Days after Mobile Hope’s first big, self-organized fundraiser—a karaoke night with the Washington Redskins—the nonprofit brought heads together to try to brainstorm their way through the organization’s next big project.
At a meeting at Leesburg Junction on Tuesday, dozens of pink cutouts represented the clients Mobile Hope takes on and their struggles. They were meant to make Loudoun’s hidden homeless problem real.
“If you don’t live it, you don’t see it,” said Mobile Hope founder Donna Fortier. “So it’s hard. What we’ve had to do for years and years and years is first get that education and awareness, and now it’s slowly starting to happen.”
In serving Loudoun’s homeless youth, Fortier has found they often lack the most basic of life skills. Having never had a stable environment, they may have never learned gained an understanding of a paycheck, how to do laundry, how to drive—even how to sit at a table to have dinner, she said.
To that end, the organization wants to launch a life skills center for homeless young people. At Tuesday’s session, nonprofit leaders, elected officials, government and school employees, and Leesburg neighbors got together to figure out how to get that built.
So far, Mobile Hope has no funding for that center and very little idea where to put it.
“Honestly, when I say we’ve looked at everything that we think would even remotely house what we need to be housed, we’ve looked at it,” Fortier told those in the room. But zoning and cost have been problems.
Now she hopes to put together a steering committee to help decide where the center should go, what it needs, and how to pay for it.
“If you know a millionaire, send them our way,” Fortier said. “Second is to get involved with our steering committee. If you know buildings, if you know land use, if you know builders, if you know developers—send them our way. They have to have a philanthropic heart, though.”
After the meeting, Fortier said just raising awareness to the people who attended would have been a success.
“I think having people want to continue to get involved and to help us is huge,” Fortier said. “I didn’t know if we were going to have one person here or two hundred, so this was a great turnout.”
The meeting drew about 50 attendees. Find out how to get involved at mobilehopeloudoun.org.