Cornerstones Faith Partners In Action: Delivering Stability, Empowerment and Hope To Our Vulnerable Neighbors In Need.
Springtime is a special time of year for many people of different faiths. For Christians, it is a time to celebrate Easter and resurrection. For Jewish people it is a time to commemorate Passover and Exodus. Buddhists celebrate the birth of Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. For Hindus, it is a time to celebrate the new year and renewal of life. Muslims celebrate one of the central tenets of their faith observing Ramadan. Other faiths also have their own special celebrations during springtime. No matter the faith, springtime celebrations and traditions offering renewal, hope, and joy are meaningful to everyone, and can offer opportunities for people to live their faith through others in their community.
“Sharing our traditions with our neighbors and community opens eyes and hearts and extends the knowledge that our traditions and stories are the threads that weave the fabric of our collective experiences that enrich all of our lives.”
– Davood Sedaghatfar, Shoreshim Jewish Community
Faith organizations play an invaluable role in any community, and share a goal of helping people find a sense of fellowship by encouraging people to come together in service to one another. Cornerstones recognizes the power of this harmony, of rallying community members as a force for change. And it’s these community members, working in partnership, that create a network of support to help vulnerable neighbors in need. Our comprehensive programming means that we successfully work with our faith partners to offer hope for tomorrow, today.
For more than 50 years, our mission has been rooted in interfaith leadership and focuses on three guiding principles: Stability, Empowerment, and Hope. We show love by connecting individuals and families in need with holistic, integrated services and programs. These programs help them achieve self-sufficiency to build stable, healthy lives with less stress and fear. Our programs are centered around housing, hunger reduction and education, providing a strong network of support that our neighbors in need can lean on. Investing in the resiliency of children and families has always been a guidepost to help vulnerable neighbors navigate through difficult times.
Originally founded by six local congregations, today Cornerstones proudly partners with 14 sponsoring religious organizations on our Board of Directors and over 100 religious organizations from diverse faith backgrounds who work together, through Cornerstones programs, to be part of the solution to provide Stability, Empowerment, and Hope for our most vulnerable neighbors. Many of our volunteers, because of their faith communities, have a strong desire to give back to their neighbors, and support them in whatever way they are able to.
“As a person of faith, I volunteer at Cornerstones because I feel like regardless of your faith, whatever you believe in, it’s really important to give back to the world. I feel like that’s our purpose.”
– Adrian Chadwell, Volunteer and Donor
Throughout the calendar year, these congregations provide vital financial and in-kind donations as well as actively support Cornerstones’ Assistance Services and Pantry Program (ASAPP), Hypothermia Prevention Program, and our Back-to-School, Thanksgiving Food, and Gifts for Kids annual drives. Their contributions of time, talent, and gifts are essential, and we are grateful for their partnership support.
Sharing Food and Connecting Through Community
The sacred and ancient act of breaking bread is a common and symbolic gesture across many religions representing unity, fellowship, and the sharing of a common bond with one’s community. No matter the faith, breaking bread serves as a powerful and unifying act.
Sharing food through food drives is one of the most powerful ways we can connect as a community and put advocacy into action. Cornerstones uses food drives to provide food and other vital necessities to those who are struggling to get by or are unable to afford enough food, especially during the holiday season. Our faith partners are an integral part of the success of our food drives and we are so grateful for their partnership—a great example of Faith Partners In Action!
“Cornerstones gave me back to myself”
– Rev Elithia, Program Participant
“And thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you very much for being here and helping so many people. It’s very helpful when you have small children and you don’t have a job, it’s a huge help.”
– Thanksgiving Food Drive Recipient
Thanks to the incredible generosity of growing network of faith, corporate, and community partners, Cornerstones collected 5,400 pounds of food and toiletries for our Assistance Services and Pantry Program. Every November, dedicated community volunteers, generous donors and our faith partners come together to bring our Thanksgiving Food Drive to life. Because of the community’s support, our Assistance Services and Food Pantry are able to serve more than 1,000 families with Thanksgiving Food boxes and much needed gift cards. In addition, we provide approximately 300 food boxes to LINK Against Hunger and 96 food boxes to FACETS and the Legal Aid Justice Center. Last year, thanks to our community’s Scouting for Food Drive, we received 12,600 pounds of food to help restock our food pantry, ensuring our neighbors in need have proper access to food. This drive is just one way that we are able to give back to our community each year.
Partnering to Inspire and Uplift
Why have faith partners chosen Cornerstones? Sarah Casey, Director of Faith Based Engagement and Community Outreach at Cornerstones says, “Faith communities have a particular burden and privilege at the same time to be in and of their communities and to approach their community’s needs with authenticity and vulnerability. And I think Cornerstones provides folks a way to do that.”Because of the partnerships we have built with our faith partners and their contributions to our mission, we’re able to do so much more to bring stability, empowerment, and hope to our community. From back to school drives and even efforts to bring holiday cheer, our faith partners are living their faith by helping others in our community when they need it most, bringing stability and empowerment along with their efforts.
“We give thanks for people with a vision to eliminate hunger in this area. With a vision big enough to understand it’s not just for here. It’s for all around and for a church that responds with generous hearts and gives so that other people might eat, have security, and find homes to live in.”
– Rev. Barbara Miner, Floris United Methodist Church
Education is the foundation for future achievement for the youngest members of our community. Equipping them with the tools they need to thrive and succeed at school can also bring hope and empowerment through a backpack. With the greater community’s support, Cornerstones distributed over 1,900 backpacks to 16 local schools, for students in need for the 2022-2023 school year. Faith partners like, Christ the King Lutheran Church, Christ The Servant Lutheran Church, Congregation Beth Emeth, Heritage Fellowship Church, Martin Luther King, Jr. Christian Church, St. John Neumann Catholic Community, St. Thomas à Becket Catholic Church, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church and United Christian Parish were all pivotal in making our 2022 drive a success. Prioritizing our students and providing them with the supplies they need to learn in school is just one way that we invest in their future – and the future of our community.
A family facing financial hardships can be especially challenging for children during the holidays. Something as small as a gift card can bring so much hope during the holiday season. With the support of the local community advocates, volunteers, and faith partners like Christ The King Lutheran Church, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, St. John Neumann Catholic Church, St. Thomas à Becket Catholic Church, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church and the Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston – and their generous donations of gift cards, we’re able to provide a gift that allows the recipient to purchase exactly what they need. These gift cards can be the difference between a child having nothing or having something special during the holiday season.
As we enter spring celebrations, we may find ourselves at our own tables breaking bread with those we love and celebrating the hope of spring. When we have more than we need, let’s build a bigger table, not a higher hurdle. Join Cornerstones and our community this season in building a table with room for all and the shared goal of creating stability, empowerment, and hope for Northern Virginia residents.
Since 1970, Cornerstones has worked purposefully with a diverse network of faith-based organizations, corporate partners, donors, advocates, and volunteers who are deeply committed to strengthening families living and working along the Dulles Corridor. Our caring and generous community enables us to provide a comprehensive, holistic approach that helps people rebuild their self-sufficiency, resiliency, and hope for a better future.