Written by Laticia Headings

In the spring, Middleburg Life began to spotlight a local non-profit every month. We’re happy to bring attention to these organizations doing great work in their area of expertise. Each of these non-profits takes donations and has volunteer opportunities and ways to get involved, so please consider them this holiday season. 

To recap, here are the non-profits we highlighted and where they are now. 

MAY — A Place to Be

When A Place to Be (APTB) was co-founded by Tom Sweitzer and Kim Tapper in September of 2010, it was meant to help an underserved population — people with disabilities, medical and mental challenges, and at-risk youth — using scientifically-based music therapy practices, as well as therapeutic and expressive arts. 

On the heels of their 10-year anniversary, APTB is helping people navigate and overcome life’s challenges through music. “We use music therapy as an intervention tool to help people who have any kind of challenge in life to find some sort of healing,” Sweitzer says. 

During the pandemic, APTB pivoted from in-person to virtual sessions, and is currently serving 125 families. They have a new YouTube channel with various shows, including Land of Music, a series that helps children process the ongoing pandemic through music, engaging characters, and messages of hope. To subscribe, search “A Place To Be Family” on YouTube.

The new musical, Hope for Christmas, produced and performed by APTB cast members, will premiere on Sunday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. Viewers can watch on the APTB website or Facebook page. It will be hosted and narrated by J. Robert Spencer, an original Jersey Boy in Jersey Boys and Tony nominee from the Pulitzer-prize winning Next to Normal. 

aplacetobeva.org

JUNE  — Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity continues to be on the forefront of remedying the vast inadequacies of local affordable housing. Habitat understands that the key to building sustainable, long-term affordable housing options requires strong community partnerships and the willingness to embrace innovative and creative solutions.

Both Loudoun Habitat and Fauquier Habitat raise local funds to help local families. Each has dedicated homes to families in need in their individual counties — 58 and 55 homes, respectively. In addition to building new houses, Habitat also rehabs and renovates homes to add to its inventory. The motto that universally echoes throughout all Habitat affiliates is it’s “a hand up, not a hand out.” 

Both Loudoun and Fauquier Habitats have a ReStore, a place to shop for home and building supplies at a fraction of retail costs. It provides a place to donate furniture and materials, keeping them out of the landfill. 

Both organizations work at the federal, state, and local level to bring awareness to affordable housing issues.

Loudoun Habitat for Humanity 

With the high cost and limited availability of land in Loudoun County, it is almost impossible for Habitat to just build new houses. Loudoun Habitat is moving beyond the build by offering a variety of homeowner programs, which focus on buying, rehabbing, and selling existing properties to Habitat families. These programs expand revitalization for identified neighborhoods, matching Loudoun Habitat’s goal to continually increase the number of families served year-over-year.

The home repair program rehabs homes by addressing safety, accessibility, and weatherization issues especially for the elderly, veterans, and the disabled. 

For the past year, the Tools for Life Learning Center has offered 40 educational workshops on topics such as homeownership, financial health, and budgeting to all members of our community. 

loudounhabitat.org 

Volunteers for Habitat for Humanity building a house. Photo by Habitat for Humanity.

Fauquier Habitat for Humanity

In 2020, Fauquier Habitat acquired 10 properties in Warrenton. They are in the process of finalizing a revitalization and development plan to build and renovate affordable single-family homes and multifamily rental units that are much needed in the community.

They piloted the critical home repair program, which stabilized housing situations for 20 families, and accepted three families into their home buyers program, all of whom are currently on the path to homeownership.  

Fauquier Habitat is launching a state-wide community land trust — in partnership with Northern Virginia Habitat, Louisa Habitat, and Habitat Virginia  — to ensure homes built remain affordable for the lifetime of that home. 

These programs are made possible because of community partners such as the PATH Foundation, Piedmont Environmental Council, Town of Warrenton, Fauquier County Government, and The Fauquier Bank. Together with Habitat, these organizations are taking on the challenge to ensure every neighbor has a safe, decent, and affordable place to live.

fauquierhabitat.org

JULY  — Holistic Horsemanship Services

Holistic Horsemanship Services (HHS) offers clients the opportunity to be in nature and bond with horses to address personal issues through leadership, partnership, and connection. Because HHS is a work-based program and different from a traditional “up and on” therapeutic riding center, clients have the opportunity to build a relationship with the horse before ever sitting on the animal. 

The founder of HHS, Adrienne Freeland, has worked with many populations of people over the past two decades. “Everyone from those dealing with concussion recovery, to veterans and kids being bullied, grievers, people with autism and attention-deficit, women who have been abused, and those dealing with sexual trauma and post-traumatic stress,” Freeland says. 

Through basic horsemanship, clients learn how to control the energy in their body, and gain practical experience that transfers into learning how to read people, take non-verbal cues, and communicate without words.

“Grief is even more challenging in these difficult times,” Freeland says, who offers a grief support group at HHS the first Wednesday of each month at 4:30 p.m., held in conjunction with Blue Ridge Hospice. Freeland encourages people who are grieving to reach out and attend one of these sessions to find relief and support from others.  

