Pearl Gala : 30 Years and More to Come!


On February 17, 2018, Sharing the Details contributor, Aubrey Shaffner explored a lavish gala in the heart of Belle Haven Country Club in Alexandria Virginia. She wore a stylish black dress with a deep v neck, had her hair tied up to the side, and wore golden, circle, earrings to match the sparkle of the room.

“Despite an intense winter storm hitting the tri-state area Saturday night, the Community Lodgings 30th Pearl Gala Event was a huge success! The gorgeous ballroom of the Belle Haven Country Club was buzzing with conversation and excitement as friends came together to celebrate the non-profits monumental anniversary.

Community Lodgings was founded by 8 Episcopal churches in the Alexandria Virginia area in 1987. Per their website, “Community Lodgings’ mission is to lift families from homelessness and instability to independence and self-sufficiency through transitional housing, affordable housing, and our Youth education programs… to have a world where all families have access to housing, education and resources to achieve and sustain independence and productivity.”

Contributors: Aubrey Shaffner and Chloe Shaffner.  Picture by Mark Soriano

Since opening, the churches have been able to purchase 44, soon to be 45, apartments that they are able to provide at below market rent to families in need. Beyond housing the program also works with underprivileged community youth.

In 1998, the organization expanded by opening computer literacy and English Language Learner (ELL) classes for adults to combat the risk of homelessness, gang involvement, substance abuse, inappropriate sexual activity and emotional, physical,and/or sexual abuse. In 2002, the organization again expanded, opening the community-based Fifer Family Learning Center. Built to meet the needs of the surrounding Arlandria-Chirilagua community as well as introducing their Youth Education Program. Elementary, middle and high school students, all living below the poverty threshold, could now attend free daily afterschool programs and summer programs, meet with tutors and mentors, learn valuable life skills, and participate in various enrichment and recreational activities. In 2008 Community Lodgings expanded the center, increasing instructional time for at-risk children and their parents. Community Lodgings was also named “Non-profit service provider of the year” by HomeAid Northern Virginia.

Pictures by Mark Soriano

The Gala is an annual fundraiser for the non-profit. The night was celebrated to the music and flair of the 50’s and 60’s classic Motown group, The Intruders, who had everyone excited to get out on the dance floor! A wonderful buffet dinner was provided by the Country Club. Filled with selections such as fish, and chicken, with a variety of sides like green bean salad, corn, and squash as well. Also available was a dessert display of cannolis, tiramisu, and chocolate cake.

Pictures by Mark Soriano

The staff of Belle Haven were so quick and courteous. I had found a high top table off to the side to be able to observe the general splendor of the evening that happened to be near one of the bar stations. The older gentleman behind the bar kept an eye on me all night, making sure I was well and never without a drink, I do wish I would have caught his name. A silent, and live auction also took place to help raise money for the families in need. Some of the prizes included were a trip to Cancun, a private chef for an evening, and tickets to sporting events. To increase the funds raised some anonymous donors even matched individual’s bids. I watched as thousands were brought in to help such a worthy cause.

Pictures by Mark Soriano

In honor of the 30th Anniversary a special awards ceremony was also held, honoring the contributions of several long-time board members, founding faith partners and other community partners. One stand out award was the “Community Hero,” given to John Porter. Everyone involved in the non-profit, whether they were from the beginning or a more recent addition, were genuinely happy to be a part of helping the cause, and working as a cohesive unit to help the individuals and families in need.

Overall, the night was full of success and happiness in the honor of helping those in the community who need it most. I love that Community Lodgings not only knows that their community is stronger together, but really makes it happen. I wish them nothing but the best for another 30 years of success and happiness helping those that truly need it in the Alexandria Virginia area.”

Click here to donate to Community Lodgings, Inc.

About Community Lodgings, Inc.

For the past 30 years, Community Lodgings has helped homeless and low-income families by providing a variety of affordable and transitional housing options. In addition they offer Youth Education programs and Community Outreach. Community Lodgings’ mission is to lift families from homelessness and instability to independence and self-sufficiency through Transitional HousingAffordable Housing and our Youth Education ProgramsLearn more about our history and values.

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