With the temperatures and the leaves changing to welcome in Fall, we turn our attention toward our annual Harvest for Hope fundraising campaign to help support our DC and Virginia health and human services programs.

We also look back at a month when we celebrated all of the wonderful things our Direct Support Professionals do for our clients and how they exemplify our "Ministry of Service."
Since 2008, the United States has recognized one week in September as “National Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week.” This week is a time when hospitals, schools, healthcare providers and others honor their DSPs and show appreciation for their vital contributions to communities across the country.

What's a DSP?

Direct Support Professionals (DSP) are essential to providing the necessary supports and services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) where they live and work. They work directly with people with I/DD to support them to lead fulfilling lives and participate in their communities.

In DC and Virginia, we employ 235 dedicated DSPs. For some of our clients, these dedicated servants have become the only support system they have. From medication management to assisting with daily living activities, our DSPs ensure that those living with disabilities have the loving care they need to thrive.

Medicaid is the primary source of funding for programs employing DSPs. Sadly, with the current Medicaid reimbursement system, cost cutting actions by state legislatures and Medicaid officials, and recent strides to raise the minimum wage in several cities and states DSPs are experiencing low wages, which often leads to staff shortages for I/DD programs.

Through advocacy and fundraising, we have been striving to make sure our DSPs are fairly compensated and feel appreciated. DSP Recognition Week was an opportunity for us to celebrate our dedicated and innovative DSPs, who are the heart and soul of our Christian church without Walls.
To see more photos of our DSPs and clients enjoying recent trips
to the petting zoo, aquarium, pool and more, check out and Like our Facebook page.
As we continue to highlight our VOACC Board of Directors, we'd like to introduce one of our newest members, Jim Anderson

Jim is a Founder and CEO of Wholecrowd LLC, a premier marketing, branding and communications company located in Alexandria, VA and Los Angeles, CA. Prior to starting Wholecrowd, Jim was the founding partner of a public affairs company located in Washington, DC.
In his spare time, Jim enjoys spending time with his family, being outdoors and cycling.
Jim received his degree from James Madison University where he was also a member of the Division I men's baseball team. Originally from Philadelphia, PA, Jim currently resides in Alexandria, VA with his wife and children. 

To get to know Jim a bit more, we asked him a few questions.

What about VOACC inspired you to join the Board of Directors?

The mission and vision of VOACC inspired me to become a member of the Board of Directors. In today’s world, there are so many vulnerable neighbors in our communities and having the ability to serve an organization that is on the front lines is an honor I cherish. In addition to the mission and vision, the leadership at VOACC is exceptional. 
To see all of Jim's responses and learn more about him, Click here.
To see more about Jim and his company, click here.
Rev. Sandra Gray, VOACC Chaplain
VOACC is a Christian church without walls. Our spiritual development and growth targets are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is our desire to grow spiritually and produce that kind of fruit.

With that in mind, we are proud to launch the 2021 - 2022 season of our popular Healing Conversations, starting Thursday, October 28th from 7:00 - 8:30pm.
The church has been called to speak out against oppression, defend the marginalized, live as peacemakers and to lead our communities in reconciliation and transformative change.

"As citizens, we have rights, but as Christians, we have responsibilities to intervene on behalf of others." says Rev. Sandra Gray, VOACC Chaplain.

In this virtual series, we will look at the wisdom of healing through topics including: Mindful Conversations; Attention to One’s Mental Health; Spiritual Inclusiveness and Vulnerability to name a few.
To Learn more about Healing Conversations, and view our schedule of upcoming topics, click here.

To view last year's conversation recordings, click here.
Finding mental health support can be difficult even if you have a support system and insurance. If you are low-income, uninsured or underinsured, or belong to an underserved community, the road to mental wellness can be an ever steeper climb.

People Like Us is a community-wide campaign led by Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas to give hope, break the stigma and support recovery for underserved community members in Prince George’s and Baltimore Counties in Maryland.
Learn more about this exciting campaign here.

We also invite you to attend our monthly webinars. On October 15th we will be discussing "Substance Abuse Among Older Adults."
Learn more here.
The following is an excerpt of an article by Scott Pitts, Director of Loudoun Homeless Services Center. To read his entire article, click here.
The Homeless Population has long carried the banner for those that struggle with mental health and what Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas (VOACC) have experienced here at the Loudoun Homeless Service Center over the past few months should raise an alarm.

With October 10th being World Homeless Day, please bear with me as I try and explain how the struggles of those that thought it could get no worse have in fact… by a lot.
When people think about the homeless during quarantine it provokes a lot of thoughts and questions. How does someone without a home quarantine? If they don’t have a home anyway, does it really matter? A lot of places were placing homeless in hotels, isn’t that a dream for them? Of course, an individual without a place to stay is going to be adversely affected when everyone is told to “stay home.” The truth is though, that is just the tip of the iceberg and the issues go so much deeper.

The biggest issue that faced those that struggle with finding stable housing was the complete lack of mental health access. In a world that went completely virtual, those that could not participate were left behind. Without access to the internet or smartphones and libraries closed, how were individuals able to access online appointments with doctors and therapists to address their health needs? They didn’t. This means many of those we have served and worked to stabilize has had over a year with no access to the medical and mental health care they desperately need. The end result is we are seeing the population access our programs with greater needs than at any time I can remember in my 20 years working in human services.

It is not all doom and gloom, however. With all these increased challenges VOACC has taken it upon ourselves to rise to the challenge of those in need. Our staff here at Loudoun Homeless Services is increasing its staff training to include more Trauma Informed Management. We have re-engaged our community partners and volunteers and have already begun to see a change in the population we serve. We have worked with local medical professionals to bring them onsite to provide free medical and mental health screenings and prescriptions to help those we serve to stabilize. VOACC continues to work closely with local landlords, the county, Virginia’s Department of Housing and Community Development to find safe affordable places for individuals to obtain and begin to fully heal.
To learn more about the incredible work Scott and his staff are doing in Loudoun County, VA, click here.

To learn about all the homeless and supportive housing services
VOACC provides throughout our entire affiliate, click here.
Join us on Wednesday, October 13th at 12PM EST for a virtual tour of our VOA Hope Center! Since 1991, this center has offered clinic and community-based behavioral health and substance use recovery services to uninsured & underinsured DC residents.
Join us on Thursday, October 14th at 12PM for a virtual tour of our Virginia-based Supportive Services for Veteran Families program! You'll learn how we ensure over 350 veterans and their families obtain and maintain housing and access the resources they need to be independent.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Instagram: @NCADV
Twitter: @NCADV

Mental Illness Awareness Month
Facebook: @NAMI
Instagram: @namicommunicate
Twitter: @NAMIcommunicate
Linkedin: @NAMI

World Mental Health Day
Facebook: @WHO
Instagram: @WHO
Twitter: @WHO

World Homeless Day
Facebook: @WorldHomelessActionDay (Group)
Twitter: @HomelessDay

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

International Day to Eradicate Poverty
Facebook: @UnitedNations
Instagram: @unitednations
Twitter: @UN
LinkedIn: @united-nations
Save the Date

Our 12th annual Harvest for Hope campaign in support of our Virginia and DC programs is happening now! Learn more about how you can make a difference as we prepare to support those in need during the Holidays.

To learn more, visit www.voachesapeake.org/h4h2021.