Last year alone, 486 volunteers donated 8,486 hours of time to Second Story!
To all of our volunteers, including those who are new and those who’ve stood with us for the past 50 years, we say THANK YOU!
In honor of National Volunteer Month, we’d like to share some select stories of volunteers who generously donate their time, skills, and energy through a variety of roles. Together, we help youth and their families receive the support they need at critical moments so all young people in our community have the chance to grow and thrive. If you are interested in finding a volunteer role that suits you, visit us here.
Meet St. Thomas Episcopal Church in McLean!
St. Thomas Rector Fran Gardner-Smith shares why St. Thomas continues to volunteer with Second Story: “Because we love Second Story! And there are so many ways that our congregation can help.
St. Thomas has been working with Second Story for far longer than I’ve been at St. Thomas. If I had to guess, it’s probably close to 10 years.
St. Thomas appreciates all the work that Second Story does to address causes of homelessness in youth and to provide all kinds of programmatic interventions for youth who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless. I’m particularly impressed with Second Story in the Community and the young mothers’ program.
Second Story is effective. And there are so many things that can be done to be helpful. Any idea we’ve come up with, Second Story has embraced and welcomed. Housing costs in this area are high and needs are great.”
Meet Stephanie Johnson-Graves, Motion Designer & Illustrator!
“My volunteer work with Second Story actually began when it was called Alternative House and I was working with a corporate volunteer team. When Covid started and I couldn’t volunteer in person, I looked for other ways to help. I was lucky enough to hear back from the wonderful folks at Second Story, and now I help when I can doing small animations and such for social. I think it’s important to know that volunteering isn’t always in person or manual labor; sometimes your personal and professional skills can make a big difference, even from home.”
Meet the Optimist Club of Greater Vienna!
Laurie Cole shares why the Optimist Club of Greater Vienna chooses to lend a hand.
“Our Optimist Club of Greater Vienna is dedicated to supporting youth in our community in a variety of ways. Mostly, this means raising money and then making donations…Our relationship with Second Story gives us an opportunity to interact with kids directly.
When I was Immediate Past-President of our club, I suggested we invite someone from (then) Alternative House to speak. Jade came, and wowed and inspired us that this was a group we needed to be more engaged with. My original thought was that our club could cook dinner once a month with the kids at the shelter on Gallows Road. It turned out that they had a very full calendar of cooking support! I think Christine suggested we consider doing something with the Culmore Teen Center. Then-President Tom Spengler and I visited Culmore and met with Soraya. Again, we were so impressed with the staff and the work they were doing.
Harry and I have two sons and at that point they were both off at college. That may be why I was fixated on providing meals–I missed cooking for teenagers. In June, 2014, I did a test run of making dinner and taking it to the Teen Center. While the kids were eating one boy kept looking over his shoulder at the serving dishes. I asked Soraya if there was a problem; after an exchange with the boy she said no, he’s just checking to make sure there is enough for seconds. I was hooked.
With our board’s approval, we started our “Fourth Wednesday” program of delivering and serving dinner to the Teen Center once a month. At the staff’s suggestion, we included birthday treats to celebrate the kids with birthdays that month. Four teams of Optimists rotated duty to provide the meal and spend some time with the kids–helping with homework, playing games, or just hanging out. Every year we donated a Christmas tree from our sales lot for the kids to decorate and enjoy. We learned what dishes were hits and what were not so popular. After all, these are teenagers!
We were still going strong in 2020 when the pandemic halted all visits to the Teen Center, and the meal delivery. Our Club shifted to cash donations to support the Teen Center’s food pantry for local families. We are not back in person yet, but I hope circumstances will allow that to happen soon. In any event, the Optimist Club of Greater Vienna celebrates its collaboration with Second Story in bringing out the best in kids.”
Meet Second Story Board Member Melissa Busby Fernlund
“I heard about Second Story, formerly called Alternative House, from my friend Amy. I was immediately impressed with how many area children were served and how efficient the programs were run. Second Story’s mission to break the cycles of hopelessness and poverty really resonated, and I wanted to help any way I could. My own kids were entering college, so I could carve out some time.
I organized donations for youth in the Assisting Young Mothers program, hosted occasional supply drives, and helped with gardening at the various program locations. I have served on the board of directors for about 10 years, assisting with various organizational details.
Second Story programs are designed to support kids at critical moments, usually in challenging teenage years. An unsafe home situation or a couple of bad decisions can predicate a downward spiral. That’s when Second Story jumps in with counseling and resources to turn things around. It is a pleasure to see children redirect themselves and find the confidence and success that will enable them to be productive adults.”
We Love All of Our Volunteers!
In addition to the volunteers in this newsletter, there are so many more who contribute countless hours and some even prefer to do so anonymously. You know who you are! Whether you are helping us solve technology issues, weeding flower beds outside of the purple door, using your skills to repair our residential units, delivering food, being a community Ambassador, or sharing your many other services and skills, we thank you too!