Mount Vernon-based nonprofit organization New Hope Housing thanked sponsors and individuals that contributed to the recent “All Hands on Deck” program at the Alexandria Community Shelter on Tuesday.
Allison Silberberg, Chair of the City of Alexandria’s Economic Opportunities Commission, initiated the “All Hands on Deck” program earlier this year. A team of 100 volunteers helped remodel the Alexandria Community Shelter in July, and consisted of volunteers from Home Depot, shelter residents, and community leaders. Home Depot was the project's main sponsor, donating $5,000 in supplies.
“We wanted to make it more like a home because it is a home,” said Silberberg. “It was so meaningful. All these people came out on a weekday on the hottest day of the year. It’s civic engagement at its best.”
Double R Productions donated a video of the project, which guests viewed at the open house.
New Hope Housing began operating the 65-bed shelter on October 1, 2010. Alexandria Community Shelter director Kamitha Mirchandani-Saini said that in just one year, 80 residents have been moved to permanent housing.
“After our first year in operation I can confidently state that we’ve been successful,” said Mirchandani-Saini.
New Hope Housing’s Executive Director Pam Michell said that the organization’s philosophy of providing the tools for residents to change and its open-door policy has served as a model for homelessness services in Alexandria.
“The city hired us because of our philosophy and I think we’ve transformed homelessness services in Alexandria,” said Michell. “When I first got here the door was locked, and the first thing I said was ‘Unlock the door.’ It scared people away.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8th District) commended New Hope Housing’s unique approach to creating long-term solutions for ending the cycle of homelessness.
“New Hope Housing has been in the business since ’78 and has done a great job along the Route 1 corridor,” said Moran. “Now they took over the shelter and they show the way for the city as well as a whole country.”