There's No Place Like Home: Community Lodgings Begins Long Awaited Renovations
On Tuesday September 4th, the transformation of one of Community Lodgings’ five apartment buildings will begin – a full-fledged renovation! When I took over as Executive Director seven years ago, I set a long-term goal to ensure all our families lived in safe, comfortable homes. Over the years, out of sheer financial necessity, I was forced to take a “band-aid” approach to building repairs. Seven years later, with help from HomeAid Northern Virginia, Pulte Homes and the City of Alexandria, our long-term goal becomes reality.
As we await the long-awaited renovations to our apartment building, we must remember that the positive impact that Community Lodgings has on our families’ lives goes well beyond bricks and mortar.
Verna and her two children, a family in our transitional housing program, have never lived in a new home. Verna overcame a history of extreme abuse as a child. Over the years, she has struggled with a weight problem, depression and other medical issues while her family moved from one homeless shelter to the next. When her family entered Community Lodgings’ transitional housing program in August 2011, she could barely provide for her children, but she was grateful to have a place to call home. In January, they will move into a newly-renovated, high-quality apartment that will help them continue foster a more positive outlook on life.
As you can see, these renovated apartments are symbolic of Community Lodgings’ work in lifting families from instability to independence. Through our program, we provide an apartment, individualized case management and family therapy, employment and money management counseling, personal training, medical support and educational support for her children. While Verna still faces significant professional and financial hurdles, she has made remarkable gains. She meets with her expert budget mentor religiously and follows her individualized fitness and meal plan. Thanks to her diligence, she has already saved almost $2,000 and lost 45 pounds. Her children are thriving too. Community Lodgings arranged for her son, a talented artist, to study at the Corcoran School of Art + Design. He and his sister, who has learning disabilities, both receive individualized tutoring and educational support through the afterschool program at our Family Learning Center, ensuring their success in school.
Verna seeks a better life and, in the course of only a year, she has made considerable progress. I witness the changes in her demeanor as she overcomes setbacks and problems. As important partners such as HomeAid Northern Virginia, Pulte Homes and the City of Alexandria help Community Lodgings answer our prayers, we know that Verna’s prayers will be answered too.
Community Lodgings’ Bonnie Baxley has served the organization as Executive Director since September 2005. Previously she sat on Community Lodgings’ Board of Directors for several years, serving as Board Chair in her last year.