June 13, 2016

In keeping with its mission to create sustainable homes and communities, CHP employees and board members volunteered on June 9 during National NeighborWorks Week to perform minor home repairs and landscaping work at a Blacksburg, Va. home owned and operated by the New River Family Shelter (NRFS). CHP was joined by staff volunteers from Christiansburg's Home Depot and the Community Foundation of the New River Valley.

NRFS is a coordinated full-service provider for non-domestic violence homeless families with children, taking households from being literally homeless in a shelter to regaining stability in permanent housing. Currently, NRFS provides emergency shelter for up to six families with children in scattered shelter sites and hotels. NRFS also provides case management services to assist families in their quest for self-sufficiency.

NRFS Executive Director Carol Johnson explained, "Families come to stay with us and they're able to take a deep breath and know that they don't have to worry about where they're going to stay on a particular night, and then they can address those issues and barriers that have lead to them becoming homeless and that are preventing them from obtaining permanent housing."

The historic Blacksburg home on which CHP worked is known as "The Haven" and dates to 1790; it currently provides shelter for up to two families at a time. Due to the age of the home and limited resources available through NRFS for maintenance and repairs, the home was in need of a number of upgrades such as interior painting, new linoleum flooring, repair of the exterior front steps, installation of a new play set, gutter cleaning, tree trimming, and grounds clean up and landscaping. Approximately 30 total volunteers spent the day completing such tasks so that NRFS residents have a safer, more comfortable place to stay during their housing transition.

To improve the energy efficiency of the historical home, CHP’s Energy Solutions team also weatherized the home in mid-May. The work should reduce the home’s annual energy consumption by up to 30 percent, resulting in lower utility payments for NRFS.

"It's been thrilling to get the support of another nonprofit in the area," remarked Johnson. "The work done on the house makes for a more welcoming and inviting environment for our families, who are under a great deal of stress. This just makes things more comfortable for them as they recover from a housing crisis. We're also excited about the improved energy efficiency of the home, which will help us save money that can then be applied to direct services. And because it's a much older house, it was typically very drafty and cold in the winter months. Thanks to the weatherization work, the home should be much warmer for our residents next winter."

CHP Communications Manager Melissa Hammond said, "CHP was very excited to work on this project because, like NRFS, we are passionate about providing healthy and safe housing for residents in our community. It was a great opportunity for our staff to share our skills and resources with another nonprofit in the area while getting to know local community partners in a fun and collaborative environment."

Funding for the project was provided by the Community Foundation of the New River Valley, Home Depot, Shelton's Tree and Landscape, and NeighborWorks America.

About National NeighborWorks Week
NeighborWorks Week is a weeklong celebration in which thousands of volunteers come together to help make their communities healthy, sustainable places. In 2016, groups around the country held more than 200 events where thousands of neighbors and volunteers were engaged in community improvement projects. The events included rehabbing and repairing homes, beautifying parks, conducting neighborhood tours, and hosting events that educated and informed residents about financial literacy, homeownership and more. “Creating Opportunity” was this year’s theme.