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Second Story had a vaccine distribution site at its Hispanic Heritage Festival in Springfield earlier in October (courtesy Second Story/Facebook)

(Updated at 4:55 p.m. on 10/13/2021) Fairfax County has partnered with the Tysons-based nonprofit Second Story to support COVID-19 vaccinations in the Culmore area of Falls Church tomorrow (Thursday).

Announced on Monday (Oct. 11), the vaccine distribution site is part of a fall festival that Second Story has organized with the county health department and Neighborhood and Community Services.

The vaccinations will be administered by the nonprofit Neighborhood Health, which will also return in three weeks to deliver second doses to those who need them.

The fall festival will take place at Second Story’s Culmore Family Resource Center (3304B Culmore Court) from 2-6 p.m. There will be food, music, crafts, and other community resources at the event in addition to the vaccination clinic.

“Part of the reason that this community is not entirely vaccinated is because they have trouble accessing a vaccination site,” Second Story spokesperson Abigail Brougher said. “…We wanted to make sure that the vaccine is accessible for them, so when they come to this event, there will be people right there able to give them the vaccine.”

This is the second time that Second Story has gotten involved in the county’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign after it hosted a similar site at a Hispanic Heritage Month Festival in Springfield earlier this month.

That event also offered the flu shot and other inoculations, according to Brougher.

(Correction: This article previously stated that 25 individuals were vaccinated at the Springfield festival. Second Story did vaccinate 25 people in one day about two weeks ago, but it was a separate community outreach effort. The nonprofit doesn’t have numbers for how many people got the COVID-19 vaccine at the Hispanic Heritage Festival.)

Dedicated to providing basic needs assistance, counseling, and other services to teenagers, young adults, and families, Second Story works directly with some of the community members who have been most affected by the pandemic from health and economic standpoints.

Some clients have contracted COVID-19, leading them to get sick or miss work, which can be devastating for young people just trying to make ends meet. In addition, many are ineligible for unemployment benefits and other supports, Brougher says.

As a result, Second Story has been offering rental assistance and meals throughout the pandemic. It’s still providing food to approximately 1,050 families every month through distribution sites, drop-offs, and programs, such as the after-school services that have started to meet in person again.

“We’ve been doing a lot of meetings virtually — family counseling, individual counseling, catching up with youth — and trying to just continue to provide some of those basic needs as we always have…food and clothes in addition to the bigger supports we provide,” Brougher said.

Even so, the nonprofit has encountered some vaccine hesitancy within the communities it serves.

There are a variety of factors behind that hesitancy, from wariness of the side effects and misinformation to the challenges of getting to a vaccination site without a car or the flexibility to take time off work, according to Soraya Borja, Second Story’s vice president of community-based services.

Taking place shortly before its annual Beacon of Hope fundraiser, which has been moved online for a second year, tomorrow’s fall festival is part of Second Story’s effort to reduce barriers to vaccination for its clients.

Its staff has distributed 200 flyers advertising the event throughout the community.

“This outreach has been really important to us, getting out into the community, getting face-to-face,” Brougher said. “We’re definitely a trusted face in the community, so if we’re able to instill some of that trust in the community that the vaccine is something they can feel comfortable with, we are eager to be able to do that.”

Photo courtesy Second Story/Facebook

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For the first time in its 48-year history, Second Story is going online for its most important fundraiser.

Scheduled for Oct. 27, the 2020 Beacon of Hope Fundraiser will give supporters a look at how the Tysons-based nonprofit has adapted to the uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic, whose impact has been felt most acutely by poor and marginalized communities like the youths and families that Second Story serves.

Taking the form of a video streamed live on YouTube from 12:30-1:00 p.m., the fundraiser will feature updates from Second Story CEO Judith Dittman on the organization’s current status and its plans for the future. Three youths will also talk about their involvement in the nonprofit’s programs, which provide housing, counseling, and other kinds of assistance to young people and families in need.

The planned virtual fundraiser will be a major change from Second Story’s traditional Beacon of Hope benefit, which is held in October every year and typically serves as the nonprofit’s largest fundraising event.

