Everyone loves a challenge and the staff and residents at Carpenter’s Shelter are no different. From October 17, 2013 to January 24, 2014, thirty-three organizations in Virginia are participating in an ambitious initiative called the 100 Day Housing Challenge, placing as many homeless families as possible in permanent housing within 100 days.
Rapid re-housing is a proven and cost-effective strategy that has been used by communities across the country to reduce homelessness. It involves helping families move into housing as quickly as possible after they enter the shelter system, and then helping them maintain this housing through the provision of services and short-term financial assistance as needed.
Carpenter’s has pledged to place 15 families in permanent housing. Collectively the participating organizations have pledged to house 740 families across the state of Virginia. Ultimately the goal is to find housing for as many families as possible in 100 days.
Family homelessness decreased 17 percent in Virginia over the last three years, largely due to increased support for rapid re-housing programs. This year, Virginia is urging local organizations like Carpenter’s Shelter to keep this momentum going and to help even more families find permanent homes in the community.
Carpenter’s Shelter is up to the challenge and committed to providing wrap around services aimed to help clients maintain housing. Click here to follow our weekly progress.
Carpenter’s Shelter is home to a diverse group of residents, and, in order to make sure that their needs are met, we must be able to understand those needs. The shelter’s volunteer team speaks over eleven languages, and often assists with translation between shelter staff and our clients.
Melate Bekele is just one of the many talented volunteers at Carpenter’s who donates her time, energy and knowledge to bettering the lives of Carpenter’s clients. She not only assists with translation, but also volunteers at our front desk and at David’s Place, and rallies her friends to cook meals at the shelter. This week, she tells us about her experiences at Carpenter’s:
I heard a preacher once say “you are not living if you are not giving.” That statement has always stuck in my head as a way of life. I come from a family of humanitarians. My parents instilled in me the importance of always helping and giving to others. I have made a promise to myself that my life will consist of philanthropic activities. I do not volunteer because it is something I do to feel good about myself, but because it’s something I am passionate about and love doing.
I enjoy the diverse volunteering opportunities that Carpenter’s Shelter has to offer. In the shelter, I have volunteered in several positions: translator, David’s Place assistant, administrative front desk help, children’s hour volunteer, and kitchen worker. The winter shelter at David’s Place is interesting because of the level of interactions with individuals. The children’s hour is great because I love kids and enjoy playing with them. But while all of the volunteer duties are rewarding, I have found translating interests me most. I translate in Amharic the Ethiopian language for the Ethiopian residents, and am able to help explain the residents need and communicate the shelter’s concerns and thoughts. It allows me to gain a greater insight into programs, plans, and options for residents.
It has been one year that I have had the pleasure of volunteering at Carpenters Shelter. I love the shelter because of all the great resources it offers, and the amazing people I have met there. I have volunteered numerous places throughout my life but none were like Carpenter’s Shelter. The programs and resources they provide truly empower residents and prepare them to get back on their feet. I am amazed at the level of commitment all the staff and case managers have to improving the lives of the residents.
I have gained a lot of respect for individuals who have struggled and came out stronger from it all. I am continuously astonished at the optimistic spirits of the staff and residents in the shelter regardless of the circumstance. Volunteering at the shelter has taught me so much, and I feel blessed to have made strong connections with the residents and staff. And I will continue to volunteer at the shelter because there is no way to live without serving others.
Carpenter’s Winter Shelter is open to anyone in need of shelter from inclement weather during the months of November to April from 7:00pm to 7:00am.
This year, Carpenter’s welcomes new Winter Shelter Coordinator, Thornell Hancock. Thornell joins our team with nine years of human services experience, and six years working as a hypothermia manager.
While Winter Shelter exists to meet the immediate needs of the homeless, Thornell’s focus will be to gain the trust of the clients and motivate them to engage in other Shelter services.
“Those who come from the position of being chronically homeless have different needs and attitudes toward living in a shelter,” says Thornell. “They often have to re-learn basic social skills—making their bed, throwing out trash—as well as breaking bad habits, like hoarding.”
