Windy Hill started in 1981 with the vision of Irene “Rene” Llewellyn, a resident of Middleburg who cared about her community.
Windy Hill Road sits on Route 50 – on the western edge of the Town of Middleburg in Loudoun County, Virginia. Historically, it was an area of town where mainly African American families lived. In 1981, fifteen families shared six outhouses and two cold-water spigots. There was no other running water, no plumbing, and some of the houses still had dirt floors.
Irene “Rene” Llewellyn hailed from England but considered Middleburg to be her adopted home. She gave music lessons to local children and was active socially in the Middleburg Community. One afternoon she was waiting to pick up a child for his lesson when she witnessed the poverty on Windy Hill. That day forward she was determined to help improve the living conditions of the families living on Windy Hill.
Rene got an idea of how to improve the living conditions at Windy Hill and shared it with Edna Washington (who lovingly became known as “Ms. Edna” to the residents of Windy Hill). That night, they formed the Windy Hill Foundation Charter Board and, with the resident’s blessings, gathered local leaders at Rene’s home to propose changes to the Windy Hill community.
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 renovated, and the community was revitalized. It was an amazing transformation. It became apparent over those ten years that the need for quality, low-income housing was much larger than anyone had ever imagined and extended well beyond the houses on Windy Hill Road.
By the 25th anniversary, the Windy Hill Foundation owned 47 rental units throughout Middleburg. But the need was still present in the area for more affordable housing. The Windy Hill Board started working with low-income tax credits through the Virginia Housing Development Authority and local partnerships to build low-income and affordable housing.
By the 35th anniversary Windy Hill Foundation had built 186 affordable housing units throughout Loudoun and Fauquier Counties.
Windy Hill is in the people business
With all this attention on housing needs, some people might think that is all the Foundation does. However, Windy Hill is actually in the people business. The reason Rene wanted to improve living conditions on Windy Hill is because of the families, her neighbors, that lived there. It is that same philosophy that drives the vision of Windy Hill today, to improve people’s lives.
The Foundation started raising money for and supporting social programs for the residents. From tutoring children after school to serving hot meals to seniors, Windy Hill is there to support neighbors. In the last 35 years, starting with Rene’s action to improve lives in her community, the Foundation has steadily provided housing and services to individuals, families and seniors from all walks of life.