Social Work Month (March 2018)
Each year, indeed each month, there are a number of opportunities for citizens and residents to honor those among us whose history or contribution to our nation requires a pause for reflection and acknowledgement. This month is a significant one for me as CEO of Cornerstones because it focuses on some of our most critical staff – Social Workers – and I would like to invite you to take a moment to pause in recognition of our Social Workers who have chosen a path in life to work for the welfare of others; whose compassion and resourcefulness enable many in our community to weather the storms of life and feel connected and hopeful for a better day to come.
Cornerstones has several employees on staff who hold a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Social Work and/or a certification to practice as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Such a degree requires not only rigorous academic coursework, but hours of practical experience. Each year Cornerstones hires up to seven Social Work interns from George Mason who need that experience, and who roll up their sleeves to support staff across all divisions and learn firsthand the ropes of Cornerstones’ integrated care management system.
Integrated care management is a customized “wrap-around” support service offered to community members who need to obtain or maintain stability and journey toward self-sufficiency. The wrap-around services include: client-identified goals and action plan development; referrals to resources, such as emergency food and financial assistance, dental or medical assistance and benefits; opportunities to engage in direct programming and services at Cornerstones, such as housing counseling and eviction prevention, employment services, educational assistance, financial literacy, and citizenship classes; and access to partner resources and programs such as ESL and parenting classes, pro bono legal support, childcare, and computer courses.
Cornerstones’ Social Workers, working across all our program and service areas, are key to this integrated care management process and thus building the resiliency of individuals and families who have hit hard times and are struggling to keep their heads above water in our high-cost-of-living community.
This year I would like to draw attention to two of our many Social Workers, both of whom have been with the organization for over 15 years: Sandra Jessup and Jeanine Gravette are dedicated to enhancing the well-being of others and meeting the basic needs of all people, especially the most vulnerable in our community.
I hope you will take a moment to learn about their inspiring work.
Cornerstones of Our Community Annual Appeal – Because of You (December 2017)
Because of YOU and the support of those like you, Cornerstones is able to help more than 15,000 neighbors each year who are in need of housing, childcare, food or financial assistance. Your support enables us to meet families and individuals wherever they are on their journey to self-sufficiency, families like this young mother, who along with her two daughters, came to Cornerstones’ Embry Rucker Community Shelter to flee domestic violence.
Her Cornerstones care manager (seated left in this photo) worked with her to find employment and legal help, as well counseling for the violence she experienced. She and her daughters lived in Cornerstones’ housing while she attended Cornerstones’ financial literacy, ESOL and parenting courses, determined to gain self-sufficiency. She maintained steady employment and over time saved enough to buy her first home, where she and her daughters can thrive! She came to Cornerstones this month to turn in her Cornerstones housing keys, and to thank the care manager who walked this journey with her!
You’ll soon receive our Cornerstones of Our Community Year-End Appeal asking for your gift. If you would like to donate today, please click here . With your gift, thousands of individuals and families — families like this mother and her daughters — will have hope for a future that may have otherwise been out of reach.
In addition to our profound gratitude, I extend our warmest wishes to you for a happy holiday season.
Kerrie B. Wilson
The majority of people without homes in our community are children and working families. (September 2017)
Many of us returned to school or work today after enjoying a long Labor Day weekend, celebrating at barbecues, picnics and parades with families and friends.
On Labor Day, we may not have been thinking about those experiencing homelessness. What’s the association between homelessness and Labor Day, a day “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers”?
Did you know… the majority of people without homes in our community are children and working families? 66% percent of adults in families that are homeless are employed.
The real challenge in Northern Virginia is that it takes an average household income of $70,560 to cover the basics of housing, transportation, food and clothing, without even thinking about other extras.
Low incomes and expensive housing are the main reasons for homelessness in our community. The average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment is more than $1,700. Thousands of individuals and families in Fairfax County spend more than half of their income each month on housing costs.
For example, a teacher with a starting annual salary of $47,046 would need to work 11 years before earning enough to rent the average one bedroom apartment, a police officer with a starting salary of $50,264 would need to work 5 years, a public health nurse would need to work 6 years before earning enough to rent the average one bedroom unit. For an individual earning minimum wage, it is impossible to pay for an apartment — even if you work 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.
Cornerstones reached a milestone in 2015 when it doubled its stock of local, affordable housing, but we would need to double that again year after year to meet the projected 3,000 new households with extremely low- and very low incomes who will be working and living in the greater Reston-Herndon area over the next 15 years.
What can be done?
By investing more intentionally in an effort to increase housing availability locally, Cornerstones and Fairfax County Office to Prevent and End Homelessness (OPEH) seek to uphold and support the “One Fairfax” resolution that speaks to the County’s commitment to create the conditions for all residents to “live, learn, work, and play” and have equitable access to opportunities that enable them to participate and prosper in Fairfax County.
Recent CEO Messages
The Path of Totality (August 2017)
Equity is Opportunity Plus Access (June 2017)
Volunteers are our Cornerstones (April 2017)
November is Homeless Awareness Month (November 2016)
September is “Fruits and Veggies: More Matters Month” (September 2016)
The State of Homelessness In Our Community (March 2016)
Our Impact FY 2015 (February 2016)
A Place Called Reston (September 2015)
You can make a difference in the lives of children (August 2015)
National Children’s Awareness Month (June 2015)
We applaud our Volunteers! (April 2015)
Investing in families strengthens our community, FairfaxTimes.com, March 16, 2015
Connecting to End Homelessness: Letter to the Editor, Kerrie Wilson and Sara Leonard, Fairfax Connection, September 25 – October 1, 2014, Page 8.
Housing Values On the Rise; Opinion article, Cornerstones’ CEO, Kerrie Wilson, Reston Connection, October 8-14, 2014, Page 6.
On Health and Community (February 2015)
Reflections – Stu Rakoff (January 2014)
Homelessness in Perspective (November 2013)