I know, I know–didn’t summer just start? For our families there is always the concern about what is next. We can’t alleviate every worry, but we can help make things a little easier with your help. We are currently collecting new school supplies for the school aged children in our program–about 50 kids from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Why new items? Think about the first day of school for a moment–the excitement that comes from a brand new year. You have your back pack on with your favorite character on it, your notebook in your favorite color, freshly sharpened pencils, your hand selected outfit–it adds to the enthusiasm you have thinking about the school year ahead. We want all kids to feel that. We want them to be excited for another year of school.
This summer will be gone before we know it. Fairfax County Public Schools are back in session on August 28th this year, so with a little over 6 weeks left to go we want to ask if you can help us get kids ready for school? All donations must be received by Monday, August 20th. You can order off our Amazon wishlist, where the items will be shipped to our door, email LaurenB@christianrelief.org to schedule a supply pickup or drop off, or donate to Safe Places to fund a backpack filled with supplies for $50.
Thanks for all of your help!
On behalf of all our client families, we want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all of the participants and sponsors of the 3rd Annual Safe Places Golf Tournament June 29 at the Landsdowne Golf Club in Leesburg, VA.
Your support enabled to raise $105,000 for the women and children who have escaped a life of fear and terror for one of love, support and hope as they build a new life free of abuse on their way to a bright future.
These families are not victims – they are survivors who have taken charge of their life and with the support of people like you they have a place to call home for up to two years, help with financial literacy and life skills, and assistance with furthering their education so that when the time comes for them to become self-sufficient they are ready.
In 2017, Safe Places helped 30 households made up of 35 adults and 72 children, making for a total of 7,393 “bed nights” for those who may very have been homeless, living in a domestic violence shelter, or worse, still living with their abuser because they had nowhere else to go.
So again, on behalf of all of these women and children who have a “safe place” to sleep every night in their very own beds, we simply say “thank you.
One client asked for diapers. That is how it started: one request to one case manager and suddenly we are surrounded with cases of diapers! Our families have a lot of needs so sometimes we forget to ask about the simple things, do you have enough diapers?
About 25% of our families have at least one child wearing diapers in their home.
So although only one family outright asked, we knew the need was greater. We were right about the need, but what we did not expect was the response of our supporters.
We posted on social media and reached out to a handful of supporters hoping we would get a few packages to have on hand in emergencies. Suddenly we were hearing from neighbors and friends we had never met. A supporter had forwarded our request to a list serve, a follower shared it with friends and family, people were picking up the torch and passing the bucket. The generosity has been incredible.
The best part have been the notes. When people reached out we learned things about their families, about why they had extra diapers. Several held onto diapers even though their child is potty trained because they did not want to throw them away. Others told us that they did not expect how quickly their child would grow and ended up with a lot of left overs that they were ready to get out of the house! It was amazing how quickly word spread, how eager people were to give. We are so grateful to our community.
And yes, to answer your question, we are still accepting diapers, wipes, formula and baby food.
Stacy entered Christian Relief Services’ Safe Places program after fleeing her abusive husband of more than eight years.
It had been a major struggle for Stacy who lived with her husband and his parents, who of course, always took his side in their marital disputes.
After all those years, the decision to leave her husband wasn’t easy, but she knew she had no choice.
Thankfully, Stacy was able to enter the Safe Places program, which provided her with up to two years of affordable transitional housing and counseling and support services, where she and her two young children found a new life without fear.
Today everything is going her way as she has been promoted to a higher paying job within the government agency she works for. Her family members, who live abroad, were supportive of her through that traumatic transition in her life and after learning the life skills to be a successful single mom and handle the family’s finances, she graduated from the Safe Places program and moved into a townhouse.
Since being out on her own, she has secured full custody of her children, found the love of her life whom she married and they enjoy a healthy family relationship and now are renting a home together.
If all that good news was not enough, she and her husband are expecting a baby girl this summer and she just earned her MBA which will enable her to continue to grow in her career.
Being a mother of five children, including two teenagers, is demanding and stressful enough – making sure they’re well-fed, getting plenty of sleep, doing their homework and all the other responsibilities it takes in just being “mom.”
Then imagine being in a five-year relationship with the father of your three youngest children, who you once loved, but suffering constant physical and mental abuse. During all that time, you do your best to deal with it all on your own in silence not wanting to burden family members and friends with your troubles, and staying with your abuser “for the sake of the children.”
