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Hopkins House Marks 75 Years

October 6, 2014 11:59 AM
In the late summer of 1939, with war raging in Europe, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress feuding over the federal budget, nine teachers and community leaders gathered to discuss the loss of federal funding of a nursery in Alexandria.  The loss of this nursery was significant to families because it meant not only that some parents would have nowhere to leave their children while they worked but also that these children would not have the early preparation so important for them to achieve in kindergarten and life.  The group decided to use their personal resources to keep the nursery going.  And, on August 9, they voted to establish Hopkins House and named it in memory of the much loved Alexandria physician, J. Milton Hopkins (Pictured above).
Connie Chissell, an experienced social worker and educator, was hired as the organization’s first director.  She expanded its programs with the addition of sewing, cooking, and shop classes for older children.  She and other members of the founding group persuaded the Alexandria City Council to allocate an initial $95.67 to the organization, followed soon after by a second grant of $500.  The Alexandria Community Chest (precursor to today’s United Way) awarded the organization its first "major" grant of $1,335.

A year later, the organization formally incorporated as a settlement house.  In the decades that followed, its programs expanded further to include services for veterans returning from World War II, college scholarships for high school graduates, after-school tutoring and mentoring, community banking, employment services, assistance to the elderly, food for the hungry, AIDS/HIV prevention outreach, and social policy advocacy.

In 1999, struggling to fund this vast array of programs, the organization's trustees approved a strategic plan that downsized and refocused Hopkins House programs on education services for children, youths, and families.  That same year, the organization’s trustees launched a capital campaign to raise $1 million to expand its facilities and generate new revenue.

In 2006, Senator Barack Obama visited Hopkins House and urged the organization to continue its work encouraging parental engagement, particularly among fathers of young children.

The following year, having exceeded its $1 million capital campaign goal by more than $2 million, Hopkins House added a campus in Fairfax County and in 2009, on the occasion of its 70th anniversary, with a $250,000 federal grant secured by Congressman James P. Moran, launched the Early Childhood Learning Institute, a new program in collaboration with Northern Virginia Community College that helps teens and young adults earn a college degree and career in early childhood education.   

This year, on the occasion of its 75th anniversary, Hopkins House expanded again with the addition of a third campus, located in the Town of Herndon.   The organization now serves 420 children, youths, and adults on three campuses in Northern Virginia, and maintains a growing list of applicants seeking to enroll in its highly rated programs.  

Reflecting the excellence of its programs and staff, its preschool academies are nationally accredited and Virginia star rated.  Its Early Childhood Learning Institute has been studied by nationally renowned Brookings Institution and featured by the Clinton Global Initiative.  It has partnered with Rand Corporation, a prestigious national think tank, to study and develop new program innovations.  And, Hopkins House has attracted some of the most prominent and influential individuals in the region to serve on its Board.

Hopkins House will mark this anniversary with a year-long series of events, starting with a two-day celebration beginning on Friday, October 31 with community fun days on each of its three campuses, and a Venetian Masquerade Scholarship Ball on Saturday, November 1, to raise funds for preschool scholarships.
Looking forward, "we want to continue to enhance the quality of our programs in order to ensure that children, youths, and families are prepared to achieve to their fullest potential in the new global economy of the 21st century," said J. Glenn Hopkins, President/CEO of Hopkins House.
To read more about the history of Hopkins House, click here: 75 Years and Counting.