Angelos Summer 2012 : Page 50

that the best home for a homeless family will be the final outcome of everyone’s efforts,” Christy says. Since 2008, Christy has seen the demand for Home-Aid’s services increase, but there are fewer new construc-tion projects due to tougher financing requirements. The focus has turned to renovation projects. Many shelter organizations have received federal and state funding to purchase foreclosed homes and have turned those into transitional housing for families. The shelter organizations have called on HomeAid to undertake the renovations needed in these homes; some are in major disrepair. Christy is regularly on the road going to a property owned by a shelter that is in need of renovation or one already under way to see how the work is going. She meets the families who will be living in the homes and hosts a dedication ceremony for each house. Christy says, “They are challenged every day for some of the basic necessities we take for granted … seeing the smiles on their faces tells us that the homes we’re providing are exactly what they need to get their lives stabilized and on the right track.” At the end of each project, the organization also hosts a celebratory luncheon for the builder captain and trade partners. “Showing them that we appreciate all their effort — and all the cost savings — is a very important part of my job,” she says. Christy is responsible for seeking strategic partners and fundraising. In some cases, the builder captain and trade partners are unable to donate 100 percent of the project costs, and HomeAid must raise funds to help cover the cost. In addition, HomeAid makes periodic donations to shelter organizations and hosts a baseball night for families from the shelters. The Washington Post interviewed Christy and featured HomeAid Northern Virginia in November 2011, and TV Station WUSA applauded the organization’s efforts in a segment on local heroes. All accolades aside, Christy hopes that this coverage will increase awareness of the homeless problem in America. “The general public doesn’t recognize that the person next to them in the grocery store or on the Metro or walk-ing down the street may be homeless or struggling to find shelter,” Christy says. “They may look ‘normal,’ but their lives may be upside down because they recently lost their homes or were unable to pay their monthly rent and now what are they supposed to do? Regardless of how or why people become homeless, there should be a safe, stable place for them to go at night and services to help them get their lives back together.” Christy explains that children living in a homeless situation are at a higher risk for poverty and homelessness when they are adults. “The impact of not knowing where you will sleep at night, not having a quiet place to do home-work, and not having the food you need to maintain your brain power and energy has an incredible negative impact on children and their ability to do well at school and in social situations. We must break the cycle of homelessness so that future generations can have the opportunity to live safe, stable, happy lives.” As a young child, Christy was taught to help those in need and befriend the person who has no friends. As a collegian, she participated in the opportunities that Kappa Delta provided to help local people in need and to help raise money for local and national causes. Since graduating, Christy has worked for nonprofit organizations and two presidential campaigns. “My focus is to work for causes and people whom I be-lieve in,” she says. “There are improvements to be made that ultimately help people lead better lives — from the national or international policy level to the grassroots level — and I want to play a part in making things better. I can’t imagine spending my time doing something where I couldn’t see the tangible benefit of my efforts improving the lives of others.” Christy adds, “But you don’t have to work for a non-profit to put your talents to work. Nonprofits rely on many people — volunteers, consultants, board members, strategic partners and others to help them carry out their missions. Your skills can be put to good use, and at the same time you find what you were put on this Earth to do.” Cynthia Cohick Dwyer, Co-Founder, Executive Director, Cancer Support Community Delaware, When a representative of the YWCA Delaware called Cynthia Cohick Dwyer earlier this year to let her know that she had been selected to receive the organiza-tion’s 2012 Trailblazer Award, Cindy says she looked up the word “trailblazer” in the dictionary to see exactly what she had won. The dictionary said, “Someone who makes a new path through the wilderness.” It’s a fitting award for someone who has bravely entered new territory with success more than once. An initiate of Beta Theta-Penn State, Cindy’s career path began as a French teacher and took a new direction 50 | THE ANGELOS OF KAPPA DELTA

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