In 1974, an Alexandria woman was released from federal prison and later opened what would then become the largest women’s reentry program in the state of Virginia.
45 years later, Friends of Guest House in Del Ray is about to start renovating its third location in Old Town. It will soon house 31 formerly-incarcerated women, preparing them to get back on their feet.
“I’m 51-years-old and I’m ready to come up on two years clean. And I’ve neer been clean this long. It’s a miracle,” said former resident Renee Watts.
“I hadn’t intended to stay for 14 years,” said Executive Director Kari Galloway. “I really admire the women so much that I don’t know what I would do without them, really.”
85 percent of the estimated $200,000 project will be covered by Homemade Northern Virginia, which renovates for nonprofits that work with at-risk and homeless populations. Its executive director and CEO teaches yoga for prisoners. “It’s just part of their path and they can easily put that behind them if they’re given the support and tools and the hand up to move forward and heal,” said Kristyn Burr.
The renovations will begin sometime this spring, and are expected to take just a few months.