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Opportunities Abound at Family Shelter

Named after former Board of Supervisors Chairman Kate Hanley, the new 16,931-square-foot shelter will mainly serve single mothers with children, mostly elementary-school age and younger.

The building itself is mostly two stories, with a residential appearance compatible with its neighborhood, and it will house up to 20 families — 60 people total. The two-story wing contains 24 bedrooms. Four pod areas each have six bedrooms and three bathrooms.

The living room and central dining room face the back and the playground and outdoor sitting area. The part of the building that's 1 1/2 stories faces Route 29 and will be used for offices and classes upstairs. (Volunteers from the Junior League of Northern Virginia and Ford Motor Co. helped paint the rooms and assemble furniture).

According to Kathy Froyd, director of the Children, Youth and Families division of the county's Department of Family Services, the waiting list to enter the county's three other family shelters is usually 60-70 families long.

But, she said, "The goal is to get people out of the shelter, as soon as possible, so they can live with their families and then work on their issues. Families can make a lot more progress if they have a roof over their heads."

Fairfax County Human Services will do the initial screening of families applying for the shelter. Workers will assess people's needs and, if there's no other place for them to go, they'll be added to the shelter list.

Adults staying at the Hanley Shelter will be expected to go to work or prepare for and seek employment. Children will attend local schools or be in day care. Transportation will be provided, and clients will receive case management, job training and other social services. They can gain experience on computers and will be able to look up job opportunities in an employment library.

However, the shelter staff intends for people to find new accommodations within about 60 days. Then Shelter House will provide them with services and community after-care, for possibly up to six months.

The Hanley Shelter advisory board will be a liaison to the community to identify and develop needed resources for the shelter residents. And several open houses will be held so neighbors may visit the facility, meet the staff and families, observe the programs and learn about volunteer opportunities.

<mh>To Volunteer

<bt>Individuals, groups and businesses may help the shelter families by tutoring a child, mentoring a parent, helping at special events, greeting visitors at the front desk, helping the shelter staff with administrative tasks, and helping a family move its belongings from the shelter into a new home.

For more information about volunteer opportunities at the Hanley shelter, call the community coordinator at 571-522-6800 or e-mail volunteer.hanley@shelterhouse.org.

<mh>Donations Needed

<bt>Donations of certain items are also greatly needed and will be accepted by the staff, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Especially needed are: Full-size, personal-hygiene supplies for adults and children; diapers and wipes; school supplies for all grades; children's snacks; children's craft items such as coloring books, construction paper, small scissors, etc.; employment-related books for teens and adults; and books on resumé-writing and interviewing for jobs.