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Our Mission:

Breaking the cycle of homelessness and poverty for families and children.

Our History

Over twenty years ago ForKids was founded by local citizens to shelter families in the Ocean View neighborhood of Norfolk. After opening Haven House as a 30-day emergency shelter those same citizens quickly found that short-term shelter was not an adequate solution for family homelessness and they embarked upon a new mission to “break the cycle of family homelessness.” In the succeeding years through many federal/private partnerships, including U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Norfolk’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Virginia HOME, ForKids lengthened the emergency shelter stay to four months, added critical clinical services for both the adults and children and funded the purchase, renovation and construction of our eight additional properties. We opened Norfolk’s first Transitional Housing Program in 1994 and the area’s first Permanent Supportive Housing Program in 1998.  In 1995 ForKids founded the Norfolk Homeless Consortium in conjunction with two other family shelters and has led the Continuum of Care process which brings millions of federal dollars to Norfolk’s neediest citizens. Elizabeth Place, Legacy, and our newest permanent supportive housing, Dillon Place, is part of our long-term plan to revitalize West 38th Street in Norfolk.  These four housing facilities provide a safer neighborhood for not only our families, but all the residents of 38th Street.  ForKids has five residential programs in Norfolk and one in downtown Suffolk serving 39 families every night.
A partnership initiated in fall 2007 with the Norfolk Department of Human Services (DHS) for non-residential services, has resulted in ForKids serving an additional 45 families, more than doubling our daily capacity.  This partnership assists families facing imminent homelessness or who are already homeless to obtain ForKids case management services for 12 months:  DHS places these families in housing.  This approach has been successful in other states as an alternative to families living in costly shelters for an extended period.  Furthermore, in 2006, ForKids began receiving grants from the City of Virginia Beach to assist 12 homeless families annually.       
Our commitment to tangible results and to building the communities in which we operate has resulted in numerous awards over the years including: the 2008 Campbell and Company Award for Excellence in Fundraising, Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the 2008 Housing Partner: Special Project Award, Hampton Roads Housing Consortium, the 2006 Neighborhood Builder Award, Bank of America Foundation, the 2006 Volunteer Program of the Year “Hot Meals and Homework,” Volunteer Hampton Roads, the 2005 Virginia Housing Award for Best Housing Program, and 2004 United Way of South Hampton Roads Agency of the Year. 

February, 1988
When parishioner Vera Hartig discovered that families at Holy Trinity’s soup kitchen were homeless families in Ocean View, she went to her priest and urged that something be done. Father Joe Slattery called together his parishioners, who in turn gathered support from their friends and 12 other Ocean View churches, and decided to open a shelter for families. Together they founded Homeless Haven, Inc. and incorporated on May 16, 1988.

Board Members found a neglected apartment building at 131 D View Avenue eventually paying HUD $1 per year for three years and purchasing the building for $72,000 with a 0% interest, 30-year loan.

1989 - 1991
Pete Craig and Mike Abbott headed up the renovation of Haven House. They were quickly joined by Pete Riggan. Each man volunteered thousands of hours to convert the building to a family shelter, and hundreds of other volunteers joined in this effort.

July 1991
The Board of Directors hired Elizabeth Brickhouse to be the first Executive Director.

December 16, 1991
Haven House opened its doors with room for ten homeless families.

Summer 1992
Life Savings Bank donated two apartment buildings on 7th Bay Street for use as Transitional Housing.

ForKids received grants from the Department of Housing and Community Development to renovate the buildings and our first Federal Continuum of Care grant to provide services.

May 16, 1996
Morgan Place Transitional Housing was dedicated, named for Ernie Morgan, a founder and strong Haven House advocate.

