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Marian Homes to open third group home

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Marian Homes Inc. started renovation last week on its third group home for persons with intellectual disabilities. The home in Springfield, which will house five men, is expected to open July 1. Virginia State Deputy Steve Burnley joined his fellow Knights of Columbus at the Feb. 26 open house.

Marian Homes Inc. is a nonprofit corporation established by the St. Mary of Sorrows Knights of Columbus Council in Fairfax.

The first group home, Marian House, was dedicated in August 1998 in the Brecon Ridge subdivision of Fairfax County. It houses five women who live together in a family-like environment.

Its second home, Regina House, opened in March 2010 in the Greenbriar area of Fairfax and is home to five men. The third home will be named Queen of Peace.

Bill Crowder, president of Marian Homes Inc., said the new Springfield residence is the first one opened in partnership with Fairfax County. The county bought the home and gave the mortgage to Marian Homes. The agency will pay $125,000 to renovate the house and provide operating capital and volunteer manpower for maintenance.

Crowder said the purchase of the home is part of the county's long-term housing plan for persons with intellectual disabilities.

There is a critical need for group homes in the area since the county is expected to close the Northern Virginia Training Center by March 2016. The training center has 140 residents.

Crowder is optimistic that Marian Homes will be able to partner with the county to open a fourth home in 2016. "Fairfax County wants to encourage more organizations to do this," he said.

All three homes are operated in partnership with CHIMES, an international nonprofit organization that supports persons with intellectual disabilities.

Marian Homes Inc. is entirely volunteer-based, and there are no paid employees. Its 15-member board meets on a monthly basis.

The Knights bring a variety of professional and personal experiences to the ownership and maintenance of the residences. They serve on one or more committees responsible for governance, finance, fundraising, investment, publicity and operations.

Marian Homes is completely dependent upon voluntary donations.

In addition to support from other councils, it receives yearly grants from St. Mary of Sorrows Church in Fairfax, St. John Neumann Church in Reston and KOVAR, the state-level organization focused on programs supporting persons with disabilities.

Marian Homes was approved recently for inclusion in the Combined Federal Campaign in the National Capital Area. Its CFC donation number is 16658.

Crowder said the Knights went to the North Springfield Civic Association meetings prior to taking possession of the home in order to introduce themselves to neighborhood residents.

"We were very transparent in letting them know how Marian Homes operates," he said.

William Baker, head of the demolition crew, emphasized that the Knights are "just facilitators. It's the residents' home."

Crowder said board members reach out to their corporate contacts to explain the vital role that Marian Homes plays in the community. It's a charity model that helps build community, he said.

Crowder made a pitch to Burnley to help spread the news about Marian Homes to other councils across Virginia.

"We would like to partner with other councils at whatever level they feel comfortable," he said.

Find out more

Visit marianhomes.org

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015