Windy Hill Road sits on Route 50 – on the western edge of Middleburg. In 1981, it was still an all-black community. Fifteen families shared six outhouses and two cold-water spigots. There was no other running water, no plumbing, and some of the shacks still had dirt floors.
Irene “Rene” Llewellyn was from England but considered Middleburg to be her adopted home. She gave music lessons to local children, and she was waiting to pick up a boy for his lesson one day when the poverty of Windy Hill hit her in the face. How could something like this be acceptable in America – especially in Middleburg?
Rene got an idea and shared it with Edna Washington, lovingly known as “Ms. Edna” to the residents of Windy Hill. With the residents on board, she gathered local leaders at her home. That night, they formed the Windy Hill Foundation Charter Board.
An idea turns into a large-scale production.
Rene’s plan was to raise money to purchase all the Windy Hill properties and then use Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds to pay for the homes to be renovated. Rene’s Bridge Club donated the first $100,000 to the cause, marking the beginning of the Windy Hill Renewal Project.
For the next decade, water and sewer lines were laid, and homes were completely revitalized. It was an amazing transformation. We also realized over those ten years that the need for quality, low-income housing was much larger than we had ever imagined.
So, we decided to dream bigger.
By our 25th anniversary, the Foundation owned 47 rental units throughout Middleburg. It wasn’t enough. We agreed that it was time to think even bigger – so we learned how to work with, and win, low-income tax credits through the Virginia Housing Development Authority.
By our 35th anniversary we had build 396 affordable housing units in Loudoun and Fauquier Counties.
Windy Hill is in the people business.
Some people think that we are in the housing business, but we aren’t. We are in the people business. The reason Rene wanted to improve living conditions on Windy Hill is because of its residents. We believe that everyone needs some help now and then. Whether it’s a family that’s dealing with unemployment or a senior on a very small fixed income, we need to reach out and serve those who have helped to shape Middleburg into the beautiful, vibrant community that it is today.
Housing simply provides a solid foundation for our other services. We strive to interact and connect to those in our community as much as we can, and in the most helpful ways possible. From tutoring children after school to setting up an emergency fund for residents, Windy Hill is there to support our neighbors. In 35 year, we’ve been able to inspire many lives.
We hope that in the next 35, we’ll touch even more.