“This is such a new territory for us, but everyone’s been really working hard in making sure that people will understand what the needs are of the under-served population that we work with,” Second Story vice president of development Jade Leedham said.

The annual Beacon of Hope fundraiser is especially critical for Second Story this year, as the nonprofit attempts to fill more gaps in essential needs for its clients during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

While Second Story also serves Washington, D.C., and Maryland, it is primarily based in Northern Virginia with programs to support teenagers in crisis, and young adults and mothers experiencing homelessness. The nonprofit also has drop-in centers in the Culmore area of Falls Church, Annandale, and Springfield that provide after-school support to students.

Leedham says Second Story has seen a “huge” increase in the need for food. Distribution events held twice a week in Culmore have consistently drawn about 300 people per day, while a site in Springfield regularly gets 100 people coming each day.

Second Story has also been dropping off food for clients who are unable to attend the distribution events.

Other pressing issues include access to technology, as students risked being left out of schools’ shift to virtual learning, and rent support after about 70 percent of the youths in Second Story’s rapid re-housing program lost hours at their jobs or got laid off in the past year.

At the same time, Second Story has seen the number of people using its residential programs dip.

“[It’s] the nature of COVID,” Leedham said. “People are reluctant to leave or to go anywhere that’s not familiar to them or that they don’t know is safe or not.” Read More

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This week, Second Story plans to drop the trailer for the third season of its podcast, which will premiere in August.

Listeners can expect two story-driven episodes and five topical ones with Second Story’s staff and local experts tackling COVID-19 and social justice issues, Abigail Brougher, the podcast’s producer and Second Story’s spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter.

“I’m really glad that we’re able to share a little bit more of how all this has impacted youth in a high-level way,” Brougher said. “The stories are really important.”

The Merrifield-based non-profit helps kids, teens and young adults seeking food, shelter and emergency support.

Unlike the last two seasons, this upcoming one is debuting a few months earlier in the year, partly because people are trying to find things to do during the pandemic.

“This season, it was a lot more current event-driven, which was really interesting, and a lot more time-sensitive, which is part of why it’s coming out earlier, too,” she said. “As we as soon as we got the information, we felt like we didn’t want to sit on it — it would be really important for the community to hear right away.”

With seven episodes, the upcoming season is shorter than last year’s.

Brougher also had to record all of the interviews remotely when she started working on the new season in March.

“[The podcasts were] really an experiment at first,” she said. “We didn’t know how it would go. But this season, I think especially, it’s really clear that this is something that people really enjoy, and we’re really thankful to have this avenue to communicate through since we’re all so isolated.”

People can tune in every Wednesday for seven weeks starting Aug. 12. The episodes will be available on Second Story’s website.

Photo via Facebook

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As two drive-in movie fundraisers gather donations for Second Story, the local nonprofit is reevaluating how to seek support as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Based in the Merrifield area, Second Story helps kids, teens and young adults seeking food, shelter and emergency support.

Tysons Reporter caught up with Jade Leedham, Second Story’s vice president of development, to hear how the drive-in movie fundraisers happened, what fundraising looks like now and how their clients’ needs have changed during the pandemic.

Drive-in Movies 

Leedham said that both Tysons Corner Center and Capital One Center, which have been long-time supporters of Second Story, reached out about the drive-in movies.

Tysons Corner Center starts its series tonight (Friday) with movies on the second weekend of each month through September, while Capital One kicks off its four-week-long drive-in movies series tomorrow (Saturday). Both events are asking moviegoers to donate $25 to Second Story.

“It just kind of happened coincidentally at the same time from two of our main supporters here in Tysons,” she said.

Because Second Story is not co-planning the drive-in movies series, Leedham said it’s hard to predict what the donations might add up to.

“We don’t have any expectations, but we’ve seen some donations coming in,” she said. “For Capital One, I believe we passed $1,000 and there’s still a long time to go… I imagine it’s going to be a pretty sizable donation at the end.”

Leedham said that the donations will go toward supporting young people’s needs for food, safety items, toiletries and other essential items.

New Needs

Over the last few months, Leedham said she’s seen clients’ needs change. The nonprofit has had to significantly increase funds for rent support for participants in the program for homeless youth.

