Hopkins House was born of necessity; on a Wednesday, when the temperature reached 86 degrees outside and home air conditioners had not yet been invented.
In 1939, at the end of the Depression with a still weak economy, President Franklin D. Roosevelt began cutting federal funding for social programs for the poor. One program on the chopping block was the Works Progress Administration sponsored Social Services Day Nursery that provided care for the children of African-American working parents in then racially segregated Alexandria.
A group of teachers including Edith Allen, Helen Day, Connie Chissell and others, decided to continue the nursery by volunteering their time and homes. Soon they persuaded the Social Services League to allow the use of their building at 517 Gibbon Street after six in the evening.
The teachers named the new community center in honor of Dr. J. Milton Hopkins, an Alexandria African-American physician who for years had provided medical care to anyone in need, regardless of ability to pay. Dr. Hopkins died on July 15, 1927.
Soon the nursery qualified to receive funds through the Community Chest (today's United Way). Chissell, an experienced social worker and educator, served as its first director. Helen Day and Edith Allen raised funds and planned programs with special focus on helping the poorest families. Hopkins House incorporated on August 9, 1939.
During these early years, Hopkins House had little or no money to pay for the services people needed. But what the organization lacked in funds, it more than made up for in community involvement. Edith Allen and Helen Day, Hopkins House's first secretary, helped to originate "Negro History Week" in Alexandria's public schools -- a first in segregated Alexandria. After many efforts to identify funding, City Councilman Albert Smoot secured a grant of $95.67 from the City to support Hopkins House programs. With these funds, Edith Allen organized Girl Scout Troop #16 and Helen Day formed Brownie Troop #8. Other activities soon followed.
Through the next half century, Hopkins House programs expanded to include preschools, HIV/AIDS prevention, a crisis and family counseling center, brownie troops, after-school tutoring, a summer children’s camp, a credit union, an employment and housing referral program, elder care centers, Headstart, Thanksgiving Meals for the Homeless, and a Lunch Bag Program for the hungry.
In 1994, prompted by Hopkins House's 7th President, J. Glenn Hopkins, who was concerned that the organization's resources were being stretched beyond its means, the trustees adopted a strategic plan that, over the next five years, returned the organization to its roots providing education programs for low-income, working families with children.
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storied history of Hopkins House
THROUGH THE YEARS
Hopkins House is founded by Edith L. Allen, Helen Day, Connie Chissell, Leon C. Baltimore, Jr., Margaret Evans, Samuel W. Madden, Richard Poole, Alma P. Murray, and Evelyn Johnson Williams. The organization’s first home was located at 517 Gibbon Street. Alexandria City Council allocates $95.67 to operate Hopkins House. Alexandria Community Chest (now the United Way) contributes $1,335 to Hopkins House. Alexandria City Council gives additional grant of $500 to Hopkins House.
Hopkins House holds first Annual Meeting. Membership dues are $0.25 a year.
Hopkins House leads petition drive to establish a high school for black children. The school was finally opened in 1950. Hopkins House establishes first library in the City open to black children. Black history books were also donated to each of the two elementary schools for black children (Parker-Gray and Lyles Crouch). Hopkins House moves to larger quarters at 1011 Oronoco Street.
Hopkins House establishes "The Society for the Prevention of Delinquency," a group offering youths recreational activities as an alternative to delinquency.
Hopkins House serves as employment clearinghouse for veterans returning from World War II. Hopkins House establishes scholarship fund to assist graduates of Parker-Gray. Hopkins House persuades City to use closed U.S.O. building as a recreation center for black children.
Hopkins House relocates to its third home at 1312 Princess Street.
Hopkins House board of trustees becomes racially integrated – a first in then segregated Alexandria.
The Departmental Progressives Club raises $14,000 to fund the Neighborhood Services Project at Hopkins House. This project provided social work and intensive assistance to individuals falling between the cracks of existing social services.
Hopkins House establishes a halfday playschool for 4- and 5-year-olds.
Hopkins House establishes social hygiene class for teenagers. This program was the precursor to the organization’s community health programs. Hopkins House is awarded Head Start contract for the City of Alexandria.
Hopkins House establishes a federally chartered credit union.
Hopkins House dedicates 1224 Princess Street building with $104,834 grant from HUD. This is the organization’s fourth home. Hopkins House selected for the U.S. Congregate Feeding Program under Title VII of the Older Americans Act. This program was the forerunner of the current City-sponsored program under the Alexandria Office on Aging. Hopkins House expands food basket program to the Thanksgiving Dinners project feeding hundreds of needy persons on Thanksgiving Day.
