Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.
Beth El House (BEH) began when a group of visionaries from Beth El Hebrew Congregation's Social Action Committee met to discuss how tikkun olam (healing the world) could become a reality in Alexandria, Virginia. This group decided to establish a home for homeless families working toward independence, thus healing the world one family at a time. By 1992, BEH was established as a tax-exempt nonprofit non-sectarian corporation that welcomed homeless families regardless of race or ethnicity.
Although BEH is a separately incorporated entity, our program continues because of the generosity of Beth El Hebrew Congregation and its congregants. BEH continues to receive tremendous support from the congregation: our meetings are held at the Temple, we are able to solicit financial support, we receive goods and services from very generous congregants, an annual BEH shabbat service is held at the Temple, Religious School students participate in an annual Walk-a-thon to raise awareness about homelessness, a monthly article is included in the Temple Bulletin, and BEH receives support and encouragement from committed clergy and staff.
For more information about Beth El House please call Melinda (703) 569-5443 or email her at [email protected] or Melanie at (703) 360-6296 or click here for email. You can also visit the website at www.bethelhouseva.org. Your involvement means that this vital program will continue to offer services to our community and make tikkun olam a reality in Alexandria, Virginia.
A volunteer board of directors, mostly members of Beth El Hebrew Congregation, is responsible for policy and oversight of Beth El House, Inc. The Board meets monthly at Beth El Hebrew Congregation. Board members actively support Beth El House, both financially and by volunteering their time and skills. The board employs a part-time executive director, who administers the day-to-day operation of the program and supervises staff, a case manager and a financial manager.
The Resident Selection and Services Committee works closely with the executive director and the case manager to oversee operations and ensure that appropriate services are being provided to the residents. This committee also interviews prospective residents, approves admission into the program, and works with the case manager. The case manager works with our resident families to prepare for living independently. This support includes assistance and instruction in managing personal finances, employment skills, parenting, household organization and ensuring the well-being of the resident children. The case manager provides referrals to public social services for which the residents may be eligible, including food stamps and public health care, and assists residents in obtaining public housing as they prepare to leave Beth El House. The case manager is also responsible for identifying potential new residents when a vacancy occurs, and referring promising candidates to the Resident Selection and Services Committee for approval.
BEH enables formerly homeless families to work toward self-sufficiency and confidence in three crucial areas of life: economic stability, emotional well-being, and interpersonal relationships. BEH provides subsidized housing and a nurturing, but structured, environment so that residents will be able to make the transition to independent living for themselves and their families.
The program provides a safe, supportive and constructive environment. The supplemental support these families receive from a professional case manager and therapist is the cornerstone of their success. Families in our program receive life-skills training, education and/or job training, mental health counseling, nutrition education, and financial and parenting classes.
Families may live at Beth El House for up to two years and also receive a year of follow-up services upon their graduation. Residents are required to follow program rules and attend monthly Mothers' Meetings. A family graduating from Beth El House leaves with skills that will ensure their continued independent living and self-sufficiency.