Gaining the trust of Winter Shelter visitors is no easy task. Many are often resistant to change, and find it very difficult to accept help because they are not used to relying on other people. Visitors will come back to Winter Shelters year after year before finding the confidence to transition from living on the streets to moving into a shelter like Carpenter’s.
But it’s the success stories that keep Thornell motivated. “The most rewarding part of the job is when clients come back to share good news, even if it’s something as simple as ‘I got a job,’ or ‘I got the keys to an apartment.’”
Thornell hopes that, by the end of Winter Shelter, visitors will be ready to transition into a shelter to receive additional support and participate in other services.
Kositzka, Wicks & Company (KWC) came by the shelter on Friday, September 20th to serve lunch and help organize the pantry and toiletries closet as a part of the Certified Public Accountants (CPA) Day of Service. We are so grateful for their hard work and enthusiasm!
Hosted by the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants, the CPA Day of Service is a single day of volunteer service that highlights CPA professionals’ ongoing commitment to serving their communities. Approximately 700 people volunteer statewide each year.
KWC is just one of the many local organizations who have volunteered with Carpenter’s Shelter. Their participation in the CPA Day of Service showcases one of Carpenter’s ongoing services: meal distribution. The shelter provides daily lunches and dinners to our clients, as well as hot breakfasts on weekends.
Unlike most homeless shelter’s in the DC Metropolitan area, Carpenter’s is not allotted a budget for food. Volunteers are responsible for every aspect of meal distribution — from sourcing the ingredients to preparing the meal to cleaning the kitchen. Each year, our kitchen volunteer groups save Carpenter’s $200,000. Thanks to their unwavering dedication, the shelter was able to serve 1,095 meals last year alone. That’s 77,345 plates of food!
If you are part of a group that might be interested in hosting a service day at Carpenter’s Shelter, contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Liz Salter, to see if we can accommodate your group!
To learn more about our other volunteer opportunities, please visit the volunteer section of our website: http://carpentersshelter.org/volunteer.
The Circle of HOPE (Helping Others through Partnership and Engagement) was founded in 2010 by three Alexandria mothers who were deeply concerned about local homelessness. They hoped to make a long term difference but between raising a family, school, church and work, they were not be able to become weekly volunteers at Carpenter’s Shelter. Searching for a middle ground between weekly volunteering and anonymous yearly donations, these three women came together to form The Circle of HOPE.
Rather than just making a donation, Circle members have a unique opportunity to engage with the Shelter and other Circle families by participating in special Circle of HOPE projects. Circle of HOPE members are allowed to bring their children to designated volunteer events. Membership is established by a $250 contribution per calendar year, which directly supports Carpenter’s Shelter operations and programs.
The following blog post was written by a Carpenter’s Shelter Circle of HOPE member. We are so thankful for her for reaching out to us and wanting to share her story, and we hope it will inspire you to support the Circle of HOPE and contribute to Carpenter’s Shelter.
The Safety Net
I did not need Carpenter’s Shelter when I was 3, but I could have. My parents were divorcing, leaving my young mother stranded with a small child in New York City, far from the small town southern home where she was raised. She had also faced serious illness, surgery, and hospitalization soon after I was born, leaving her weak and scared. After a young marriage, an unexpected pregnancy, illness, and divorce in an unfamiliar city – all before the age of 25 – my mother easily could have been desperate for the support and care offered by a home like Carpenter’s Shelter.
We were the lucky ones. My mother’s parents had the resources to bring us home, house us in the little cinder block home where they had started their own marriage, send my mother to school, and raise me as their “third child,” as my grandmother called me for the rest of her life. They were our safety net. They caught us with strong, loving arms when we fell.
By the luck of the draw, my mother and I were born into a family that could care for us during our time of need. However, my heart has always ached for those without a family safety net, knowing that they are on their own to face life’s challenges. Men, women, or children – we will all face times in our life when we are desperately in need of support and care.
I am so grateful for Carpenter’s Shelter and the support and care that it provides to neighbors in Alexandria who did not have my luck of the draw. I am grateful to be a very small part of someone else’s safety net.
