|Celebrate the expansion that began in mid-2013 and the 50 more women we now serve each year across the Residential-to-Aftercare continuum!
OCTOBER 8, 2015 ... In December 2012, Virginia’s Department of Corrections (VADOC) reached out to Guest House with a proposal: could we add seven beds to our then 10-bed Residential Program? VADOC would cover part of the new costs just as it has covered part of our Residential costs for many years—with Guest House raising the balance. More beds would mean more funds for us to raise in challenging economic times. But we could not say “no” and stay true to our cause. So on a wing and a prayer, we said “yes.”
We staffed up. We contracted with the Alexandria housing charity, Community Lodgings, for more space: two two-bedroom apartments, at a building on Notabene Drive. The apartments needed everything; we asked our supporters for help, and the response was tremendous. By May 2013, we were ready to welcome, not 10-at-a-time, but 17-at-a-time Residential Program clients.
Two years later, in mid-2015, Friends of Guest House is pleased to report that our leap of faith succeeded!
Listen to our clients:
|Rose: “If Guest House hadn’t had the other place [Notabene], I don’t know if I’d have been able to come here—if you’d have had enough space. I needed help to get myself back together.” Rose entered the Guest House Residential Program just as the new beds were opening up. Today, she works part-time, has moved on to independent living and, as she says, is “getting the helpful services that I need.”
|Elaine entered our Residential Program in September 2013, a few months after the additional space “at Notabene” (as we say) opened up. Looking back, she says, “I’m very glad that I came to Guest House. If I hadn’t, I’m positive I would have been back in prison. I didn’t have any other support—never had any. I was always released to the streets, pretty much: that’s not a process to get back on your feet.” Elaine was not “released to the streets” this time, because we finally had enough room.
The numbers tell a story, too. At the new, expanded capacity, Guest House has completed two fiscal years: FY2014 (ending on 6/30/2014) and FY2015 (ending on 6/30/2015). Each year, to accommodate the expansion, we raised our expense budgets; increased support was also needed but, not knowing where it would come from, we took a conservative approach and budgeted deficits. We are extremely proud to report that we balanced our books each year—proud of our staff and volunteers, who worked so hard to “do more with less,” and proud of our new and existing donors, who stepped up to the plate.
In total, the first two years of our expanded Residential Program resulted in 40 more ex-offender women served—and as those women have matriculated into the Aftercare Program, that program, too, has grown and now serves more women. The one-year Residential-to-Aftercare Program continuum grew by 60%, as we had hoped.
Friends of Guest House is still shorter of space than applicants. Last year, of the 368 women who applied to our Residential Program, 316 (86%) were turned away.
For now, we celebrate the expansion that began in mid-2013 and the 50 more women we now serve each year (Residential-to-Aftercare continuum). Thank you, staff and volunteers and supporters and clients, for helping Guest House grow!