By: Kathy Albarado on March 2nd, 2020

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Community Spotlight: Shelter House


"I get excited about our growth as it allows us to give back even more to our community," my team frequently hears me say.

I believe all impactful change happens in community.  Through our work with our clients and the relationships we build, our community is impacted, and it impacts us.  

When it comes to giving back, there is so much need it can be hard to identify where to start. For Helios, we are passionate about inclusion, belonging, and empowerment. We support organizations that align with those values.

Today, I'd like to shine the spotlight on a local non-profit we are big fans of, Shelter House.

Years ago when I was on the Board for the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness in Fairfax County (OPEH), I was fortunate to be introduced to an incredible visionary leader, Joe Meyer, CEO of Shelter House. Shelter House, Inc. is a community-based, non-profit that provides crisis intervention, safe housing, and supportive services to homeless families and victims of domestic violence. With nearly 75 full-time and over 50 part-time employees, their team is committed to empowering those they serve to become self-sufficient and safe.

I think people are surprised to learn that although Fairfax County is considered one of the wealthiest in the country, nearly 1,000 people are homeless in our community on any given night. Two-thirds of all adults in families that are homeless are working and more than 40 percent of families experiencing homelessness are victims of domestic violence. In the past year, Shelter House served 495 households comprised of over 1,500 individuals, 60% of whom were children.

Together with the support of our community,  we have consistently donated everyday items like toiletries and pillows to fill an

urgent need for the clients of Shelter House. One of our favorite drives we host is in October when we collect costumes and throw a Halloween party for the children experiencing transitional housing. Helios provides the party supplies and gives our team members dedicated volunteer time to make this a fun, safe and uplifting event for the families.

This past year, we hosted the party in an office space used for staff and counselors of Shelter House. In comparison to their shelters, we noticed their resources have been focused on the right place - their mission. This location was in need of some TLC.

The Shelter House team works so diligently to change the lives of those in need in our community, they too should be taken care of.  

Shelter House renovations 1Reaching back into our community, I tapped John Sekas, owner of Sekas Homes, an award-winning customer builder in Northern Virginia. John is a friend and colleague whom I served with on the OPEH Governing Board and a big supporter of affordable housing.  John graciously connected me to Jay Robinson, President of Sotheby Floors and asked him to give us the best price on the carpet for this initiative. They responded generously. 

With a fresh coat of paint and new carpet in their offices, it shifted the team and client experience.  What I didn’t anticipate was the encouragement this small act had on the staff. They jumped to action, reaching out to secure donations of furniture, file cabinets, and office needs. The community rallied and provided what they asked for.

The staff at Shelter House were so excited about the outcome, they invited me to 'tour' the new space. Here is what I learned: this act not only lifted their spirits; it lifted their hearts. They now have a more welcoming space filled with light, in a more collaborative environment for clients and staff. 

I am so proud to know this amazing organization making big things happen in our community and to work alongside a team who notes its importance.

If you'd like to learn more about how you can help serve our community with Shelter House, I encourage you to join me at their 7th Annual Changing Lives Benefit Breakfast on Thursday, April 16th. You will be among some of the most prominent and influential leaders, elected officials, and individuals in Northern Virginia coming together to raise awareness about family homelessness and domestic violence. Seating is limited and will fill up quickly. I hope to see you there!