Friends of Guest House



Friends of Guest House Celebrates 40th Anniversary:
40 Years of Transformations

Guest House women2014 marks the 40th anniversary of Friends of Guest House: a labor of love and community spirit that began in 1974, when Betty McConkey, a Federal parolee, was released from incarceration, returned home to Alexandria, saw the insufficiency of services for women like her—and decided to do something about it.

"I have a real concern to help those who have been in prison. So many of them are repeaters because no one cared." —BETTY McCONKEY, Founder of Friends of Guest House, 1974

Our first name was Friends of Women Prisoners. Our first services were counseling and referrals; the residential component began as soon as we rented "the" Guest House. By our 20th anniversary, we were serving all seven jurisdictions of Northern Virginia. Today, Guest House remains the only Northern Virginia program providing re-entering women with support that is comprehensive (including a 24/7 residential component) and tailored to women's unique needs. Since 1974, we have been privileged to serve thousands of women, also benefiting their children.

“They loved me when I couldn’t love myself. They gave me my life back, when nobody else would give me anything.” —TERRY (client)

See how we've grown!

1974: Founding of what is today Friends of Guest House: original name, Friends of Women Prisoners. “The” Guest House at One East Luray Avenue was rented, and the Residential Program and other services began.

1975: Our formal incorporation in Alexandria, Virginia.

1981: With help from the City of Alexandria and the Old Presbyterian Meeting House, the Guest House at One East Luray Avenue was purchased.

2004: The Guest House completed a dramatic renovation, thanks to $300,000 in donated labor, materials, furnishings and design services.

2005: Significant Aftercare Program expansion began.

2007: The Outreach Program began.

2008: The Speakers Bureau began.

2012: Assistance expanded to “justice-involved” women: for example, women with a spouse or other family member in jail.

2013: The Residential Program expanded to almost-double the number of women it can serve, from 10 at a time to 17 at a time. We contracted space outside the Guest House to accommodate the expansion.

2014: The expanded Residential Program is expanding the Aftercare Program, too, because Residential graduates matriculate into Aftercare. Since 2013, the one-year Residential-to-Aftercare Program continuum expanded by 60%. We now serve about 150 women per year—also benefiting their families, especially their children.

After 2014: Follow the continuing growth of Guest House here.

“When I came to Friends of Guest House, I couldn't read or write, never had a job in my life and had been a heroin addict for 27 years. Today I'm general manager of [a pet daycare]. And I owe it all to Guest House. This is a safe place to have people believe in you when you don't believe in yourself.” —JENNY (client)

“You and your colleagues are providing a valuable service to your community and this commonwealth. You can count on me doing anything that I can do to be of assistance to you in your labor of love.” —HAROLD W. CLARKE, Director, Virginia Department of Corrections

"Guest House is recognized as a resource on incarcerated and ex-offender women's issues and we are delighted to lend our support to their work. ... All support they can receive will be greatly appreciated as they continue to be the only program of its kind for women in Northern Virginia. The work of Guest House is so critical in today's world." —VICKIE JOHNSON-SCOTT, Northern Regional Director, Virginia Department of Social Services


(November 10, 2014)

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Friends of Guest House
One East Luray Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301-2025
{p} 703-549-8072
{f} 703-549-8073

In Northern Virginia, Friends of Guest House helps women make the difficult transition from incarceration back into the community.

Friends of Guest House, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) public charity: Federal tax ID #51-0201327. Gifts to Guest House are tax-deductible as provided by law.

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