Hopkins House purchases two vans to transport senior citizens throughout the City.
Hopkins House opens a preschool at 1224 Princess Street. Hopkins House is awarded the City’s first AIDS/HIV prevention program.
Special Friends of Hopkins House donate $50,000 to the organization’s general fund. Hopkins House celebrates half a century of service.
Hopkins House receives bequest of $45,000 from Mary Randolph, the largest gift from an individual at that time.
Hopkins House trustees and members adopt four-year strategic plan to return the organization to its roots in service to children.
Hopkins House raises a record $150,000 in gifts to the organization. Columbia Capital Corporation pledges $25,000, the largest single corporate gift Hopkins House had received to-date.
Hopkins House opens offices in Fairfax County. Organization receives "Excellence in Aging Award" from the Alexandria Commission on Aging.
Hopkins House trustees adopt organization’s first $1-million plus operating budget. Hopkins House opens second preschool on the West End of Alexandria.
Hopkins House launches site on the Internet. Hopkins awarded $150,000 grant from the Mark & Catherine Winkler Foundation, its largest gift from a foundation and the largest single gift Hopkins House had received to-date. The Agnes & Eugene Meyer Foundation awards $100,000 grant. Hopkins House completes implementation of its four-year strategic plan, returning it to an organization for children and their families.
Hopkins House completes the renovation and expansion of its preschool on Princess Street in Alexandria.
Hopkins House launches capital campaign to raise $1.6-million to construct a Child & Family Development Center in Fairfax County. Organization opens infant and toddler care center at its Princess Street preschool. Organization grants first Elward J. Alexander, III Memorial "Gift" to a family affected by violence.
Hopkins House closes its AIDS/HIV prevention program after 14 years. Trustees name the organization’s preschool on Duke Street in memory of Hopkins House’s first President, Edith Allen. Governor Mark Warner speaks at Annual Meeting. Hopkins House purchases 1.6 acres in Fairfax County for the site of its proposed Child & Family Development Center.
The Community Stakeholders approve a 5-Year Strategic Plan changing the mission of the organization and calling for an expansion of Hopkins House services and programs; and, they make official the designation "Community Stakeholder."
Hopkins House begins construction on building in Fairfax County. Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, speaks at Hopkins House event. He calls on fathers to become more involved in the education and development of their children.
Hopkins House opens new center in Fairfax County, naming it the ABC Building in honor of the 90-plus members of the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) who donated money, labor, and materials to construct the 8,500 square foot facility. Hopkins House Trustees name the preschool in the ABC Building in honor of James L. and Juliette McNeil in appreciation for their philanthropic support and their personal involvement at Hopkins House.
Reading Is Fundamental ("RIF") selects Hopkins House from among 3500 literacy programs nationwide for recognition at its national conference in Washington, DC.
Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine visits the Hopkins House Helen Day Preschool Academy in Alexandria, Virginia and meets with local leaders to encourage increased public support for high-quality early care and education programs. U.S. Congressman James P. Moran celebrated his birthday with the children and staff at the James L. & Juliette McNeil Preschool Academy in Fairfax County, Virginia.
Hopkins House celebrates its 70th anniversary of providing high quality services to children, youth, and adults in the community. Through major grants from the Washington Area Women's Foundation, Boeing Company, PNC Bank, Capital One Bank, and the City of Alexandria, Hopkins House establishes the Early Childhood Learning Institute (ECLI) to provide college credits (through Northern Virginia Community College) and professional credentialing in the Early Childhood Education field, along with employment in local childcare centers at above market salaries plus benefits to financially low-resourced adults. U.S. Congressman James P. Moran secures $250,000 federal grant for the ECLI.
Both Hopkins House Preschool Academies are ranked among the top 50 preschools in Northern Virginia by Northern Virginia Magazine. The Helen Day Preschool Academy receives accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The Early Childhood Learning Institute (ECLI) begins offering college classes in Fairfax and Arlington Counties.
The James L. and Juliette McNeil Preschool Academy receives accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
Hopkins House receives $500,000 gift from the Mark & Brenda Moore and Family Foundation, the largest single gift from an individual or family in the organization's history. Joining forces with RAND Corporation, Hopkins House establishes the Institute for the Study of Early Childhood Education (ISECE).
Trustees adopt 2012-2015 Strategic Plan. The Early Childhood Learning Institute (ECLI) is spotlighted at CGI America Conference in Chicago, Illinois. Community Stakeholders amend bylaws to reorganize Board leadership.
Hopkins House opens Innovative Preschool Academy in Herndon, Virginia, its third campus.