At Carpenter’s Shelter, we serve an average of 130 clients a month in our residential shelter. Approximately 30 of those clients are children and over 1,000 residents are served yearly. Carpenter’s Shelter’s comprehensive continuum of care offers continuous services, aiding these shelter residents through their transition back into independent living. 50% of these clients make only between $500 and $1000 every month and the other half makes less than $250.With the help of Employment Readiness Classes and job coaching, our clients are able to join the workforce and have stable salaries, but only if they are in the program and committed to creating a more secure life.
Carpenter’s also serves clients through our day shelter, David’s Place, and our Winter Shelter. Approximately 37% of those are chronically homeless, 72% are unemployed, and 42% struggle with a self-reported mental health diagnosis. Approximately 66% come from Alexandria, while the rest receive services from surrounding shelters in counties such as Arlington and Falls Church. When asked why they come to shelter, 31% reported that they are lacking support and are seeking a more stable and secure life.
Because of these large and increasing numbers, the homeless population requires much attention and help. What does Carpenter’s Shelter do to help? We provide residential housing for over 80 clients a day, offering them meals and a place to sleep. Carpenter’s also offers employment classes, job coaching, parenting classes, children’s programs, health services, and case management for up to a year after they have left the program. Clients attend classes, save money, and have a place to lay their head at night while in the shelter, leading to increased knowledge and skills and eventually moving into a home of their own.
Carpenter’s Shelter does much to improve the lives of homeless individuals and families, but we cannot do it alone. Without your support and contributions, Carpenter’s would not be able to achieve its goal of ending homelessness. What can you do? Help us in the fight to stop homelessness. Carpenter’s Shelter is dedicated to helping all families find steady employment and a home. We empower our clients to address the issues which led them to homelessness, and provide the tools necessary to achieve lasting independence. 90% of those who complete our program never return to homelessness again. With your help we can succeed in helping those in need and give them a better tomorrow.
Thank you for your continued support.
Carpenter’s Shelter is honored to have been selected for the 2013 Catalogue for Philanthropy. The Catalogue for Philanthropy features seventy charities annually, some of the best smaller nonprofits in the Greater Washington region. Over one hundred reviewers from foundations, corporations, giving circles, and peer nonprofits evaluate applicants for distinction, merit, and impact. Finalists are scrutinized for cost-effectiveness, sustainability, and financial transparency, and seventy out of over 225 are selected. Since November 2003, the Catalogue has helped raise more than $21 million from new donors for featured nonprofits.
The Catalogue for Philanthropy shines a light on smaller, community-based nonprofits where donors’ contributions really make a difference. They essentially do the hard work for donors and philanthropists: nonprofits are rigorously evaluated and only the best are chosen to be featured. Being chosen for the Catalogue is a great honor, and one that will provide Carpenter’s Shelter with a new reach and donor base.
Collin Moller, one of Carpenter’s board members, sees the selection as a great honor and is proud to call Carpenter’s an outstanding nonprofit. As he states, “It is an extraordinary honor for Carpenters Shelter to be selected by the Catalogue as an outstanding small non-profit among 250 Washington area applicants. More importantly, their validation of our financial and program management strengths provides assurance to our clients, donors, and partners that their confidence is well-founded. We are thrilled to have this recognition.”
Thank you to our supporters and contributors for helping Carpenter’s Shelter achieve such a great honor. Without your support, donations, and time, Carpenter’s would not be able to continue in our mission to end homelessness. This recognition brings us one step further in that mission, and we are truly grateful to have been chosen for the Catalogue. We are also thrilled to share this award with our volunteers and donors, as you all have made this recognition possible.
Carpenter’s Shelter provides shelter, guidance, education, and advocacy for homeless individuals and families who seek sustainable independence and stability. Carpenter’s serves an average of 20 kids a day and over 100 kids annually. Much like your own children, they wake up every morning, have breakfast, and get ready for school. From 8:30 am – 3:30 pm the children attend school or daycare. Most kids take advantage of afterschool programs until their parents can pick them up where dinner is served from 6:30 pm – 7:00 pm. Each night from 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm is designated for play where volunteers encourage and facilitate meaningful activities.
For most of our children, this is the best part of their day. It’s a time where they are not worrying about where their family will live or packing their things in a trash bag because they are moving to another family member’s couch. Their learning disabilities are not put on display on the playground and they are not tormented with how their friends will react if it becomes known they are homeless. When they are on the playground they are not concerned with their parent’s stress or other adult responsibilities. They can simply be a child and have fun.
