ServiceSource, a national nonprofit that supports people with disabilities, is working to open a new community center in Herndon, located at 2739 West Ox Road in Frying Pan Farm Park.
Known as the Ellmore Farmhouse, the two-story, 3,300 square foot structure was built in 1891 and served as a 50-acre dairy farm until the 1950s. It was later deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and has since belonged to the county’s property inventory through the Park Authority after it was purchased as part of Frying Pan Farm Park in 2001.
ServiceSource is currently in the process of raising funds to renovate the complex. The organization has a total fundraising goal of $660k and has already raised nearly $470k, aiming to raise $500k by the end of the year. The organization plans to draw on partnerships, nonprofit contributions and individual donations to meet its goal, including a virtual event planned for December to celebrate the organization’s 50-year anniversary. Once renovations to the building are completed, the Ellmore Farmhouse will employ up to 15 adults with disabilities, who will work in a grab-and-go cafe and specialty handcrafts store.
The farmhouse will serve as ServiceSource’s ninth Long-Term Community Integration Services (LTCIS) program in the northern Virginia area and the first in Herndon. More than 29,000 people with disabilities are served annually by its resources and more than 500 participate in the LTCIS program, according to ServiceSource’s case statement for the Ellmore Farmhouse. The program is designed to be embedded in the community on a smaller scale for maximum impact for participants.
The Board of Supervisors in May unanimously approved a 29-year lease for ServiceSource to take custody of the property under the county’s Resident Curator Program. The program was established to make use of dormant properties in the county’s inventory by entering long-term partnerships with organizations who agree in turn to renovate the properties along federal guidelines.
ServiceSource’s application built upon its existing relationship with the Park Authority, as the two organizations first joined up in 2017 to provide services for the Clemyjontri and Lake Accotink parks. The Park Authority has since agreed to establish an internship and employment program in coordination with ServiceSource.
Under the terms of the curator program, applicants undergo a competitive screening process run by the Park Authority, and successful candidates are provided the property with a rent-free lease. ServiceSource was selected by the Park Authority to be a resident curator in 2019, but the pandemic delayed approval by the Board of Supervisors until this year.
The county’s agreement for the curator program stipulates that ServiceSource will improve the Ellmore Farmhouse by introducing new features that will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It will also incorporate green designs all while keeping the historic nature of the building intact.
“This is a really nice property and a good use of the Resident Curator Program,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said at the May hearing. “I’m very pleased this is going forward.”
Besides programs like the handcrafts store, of which 100 percent of proceeds from sales will go to the artisan responsible, the farmhouse will also host numerous programs which will keep participants and other guests busy. In a typical week, according to ServiceSource’s plan for the farmhouse, about 15-20 participants will gather Monday-Friday to engage in activities such as volunteering around Frying Pan Farm Park, walking local trails, and visiting the Herndon Senior Center. Participants can also garden, volunteer with animals, and undertake other therapeutic activities like dance and yoga.
Park visitors will have access to many of these amenities. The farmhouse plans to open an outdoor cafe whose food will be made by individuals working at ServiceSource’s Disability Resource Center at its headquarters in Oakton. Other programs like dance classes and educational events will be open to the public as well as space permits.
ServiceSource anticipates that renovations will begin early next year and continue through the summer. According to its timeline for the project, the grand opening for the Ellmore Farmhouse is slated for July 2022.