Teens Opposing Poverty, Inc. (TOP) was founded in September 1987 at Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church in Chantilly, Virginia. It began as an outreach to homeless people in Washington, DC, an activity that continues to this day. Youth groups bring food, clothing, toiletries and other needed items to those who live on the streets.
Since 2005, TOP has expanded its outreaches to seven other towns and cities in Virginia, serving the homeless, people who live in low budget motels, senior citizens in subsidized housing, and low income homeowners who cannot pay for repairs.
Each year, over 1,000 volunteers from 50+ youth groups contribute over 15,000 hours to serve over 3,000 low income people. In addition to food, clothing, toiletries and home repairs, TOP staff and volunteers offer encouragement and resources to help people escape the grip of poverty.
Teens Opposing Poverty (TOP) was founded in September 1987 at Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church in Chantilly, VA as a result of the church’s participation in the Society of St. Andrew’s Potato Project and United Methodist Volunteers in Mission. After hearing about these ministries, members of the youth group wanted to become involved in outreach. While researching sites in Washington, DC for a fundraiser for the Society of St. Andrew, members of the youth group saw homeless people on the streets and decided to do something to help. On a November evening in 1987, they took their first bags of clothes to the homeless of the nation’s Capital. Since then nearly 100 groups have taken food and clothing to an estimated 7,000 homeless people in Washington, DC, Richmond, Winchester, and Fredericksburg, Virginia. Two youth groups from United Methodist Churches have been involved in this ministry for over 15 years. In order to accommodate the growth in youth participation, TOP incorporated and became a 501(c)(3) organization in 2003.
In 2006 we received two grants through the Community and Faith-Based Initiatives of the Federal Government to help build the capacity of the organization.
We added a home repair work camp, called Impact the Valley, in the Shenandoah Valley in 2005 and expanded our homeless outreach into Richmond 2006. Since then we have expanded into Winchester, Lynchburg, Newport News, Louisa, Berryville, and Roanoke. We have also worked in Warrenton and Martinsville.
TOP volunteers have come from Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Independent, Pentecostal, United Methodist and other churches as well as Key Clubs, Honor Societies and other youth groups.
TOP trains teens how to interact with the homeless and poor people they serve. Through this contact, teens learn of the special needs. In order to meet these special needs TOP established Kelsey Kares to provide specialized work clothing, transportation, rental deposits, utility and medical assistance. .
TOP also provides speakers to church, civic and other groups to encourage people of all ages to get involved in the fight against hunger and poverty.