What is now Friends of Guest House was founded in 1974 by Betty McConkey: a Federal parolee. Released from incarceration in the early 1970s, she returned home to Alexandria and saw the insufficiency of services for women like her—and decided to do something about it. Our first name was Friends of Women Prisoners. Our first services were counseling and referrals.
1974: Founding of what is today Friends of Guest House: original name, Friends of Women Prisoners. “The” Guest House at One East Luray Avenue was rented, and the Residential Program and other services began.
1975: Our formal incorporation in Alexandria, Virginia.
1981: With help from the City of Alexandria and the Old Presbyterian Meeting House, the Guest House at One East Luray Avenue was purchased.
2004: The Guest House completes a dramatic renovation, thanks to $300,000 in donated labor, materials, furnishings and design services.
2005: Aftercare Program begins.
2007: Outreach Program begins.
2008: Speakers Bureau begins.
2012: Assistance expands to "justice-involved" women: for example, women with a spouse or other family member in jail.
2013: Residential Program expands to almost-double the number of women it can serve, from 10 at a time to 17 at a time.
2014: Friends of Guest House celebrates our 40th anniversary.
2016: Residential Program expands again, adding nine beds in June—to serve 26 women at a time. As Residential women matriculate to the Aftercare Program, Aftercare, too, is expanding. Outreach continues to grow. All told, about a 50% expansion by 2018.
Since our founding, Guest House has served about 3,000 women. Most of those women are mothers, and helping mothers also helps their children: about 4,000 children, in total, over the years.
Thanks to everyone who has supported us!
Friends of Guest House works in all seven jurisdictions of Northern Virginia.
(Oct. 12, 2016)