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Helping the Homeless in Alexandria
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Helping the Homeless in Alexandria

Community Lodgings celebrates 30 years.

Community Lodgings has provided transitional housing and programs to homeless and low income residents for 30 years.

Community Lodgings has provided transitional housing and programs to homeless and low income residents for 30 years. Photos contributed

“Community Lodgings is not just about a building. This is about creating a safe space for everyone to call home.” — Board member Marty Devine

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Jenny McDaniel, left, holds up the Chris McMurray Outstanding Achievement Award after being recognized as an exceptional former client at the Community Lodgings 30th anniversary Pearl Gala Feb. 17 at Belle Haven Country Club. Presenting the award to McDaniel are Community Lodgings executive director Lynn Thomas, treasurer Paul Stilp and board chair Marie Muscella.

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Community Lodgings board member Marty Devine, at right with her husband Steve, was recognized for more than 24 years of service to Community Lodgings.

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Mayor Allison Silberberg welcomes attendees to the Community Lodgings 30th anniversary gala Feb. 17 at Belle Haven Country Club.

For 30 years, Community Lodgings has provided transitional housing to homeless and low income residents in an effort to provide a path to self-sufficiency. On Feb. 17, the nonprofit held its 30th anniversary Pearl Gala to recognize its founding organizations and the contributions of volunteers.

“Tonight is an opportunity to honor the past and think about the future,” said Community Lodgings board chair Marie Muscella.

More than 180 people attended the reception at Belle Haven Country Club, which honored several individuals and raised $63,000 to fund programs for disadvantaged youth and families.

“A lot has changed in 30 years,” said Barry Roman, a board member who was honored for his service to the organization dating back to 1987. “But the one thing that has not changed is the dedication, compassion and love of the volunteers who spend countless hours helping the most needy of those in Alexandria.”

Community Lodgings was founded in 1987 by eight Episcopal churches: Christ Church, Church of the Resurrection, Church of St. Clements, Emmanuel Episcopal, Grace Episcopal, Immanuel Church on the Hill, Meade Memorial and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Together the churches underwrote the purchase of Community Lodgings’ first apartment building on Notabene Drive in the Arlandria/Chirilagua neighborhood in an effort to end homelessness in the city.

Over the years, additional apartment buildings were purchased in the neighborhood to increase affordable housing options. Today, Community Lodgings owns 45 apartments that are available at below-market rent, including six transitional housing units.

“Community Lodgings is not just about a building,” said board member Marty Devine, who was honored for 24 years of service to the organization. “This is about creating a safe space for everyone to call home.”

Jenny McDaniel was once a resident in one of those units. The victim of a teacher’s sexual abuse as a child, McDaniel now owns her own home and is a manager at Your Dog’s Best Friends. She was presented with the Chris McMurray Outstanding Achievement Award that recognizes exceptional former clients and credits Community Lodgings for her success.

“Community Lodgings gave me a chance,” said McDaniel. “I was addicted to heroin for 27 years and in and out of jail. I had to sleep with one eye open but thanks to Community Lodgings I don’t have to do that anymore.”

Also recognized at the gala were former ACT president John Porter, who was presented with the Community Hero Award, and Helen Lewis and George Tuttle for their decades of service to the organization. Lewis, the first executive director for Community Lodgings, created the transitional housing program and Tuttle served for 25 years as board secretary.

In addition to affordable housing, Community Lodgings offers youth education programs at locations throughout the city. Said Executive Director Lynn Thomas: “I believe the reason Community Lodgings has survived for 30 years is because we provide a continuum of services to those in need.”

For more information, call 703-549-4407 or visit www.communitylodgings.org.