“That’s one big area that we’ve seen a hit,” Leedham said, noting that unemployment is impacting people’s ability to pay their rents.

Second Story has also shifted its asks for community support to gift cards and donations after seeing a decline in volunteers helping with things like food pick-up and drop-off and bringing in donations.

Leedham speculates that some corporate sponsors may now be seeing a loss in revenue or challenges with remote work, which could impact their contributions to Second Story.

“At the beginning, maybe they had enough to be able to do what they were able to do, but now they’ve got to start focusing on how to how to maintain their own businesses, which makes complete sense,” she said.

Even with fewer volunteers showing up in-person lately, Leedham says she’s still seeing a variety of support, from people starting online fundraisers to memorial donation drives.

“We had a teacher contact us recently because their colleague teacher passed away. They are doing a memorial donation drive because that teacher who passed away cared a lot about young people and especially homeless young people,” she said.

Some people were even able to donate personal protective equipment even when it was largely out of stock.

“I don’t know how they did it, but people were going out and looking for all of these essential items and bringing them to us. And so without that help, I don’t know how we would have been able to provide those things to our clients,” she said.

Sustaining Support

As Virginia rolls back COVID-19 restrictions and the start of the new school year approaches, Leedham said there are new, pressing concerns for people to grapple with.

“I just feel like the demand is just so high that it may be hard to keep up with the demand in terms of donating food,” she said.

To make sure people don’t forget about Second Story’s efforts, the nonprofit has increased its online marketing campaign and created a task force that alerts members of the organization’s immediate needs. Second Story’s podcast and newsletter also share how people’s support makes a big difference.

“We are trying to look for opportunities and help people to come up with fundraising ideas, while of course also relying on others to pitch ideas to us and just supporting them however we can with our materials and our branding and our videos and our messaging, so that they can represent Second Story in their own unique creative ways,” she said.

Second Story is also working toward a three-year fundraising goal that began last fiscal year. “As we go into the second half of the year here in 2020, we are doing our best and staying cautiously optimistic that we will have a great holiday season to sustain all of the things that we’re doing, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that COVID will have long term effects on everyone,” she said.

How People Can Help

Second Story is encouraging donors — if they have the capacity — to commit to the Beacon of Hope Society’s commitment to at least $1,000 per year for five years, Leedham said.

Leedham also hopes that people donating smaller amounts will be able to increase their contributions on a consistent basis.

There’s even a free way to help the nonprofit — by voting for Second Story on Apple Federal Credit Union’s list of four charities, Leedham said. The votes will determine how much each charity will receive from a pot of funding up to $100,000.

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(Updated 3/16/2020) Local nonprofit Second Story is asking people to send gift cards instead of volunteering or donating food and clothing to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Located just south of Tysons, Second Story assists young people struggling with homelessness, poverty or domestic issues. In a message today, CEO Judith Dittman said that all of Second Story’s programs will remain in operation.

However, the nonprofit won’t accept clothing, food or other donated items to “help prevent the potential spread of germs through objects as well as limit the number of people who visit Second Story for Teens in Crisis,” Dittman said.

Second Story is also limiting its visitors, telling its staff to work remotely and suspending its volunteers in the homeless, young mothers and teen crisis programs, along with volunteers who provide meals to the programs.

Meanwhile, people can still volunteer in the community-based programs, Dittman said.

For people who want to help the nonprofit, Dittman said that gift cards are needed to purchase items for the programs.

“Gift cards are extremely valuable right now as we temporarily suspend meal donations and youth in our programs, many with hourly jobs, may have a greater need for immediate support,” Dittman told Tysons Reporter.

Christine Bartell, Second Story’s resource management director, told Tysons Reporter that Visa gift cards are the best option, but Second Story will also accept grocery store and Amazon gift cards via mail to “Attn: Christine Bartell, PO Box 694, Dunn Loring, VA 22027.”

“Since we’re limiting contact between youth and volunteers, gift cards for food will be especially important,” Bartell said.