For more information, email adesacres@gmail.com or visit the HHS Facebook page “Holistic Horsemanship Services LLC.”

AUGUST  — Friends of Homeless Animals

Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA) has rescued and found homes for more than 16,000 dogs and cats during its 47-year existence. A strictly no-kill shelter, FOHA can house up to 70 dogs and 40 cats. The facility has three large enclosed dog play areas, both open and covered, two catteries, an adoption center, a senior “village” for aging animals, and a sizable cabin where potential adopters can experience animals in a “home” environment. 

Though protocols have changed, and visits are now by appointment, the adoption rate has skyrocketed due to people spending more 

time at home and having time to care for a pet. Potential adopters can expect a thorough application process, including a home visit (now done virtually) and vet check to assess prior pet histories.  

Over the summer, FOHA hit record adoption levels. To date in 2020, the organization has rescued over 370 pets, leading to 362 adoptions and 72 foster home placements. As they approach their 50th anniversary, FOHA remains dedicated to their mission: Home with us, until they’re home with you.

foha.org

SEPTEMBER  — Women Giving Back

Women Giving Back (WGB) supports women and children in crisis by providing quality clothing at no cost. The organization, established in 2007, has a 13,000 square foot warehouse in Sterling that includes a clothing boutique, childcare area, fashionable dressing rooms, and plenty of storage. The space may sound like an average department store, but to women facing tough challenges and uncertainty, it can be a much-needed lifeline.

WGB does accommodate single fathers (by appointment only), but primarily serves women fleeing domestic abuse who have had to leave everything behind, women coming out of incarceration and re-entering the workforce, pregnant women, and victims of sex trafficking. 

Volunteers for Women Giving Back working. Photos by WGB. 

The annual “Santa’s Workshop” event will be held on Dec. 12 under a large tent in the parking lot of WGB. While kids meet Santa and make crafts, this special holiday event allows mothers to choose new toys, bikes, and other gifts for their children, free of charge. Hundreds of “elves” volunteer for this event, which serves over 400 children. 

WGB accepts new and lightly-worn clothes. They are also in need of new socks and underwear for women and children, gently-worn bras, and new toiletries. You can make this holiday season special for a child in need by donating new and unwrapped gifts and toys ($25 – $60 price range) by Friday, Dec. 11. To volunteer or get gift ideas, visit the website. 

womengivingback.org 

OCTOBER  — America’s Routes

America’s Routes is a non-profit focused on preserving Loudoun’s roads, with the goal of protecting their intrinsic value and making sure they perform to modern standards.

Loudoun County has one of the largest and oldest intact networks of rural roads in the U.S., as many predate America. The roads weave the past and the present together, with 300 unpaved miles of “living museum.” Established by pioneers, these byways shaped the way communities prospered and wars were fought, telling the story of slavery, agriculture, and the automobile. 

This year, the organization achieved a major milestone. America’s Routes  — and 300 miles of rural roads — is now eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. 

Kasey Clark, a local farmer and cyclist, rode 284.07 miles with a total ride time of 23:21:25 at a 12.2 mph pace through Loudoun County’s rural roads, raising $6,000 for America’s Routes. The fundraiser, which was done solo, took place in a 24-hour period from Oct. 31 — Nov. 1. Read more by visiting americasroutes.com/portfolio-2/

Andi Riemenschneider, Nancy Dillon and Kathy Mylan are greeted by cyclist Kasey Clark along Unison Road on their way to a morning meet. Photo by Doug Graham, Wild Light Photos. 

New self-guided tours and “Stories from the Road,” produced by Danielle Nadler and Doug Graham, will be available on the website in 2021. The EX2’s annual Gravel Grinder event is scheduled for June 13, 2021. 

America’s Routes encourages people to connect and share their stories from the road. 

americasroutes.com

NOVEMBER — Shelters to Shutters 

Shelters to Shutters believes homelessness is a circumstance, not an identity. 

Seventy percent of Americans have little or no savings set aside for an emergency situation and live on the brink of life-altering financial disaster, which often results in the loss of housing. Most end up in shelters, living in cars or find themselves on the streets. 

Of the three million people affected by homelessness every year, a staggering 83% of them are situationally homeless. “Situationally homeless refers to individuals who have been in the workforce before and have marketable skills but through a series of circumstances or bad luck, find themselves without a place to live,” Andy Helmer, CEO of Shelters to Shutters, says. 

Through the trillion-dollar apartment complex industry, Shelter to Shutters offers people who are situationally homeless two of life’s critical necessities: employment and housing. 

Shelters to Shutters has 44 industry partners around the country, ranging from family-owned businesses to publicly traded companies, who refer potential candidates to them. Qualified individuals can apply for jobs at a local multi-family apartment complex and live on the property at a deeply discounted rate, enabling them to get back on their feet. ML

shelterstoshutters.org

Published in the December 2020 issue of Middleburg Life.