(From left) Stephen Amoako, James Williams and Kaleabe Tewolde. Amoako and Tewolde describe Williams as their mentor.
Photo by Marissa Beale/The Connection
FACETS held its largest annual fundraiser this past weekend at the Fairview Park Marriott in Falls Church. Attendees had a chance to hear from those whose lives were touched by homelessness at the “Opening Doors” Benefit Breakfast.
“It’s hard to share my life story in five minutes,” said Angela Peterson, one of a number of FACETS beneficiaries who spoke to guests about lives in poverty. She described her life as one filled with drugs, crime, abandonment, homelessness and even rape. Yet through the help of the organization she was able to become a homeowner. “FACETS didn’t give me a hand out, but a hand up,” said Peterson. She described her life, now, as one of acceptance, deliverance, good times, gratitude and love.
From 2008 to 2014 there was a 34 percent decrease in homelessness in Fairfax County, according to executive director of FACETS, Margi Preston. Still there are over 1200 that are still homeless. To combat this, FACETS has three different programs to support those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
“The length of time [someone] spends in FACETS depends on the program and the person,” said Preston. “The goal is always self-sufficiency.” The three differed programs are “Preventing and Ending Homelessness,” “Housing Services to Bring People Home” and “Education and Community Development to Break the Cycle of Poverty.” The goal is to eradicate homelessness in the near future.
The work that FACETS does in the lives of area youth was demonstrated through Kaleabe Tewolde and Stephen Amoako, seniors at Fairfax High School who worked on an award-winning program to fight alcohol and drug abuse among the youth. Both boys were mentored by FACETS employee James Williams.
“I’ve been going [to FACETS] since fourth grade,” said Tewolde. “I didn’t even think college was even an option.” But now, both boys will attend college in the fall, and plan to give back to FACETS when they are older.
“I would not have had as much community outreach without FACETS,” said Amoako.
Several were moved by the story of one man who, despite a salary of over $100,000, became homeless after an injury prevented him from being able to work. But the goal at FACETS is always to move clients toward self-sufficiency.
“Because of FACETS I was able to get through a challenging time and get a new start at life,” said Terrence Fikes, who moved into his own home in December 2014.
A number of community leaders and representatives attended the meeting, including the office of Senator Mark Warner, the office of Congressman Gerry Connolly, delegates Ken Plum and Kathleen Murphy, Supervisors John Cook and John Foust, Councilmember Grace Han Wolf, State Sen.r Chap Peterson and NBC4 Northern Virginia bureau chief, Julie Carey who emceed the event.
“Where government ends, nonprofits begin,” said Councilmember Grace Han Wolf after the event about the role of FACETS in the community.
FACETS operates throughout Fairfax County and has numerous events, volunteer opportunities and more that community members can join. For more information, visit facetscares.org.