Dittman also shared how the nonprofit is working to decrease the risk of spreading coronavirus, taking steps like sanitizing surfaces more and communicating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The full message is below the jump:

Read More

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With the launch of Second Story’s Together, We Do More campaign, the local organization hopes to maintain its purpose as a resource for kids and young adults facing hardships and abuse.

By the end of the three-year campaign, the organization plans to raise at least $4 million, according to its website.

Due to a lack of government funding and rising costs of services Jade Leedham, the vice president of development for Second Story, said that support from the community is key for the organization’s success.

“What we are trying to do is basically close the gap with rising cost,” she said.

The campaign officially launched in July at Second Story’s “Beacon of Hope Breakfast,” which Leedham said is the organization’s largest event of the year.

Within the first fiscal quarter of the fundraiser, Second Story managed to hit its initial goal of $430,000, according to Leedham.

Leedham came up with the idea for the campaign alongside Second Story’s CEO while discussing the future of the organization. They wanted to find the most efficient way to communicate with the public.

“From there it just kind of snowballed,” she said. 

Though the organization receives donations and requests for assistance throughout the year, Leedham said the holidays are a busy time for Second Story.

Anyone interested in donating and supporting the campaign can do so online.

Second Story also published a series of videos and testimonials, which the community can watch if they are curious about the organization’s impact.

Image via Second Story/Facebook

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Next week, listeners can tune into another season of the Second Story podcast about homelessness.

The new season will premiere on Tuesday (Oct. 22), featuring stories of young adults and teens who overcame struggles of homelessness and abuse.

In the first episode, listeners will hear from a young woman named Bree who managed to escape an abusive relationship, Abigail Brougher, the podcast’s producer, said.

Second Story is a non-profit organization based out of Vienna that assists young people struggling with issues like homelessness, poverty or domestic issues.

The podcast was started to spread the organization’s message and educate the public on these issues within the community, Brougher said.

Bree’s story was chosen for the season premiere because Brougher said it set the tone for the rest of the season.

Bree took shelter with Second Story as a young mother and was later recruited to speak out about domestic violence on the podcast. Brougher said that Bree was “especially vulnerable” during this time in her life, and hearing her story will help people to acknowledge the issue of domestic violence.

Bree was forced to decide between homelessness or the constant threat of abuse, Brougher said. “It’s fairly common for young mothers to feel like they have to choose.”

Domestic Violence Awareness Month also happens to fall in October and calls attention to the issue that affects everyone, regardless of gender, race or socioeconomic status.

One in four women and one in nine men will be victims of domestic violence in their lives, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The podcasts tend to be around 30 minutes long, and new episodes will be available for free every Tuesday on Second Story’s website, as well as Spotify and Stitcher.

This season will consist of roughly nine episodes and feature various themes like domestic violence, PTSD and family trauma, Brougher said.

“Giving voice to this issue changes the narrative,” Brougher said.

Photo via Facebook

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A local organization is hosting a charity tailgate to help people who are experiencing homelessness and struggling youths.

The Tysons Partnership event will have live music from the Decades Band, beer and wine tents, a pop-up playground, arcade games, raffles and a speech from Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, according to the event page.

The event aims to raise funds for Second Story, a non-profit founded in Vienna that works to improve the lives of struggling young adults and people experiencing homelessness.

Tickets are on sale for $30 and include two complimentary drinks. The event will be held outside regardless of the weather.

Drew Sunderland, a spokesperson for Tysons Partnership, said that the organization tries to work with local nonprofits in the regional Tysons area or surrounding communities.

“Second Story was identified as a great partner that was in need,” Sunderland said, adding that their work has a real impact on the Tysons community.

The tailgate is part of the Tysons Partnership’s larger Season of Giving, which raised money for similar organizations, like Food for Others. This year’s other events included a 5k and a happy hour event. In years past, the event has attracted over 1,000 attendees, according to the website.

Second Story supports a variety of people including homeless teens, survivors of domestic abuse and young mothers in northern Virginia, according to their website. The organization matches at-risk youth with counseling, shelter, food or other forms of assistance based on their needs, free of charge.

Teens between the ages of 13 to 17 and young mothers can text TEENHELP to 855-11 if they would like assistance from the program.

