ForKids stands tall

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Nobody with a heart likes the idea of homeless children, but unfortunately it is a reality that exists almost everywhere, and Hampton Roads is no different.

Fortunately, there is an organization in Hampton Roads that is combatting the problem of homelessness.

ForKids started in Norfolk’s Ocean View neighborhood almost 30 years ago, according to the organization’s website, when parishioners at Holy Trinity Catholic Church discovered families coming to the church’s food pantry were sleeping on church grounds and local beaches.

Holy Trinity then partnered with 12 other Ocean View churches to found Homeless Haven in 1988.

The Haven House, an emergency shelter, opened the next year and still provides assistance for more than 200 people each year.

Now, ForKids is one of the largest providers for homeless families in Virginia, touching more than 47,000 lives annually, according to the website.

Despite being born in Norfolk, ForKids has extended its reach to the rest of South Hampton Roads and Western Tidewater in the intervening years. But its service in localities to the west has necessarily looked different and has taken on different iterations as the staff looked for a solution that worked. Western Tidewater is more spread out, so what worked in Norfolk didn’t work here.

But the organization now believes it has a framework that works, and it has taken on a construction project to aid staff and volunteers in working within that framework.

ForKids purchased the former Kelly’s Tavern on West Constance Road in Suffolk last April and unveiled a sign in May, an event that was well attended by many city officials and prominent citizens.

Now they are well on their way to renovating the building to fit their needs. The organization is conducting a capital campaign for the renovations and has raised about $1.96 million of the $2.25 million goal.

This center will not be an overnight shelter, but rather, staff and volunteers will work out of the building to provide ForKids services. Numerous programs such as tutoring and financial workshops aim to help break the cycle of homelessness so that the next generation does not experience it.

We appreciate everything that ForKids does to help address homelessness in Western Tidewater, and we look forward to seeing the new building when it is complete.