up to 10 women veterans and their children.

illustrated infographicSince its founding in 2010, Final Salute has supported more than 3,600 women veterans and their children in approximately 30 states and territories, provided 12,000+ housing days, and raised over $2 million to support to women veterans – now the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. This kind of support, said Founder Jas Boothe, wouldn’t be possible without the “heroes behind the heroes” – including organizations such as HomeAid, Winchester Homes, Home Depot Foundation and Van Metre.

Representatives from all four organizations were present to accept the award at the black-tie event, and all look forward to completing a project that will help make the home a safe, stable sanctuary for women veterans, who are three times more likely to be homeless than their male counterparts.

The Ms. Veteran America awards event also served to bring more attention to (according to Final Salute, Inc.) the estimated 55,000 homeless women veterans nationwide – more than half of whom are single mothers – and honor the two million women who have served in the U.S. military.




$30,000+ Raised for HomeAid at Cornhole Challenge

Kevin RabilOn Saturday, October 7, Van Metre hosted its 6th Annual Van Metre Cornhole Challenge, with 28 teams raising more than $100,000 for five organizations – HomeAid Northern Virginia, Emerging Scholars, HeroHomes, Payton’s Project, and Stillbrave. Twenty participating teams raised over $30,000 for HomeAid, helping ensure our continued efforts to build and renovate homes for the homeless. HomeAid Board Member Mike Sandkuhler’s team, in fact, took home bragging rights as raising the most of any team – thank you Mike and Josh Conlon of the Humble Heroes team! Special thanks also to Brian Davidson and Regis Arnold, on Team Tremendous Egos, for also raising big money for HomeAid!

The 2017 Cornhole Challenge was presented by Buhl Electric Company as part of the Brambleton Fall Festival and was hosted by the Van Metre Companies Foundation.



Making it Count

NVBIA’s Future Leaders Donate $550 to HomeAid’s Fill the Fridge

November is Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Month, and NVBIA’s Future Leaders helped bring attention to it – and be part of the solution – by collecting $550 worth of grocery gift cards at their recent Oktoberfest networking event at Mustang Sally Brewery in Chantilly. The group donated the cards to HomeAid’s Fill the Fridge program, and will donate them to homeless families and individuals moving into HomeAid’s completed projects.

The cards are preferable to canned goods, because they empower families to make healthy choices at the grocery store, and purchase perishables like fruit and milk.

“As a group, we knew we wanted to do something to give back to the community,” said Avi Sareen, 2017 chair for Future Leaders, “and in chatting with Kristyn [Burr] at the golf tournament, we realized our Oktoberfest event—held on October 26—would be a great way to kickstart Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Month. We gave people the option of bringing grocery cards of any denomination or making a financial donation so that we could purchase the cards for them. The night was a nice mix of networking informally with friends and colleagues while supporting an organization we believe so strongly in.”

According to Feeding America, one in seven children in Virginia struggle with hunger on a daily basis. Thank you, Future Leaders, for making a real difference in the lives of families seeking a fresh start in the Northern Virginia area!




HomeAid Gala Continues to Grow, Thanks to Efforts of Miriam Goldin

Miriam Goldin is one of the many keys to HomeAid’s success. A retired teacher from Fairfax County; a new grandmother; and a busy member of Inclusion Consultants, where she teaches teenagers and adults effective communication and social skills, she somehow manages to find time each year to help plan and coordinate HomeAid’s fundraising Gala. Philanthropy is important to Miriam’s family; when their three kids were young, she and her husband emphasized the importance of community service. They continue to be involved with several organizations, and her husband travels to the Philippines each year, where he volunteers as a dentist. Read more to find out what motivates Miriam to donate a tremendous amount of her time to HomeAid, and what keeps her coming back each year.

Q:  What is your role with HomeAid Northern Virginia, and how did you become involved?

A:  Several years ago, my friend Patti Brownstein – HomeAid board member and Gala & Auction Committee Member – asked me to help at a HomeAid Gala, and I was intrigued. I enjoyed it so much that when I was asked to chair the Gala Committee the following year, I happily accepted.

Q:  How many HomeAid Galas have you planned?

A:  This is my seventh year as chair. The theme for this year’s Gala is TOMORROW IS TODAY, which will be held at the Lansdowne Resort – a new venue for us. We more or less have outgrown every hotel that we’ve been in, and Lansdowne gives it a little more panache. The ballroom is exquisite.

