2014-2016: A House Before a Purpose
In the late fall of 2014, God called upon founders Ron and Barb Lester to purchase a modest home in the Highland Park area of Richmond for a yet to be determined need. The four-bedroom home needed significant renovation, which was accomplished in God’s good timing and with the assistance of invested volunteers and contractors.
Just as renovations were completing, God led Barb to a newspaper article indicating that CARITAS, Richmond's largest homeless shelter, needed housing for graduates of their program. Ron and Barb met with representatives from CARITAS and found that women who were homeless in Richmond had fewer opportunities for housing than other populations.
Ron and Barb found the purpose for their Highland Park home and in January 2016, the first four women moved in. Women paid a modest rent ranging from $300-$400 each month; this enabled them to save money while living in a safe and supportive environment for 12-18 months. By the end of the year, it became apparent that a network of volunteers was needed to provide mentoring, friendship, skill building and referrals for the women that complemented their talents, abilities, needs and goals.
2017-2020: Joy House RVA is Established as a Non-Profit
The mission for Joy House RVA is to help women on their journey from homelessness to independent living. During their stay at Joy House, residents have access to a variety of services including:
In addition to applying for grants, Joy House RVA has hosted several fundraising events including a tea, two Silent Auctions, and a Chili Cook-Off; each were supported by a wonderful group of faithful donors and grantors.
Then COVID struck, and we had to adapt our contact methods but Joy House remained open and functional. Like much of the world, we utilized Zoom to maintain close contact with our residents. We even hosted several successful Moral Reconation Therapy sessions which were led by a retired volunteer and certified social worker.
2021 to Present: Housing Expansion and Fund Raising Continues
In the second half of 2021, we welcomed new members to our Board and our Advisory Council and we hired our first part-time social worker.
We are actively working to expand the number of rooms Joy House RVA can offer by partnering with other homeowners and apartment complexes. We hope our fund-raising efforts will now allow us to possibly contribute to subsidizing rental fees so that our residents can continue pay reduced monthly rental amounts.
As of January 1, 2022 Joy House RVA has assisted 25 women on their journey to independent living.
Summer 2022 Update
The original Joy House was sold in March and a new house was purchased on the south side of Richmond VA in May. We welcomed three new Joy House residents in late July. A second house was purchased in late August and after some minor construction is completed, we will be welcoming two additional Joy House residents by October.
If you are reading this and can provide housing, please contact Barbara Lester at JoyHouseRVA@gmail.com. We are grateful for all our donors and volunteers who have made Joy House RVA possible! You are the hands of God!