NVFS’ History

90+ years serving the community

Since 1924, NVFS has helped to strengthen and empower families. We believe that healthy families create healthy communities – the kind of communities where we all want to live. This work continues today with major initiatives to:

  • address the issues of secure, affordable housing in a challenging economy
  • provide access to necessary health care and medications for children and adults
  • offer job training that improves quality of life and provides adequate support for families
  • provide a safe, stimulating place for growing preschool children to learn and play

Originally established in 1924 by volunteers in Alexandria, NVFS is in Northern Virginia communities to help people in need. Those first volunteers in Alexandria noticed that poor children in their community had no coats and their families had no coal to heat their homes. NVFS addressed those basic and critical needs.

More than 90 years later, NVFS continues to address our local communities’ needs with a wide range of programs designed to deal with the current problems of today. NVFS has grown to help more than 34,000 families and individuals every year. As these needs emerge and change over time, NVFS’ programs also adapt to respond to what is needed when it is required.

We are proud of our legacy of responsiveness and our long history of collaboration and partnerships.

  • In 2001, NVFS was selected to lead the Survivors’ Fund Project, providing direct assistance and long-term case management to 9/11 victims, first responders and their families.
  • Fairfax County chose NVFS to lead the Katrina Project for evacuees from New Orleans. NVFS established the first-ever contract in the history of the American Red Cross to provide case management services, the success of which led the Red Cross to establish other contracts across the nation.
  • NVFS partners with Northern Virginia Community College through the Training Futures program to provide the only community-based workforce development program in the region that affords students the opportunity to earn college credits.
  • In 2008, the Center for Multicultural Human Services became part of NVFS. The programs continued uninterrupted and are now being delivered under the name of “Multicultural Center – a program of NVFS.” Through the Center, we provide mental health and related services to vulnerable immigrant and refugee populations in our region.
  • NVFS collaborated with Georgetown South Civic Association, Manassas City and multiple partners to build the beautiful Georgetown South Community and Child Development Center in Prince William County, which also houses the library, health and police departments.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services named NVFS as the grant recipient to lead the Head Start program in Arlington County, serving more than 200 children ages 3-5 in a full-day, full-year center-based program that provides a safe and stimulating environment for them to learn and play.
  • NVFS and SERVE merged in 2009 and continue to advance a common mission – to aid and empower individuals and families in need – and also make the most effective use of the critically important and finite resources available. SERVE’s longstanding service to the Manassas and Prince William County areas continues as before. It provides a homeless shelter for individuals and families, emergency assistance, and the largest emergency food bank in Northern Virginia, as “SERVE – a program of NVFS.”
  • In July 2014, former NVFS President and CEO Mary Agee announced her plans to retire and step down from the agency’s helm. After a months-long national search for the talent NVFS needed to continue providing truly effective services to vulnerable local families, Stephanie Berkowitz, NVFS’ former Senior Vice President of Programs, was selected by the Board of Directors to take Mary’s place beginning on July 1, 2015.

No one can accurately predict what the next 90 years may bring. Unfortunately, the needs of vulnerable individuals and families will most likely continue to be part of the challenges we face in our Northern Virginia region. NVFS has built a steadfast legacy of support and service that we pledge to provide through our mission: “to empower individuals and families to improve their quality of life, and to promote community cooperation and support in responding to family needs.” With the continued commitment of our partners and supporters, we may all enjoy the benefits that come with that promise.

Our History

90+ Years of Service

NVFS’ evolution since its inception in 1924