Having a good partner can make all the difference — just ask Starsky and Hutch, any husband and wife or Dancing with the Stars team.
This holds true for nonprofits. For a community-based nonprofit like FACETS, whose mission is to help parents, their children and individuals in Fairfax County who are homeless or living in poverty, we could not operate without strong partnerships with government, faith communities, businesses, volunteers and donors.
Two of our efforts are perfect examples of the value of partnerships: FACETS’ hot meals program, which operates every day to provide prepared food to people who are in need, and our Hypothermia Prevention and Response Program, for which planning began months ago in anticipation of the coming winter.
With more than 1,500 people homeless in the county, reaching out with nutritious food, services to bring them in from the cold and a warm place to stay is critical.
Certainly, FACETS staff of 20 could not possibly serve 42,000 meals each year. Likewise, it would be impossible to provide temporary shelter from severe weather for more than 200 people throughout the winter. We rely on partnerships with the Fairfax County Government and more than 40 different faith-based organizations and their members to make this happen. This diverse network provides a volunteer force that protects and provides for those who are struggling to make ends meet in our community of plenty.
Partnerships come in other forms, too, and do not always mean providing direct services. We have partnerships with many businesses, donors and volunteers that help drive the success of our outreach efforts.
For instance, partners are the essential ingredient for our upcoming fundraiser, “A Taste of Fall with FACETS” on Oct. 22 at Sherwood Community Center in Fairfax. FACETS relies on local restaurants, wineries, brewpubs and musicians to donate their time and talents to help us raise vital funds to help end homelessness and break the cycle of poverty. Many other businesses and organizations donate auction items. We also have media partners — like Fairfax County Times and Northern Virginia Magazine — that help spread the word about the needs in our community and the event.
Nonprofits partner with other nonprofits, too. Last year, the Vienna-Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted a holiday party for children that receive services through FACETS and other nonprofits. This meaningful and generous gesture ensured children in need had presents and fond memories, while relieving a little holiday stress for their parents. It also was a great help for FACETS, because partners help stretch the services we can offer.
Overall, these examples demonstrate how partnerships create a criss-crossing web that make up our community’s safety net. They also show how partnering does not come in one shape, color or size. With so many different ways to partner, businesses and volunteers, in particular, should not limit their view of how to partner. Nonprofits around the region benefit from having outstanding board members, volunteer professional expertise such as technology or accounting, and donated goods, services and auction items.
Every nonprofit needs a group of committed partners to succeed. That’s why I encourage everyone to reach out and find creative ways you, your community group, workplace, faith community, school or neighborhood can be a good partner to a nonprofit. I guarantee both will benefit.
But most importantly, so will our community.
Amanda Andere is the executive director of FACETS, a Fairfax-based nonprofit that advocates for Fairfax County’s homeless population.