The Gala takes a tremendous amount of planning, and I am very lucky to have an incredible group of volunteers and staff who have worked with me for the past seven years – I can’t do this on my own! A lot of people work very hard on this and give so much time and effort to planning it.

As soon as the Gala is over, we go into planning mode for the following year. We have our congratulatory dinner in December, and in January, I host a thank you dinner and kick-off meeting in my home, where we talk about the next year’s Gala. We discuss the new theme, fresh ideas, and generally have a wonderfully productive evening. We meet monthly after that, and, starting in September, we meet every other week. In addition, there are small focus groups and meetings with hotel and audio-visual (AV) staff. I negotiated a two-year contract with Lansdowne this time, and we will meet with hotel staff at least six times. This year we also separated the AV, because we like to do it a little differently. We’re having two different rehearsals with a new and creative AV company.

I would compare our meetings to an orchestra; I might be the conductor, but I cannot possibly do what the other talented players do to make the performance a hit. It really takes a year to pull together, and I couldn’t put this event together without the help of the following individuals:

  • Patty Mao Booker – registration
  • Kim Calavas – creator of our raffle boxes and entertainment, with her husband Chris
  • Beth Cline – registration
  • Jennifer Keesling – procurement
  • Board and Committee members – Patti Brownstein, John Darvish, Scott Shelton, Jason McDonough, Debbie Rosenstein, and current President, Jerry Berman
  • HomeAid Northern Virginia staff – Kristyn Burr (Executive Director), and Cilda Pretorius (Operations and Events)

Q:  What have been the biggest challenges in planning the event each year?

A:  Trying to keep the event relevant, interesting, and productive. The attendance has grown every year, and I am delighted to say that we are extremely close to being sold out for this year’s event, with an expected attendance of 500. We are excited about this remarkable achievement.

Q:  What is your favorite thing about planning the Gala, and what is it about HomeAid’s mission that keeps you so dedicated to the organization?

A:  I love to see how it all comes together – the charity part of it and the organizing part of it. I don’t like to hyper-manage; I just let people do their job because they’re masters at what they do. We’re a troupe of players, and we’re friends, which makes it fun. Friendships have grown out of this event, and we have a good time.

Also, it makes me feel better than just giving money. My husband and I donate to many charities, but working on this Gala gives me an opportunity to do more than write a check. I am awed by the generosity and quality of work that the builders bring to the HomeAid projects. They create beautiful homes and bring a sense of pride and accomplishment to the people who live in them. HomeAid brings dignity and hope to people who need it. Volunteering for HomeAid is very important to me.

Welcome New Interns!

Alexandra Abellard and Rose Baham have joined HomeAid’s staff as our events and communications interns, respectively.

Alexandra, enrolled in the Bachelor of Individualized Studies (BIS) program at George Mason University, is majoring in hospitality/tourism/events and hopes to graduate in 2019. Attracted to HomeAid because its mission aligns so closely with her own values, Alexandra hopes that her real-world experience with HomeAid will help her plan and execute major social and fundraising events, so that she can becoming an effective event coordinator.

“Through my time here, I’ve also realized that homelessness is a real societal problem,” she said, “and while one individual or organization alone cannot solve all the problems associated with homelessness, if we work together, we’ll have a better ability to fight it – along with homelessness among veterans or sex trafficking. I hope to also learn how I can be part of the solution.”

Rosemarie interned for HomeAid in 2014 as part of her efforts to re-enter the workforce in the marketing field, which was her major concentration at the University of San Carlos, Philippines, in the 1980s.

“As a returning intern, I am ultimately impressed with the hard work and dedication of HomeAid Northern Virginia’s staff, and by its housing renovation projects that result in such comfortable, updated homes for those in life transition,” she said. “This internship has not only brought dramatic and exciting exposure to marketing events, networking, and digital marketing, but it also helps me realize how much we can affect the quality of lives for others in need, who are working their way back. I’m proud to be here.”


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HomeAid Honored with “Stand-Up Award” by Ms. Veteran America, $30,000+ Raised for HomeAid at Cornhole Challenge, NVBIA’s Future Leaders Donate $550 to HomeAid’s Fill the Fridge, HomeAid Gala Contues to Grow, Thanks to Efforts of Miriam Goldin, Welcome New Interns