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.