If local husband-and-wife real estate team Kevin and Elizabeth Ann Kline had not intervened, The Lamb Center would have been forced to halt its Fairfax City Day Work Program a mere three months after finally getting the program off the ground.
Located just off of Route 50 and Lee Highway, The Lamb Center is a daytime drop-in nonprofit organization that offers counseling, meals, and other services to people who are experiencing poverty and homelessness.
The charity partnered with the City of Fairfax in November to launch a day work program where the city would provide at least temporary paid employment to The Lamb Center guests.
According to The Lamb Center executive director John MacPherson, starting an initiative like the Fairfax City Day Work Program was a longtime goal for his team, but the $15,000 grant that the city gave to the nonprofit so that it could manage the program covered only a three-month pilot.
While the City of Fairfax has included $60,000 for the day work program in its proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget, that would still leave a four-month funding gap between the start of the city’s fiscal year on July 1 and the termination of its grant, which would have run out at the end of February.
Fortunately, The Lamb Center received a blessing in the form of a $15,000 donation from Kevin and Elizabeth Ann Kline, who run the real estate agency List with Elizabeth in Burke.
“It’s huge,” MacPherson said. “…This allows us to continue the program until the city picks it up again. It’s been transformative in the lives of the men and women that are going out to work. It’s made a huge difference in their lives.”
List with Elizabeth president and CEO Kevin Kline says he and his wife first learned about The Lamb Center about a year ago through their church, Springfield’s Messiah United Methodist Church, which works with the center and the nonprofit FACETS to provide overnight shelter during the winter as part of Fairfax County’s annual hypothermia prevention program.
After taking a tour of the facility, the Klines were so impressed by The Lamb Center’s mission and work that they started donating to the nonprofit.
The couple decided to step up their involvement with The Lamb Center after reading about the day work program in the nonprofit’s regular newsletter for donors and volunteers.
“The article that we read about [the program] before clearly showed that the guests of The Lamb Center really loved it and depended on it and were utilizing it in the correct way,” Kevin Kline said. “The city loved it. The residents of the city loved it. It was such a positive thing.”
Upon realizing that the program’s funding would run out soon, the Klines contacted The Lamb Center board of directors chair Tara Ruszkowski and asked how much money was required to keep the program going without interruption.
“$15,000,” Ruszkowski replied.
Kevin Kline and Elizabeth Ann Kline, who is a co-owner and lead agent for List with Elizabeth, promptly agreed to donate that amount to The Lamb Center specifically to support the day work program.
Since the day work program started in November, participating Lamb Center guests have been assisting the City of Fairfax Parks and Recreation Department with tasks like cleaning parks or decorating the tree that the city erected for the holidays.
Workers sign up for the program through The Lamb Center, which provides transportation to and supervision of city-designated work sites every Tuesday and Thursday morning. The nonprofit also pays $10 per hour to the eight to 10 workers employed for each shift, according to an article on the program in The Connection.
The program was modeled after a “There’s a Better Way” campaign spearheaded in 2015 by the City of Albuquerque in New Mexico, which employed panhandlers for city day labor jobs.
“The Lamb Center could help the city complete tasks that otherwise might not get done,” Fairfax City Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Salgado said. “In turn, the city could help one of our nonprofits provide work experience and help folks get back on their feet, so it’s a win-win for both of us.”
The City of Fairfax’s initial $15,000 grant to The Lamb Center was allocated in the middle of its 2019 fiscal year.
With the city council not scheduled to approve an FY 2020 budget until May 8, Salgado says the city was thrilled to see private citizens step up to fill the funding gap for the day work program.
“We generally really like it when private businesses step up and help,” Salgado said. “We wanted the program to continue, so we were very excited to hear that a donor had stepped forward and now the program will be funded through the end of the fiscal year.”
In addition to counseling and case management, The Lamb Center serves hot meals for breakfast and lunch, offers hot showers and laundry services, and provides legal assistance, professional clothes for job interviews, and medical, dental, and mental health care.
While the center operates as a daytime drop-in facility, meaning that guests do not stay overnight as they would at a homeless shelter, Kevin Kline says that he has been talking with The Lamb Center’s leadership team about helping find options for individuals in need of temporary or long-term housing.
Kline emphasizes that these discussions are still in their preliminary stages with no specific details established, but as a real estate professional, he sees this as one way to contribute more to The Lamb Center, rather than settling for a one-time donation.
“Our business is buying and selling homes. We always keep in the back of our minds that there are always people who don’t have a place to call home,” Kline said. “Elizabeth and I, we’re just a small real estate team. We can’t change the world, but we can try to make our little corner of the world a little bit better.”