May 20, 1997
ForKids broke ground on its first Legacy home as part of the ECHO program at 9605 8th Bay Street. The Episcopal Consortium for Home Ownership began in 1994 as a partnership of the Norfolk Diocese of Episcopal Churches and ForKids. It was initially started to provide home ownership opportunities for formerly homeless families. Renamed “Legacy” Permanent Supportive Housing, it now provides permanent housing for six families with chronic disabilities.

Spring 1998
ForKids purchased, renovated, and moved our office from the third floor of Haven House to 4000 Colley Avenue.

ForKids initiated a six-month Aftercare Program for clients who exited our residential programs. Through this HUDfunded program, we offered the same counseling, case management and children’s services families received as residents, with the goal of helping them make the transition from our programs to independent living.

January 1999
The Haven Family Center officially changed its name to, inc. Family Opportunities & Resources – to better reflect the evolution from an emergency shelter to a full service agency for homeless families.

May 1999
ForKids received the donation of a single family home on Dudley Avenue. On February 26, 2001, ForKids client Michelle Lassiter purchased the home and moved in with her son Antonio, becoming the first client to move from homelessness to home ownership.

May 2002
ForKids opened the Junior League- ForKids Family Resource Center, at 4000 Colley Avenue. Board member Lisa Shapiro donated the services of her architectural firm, and the Junior League of Norfolk-Virginia Beach provided funding as well as tremendous volunteer support. Additional funding from HUD, Norfolk Foundation, Landmark Foundation, and Norfolk Community Development Block Grant allowed us to build the Center and establish our Education and Services Initiative (ESI) program. The Center housed a Resource Library as well as ESI classroom space.

Spring 2002
ForKids held the First Annual Children’s Art Auction. The first Children’s Art Auction was held in a tent in the parking lot of 4000 Colley Avenue. The Junior League helped plan the event which cost us a grand total of $320 and raised $22,000. The highest bid for children’s art was $900.

September 2004
The Downtown 100 chose ForKids for their signature project and we started Hot Meals and Homework. Originally 8 children were tutored two nights a week.

ForKids opened Elizabeth Place Transitional Housing on West 38th Street. The complex included 5 residential units and program space. It was named for former Executive Director Elizabeth Brickhouse.

January 2007
ForKids partnered with the Norfolk Department of Human Services, the Dwelling Place and the YWCA to create the Homeless Family Hotline and Central Intake System.

May 2007
Rebecca’s Reading Room was dedicated at Elizabeth Place in memory of five-year-old Rebecca Burlingame. Rebecca is remembered through dozens of children learning to read each year at ForKids.

August 2007
ForKids started ForKids In-Home to provide case management for clients placed in housing through the Norfolk Central Intake System. The program allows ForKids to serve an additional 35 non-residential families.


ForKids moved the Family Resource Center and administrative offices to The Marie and Paul Finch Center for Families and Children at 4200 Colley Avenue. Paul Finch and Associates donated the design work and the new facility tripled space for programs. Marie and Paul Finch, Beazley Foundation, Alison J. and Ella W. Parsons Fund of The Norfolk Foundation and Capital Group funded the project.

ForKids' 7th Annual Children’s Art Auction raised $210,000. Susan and Vince Pilato bought ‘The Thinker and the Dreamer’ for $11,500; this was the highest closing bid for a piece of children’s art in the history of the Art Auction.

September 17, 2008
ForKids dedicated Dillon Place in memory of longtime ForKids supporter and past president Bill Dillon. The six-plex located at 819 38th Street is Permanent Supportive Housing for six families. Funding provided by Landmark Community Foundation, Perry Foundation, HUD, DHCD and Capital Group.

October, 2008
ForKids merged with The Center for Hope and New Beginnings to offer ForKids’ continuum of services to families at Suffolk House. The Obici Healthcare Foundation, Beazley Foundation, Birdsong Corporation and Pruden Foundation all joined together to make this merger possible and to bring expanded services to homeless families in Western Tidewater.

November 13, 2008
ForKids celebrated 20 years of breaking the cycle of homelessness and poverty for families and children.