Back-to-School for Homeless Children Made Easier by Doorways for Women and Families Program

Arlington, VA, August 20, 2009 --( With their lives upended, homeless children face larger obstacles in adjusting to school. To ensure a smoother transition back into the school year, Doorways for Women and Families, Arlington’s leading provider and advocate for victims of homelessness, violence and abuse, is running a two prong, innovative back-to-school program to help the shelter’s children be better prepared. More than half of Doorways clients are children.

“Homeless children experience many disruptions in their lives and schooling. Our goal is to help them enter school prepared to learn,” explained Doorways Executive Director Linda Dunphy. “If we can remove a few more obstacles, we know that they will have more chances for academic success.”

The two-pronged program includes a custom backpack program and an online drive. The custom backpack program has been very successful Volunteers recently sponsored and filled specific children’s backpacks, ensuring that 56 local homeless children have book bags geared towards their gender and grade level. Each book bag and the supplies cost $100 on average.

“For struggling families, backpacks and supplies can be quite costly and difficult since it often requires a few stops at different stores. We can’t take for granted the importance of having supplies and a backpack in helping a child to feel confident, prepared, and accepted,” said Dunphy. “We hope to attract more donors to the program since the needs are greater this year.”

The second part of the back-to-school program—which is still ongoing—is an online drive. Since it takes more than a backpack for a child to succeed in school, the online drive provides donors a chance to give a homeless child other important items that are part of a healthy school and after school experience. People can donate money for items such as physicals, after school care, winter coats, SATs, clothes, shoes, school pictures, and sports fees. The online drive can be accessed from Doorways’ homepage at

“My playgroup and I have been working with Doorways for the past several years. Sponsoring families for Doorways’ Back to School drive is an extremely rewarding experience and helps families in need in our own neighborhoods. We all have kids and often times they accompany us on our shopping trips and ‘drop offs’ to the Doorway office. Giving back is an important lesson to pass on to the next generation, and Doorways gives us an opportunity to teach it!” explained Dawn Dangle, a volunteer and donor.

With 30 years experience, Doorways has three core programs that help homeless women and their families and victims of domestic abuse, including an 11-bed Safehouse for women and families in imminent danger; the Freddie Mac Foundation Family Home, which houses 21 homeless adults and children in a state-of-the art residential facility; and the HomeStart Supportive Housing Program, that offers prevention, rapid re-housing and long-term supportive housing for families in crisis. In addition, through its Children’s Services Program, Doorways provides holistic and comprehensive support to the whole family, including tailored support services for each child. Last year, Doorways served nearly 1,500 people.

Donors can support the Doorways back-to-school program by visiting the website. Interested volunteers should call 703-522-8858.

About Doorways for Women and Families
For 30 years, Doorways for Women and Families, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, strives to end homelessness and family and intimate partner violence by offering safe shelter and housing, life changing support services and community advocacy. Recognized as a well-managed leader and innovator, Doorways has received numerous accolades, including the Washington Post’s Excellence in Nonprofit Management, Charity Navigator’s Four Stars for financial responsibility and Washingtonian Magazine’s Great Charities list.

Doorways for Women and Families
Shawn Flaherty