It all started in the early 1970s when community members began noticing increasing numbers of young people running away from their homes. The teens were looking for help at local churches who were unable to accommodate them. At that moment in 1972, we stepped in. 50 Years later, we’re still here, offering safe havens and opportunities to youth and their families experiencing crisis.
Who better to share our story and a special anniversary message than our CEO, Judith Dittman, who has led the way for Second Story for 27 years.
As Judith explains, we formed as the “Juvenile Assistance of McLean” with the goal of ensuring all youth in our community had a safe place to stay. Later, we became known as “Alternative House,” because we offered youth an alternative to living on the streets. Over the years, we’ve added programs and services. Our staff, volunteer, and partnership numbers have grown.
Today, we are “Second Story,” a name that reflects who we are. We believe your first story includes things you can’t change: your parents, community, and level of opportunity. Your “second story” is the new chapter you write and includes your goals, dreams, career, family, and the life you build.
For more than five decades, we’ve helped youth and their families write their second stories by stepping in at critical moments. As a result, we estimate that Second Story has helped more than 50 thousand youth in the last 50 years.
We couldn’t have reached this important milestone without you! Take a stroll through history by visiting our interactive timeline. In addition, we’ll have more surprises in the months ahead, so come back often to continue the celebration.
Thank you for standing with us for the past 50 years. We look forward to the next 50!
A “coffee house” project was started on “an experimental short-term basis” at McLean Baptist Church, as reported in the 1971 Annual Report for local group SHARE, Inc. This coffee house provided interaction between adults and youth. Youth in crises began interacting with local adults, prompting the adults to seek a way to help them.
“Juvenile Assistance of McLean” starts offering safe housing to teens in a trailer on the grounds of Lewinsville Presbyterian Church, calling it “an Alternative House.” Jan Rochelle is the director of Alternative House.
The annual budget of Alternative House in 1973 is $71,675.
Alternative House was already handling “thousands of emergency telephone calls,” according to the Youth Committee Report in 1974. Joe Fidelli becomes the director of Alternative House.
Alternative House is described as “a three-phased program consisting of preventative counseling, temporary in-house residence, and follow-up” in the SHARE, Inc. newsletter.
Nearly 300 youth were served in 1976, and counselors conducted 1,500 individual and 250 family sessions, according to the annual report.
“The staff at Alternative House consists of a director, four full-time counselors, a night resident counselor, administrative coordinator, a family counselor, and a volunteer coordinator who supervises 30 volunteers from the local community,” according to an Alternative House brochure.
Juvenile Assistance of McLean formally changes its name to “Alternative House,” its most popular program. The Executive Director is Robb Hasencamp.
Jim Warwick becomes the Executive Director of Alternative House.
What was then called “the Emergency Shelter for Teenagers” (now Second Story for Teens in Crisis) moves from its former location at 2009 Gallows Road to its current location at 2100 Gallows Rd, Vienna, Virginia.
Alternative House begins its Street Outreach Program to reach out to young people in crises in Fairfax County, beginning its Community-Based Services program with just three counselors in the Culmore, Springfield, and Route 1 areas offering food, clothing, supplies, counseling, and support.
Kaleidoscope, a 90-day residential program for children ages five to 12 who experienced severe abuse, opens its doors. It was an effort to reach children who by their profile and experiences were more likely to come to the Emergency Shelter as they got older.
The first Transitional Living Program for young people experiencing homelessness, 16 to 21 years old, opens.
Judith Dittman becomes the Executive Director of Alternative House.
Alternative House expands its Community-Based programs by opening the Culmore Teen Center to provide recreational and educational services to young people in the 7th through 12th grade.
The first Transitional Living Program closes due to a loss of funding.
Home Aid is established in Northern Virginia by the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association. Their first project is a major renovation of Alternative House’s Emergency Shelter for Teenagers. Home Aid completely remodeled the interior of the home which was deteriorating after 20 years of hard use. They also doubled the square footage of the house and added a basement to store needed supplies. Following the renovation we were able to house two young people in each a room instead of four youth in each small bedroom.
Alternative House opens a new transitional living program, Assisting Young Mothers (now Second Story for Young Mothers), and begins providing safe havens, support, and services to pregnant and parenting young women, ages 16-24, experiencing homelessness.
The Culmore Safe Youth Project opens to provide drop-in after-school services to youth in grades four to six.
The Annandale Safe Youth Project opens to provide drop-in after-school services to youth in grades four to six.
The Homeless Youth Initiative (now part of Second Story for Homeless Youth) opens in partnership with Fairfax County Public Schools to help homeless high school students who are without the support of a parent or guardian.
The second Transitional Living Program opens in 2012, expanding the Homeless Youth Initiative so that young people ages 18-22 can get the support they need to walk the path to productive adulthood.
Culmore and Springfield Neighborhood Initiatives contracts awarded, expanding the services available to families and communities in Culmore and Springfield.
Springfield Safe Youth Project opens to provide drop-in after-school services to youth in grades four to six.
Alternative House changes its name to “Second Story” and begins writing a new narrative to expand upon its mission of serving youth in need.