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Villa's Flagler Housing & Homeless Services named Best Housing Program in Virginia

Flagler was presented with the Virginia Housing Award for Best Housing Program in the state at the annual Governor's Housing Conference for its successful rapid re-housing services. Nearly 800 housing advocates, providers and policy makers attended the conference this year.

Flagler team

In a press release about the awards, Governor Terry McAuliffe said, "Creating a stable place for our residents to live is a key component in our efforts to build a new Virginia economy. These housing awards recognize outstanding and innovative efforts in crafting effective solutions for the Commonwealth's complex array of housing needs. I applaud the winners for the great work they are doing."

Flagler completed its transition to the rapid re-housing model in 2013, and became one of the first three rapid re-housing providers in the nation to be certified by the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

We thank our many community partners for making Flagler's work possible. We are grateful for this recognition and will continue innovating practices to break the cycle of poverty for children and families.

Black Friday... Cyber Monday... #GivingTuesday!
Keep the holiday joy going after Thanksgiving by making a donation on #GivingTuesday, a national day for charitable giving.  A gift to St. Joseph's Villa helps children and families achieve brighter futures as they overcome homelessness, autism, mental illness and other serious adversities.

Click here to donate online. Remember to spread the word of your support by using the hashtag #GivingTuesday in your social media. Thank you for your generosity, and for believing in our children and families!

Giving Tuesday logo  

Sarah Dooley Center for Autism students gets new chance at public school
Renee was diagnosed with autism when she was four years old. Not long after she began kindergarten at public school, her mother, Kimberly, recognized that Renee's behaviors were interfering with her ability to learn. Renee had no means of communicating, and would often lash out and hit her teachers and classmates when her wants or needs were not met.

In her search for a school that would provide her daughter a more individualized approach to education, Kimberly found the Sarah Dooley Center for Autism at St. Joseph's Villa.

"The school felt like it was just right. I couldn't see her going anywhere else," she said.

At Sarah Dooley, Renee's teacher helped her communicate by labeling items in the classroom, from toys to food to technology. Renee learned to use new words, and how to ask for things she wanted without getting frustrated. After gaining the basic ability to say "yes" or "no," she continued to develop new communication skills that unlocked her world.  Learning to communicate enabled Renee to read, solve math problems, and engage her community on field trips to places like restaurants and movie theaters.

Renee returned to public school this year and is doing very well in fourth grade. Kimberly says that Renee is talking more than ever, hardly has behavioral issues, and is much more flexible in trying new things.

"I absolutely loved her teachers and the staff," said Kimberly. "They are the best. They helped Renee come as far as she has."

Visit our website to learn more about how the Sarah Dooley Center for Autism helps students lead fuller and more independent lives.

Villa students learn career and life lessons through partnership with Habitat for Humanity
A new partnership with Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity is helping youth at St. Joseph's Villa develop leadership and teamwork skills through real work experience. Students from the Villa's Brook Road Academy, Dooley Center for Alternative Education, Dooley School and Sarah Dooley Center for Autism who participate in our Career and Transition Services perform jobs tailored to their abilities at the Habitat ReStore.

Villa students at ReStore

As students manage inventory, stock items and clean, among other responsibilities, they are able to interact with customers and receive career insights from Habitat's management team.

"Our goal is for the students to learn from constructive feedback given outside the Villa, and apply those lessons to their future careers," said Matthew Kreydatus, Director of the Villa's Career and Transition Services.

On top of building their resumes and business connections, Villa students are learning about community needs and the importance of contributing to causes like Habitat for Humanity. By serving the ReStore, students themselves are changing the lives of others.

Villa hosts VAISEF Legislator's Day
VAISEF Legislator_s Day

On November 13, the Villa welcomed Delegate Lamont Bagby, Legislative Assistant to Delegate Jennifer McClellan Abbey Phillips, local education agencies and parents for VAISEF Legislator's Day (Virginia Association of Independent Specialized Education Facilities). In a highly interactive session, attendees spoke from professional and personal experience about how private individualized education strengthens children, families and the community. Thanks to VAISEF for the opportunity to serve as the host site for this valuable engagement.

Donor spotlight: Murugesa family brings spirit of giving from abroad
Murugesa family
"Do something for God, and God will help you."

Balaji Murugesa lives by these words. They were instilled in him by his parents as he witnessed their passion for charitable giving in Chennai, India. When Balaji's career brought him to Richmond in 2010, he immediately looked for ways to carry on his parents' tradition of philanthropy - particularly by helping children in need.

An internet search for children's nonprofits led Balaji to discover St. Joseph's Villa. After participating in a campus tour, he and his wife, Revathi, were overcome with emotion.

"We knew right away how precious our gift would be here," said Balaji. "We had no children at the time, and there were so many children in need at the Villa." Choosing to forgo gifts to each other, Balaji and Revathi have made fourteen personal gifts to the Villa since last year. They have changed countless lives at St. Joseph's Villa by acting on their desire to help those less fortunate.

Children in Crisis Stabilization Unit find therapy in yoga
Project Yoga Richmond has teamed with our Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) to teach kids how to cope with their emotions through yoga. Yoga activities help the CSU offer a holistic approach to treatment by reinforcing the impact of physical health on mental health and increased self-esteem.

Yoga therapist Carolyn Keller Sells volunteers at the CSU each week. "By the end of each class all the kids seem to have a more peaceful energy," she said. "Just one hour of yoga can begin the transformation from being anxious or depressed to calm and relaxed. Even kids who "don't do yoga" have realized that it calms them down, and say they would do it again.

CSU staff have also engaged in self-care with the help of Project Yoga. Sells provided the team with a session of "Laughter Yoga" that combines laughter exercises with yoga breathing, bringing more oxygen to the body and increasing energy levels.

CSU program manager Christa Koshock said, "Yoga has helped the CSU with team building and emphasized the importance of taking care of ourselves as mental health professionals."

Crisis Stabilization Unit
Crisis Stabilization Unit
In this Issue
How to Give

Make an Online Gift
Your gift helps transform the life of each child and family we serve. Learn more.

Donate Goods
Our Donation Center welcomes clothing, housewares and school supplies for families in need. Learn more.

Volunteers are essential to the Villa's daily operations. We have a wide variety and individual and group opportunities available. Learn more.

St. Joseph's Villa Season of Hope
Join us in spreading holiday cheer by sponsoring a Villa child. Click here to find out how you can fulfill the wishes of children and families who otherwise might not receive a gift this season.

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Did You Know?
St. Joseph's Villa is the longest serving children's nonprofit in the United States, celebrating 
181 years
this month..