Then one day, you come to the realization that it is for the sake of the children that you must leave with the knowledge that as the abuse continued to escalate over the years it is never going to get better, and, in fact, your life, and perhaps even the lives of your children are at stake.
But where to go?
That was Claire’s life. After making the courageous decision to flee her abuser taking with her only her children and what little they could fit in her car, she hoped to be able to begin to start her life – their lives – anew by finding temporary refuge in a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
However, in Fairfax County, Virginia, one of the wealthiest counties in the country with a population of more than 1 million, Claire quickly discovered that there are less than 100 beds available for battered women and their children, and the waiting list is long.
Claire couldn’t wait, but she couldn’t stay either. So for nearly two years she and her children were homeless. Dire circumstances, yes, but better than being abused and living in fear for her life.
Then one day in early 2017, Claire was referred to the Safe Places program which provides transitional housing to women in Fairfax County just like Claire.
Even if she was able to find room in a shelter for her and her children, she would be limited to 30 days – not nearly enough time to get her life back on track – before they would be back on the street again trying to figure out where they would sleep night after night after night.
But thanks to the Safe Places program, today Claire and her children know where they are going to be sleeping for up to the next two years.
Safe Places Executive Director Amanda Moyer was able to find the perfect home for a family of six, a three-bedroom townhouse near where she has a full-time job, and her children have the stability of going to the same school every day where they are making friends there, as well as in their own neighborhood.
With the basics in place – a roof over her family’s heads and a steady income to put food on the table every day – Claire is now finally able to think about the future as she works to overcome the trauma of the past, and each day is no longer an ordeal of uncertainty.
With Amanda’s encouragement and with the support of her Safe Places case manager who conducts weekly home visits as well as training in finance and budgeting and life skills, Claire is striving to improve her financial situation while in the program so that in two years she will be fully self-sufficient.
Safe Places provides assistance to clients like Claire who want to take classes to earn certifications and degrees so that she will have more than just a job, but a career with opportunity for advancement – and a life free of abuse and a future filled with hope.
We are finally feeling that chill in the air. Everyone is taking out their coats, layering on the blankets and preparing for a cozy holiday season. While the threat of even colder weather looms, we are trying to get prepared so our families can feel that same comfort. You see, many of our families have experienced being out in the cold and we never want them to feel that again. So if you are upgrading your coat this season, if your child has outgrown their perfectly good jacket from last year, or if you cannot resist a good sale while you are out shopping–please consider donating a winter coat to Safe Places this year. Can you share the warmth this year?
To arrange a time to donate your coats and other winter essentials contact Lauren at LaurenB@christianrelief.org.
Not close by? No time to shop? Consider sponsoring a coat!
We are still working on getting all of the coats in for our coat drive, but somehow it is already November! Now we are also gearing up for the big feast here at Safe Places. We want all of our families to experience Thanksgiving the way we do, with full bellies and big smiles.
For many of our families stressed budgets have meant experiencing food insecurity. We want those memories to feel far away—especially over the holidays. With a safe home and a full belly we know this Thanksgiving can provide happy memories for our families.
Can you help us create happy memories this Thanksgiving?
Below is a list of the items we are collecting. More than anything else we need Turkey sponsorships, by donating $25 or sending us a $25 grocery gift card, every family is able to have that picturesque family meal we are all dreaming about. All thanksgiving items can be dropped off at our office during business hours (9am-5:30pm). You can also contact Lauren at LaurenB@christianrelief.org to schedule an after hours drop off or a donation pick up. We can pick up in Fairfax County, Alexandria and Arlington.
This summer has been a busy one! We’ve moved in two new families and are making arrangements to move in two more! We are now serving 24 families made up of # individuals. With all these new clients we have had a growing need for STUFF! Furniture, school supplies, clothing, food. The amazing part is we have had a handful of volunteers working on filling those needs. We have had several individuals donate furniture this summer, but one has gone above and beyond. Kim Woods has not only donated some of her furniture, but has sourced other furniture donations to fill our needs. She has done individual outreach to people on Facebook, her neighbors, her friends and has really spread the word about the work that we do!
With most furniture ready to go to their new families, we are now focusing on back to school (I know, I know summer just started!). With over 50 school aged children in our program, we have volunteers working overtime engaging their networks in school supply drives. We’re up against the clock and hoping to collect enough supplies so that all of the children we work with feel confident and ready to learn on the first day of school. Want to be involved? Sponsor a backpack by donating $50 to Safe Places or order off of our wish list and have requested supplies delivered right to our door!