Carpenter’s Shelter is dedicated to serving children in the Alexandria community and making sure they have the best childhood possible. With help and donations from you, our children can have a better life with less stress and adult responsibility. They can simply be kids, which is something every child deserves to experience.
Carpenter’s Shelter is lucky to have amazing volunteers that spend time with our children. We would like to thank the countless individuals who come in each night and provide school tutoring, as well as the groups who come in for Children’s Hour. Groups such as DC Metro Church, The Reading Connection, Fairlington United Methodist Church, Grace Community Church, and National Community Church spend time with our children tutoring, playing, and teaching each week, and we are beyond thankful for their time and help.
Dr. William Rogers is the Director of the Physicians Regulatory Issues team at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and is a member of Georgetown University Hospital medical staff. Even with his full time job teaching and practicing medicine, Dr. Rogers finds time to operate Carpenter’s Shelter’s free medical clinic every Thursday night. His volunteer efforts keep Carpenter’s clinic alive, and because of his excellence and service we recently nominated him for the Flora Krause Casey Public Health Award.
Dr. Rogers has been volunteering at Carpenter’s Shelter’s clinic for over a decade. He started coming in to help once a week in the late 1990’s, but once Carpenter’s moved into our current building he became our only physician. Dr. Rogers worked alone for 12 years running the pharmacy and giving check-ups, but finally received help in 2010 when nurses from Georgetown University Hospital started coming in weekly to volunteer. He and volunteer nurses now come in every Thursday evening to administer check-ups to our clients and the Alexandria community. They address health issues such as hypertension and diabetes, most easily treatable with medication. He also checks in with clients on a regular basis to make sure they are taking their medication, just another example of his service and dedication to the program.
The clinic is mostly funded by a grant from Kaiser, but still requires over $15,000 a month from contributions and donations to cover medication and other expenses. Dr. Rogers does all he can to help his patients, but does not have the resources to take care of all medical conditions, including operations and other invasive procedures. These patients that need further medical attention but cannot afford it are often at a loss, and unable to be helped. The clinic has recently started giving women’s wellness exams and men’s prostate exams, but unfortunately does not have the resources to do much more.
Dr. Rogers is extremely excited that Medicare is expanding its coverage starting in 2014, meaning that many homeless people will be able to afford doctors visits and hospital bills. Because of the Affordable Care Act, shelter clients and Alexandria Community residents will be able to seek more professional help for lower costs and enhanced care. Carpenter’s clinic’s need may not be as vital in the future, but no matter what will continue to help and support the Alexandria community. We cannot thank Dr. Rogers enough for his years of service and dedication to our clients.
Carpenter’s Shelter offers a free clinic every Thursday night for our residents and the Alexandria community. Dr. William Rogers has been organizing and running the clinic for over a decade on a strictly volunteer basis. Our free clinic is a great resource for those clients who are uninsured, because clients are able to receive prescriptions, checkups, and health advice. Recently the clinic started offering women’s wellness exams and continues to administer flu shots each winter.
Health problems such as heart disease and diabetes are taken care of in our clinic with the use of medication and health checkups. Our staff also collaborates with the Alexandria Community Services Board in regards to mental health issues. The CSB is a group of volunteers appointed by the Alexandria City Council that oversees the use of public funds to provide mental health services through the Department of Community and Human Services. The Department has several centers for specific services, helping each client for their specific needs. Our clinic does everything possible to assist our clients with health issues, and the CSB also works with those same clients to ensure their mental health issues are properly taken care of.
A personal connection between our clinic volunteers and clients is what makes the Carpenter’s Shelter clinic so special. Dr. Rogers and the volunteer nurses often check in with their patients to make sure they are taking medication and following health advice. The doctor advises all patients to quit smoking and encourages them through their sometimes difficult journey. The personal relationships built within our clinic are truly what make it so important. The on-site clinic ensures that our clients are getting all of the help and encouragement they need to succeed.
