Shelter is a basic need for everyone, and it’s the foundation from which families and individuals can begin to build, or rebuild, their potential to live self-sufficiently.
Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS) focuses on housing in all capacities, from ending homelessness to locating and maintaining stable housing for shelter guests and other NVFS clients.
To maintain stable housing, life skills such as time management, financial planning and workforce development are helpful, not only to assist managing one’s own place, but maintaining it once it is secured. Not only will an increase in life skills better an individual, but it will assist him or her in an improved quality of life in areas such as wage gains, job opportunities and even health.
In scheduling Life Skills Workshops, Meagan Perkins, community and volunteer engagement specialist at BCCS, says, “I periodically sit in with our Housing Locators on BCCS Case Management meetings to keep up to date with what’s going on at the shelter and what our guests’ current needs are. When onboarding volunteers to provide Life Skills Workshops, I bring in our Housing Locators to provide volunteers with input and answers regarding guests’ needs.”
In the past month, both BCCS and Hilda Barg guests have benefited from workshops such as “Rental Readiness,” hosted by Long & Foster; “How To Get and Keep a Job,” hosted by Dulles Society for Human Resource Management; and even ongoing workshops lead by Virginia Cooperative Extension on the benefits of healthy eating and finding affordable, locally sourced produce in our community.
“I could see [the guests at BCCS] were very motivated and attentive,” Carolina Santa Cruz of Long & Foster said. “I learned there is a need for volunteers to assist the participants in many ways: to find information about housing, use of the computer to find rooms for rent, orientation to use the existing sources, etc.”
“They had many questions, which meant they were learning,” Santa Cruz concluded.
The workshops are proving to be a success.
“I learned I can get a good job to save money for a good apartment,” one guest shared about lessons learned from the workshops.
Other guests have said that they’re surprised to discover renter’s insurance is affordable, and that building and maintaining adequate credit is essential to renting apartments and purchasing homes.
NVFS’ continued effort to end and prevent homelessness while providing quality education and opportunities for growth assist guests and clients with the challenges they face. We’re thankful for the volunteers who have led Life Skills Workshops at our shelters for sharing their knowledge and skill sets with fellow community members.
Do you have a skill set you’d like to share with our shelter guests? Spread the wealth of knowledge and lead a Life Skills Workshop!