February 2019
Housing changed everything
for Clarence
Housing Stabilization Case Manager Andrea Alston and Clarence in Flagler's new Richmond office

When Clarence lost his home, he lost his self-esteem with it. He felt so ashamed of having nowhere to stay that he cut ties with his family for eight years.

"I didn't want my children to know I was homeless all that time," said Clarence. "I didn't want them to see me the way I was. When you get to be my age, you don't like asking people for things."

Alone at 67 years old with only the clothes on his back, Clarence found himself living in the rain, under bridges, behind buildings and on concrete floors, constantly battling sickness. He was at the point of giving up - until he discovered Flagler Housing & Homeless Services at St. Joseph's Villa.

Housing Stabilization Case Manager Andrea Alston began working with him right away.

"My life began when I found Flagler," he said. "I'd probably be in jail or dead today if it wasn't for them."

Andrea helped Clarence apply for jobs as the Flagler team searched for an apartment. Clarence didn't have a formal education, but overcame that barrier with Andrea's support. He gained employment in jail and prison ministry, which he sees as a way to pay it forward. Now he has a comfortable home, a job he loves, and hope for his future.

Today, at 75, Clarence has reconnected with his children and invited them to his new home. In a place he can call his own, he will meet his grandson for the first time.

"I have so much joy. I know love now, and I'm going to share it."

Flagler has found safe, stable housing for more than 3,000 youth, adults and seniors like Clarence through rapid re-housing . Rapid re-housing works because it addresses people's most basic and urgent need of housing first. Additional services including short-term financial assistance, case management, employment training, and budgeting assistance are available to help individuals and families remain housed and live healthy, independent lives.
Flagler Open House
We've moved!
Flagler's Richmond services are now based on the GRTC Pulse line in Willow Lawn to better serve our clients. During a recent open house, community partners met Flagler staff and heard Clarence's story. We're excited to be at our new accessible location!
Introducing Richmond's newest supermarket: The Villa Grocery
Villa Grocery grand opening
CATS student Ashley cuts the ribbon at the Villa Grocery's grand opening

Every year the Villa's culinary services provide 115,000 meals to students at no cost to their families. But when they're out of school, many don't know how or when they'll eat next. Other families are just one car breakdown, illness, or paycheck away from financial crisis. The Villa Grocery is our newest on-campus resource to make sure no child or family goes hungry.

In partnership with FeedMore and operated by our Career and Transition Services (CATS) team, the Villa Grocery is a client-choice food pantry for students, families and Villa staff, stocked with healthy produce and non-perishable goods. Those who shop at the Villa Grocery are provided a concealed backpack for taking food home.

"Everyone has emergencies and goes through difficult times," said CATS Director Matthew Kreydatus. "We want to eliminate the stigma about needing food."

In addition to preventing hunger, the Villa Grocery will serve as a job training site.
Villa Grocery food
"It's a great opportunity for students to learn about inventory management, budgeting, and customer service, and to continue building on the skills they're working on at other CATS sites. They can take it to another level here by managing an actual grocery shop," said Kreydatus.

Another exciting feature is the chance it offers kids to help other kids. Students from all of our schools will be able to harvest fruits and vegetables from our Learning & Therapy Garden to contribute to the Villa Grocery, while CATS students will assist with shopping for food at FeedMore.

FeedMore Regional Manager Sarah Dovel, who helped make the Villa Grocery a reality, joined the grand opening celebration.

"We rely on our partner agencies to distribute food directly to those in need," she said. "We're excited for the future and what it holds for our partnership."
Donors and volunteers create holiday
magic during Season of Hope
Santa visit
Dooley School student Owen receives a surprise gift from Santa

Many happy memories were made at the Villa and in the homes of our children and families thanks to our Season of Hope supporters! 250 donors and volunteers helped us:

  • Fulfill the holiday wishes of 380 clients
  • Create 100 welcome home kits for Flagler Housing & Homeless Services
  • Give 50 food baskets to families in need
  • Raise $18,000 for gifts, clothing and necessities

One moment where our community's generosity really shined came from longtime Season of Hope partner, Capital One. When our Petersburg Housing Resource Center staff came to the Villa to pick up gifts for their 60 sponsored clients, one carload couldn't fit everything - from clothes to bicycles to household goods. They came back with a pickup truck, but it still wasn't enough room! A Capital One volunteer then stepped up, offered his vehicle, and drove the remaining gifts to the Petersburg office with our staff. We're so grateful for our caring friends who made the holidays special for our children and families!

"Season of Hope gave our daughter such joy and delight with the incredible amount of gifts on the last day of school before break," said Megan, parent of a child in our Center for Autism. "It is fantastic how the gifts were terrifically and perfectly suited to her. Thank you for remembering these children in such a special way."
Villa launches Mobile Crisis Stabilization
Mobile Crisis Stabilization
Under our umbrella of community-based services, Mobile Crisis Stabilization (MCS) is a new program providing short-term mental health care for both children and adults at risk for hospitalization. We also mobilize community resources, family members, and other supports for ongoing rehabilitation and recovery.

More than 215,000 Virginians experienced a mental health issue in 2017. Virginia currently ranks 49th in the nation for number of psychiatric beds per capita. MCS helps fill the gap by bringing counselors and clinicians to people's homes.

The program operates through a trauma-informed approach. Strength-based and person-centered, MCS highlights clients' resilience, capacity to problem-solve, and ability to engage in post-traumatic growth.

Visit our website for more information about MCS and our other mental health services.
Autism Center Director Adam Dreyfus
presents innovative mobile resource to MIT
AnswersNow at MIT
Adam Dreyfus aspires to help parents of children with autism outside of his role as our Autism Center Director. In 2016, he co-founded AnswersNow as an online platform that provides parents instant digital access to counseling from licensed clinicians. After participating in the MetLife Digital Accelerator program, Dreyfus and the AnswersNow team were invited by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to share the project and explore opportunities for partnership.

"In the past several years we have seen a sharp increase in the number of children diagnosed with autism, now estimated at 1 in 59," said Dreyfus. "A diagnosis can leave many parents feeling isolated, scared, and unsure of where to turn for support. It was a phenomenal experience meeting with MIT's media experts and discussing how we can be part of the solution."

Dreyfus visited the MIT Media Lab along with AnswersNow co-founder Jeff Beck, meeting with Professor of Media Arts and Sciences Dr. Rosalind Picard, Research Assistant Kristy Johnson, MetLife's Senior Vice President of Innovation John Geyer, and MetLife's Director of Innovation Andrew O'Mara. Stay tuned for updates on this groundbreaking project!
We never stop believing in children and their families.

St. Joseph's Villa | 804-553-3200 | www.NeverStopBelieving.org