This past week Carpenter’s Shelter participated in Do More 24, a day of online giving for nonprofits funded by the United Way of the National Capital Area. The movement is meant to create support for the regions nonprofit organizations through online giving. As their website states, “Do More 24™ is more than just one day of fundraising…it’s the next generation of online giving.”
Carpenter’s Shelter is pleased to announce that we have raised $456 through Do More 24. This money will go towards furthering our efforts to end homelessness and helping our clients through shelter, education, guidance, and advocacy. We want to thank each and every one of our supporters and contributors for your help through this process. No child deserves to be homeless and your gift helps ensure that several will never be without a home again.
Carpenter’s Shelter is dedicated to offering housing and hope through our core values of respect, responsibility, and results. Our result of more than 90% of our Aftercare families not returning to homelessness is a direct effect of the support of contributions like yours.
Thank you again for your support and contributions. Your support helps us in our mission to end homelessness, one family at a time.
No child deserves to be homeless, and yet every day, over 20 children call Carpenter’s Shelter home. Beginning May 17 and carrying through the month of June, we will be collecting baby supplies to help provide our youngest residents with everything they need to live a happy, healthy life. Start a neighborhood collection or make a donation today. Please note: We are only accepting NEW items.
Double Strollers (no single please)
Educational Toys (6 and under)
Diapers Size 3-5
If you have any questions about donating, please contact
Liz Salter (703) 548-7500 x213 or
A thank you is never enough, but these are the only words we have to express our thanks. Without the help of dedicated volunteers like you, Carpenter’s Shelter would not be not be able to change the lives of over 1,000 men, women and children each year. We have come so far in the past 25 years, but there is always more work to be done.
Make a BIGGER impact. By becoming a monthly donor, you will see your small gift each month multiply, making a much larger impact. Just think, your monthly donation of $20 a month adds up to $240 annually! $240 dollars provides metro cards for five individuals seeking employment for a week.
Signing up to become a monthly donors is as easy as checking a box. Next time you visit our online donation page, simply fill out your information as if you were making a regular donation, but don’t forget to check the box that says, “Make This Payment A Recurring Payment”. It’s as simple as that!
Your continued support each month allows Carpenter’s Shelter to grow, as we welcome new faces into the shelter and help old friends find a permanent place to call home. If you have any questions about becoming a monthly donor, please contact Director of Development, KellyAndreae@CarpentersShelter.org or (703) 548-7500 x203.
Thank you again for your continued support. All donations are tax deductible.
The 11th Annual Carpenter’s Cook-Off was held on Sunday, April 28, 2013, from 11 to 3PM, at The Birchmere Music Hall. Foodie & The Beast (1500AM/WTOP) kicked off the afternoon broadcasting live during set up with chefs from The Majestic, Alexandria Cupcake, BRABO, and Cheesetique. Twenty three of the area’s best restaurants offered samples of their finest food to a packed house of 650 attendees. Thanks to the support of the community, Carpenter’s Shelter raised over $90,000 toward ending homelessness in Alexandria.
A panel of celebrity judges including: Kate Michael, Miss DC 2006, local celebrity chef Will Artley, Jeff Goldberg of ABC7/WJLA and Cori Sue Morris of the popular DC Blog, Bitches Who Brunch awarded three tasting awards. The Majestic won Best Appetizer for She Crab Soup, Pork Barrel BBQ won Best Entrée for their Ribs and BRABO won Best Dessert for the second year in a row for their Strawberry Rhubarb Tart. Chef Overmiller of the Majestic also won the People’s Choice Award for the third year in a row.
A thank you is never enough, but these are the only words we have to express our thanks. We’re lucky to have dedicated supporters like you. Without your help, Carpenter’s Shelter would not be not be able to change the lives of over 1,000 men, women and children each year. We have come so far in the past 25 years, but there is always more work to be done.
Every day is a new day at Carpenter’s Shelter. Everyday day we experience new residents, new volunteers and new needs. Help us keep up with our needs this Valentine’s Day by showing our Carpenter’s some love!
Donating online is the easiest way to support Carpenter’s Shelter without leaving the comfort of your home. Each donation makes a lasting impression on the lives of the 25 children, like Lydia (pictured below), who call Carpenter’s Shelter home each day. Help Lydia find a permanent home. Support Carpenter’s Shelter.