The shovels and hard hats were just for show on May 5 at the Youth For Tomorrow (YFT) campus in Bristow, Va., but outpouring of support was plenty real.
A group that’s devoted to helping the lives on young people in need, YFT, has partnered with an organization that’s devoted to housing people in need, HomeAid Northern Virginia, for the second time in as many years. HomeAid Northern Virginia, based in Chantilly, Va., has a big rolodex of builders in the area – it’s completed more than 100 construction and renovation projects to homeless shelters and supportive housing properties in its 15 years – and for this project it placed a call to Toll Brothers, which has offices in Ashburn, Va.
Bill Gilligan, regional president of Toll, was quickly on board. Toll agreed to be “builder captain” for the project that, when complete, will house up to 36 girls age 11 to 17 , including pregnant teens, young mothers, homeless and runaway youth, and victims of sex trafficking.
“It’s our corporate duty to give back to the community,” Gilligan said.
And give back Toll will. The home will be roughly 5,000 square feet and is targeted for completion in September.
Prior to the groundbreaking ceremony last week, Toll secured commitments from roughly 50 trade partners in the area with dozens more expected to come on board as the project gets underway. “Without them, we couldn’t undertake a project like this and experience the significant cost savings that we’re anticipating…without the donation of time and materials by these partners who are committed, as we are, to a better tomorrow for today’s youth,” Gilligan said.
Through the contributions of Toll and the trade partners, a savings of about 50% will be realized during the building process. The rest will be paid for from YFT’s budget.
Because YFT is a well-established organization – it was founded by former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs in 1986 and currently serves more than 500 boys and girls on its 215-acre campus – Greg Carter, president of the HomeAid Northern Virginia board, says it’s easy to work with. “Often, we’re trying to find organizations that are ready to go with a project and often, if you’re going to build ground-up, it’s hard to find a lot,” Carter said. YFT, he added, has the land and resources to make a project like this happen quickly.
HomeAid Northern Virginia, with help from builder captain Reston, Va.-based Stanley Martin Homes, built a similar home for YFT that opened last December. Shortly before the ground breaking ceremony last week, Carter toured the home, which is serving about 35 girls, and said it was a joy to see the home full of such energy. “There’s a lot of pride in being a part of that,” he said.
This will be Toll’s first home for YFT, but it’s no stranger to HomeAid Northern Virginia. Over the years, it has competed three projects for the organization. Gilligan says it’s part of the company culture to give back and the builder also allows its employees to take time off to get involved with local charities that they feel are worthwhile. Gilligan anticipates many of his employees volunteering on the YFT project on their days off.
During the ceremony, which was also attended by a group of girls from YFT, Susan LaPierre, president of YFT’s Board of Trustees, said for many of the girls who will soon live in this new home, it will be their first real home.
“Think of the child that’s 15 years old,” she asked the dozens of people in the crowd. “It’s a cold world out there. Maybe she has no one to guide her, give her support, help her with her education at school, give her a hug, and worse off, she has nowhere to sleep, no place to call home. And that is what Youth For Tomorrow gives these young people: A place to call home.”
In a few short months, 36 more girls will have that opportunity.