Guest Blog: A Giving Heart

Guest Blog: A Giving Heart

Friday - December 19th, 2014


This blog post was originally published on the Faithful Traveler Blog.


photo 5I am blessed that from a young age, giving back to the community has always been instilled in me.  It’s a gift that my mother gave me from a young age.   I can remember cooking meals for spouses whose husbands were deployed when our family was stationed in California, or volunteering at the American Red Cross office at the age of twelve when stationed in Washington state.   These acts have stuck with me long after the physical acts.

I think that is why now as an adult, I continue the act of giving back to the community with such a passion and dedication.   It gives me a sense of meaning, and the men and women I work besides give me more than I think I give them.

This last weekend, I volunteered with a group called Help-Portrait.  The concept is simple, what if for one day, photographers, make-up artists, and hairstylists gave their services away to those who would normally not have access to these items.  How would this simple act change the world?  For the last four years, our little volunteer group has been going to the Carpenter’s Shelter in Old Town, Alexandria.   The response has been overwhelming.   I’ve watched children grow from infants to little people, interacted with mother’s who each year remember my face and give me a hug and blessing as if I’m a member of their family.  It’s these interactions that keep me coming back year after 2

At the same time, the volunteers who work this one day are amazing, their talent, dedication, patience, and giving nature are a joy to be around and keep me going through out the day.  Most of the time, I don’t know these people until I meet them the day of.   But at the end of the day, we are planning our next adventure together.

It might be a small act of giving one day a year to help these families, but the love, smiles and kind words are ones that I carry with me throughout the year.

Interning at Carpenter’s Shelter

Interning at Carpenter’s Shelter

Friday - December 12th, 2014

Interning at Carpenter’s Shelter can be described in one word: rewarding. As the Communication and Design Intern, I have been with the shelter since June. I came to Carpenter’s just after graduating with my B.A in Communication from the University of Wyoming, and on a whim I decided to pack up and move to the DMV area in the hopes of better career opportunities.

I stumbled upon the Communications and Design Internship posting through Idealist and thought this position would be perfect for my transition to the professional world.  On my first day at the shelter, I remember my expectations being blown away as I walked through the door. As someone who had not been exposed to a large amount of poverty, I envisioned the shelter as being something you would stereotypically see on TV; not the clean, welcoming, and professional environment I came upon.

Having had several internships in college, I expected to run errands, get coffee, and perform tasks that the staff didn’t have time to do. However, that was not the case. At Carpenter’s Shelter, interns are treated like staff members and given a variety of responsibilities, all of which not only help the shelter but also give them valuable experience and connections necessary to be successful  in the professional world.

Since being at Carpenter’s Shelter I have had a plethora of experiences that not only helped me professionally, but also personally. I was given the opportunity to attend the Discovery Creating Change Conference, work on the development of Young Philanthropists, our newest giving circle, and develop an array of original content that I have since been able to add to my portfolio to present during interviews.

I have also grown a lot personally since being with the shelter. Working at a homeless shelter, you are exposed to some extreme stories of sadness, abuse, and poverty, all of which will make anyone take a step back and evaluate all that they have. I remember one client in particular telling me her story and sharing some very personal details about her struggles with homelessness. That moment awakened my desire to continue working in the non-profit sector and ignited my passion for helping others.

This is more than just an internship. It’s the opportunity to develop your skills, build your network of connections, and contribute to social change.

For more information, please click here. All interested applicants are encouraged to send a thoughtful cover letter and resume to Courtney Bishop.

All The Ways You Can Give

All The Ways You Can Give

Friday - December 5th, 2014


The holiday season is often the busiest time of the year at Carpenter’s Shelter. During the winter months, we serve Alexandria’s chronically homeless population with David’s Place and our Winter Shelter, we provide non-perishable items to our Community Case Managed Clients, and we are launching Young Philanthropists, our newest giving circle.  As a 24 hour emergency shelter, we rely heavily on the generosity of community members, whether that be through donations or hours volunteered.

All the ways you can give:

Come to our special events:

  • Young Philanthropists Open House – December 2nd
  • Barnes and Noble Gift Wrap – December 8th
  • Community Open House – December 15th
  • Barnes and Noble Gift Wrap – December 17th

Alternative Giving

  • Give the gift of charity this holiday season and make a donation in a loved one’s name in lieu of a gift.

Help us in the kitchen

  • Volunteer to serve lunch or dinner to our clients
  • Donate non-perishable items to our pantry in the months of November and December
  • Bake a casserole for us to serve during lunch and dinner in the event the weather prevents meal volunteers from arriving
  • Donate frozen items such as meat or vegetables

Holiday Giving

  • Mention our mission during your holiday party to your family and friends
  • Donate gift bags and wrapping paper
  • Donate supplies to make gingerbread houses and holiday centerpieces

Social Media

  • Stay connected to us by following us on Twitter and Facebook, and joining our conversation on homelessness



  • Volunteer to gift wrap at Barnes and Noble
  • Commit to volunteering 50 hours in 2015
  • Recruit your friends, family, and coworkers for a service day

For any and all volunteer or donation inquiries, please contact Liz Salter.



Friday - November 28th, 2014

On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

Giving Tuesday is a national day of giving in which everyone is encouraged to take the time to do something unselfish, to give back, and to make a difference. The idea for Giving Tuesday came from witnessing the growing consumerism from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and to remind everyone that the purpose of the holidays is not to receive, but to give. There are people all over the City of Alexandria with less than many of us, who struggle to keep a roof over their head or spend the day searching for a warm place to spend the night. Giving Tuesday makes sure that those individuals are not forgotten.

At Carpenter’s Shelter we’re no stranger to unselfish behavior. Check back to see a video of our volunteers showing us their best #unselfies, or selfless acts of kindness.

Everyone can make a difference. Consider donating early by clicking here.

Alternative Giving

Alternative Giving

Tuesday - November 25th, 2014

Warm scarves and seasonal sweaters are great gifts for your loved ones, but why not give them a gift that will make them feel warm from the inside out?

Purchasing a sustainable gift is a great way to tell someone “I Love You,” without having to brave the stores or worry about selecting the wrong size.  By making a donation in someone’s name, you’re really giving two gifts in one:  one to the person it helps, and one to the person it honors.

Carpenter’s Shelter will be able to put your Alternative gift toward ensuring our children and families continue to receive shelter, warm beds, healthy meals, supportive case management and life-changing educational workshops necessary to help them end their struggle with homelessness. Just think of how your loved ones will feel when they realize that your gift to them is a gift to the whole community. Every donation is tax deductible.

Your gift could provide:

• $25 – Sheets for one of our 60 beds
• $50 – Metro card for one week of job searching
• $100 – 10 blankets for Winter Shelter
• $500 – One month of milk for after school snacks
• $1000 – 12 Life Skill classes for our next client

Click here to make a donation.

A certificate will be available for you to download and present to the recipient upon completion of your donation.