For 30 years Teens Opposing Poverty (TOP) has empowered teens to make a difference in the lives of homeless people. Beginning in Washington, DC and expanding throughout Virginia, TOP has trained youth from hundreds of church, school and civic groups to meet the needs of the homeless.
Our staff members evaluate ministry sites for safety and train groups how to prepare food and other items for the homeless. But the focus of The Street is to teach volunteers how to offer friendship, encouragement and hope to the people they serve.
Impact the Valley
TOP works with area churches and other organizations to sponsor a local, ecumenical, mission event bringing teenagers and adults of all ages together for a week of service.
Since 2005, over 1,200 volunteers have repaired more than 130 homes belonging to low income families.
IV is held during the third week of July each year in the Northern Shendandoah Valley of Virginia. Most volunteers are local, but lodging for up to 100 people is available.
Countless families live in low budget motels. For a number of reasons, they don’t qualify for other housing. These families often must choose between food and rent.
TOP has developed an outreach to these families that includes delivering food, clothing, groceries, paper products, diapers, school supplies and baby products. In addition to meeting physical needs, TOP volunteers offer encouragement and information on helpful resources. This model for ministry can work in almost any town or city.
In early 2013, TOP began ministry with low income seniors living in subsidized housing. Our volunteers provide groceries, toiletries, paper products and other needed supplies and spend time with residents singing, playing games and just hanging out. Since 2013, TOP has established senior ministry in three communities.
Kelsey Orndorff was taken from us on August 29, 2008 in a tragic automobile accident. She was only 17 years old. From the time she was a young girl, Kelsey personified the best of what young people can be. She was a passionate follower of Christ and had a passion for people, especially poor people. Kelsey showed remarkable courage and leadership ability that stemmed from her strong faith.
When she was still a pre-teen, she became active in TOP. She went into situations other people wouldn’t go in order to reach out to the poor and homeless. In the last year of her life, she took the lead and founded TOP’s outreach into Fredericksburg, Virginia through the Christian high school she attended.
To honor Kelsey’s memory and establish a living legacy that reflects the love she carried for people who are trapped in the stranglehold of poverty, TOP has re-named its Direct Aid Fund to Kelsey Kares.
Kelsey Kares is a designated, restricted fund. Donations made to Kelsey Kares can only be used to provide direct assistance to the poor and homeless.
Overview of Kelsey Kares: In their work with the poor and homeless, TOP teens discover special needs that go beyond the food, clothes, toiletries or home repair we routinely provide. These needs often aren’t provided through other agencies or institutions. The requests are usually simple, relatively inexpensive needs that can have life-changing impacts. Some of the items we have provided in the past are listed below.
- Work boots or other specialized work clothing
- Emergency assistance with utilities
- Emergency vehicle repair
- Rental assistance to prevent eviction or to help someone get into a place to live
- And other specific needs too numerous to mention
Providing for one of these simple needs may be the missing link in getting a homeless person off the street or keeping a person or family from becoming homeless