The party will last from 5-8 p.m. in Valo park next Wednesday (Sept. 25).

Photo via Valo Park

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A Vienna high school student is hosting a fashion show in Tysons Corner Center tomorrow (Friday) night to fundraise for a local nonprofit.

Kaela G., a freshman at James Madison High School, is the event coordinator for the fashion show at Lord and Taylor (7950 Tyson’s Corner Center).

Here is the fashion show’s event description:

Wondering what the hot summer vacation trends are? Can’t decide what to wear for that perfect date? Come see the Madison HS basketball players model the latest fashions and hear what a local nonprofit, Second Story, is doing in our community for at-risk teens.

The night will include models, DJ Squirrel, Raffles, Refreshments, and a private shopping event. All purchases made the night of the event will receive 15% off Cosmetics, and 30% off all other merchandise.

General admission is $20 and VIP admission, which includes preferred seating and automatic entry into a raffle for a skincare and cosmetic gift basket worth $200, is $40.

All ticket sales will get donated to the Second Story, a local nonprofit that provides safe havens for kids and their families.

People who can’t attend the event but still want to donate can purchase a donation ticket.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The fashion show runs from 7-9 p.m.

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(Updated 3:15 p.m.) Fairfax is the second richest county in the nation — yet at Second Story, just south of Tysons at 2100 Gallows Rd, there’s a desperate need for bed space for homeless teens.

Second Story CEO Judith Dittman says the organization provides a temporary shelter for teenagers in a crisis, but there is a waitlist of 35 people still waiting for a space to open up.

The waitlist averages 50 people for the homeless youth and young mothers programs. Dittman said those on waitlists are forced to either stay on couches or in the street, where they could become caught up in human trafficking.

“Too many times, people look at me and say ‘that doesn’t happen in Fairfax,'” Dittman said.

But, in 2017, Fairfax County Public Schools reported that 1,200 young people in the county had no support from a parent or legal guardian. A report by Fairfax County’s Department of Health and Human Services found that 18,857 children, or 7 percent of all local children, were in poverty.

The shelter takes in young people who have run away from home, or have no home to go back to, and offers a three-week refuge. The program functions as a shelter for people between ages 13-17, offering counseling, meals, and guidance.

Lauren Witherspoon, the development coordinator for Second Story, said the goal is family reunification and about 95 percent of the teens are reunited with their family at the end of the program. After they return to their family, there are periodic check-ins to see how the child is handling the situation.

From its founding in 1972 through just two years ago, Second Story was known as “Alternative House.” Dittman said that as the organization started branching out, leaders found the original name was no longer reflective of the scope of the work done there.

“Your first story is the one written for you in your early years,” said Dittman, “but in your teen years, you start to write your own story. As a teen you make mistakes. Most young people have a support network to help them through, but many don’t.”

In addition to the youth shelter, the organization also offers after-school activities, programs for young mothers and other programs aimed at preventing homelessness and crises in the first place.

Witherspoon said the organization targets children as early as fourth grade. That may sound young, but Witherspoon said they are competing with gangs that typically recruit at around eight or nine years old or human traffickers, who can grab children as young as 11 or 12.

Another program takes homeless teens and focuses on making them self-sufficient over an 18-month period. Counselors at the program help teach participants skills from how to load a dishwasher to how to manage finances.

The charity was recently the subject of fundraising and toy donation drives at the Tysons Biergarten and the Tysons Partnership. Roughly one-third of the organization’s funding, or $1,209,510, comes from community support. Another third comes from federal, state and local grants, but Witherspoon said the organization has been struggling as costs continue to rise, but federal funding remains stagnant.

“We haven’t had an increase in federal funding for 15 years,” said Witherspoon. “We don’t have any billboards or ads, so we rely on word of mouth.”

Over 85 percent of the organization’s funding, or $2,832,169, goes to program services. The remaining funding is split between development, management, and general funds.

The organization hosts tours on the second Tuesday of each month. Second Story also hosts volunteer and community service opportunities. Volunteers help do things like cook and answer the door to allow counselors to focus on helping teens.

Photo via Facebook

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