BARN Community Housing hosts annual event to help the homeless
By Christine Craddock
For the 20th year, BARN Community Housing will be hosting their Home for the Holiday event on November 4 from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Westin Dulles. While this annual event is a great night out with friends – complete with cocktail hour, seated dinner, and a silent and live auction – it is also an avenue for each one of us to help provide funds crucial to this organization’s mission of helping families in need.
BARN was created by the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia in 1997, but now exists as its own nonprofit organization on the grounds of the Benedictine Monastery in Bristow. One thousand families have benefited from the assistance this organization provides. Whether a family’s descent into homelessness began as the result of a house fire or other unforeseen circumstances, these families now have access to one of the most essential human needs – a home. Inside BARN Community Housing, there are three “neighborhoods,” each offering four bedrooms. Families reside in private bedrooms and have private bathrooms, along with separate refrigerators and pantries. Neighborhoods share a living area, playroom, and kitchen.
Each adult who is provided housing at BARN is required to hold a job, be drug-free, and have no criminal background. Residents also pay a percentage of their income as rent. The goal is to help them overcome the barriers that hold them back from thriving. They are assisted in securing higher level employment and learning to live confidently and independently. “By empowering these individuals to trust in their own abilities and to strive to be the best version of themselves, our graduates often continue on to become prominent pillars of their community and provide inspiration for individuals just starting out in the BARN program,” states the BARN website.
Bond Cavazos, Community Resources Coordinator, tells the story of a woman and her daughter who were living in the woods before moving into BARN housing. “At BARN, we were given our own room that was clean and safe,” the mom said. “We didn’t have to sleep with one eye open and scared.” Case managers helped the mom get on her feet financially while the daughter earned a 4.0 grade point average in school and received a full scholarship to college. “I thought our life changed when we got to BARN but it continues to get better and better,” says the mom.
Both of these former residents signed up to be mentors at BARN as part of the new program that matches local professionals as mentors to housing residents. In addition, residents take life skills classes that teach budgeting, balancing work and family, overcoming difficulties, and other topics. When the housing is full, BARN program managers and caseworkers help other families in the community with rapid rehousing and other services.
BARN’s event this year is one you won’t want to miss. The theme is old Williamsburg and Della Robbia. “We rely on the donations from this event to continue helping homeless families,” says Cavazos, adding that it will be the perfect beginning to your holiday season! Go to https://barncommunityhousing.org/partners/ to purchase a ticket, donate, or explore sponsorship opportunities.
There are so many other ways to volunteer if you cannot make the event.
- Sponsor a neighborhood; you can even dedicate your sponsorship in the name of a loved one as a way to honor someone.
- Volunteer your time to help with projects, like putting stamps on cards, cleaning, or gardening; you never know how your specific talents can benefit this organization.
- Help plan the events that raise the funds necessary for BARN to continue helping families.
In the past, BARN has accepted clothing and item donations from generous donors, but the process for sorting and storing the donations became overwhelming and there is no storage space at this time. In the future, they will accept donations to sell at their biannual yard sales which raise extra funds. Dates for donations and yard sales will be posted online. Please call 703-369-1325 or check their Facebook (facebook.com/BarnCommunityHousing/) page to learn more.