Giving Back Awards 2013

Sponsored by Old Point National Bank Honoring The Region’s Outstanding Non-Profits

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2620 Southern Blvd., Virginia Beach • 757-631-0710 •
Number of votes: 492

Established: In 1984, the Virginia Beach interfaith community, which offered support to the Virginia Beach Department of Social Services, found that many service agencies were asking for assistance in providing shelter and food for homeless families. A task force was formed to address local and regional homelessness, and a four-bedroom shelter for homeless families was opened in 1985. Under the name of Virginia Beach Ecumenical Housing, Inc., Samaritan House was incorporated in 1984 and opened its first shelter in 1985 for homeless families.
Mission: To foster personal safety, self-sufficiency and personal growth in adults and their children through freedom from domestic violence and homelessness.

Key people: Angela Kellam, executive director; Grace Orsini, board president; Robin Gauthier, program director; Melissa Sutherland, grants; Larissa Sutherland, education; Shereese Floyd-Thompson, marketing; Melody Sanders, volunteers.

Programs: Operates at 24-hour hotline for families in crisis that acts as the hub for inquiries about housing, safety planning, resources and referrals. Families who come into shelter have access to case management, support groups, housing assistance, and education and employment training. Samaritan House also offers aftercare services for up to a year from when families leave the Samaritan House. It works with families in the community through the victim advocacy program, where Samaritan House representatives help victims prepare protective orders and accompany them to court. It also offers a Safe Start program—a therapeutic model for children affected by violence. In addition, Samaritan House operates Connection Point, the only 24-hour central access line for homeless in Virginia Beach.

Volunteer opportunities: Volunteers are always welcome to participate in day-to-day activities of administrative work and sorting donations. Samaritan House participates in the annual Day of Caring, and groups are encouraged to volunteer for shelter makeovers. Looking for volunteers with specialized skills or training in information technology, marketing and public relations, health care, counseling, children’s services, and/or real estate. Offers volunteer training four times a year.

What are the biggest struggles your organization faces? “Like most nonprofits, Samaritan House is challenged with continually securing enough funding to grow programs. Samaritan House has served Hampton Roads for almost 30 years. In those years, our services have grown to accommodate demand. We are always looking for new ways to talk about domestic violence and homelessness to not only raise awareness, but to sustain funding that keeps our lights on and our doors open.”

What is the most rewarding part about what your non-profit does? “Two words: Saving lives. Whether a family is fleeing the dangers of violence or weathering the elements, Samaritan House opens doors to not only housing, but a different way of living, thinking and being.”

—Melissa M. Stewart                                                                                                                                          

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