Set Up for Success
Through its four outreach programs, Community Touch, Inc. gives clients a head start toward a higher quality of life.
By Hannah Samlall
Anyone can need help at certain points in their life. Disasters, small and large, can happen and change lives drastically. Community Touch is ready to help when that happens. “Some people have been very successful in the past and something unexpected and catastrophic just happened. Someone from their family got sick, or maybe they went through a separation with a spouse. We have an array of families from all different walks of life,” said Felicia Champion. Felicia and her husband Tyronne are the founders of Community Touch, a charitable organization in Bealeton that has grown, expanded, and evolved through the last 20 years into an impressive aid organization to meet the changing requirements of those in need in the community.
It all started in 1998 when Tyronne and Felicia made the decision to renovate several dormant buildings that sat on 20 acres of the True Deliverance Church of God Ministries’ property in Bealeton. Their vision, at the time, was simple: to help the community.
Now, almost 20 years later, the number of individuals and families from all over Fauquier and the neighboring counties Community Touch has helped totals in the thousands. Constantly interacting with and analyzing the community closely, they added more programs over time, increasing their services to address additional problems.
The first order of business, they found, was to address food insufficiency. In 2001, they went door-to-door in order to survey the community and find out what was needed most urgently. That survey resulted in the opening of Clara’s Faith House Food Pantry. Through the Pantry, donated food from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, supermarkets, wholesalers, and local farmers is distributed to those who need it in Fauquier County and the surrounding areas. It is an ongoing need; recently, due to the pandemic, their food output has increased by 75 percent.
Analyzing the community, it was clear that the next need they would need to fulfill would be a transitional housing option. In May of 2003, they opened up the Victory Transitional Housing which has the capacity to house 40 people. “Families can stay up to a year and the majority of them do,” Felicia Champion said. “It makes sense for them for them to stay the entire year so that they can pay off debt, save up, and overcome all of those barriers that would prevent them from finding permanent housing.”
In addition to offering a home to those who stay at Victory Transitional Housing, Community Touch offers life skills, as well. “Some young people who come to us have never balanced a checkbook,” Felicia said. “We want to help,” Tyronne said. “We’re about self sufficiency. We want people to be stable after they leave and be able to hold their own weight in society. We look at their goals and make sure they’ll be set up for success.” They offer one-on-one financial mentoring and they have a case manager who will create a plan for them when they leave.
Their organization can help initially with financial support, as well, when it comes to putting down a security deposit and first month’s rent, depending on the individual’s need. “We work with landlords to give them the opportunity to have another chance,” Felicia said.
A little over a year later in October of 2004, they opened Noah’s Ark in Bealeton in order to provide free clothing, furniture, and household items to qualified low-income local community members who were in need of assistance. With the growing needs of the county in mind, they opened Noah’s Ark Thrift Store in Marshall in September of 2008 in an effort to also meet the needs of low to middle income families who needed to be able to purchase those items affordably.
Most recently, Community Touch opened a daycare and preschool in 2016. “We originally opened it to help with families in transitional housing who couldn’t afford childcare, and it blossomed,” Felicia said. “It’s now open to the community.” The daycare, now known as Caring For Angels, offers a preschool program as well.
In order to serve as many people in need as possible, Community Touch partners with other organizations like the Department of Social Services (DSS), the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), and many more. “We’re not a standalone,” Felicia said. “We’re very much a part of this community and we are all working together to help those in need. If we can’t help with something, we can help you find someone who can.”
When it comes down to it, Tyronne and Felicia want the community to know that they are here to help. “We want to help and it doesn’t matter who you are,” Tyronne said. “If you lost your job, got laid off, no matter what, we’re here to help and to help change lives.”
How you can help
If you’d like to contribute to Community Touch, financial donations would be appreciated. “Food is definitely a need right now. We are also helping people who have been laid off due to COVID-19,” Tyronne said. “The Foundation of Blue Ridge Orthopaedics has been amazing. They did an online food campaign and have been sending us food for months now. We are also looking to purchase property in order to support families in need of housing long-term, rather than just one year. That way, they can have their independence but have our support as well.” Noah’s Ark Thrift store is also in need of slightly used furniture, appliances, household items, and clothing.
For more information on Community Touch, you can visit their website at CommunityTouchInc.org or you can contact them by phone at 540-439-9300 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We touch the lives of people in our community by providing transitional housing, practical tools, and resources to achieve self-sufficiency.”
“Our vision is to be an outreach arm of strength and support to the less fortunate in the community, to improve the lives of those that are affected by adversity, and to empower them with life-changing skills for future success.”