By Marianne E. Weaver
Part of the Prince William Living mission is to enhance the quality of life in our community and to inspire
our readers to do the same. In every issue, we feature organizations that give back through their missions and good works, creating greater awareness and support of their efforts.
Once a year, we invite our readers to nominate outstanding nonprofit organizations in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park for our “Giving Back Awards.” A combination of public nominations and voting and evaluation by PWL judges is used in determining the winners. By including a public vote, we hope to build awareness of the many nonprofit organizations working to enhance Prince William while we also discover new opportunities to give back that we can then introduce to our readers in future issues.
This year, our winning organizations share a common mission: protecting, educating and inspiring the youth in Prince William. From the tiniest newborns (and their mothers) to graduating high school seniors, these organizations have stepped up to support our region’s youth and their families.
2017 Prince William Living Giving Back Award Winner: Carried To Full Term
Carried To Full Term (CTFT), a nonprofit organization based in Haymarket, provides long-term residential support to expectant mothers in crisis as a result of pregnancy. Women admitted to the program plan and prepare for their newborns for up to 24 months. They are responsible for maintaining the home, caring for their children, securing and retaining employment, completing their education, and participating in a program that leads to self-sufficiency and independence.
“I was six months pregnant and sleeping in a broken-down car in the winter,” said a resident, who chose to remain anonymous. “I found out about Carried To Full Term, and they took me in. I’ve done more in my life in the short four months that I’ve lived here [than I did previously]. I feel so accomplished.”
Naomi Sanders, who nominated the organization, said CTFT takes in mothers in crisis to help eliminate the burden of housing, so they can focus on caring for their children while learning to be self-sufficient.
“After two years of saving, continuing their education, and working to learn a new way to live, they are able to move out of the house with all the life skills they need to start over,” said Sanders. “We are here to support one another. We are here to love one another. Life happens and there are things that are
beyond our control, but we can pray, encourage, build up, and cry together and just support one another. It is the definition of what it means to love.”
Frances Robin, executive director, said she had spent many years working at crisis centers throughout Prince William before founding CTFT in 2009. It then became a nonprofit in 2014.
“Through conversations and observation, it was very apparent that housing was the missing piece to complement a bevy of services offered to families in crisis,” she said. “Without adequate housing, families have trouble managing their daily lives. Families without income or enough money to cover vital needs,
such as food, health or utilities, are most at risk for other crises. When housing needs are met, families can focus more on caring for each other.”
Robin explained that CTFT is more than a shelter for pregnant women, but rather a community-supported home that helps expectant mothers learn to care for themselves and their children.
She said CTFT has cultivated partnerships with women’s and church groups, other nonprofits and healthcare organizations. All prenatal and delivery services are provided by Novant Health UVA Health Systems.
“The thing that immediately sets our organization apart is the length of stay we offer to our mothers and their children. Mothers are able to stay for 24 months,” she said. “We also provide support in the following areas: Education completion, job search, parenting and financial classes, and life skills prep.
Our moms are also required to give back to the community by volunteering 20 hours a month.”
Residents earn points for achieving goals and then use those points to shop at the house boutique, which is stocked with baby items that local residents and organizations donate.
“I’ve never lived on my own before,” said another resident, who chose to remain anonymous. “I am 19 years old. I was raped by a family member. Since I’ve left home, I’ve lived with friends, sleeping on their couches. I am so happy to have my own room and my own bed.”
To date, CTFT has taken in 11 mothers, two of which have given birth while in the home. A third baby was born in October. “I am so grateful to have a safe place to [stay when I] bring my daughter home from the hospital,” said another resident.
CTFT is always in need of community support: mentors, volunteers and financial donations. For more information, visit the website at carriedtofullterm.com.
Honorable Mention: Impacto Youth
Impacto is short for Influence, Motivate, Promote, Accomplish and Create Total Opportunity.
“We serve socially and economically disadvantaged youth in the Greater Prince William area,” said Caroline Shaaber, executive director. “We aim to create leaders and productive members of our local community while empowering our youth to obtain their goals.”
IMPACTO Youth supports programs to positively influence at-risk youth. Programs range from alternative learning approaches for at-risk children with learning disabilities to financial literacy
education for older youth entering the “real world.”
Since its founding in 2013, Shaaber said IMPACTO has:
- sponsored disadvantaged youth for Leadership Prince William’s Youth Academy;
- funded five robotics floors and one travel robotics floor that impact schools throughout Prince William;
- developed an in-school leadership program in conjunction with Rotary International that will be placed in high schools throughout the region;
- purchased tablets for elementary schools to empower and progress student literacy; and
- sponsored 133 students to attend the Boys and Girls Club summer camp in 2016.
“Our focus is in the areas of leadership, learning, literacy and workforce development,” said Shaaber. “We will continue to support socially and economically disadvantaged youth in our community and create opportunities for them to succeed in our very own backyard.”
She said IMPACTO Youth supports its mission by working and collaborating with local schools in Prince William County, the City of Manassas and the City of Manassas Park to help increase the percentage of graduates who complete a curriculum that prepares them for post-secondary education and the workforce.
“We continue to foster the love of STEM programs in the community with special emphasis on females in the STEM world,” said Shaaber. “We continually seek out opportunities for students to succeed by facilitating our programs or simply makingcsure a child has the technology needed in order to be successful.”
For more information on IMPACTO Youth, go to impactoyouth.org.
Honorable Mention: Youth Orchestras of Prince William
The mission of the Youth Orchestras of Prince William (YOPW) is to promote quality music education, provide a range of performance opportunities, foster musical awareness and appreciation, and produce cultural experiences for youth throughout the Prince William region.
“The Youth Orchestras of Prince William is an amazing music program for the young people in our community,” said Amy Nickerson, YOPW vice president and nominator. “Children 6-18 may participate, build their appreciation for music, and pursue their passion.”
YOPW began as a single orchestra founded in 1981 by the Woodbridge Music Club. In 1984, it became an independent organization and inaugurated its second ensemble, the Concert Orchestra. The Primo and Repertory Orchestras were added in 1988 to provide opportunities for younger string students. In 2001, the program expanded to include the Preparatory Orchestra for introductory string players, and in 2003 the sixth ensemble—the Wind Symphony—was created to provide enrichment for middle school-aged wind, brass and percussion players.
“YOPW not only keeps children busy and out of trouble, but it gives them a chance to thrive in a diverse and supportive environment, which is brought together through music,” said Nickerson. “I was once a member of YOPW, and some of my favorite childhood memories came from rehearsing and performing with friends. I made lasting friendships and connections through music.”
Claudia Morales, executive director, said that although parents pay tuition, YOPW is also supported through grants and private donations.
“We will never turn anyone away for financial constraints,” she said. “We will work with families, regardless of what their financial situation is.”
For more information on the Youth Orchestras of Prince William, go to yopw.org.
Selecting Our Winners
A combination public vote and ratings by PWL judges is used in determining the winners. Why a public vote? At Prince William Living, we want to encourage volunteerism among our readers. By including a public vote, we hope to build awareness of the many nonprofit organizations working to enhance Prince William and introduce our readers to new opportunities to give back to the community.
Follow our giving back initiative on Facebook at facebook.com/GiveBackPW
Marianne Weaver ([email protected]) is a freelance editor and writer. She earned a BA from the University of Pittsburgh and an MJ from Temple University.