Last year, a single mother named Stephanie lost her home after she was laid off from her job. She had obtained a new position, but it paid $5 less per hour, which was not enough to pay the rent. Without family, savings and alternative options to help her stay housed, she and her three children moved into the shelter just weeks before Christmas.

But the Fredericksburg’s homeless service providers had taken a different approach to the 2013 holiday season. Instead of toys, tinsel and turkeys, agencies asked the community to support their yuletide efforts by helping families get “home for the holidays.” For $3,500, donors could resource the first month’s rent, security and utility deposits necessary for one homeless family to be housed before the holidays. Stephanie’s family was quickly identified as a candidate for the program, and funds made available helped she and her children get into a home before Christmas morning.

Stephanie’s case manager spent many hours with the family each week, implementing a stabilization plan. The case manager connected the family with a counselor, who helped them sort through the emotional issues of losing their home and having to start their life all over again. Stephanie began to see her gifts and developed confidence that she could achieve her dream of becoming a teacher.  Eventually she enrolled in school and applied for grants and financial assistance.

With the help she has received, Stephanie has redirected her life goals and her children have stabilized with healthy, safe boundaries and quality friendships.  Stephanie has now completed her teaching degree, has a full-time job at a local high school and is working with a housing counselor to purchase her own home.  She has confidence in herself and her ability as a woman, a mom and a teacher.  Instead of drowning in her emotions she has put them in perspective and has a stable, healthy home with her children.

Fredericksburg’s homeless services hope to house another 65 households like Stephanie’s before Christmas Eve, 2014. At any point in time in our region, 201 people are living in shelters or on the street. More than 900 children are living in motels or doubled up with friends/family. State and federal grant dollars are available to help people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, but the need far out weighs the resources. The “Home for the Holidays” program stretches the funding, and allow more people to be assisted in a 12-month period. Fifty-five additional families were moved from homelessness to housing last year because of the additional funds generated.  All of those households remain in housing today.

To support the 2014 “Home for the Holidays” program, make a donation to:

Central Virginia Housing Coalition Inc.

Attention: Connie Jones

208 Hudgins Road

Fredericksburg Va. 22408

In memo Line on check write: “Home for the Holidays”

A contribution of $3,500 will move one household from homelessness to housing, but donations of all sizes are accepted. Thank you for supporting our displaced neighbors in need.