Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

S Shopper Stories


ABBA LIST

Adding new resources and renewing old ones

by Eric Hodies


Executive Director Angela Breitkreutz and President Doug Bruno

Executive Director Angela Breitkreutz and President Doug Bruno

If ABBA List had a theme song, it would be the Beatles 1967 hit, “With a Little Help from My Friends.” The nonprofit started with the simple, but powerful idea of friends helping friends, but now utilizes the collective resources of individuals, churches and businesses to provide a helping hand to those less fortunate.

In 2008, a woman approached Trudy Rauch at Great Bridge Presbyterian Church and asked if Trudy was aware of help for an issue she was facing. Trudy was confident there were resources available, but was unsure how to locate them. She wondered how many more people were facing the same problem. It was while she pondered those questions that she felt led to form ABBA List.

The original website launched in August 2010, with ABBA List initially focused on support services provided by individuals and churches within Chesapeake. But the service quickly expanded to all of Hampton Roads.


“The top three issues are
food, homelessness and clothing – in that order.
Many people in our community
live out of their car,  so food is an obvious issue.”

—Doug Bruno, President



The organization is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and serves as the umbrella organization for three programs, each serving a specific need: ABBAlist.org, CAST and the Burfoot House.
“ABBA List is the ‘go-to’ resource in Hampton Roads when a little extra help is needed,” President Doug Bruno says. “Our website lists 20 categories of help, from employment to mental health to prayer. The next time a situation arises that is beyond someone’s abilities to manage, they need look no further than ABBA List to assist.”

Doug notes that the website has made a real difference in the lives of those who need it most. Once on the website, the user selects their city and the specific need they desire help with. The search results are in the form of a map with pins marking the location of a group prepared to offer free help. Click on the pin and the appropriate contact information to the church or nonprofit organization is shown.

“The top three issues are food, homelessness and clothing – in that order,” Doug points out. “Many people in our community live out of their car, so food is an obvious issue.”

For Executive Director Angela Breitkreutz, handing out ABBA List cards has become a ministry.

“When I see someone standing at a corner with a sign asking for a handout, I’m faced with a decision,” Angela explains. “I can give them a meal or money, but that only helps temporarily. If I pass out an ABBA List card, that person can go to the library and find resources that can provide a long term solution and hopefully put someone on a better path. The encouragement and hope it gives them blesses me beyond words.”

“Any of us can be in that position very quickly,” she adds. “I received an email recently from a woman, whose husband is out of work due to injury. That’s unfortunate, but ABBA List is available to identify help. Sometimes we need a second chance. I’m thankful to be given the opportunity to serve in this wonderful ministry.”

Trudy is the director of The Burfoot House, which is scheduled to open this summer. It will operate as a transitional home and comprehensive program designed for women to achieve self-sufficiency. The residence on the grounds of Centerville Baptist Church is currently undergoing restoration by an army of volunteers. When complete, the five-bedroom house will be able to host 10 women. The food pantry is being filled and donations range from a vacuum cleaner to home furnishings, but more are needed.

Another of Trudy’s initiatives is the Chesapeake Area Shelter Team (CAST), a group effort of more than 40 area churches to provide an emergency winter shelter program for the homeless. From November to April, about 20 churches rotate weeks hosting the homeless. The remaining 20 churches assist by providing necessary items such as food, blankets and toiletries.

In addition to hosting the homeless, each church provides a hot meal, fellowship and compassionate and competent professional services.


“When I see someone standing at a corner
with a sign asking for a handout,
I can give them a meal or money,
but that only helps temporarily.
If I pass out an ABBA List card,
that person can go to the library
and find resources that can provide
a long term solution and hopefully
put someone on a better path.”

—Angela Breitkreutz, Executive Director



“Each night, a church will focus on providing some of the skills that are necessary to get people back on the path to self-sufficiency,” Doug explains. “In the past, we’ve had folks come in who can demonstrate appropriate interviewing skills. We’ve provided help with financial literacy because that’s a challenge for many people. The church may also bring in people to provide services that many of us take for granted, such as haircuts.”

“We’re always looking to add churches to our list of host churches,” Doug adds. “And if a church is too small or not equipped for that, we welcome any kind of help with food or blankets.”

Angela tells the story of one woman, Hope, who lost everything due to depression. She went from a having a good job and a town home to sitting on the couch to becoming homeless.
“She took advantage of available resources to get back on her feet,” Angela says. “To help others, she started a blog about mental health. A couple read her blog and invited Hope to live in their mother-in-law suite. Now Hope has a job and speaks publicly about mental health and how it impacted her life.”

ABBA List is in the preliminary stages of planning fundraising activities for later this year. Donations are always welcome, while churches and nonprofits are encouraged to register on the ABBA List website as providers. Because ABBA List is a nonprofit, corporate donations are tax deductible.

“Our mission is transforming lives, and we invite individuals and churches to join us,” Doug says in conclusion. “We encourage those with an interest and heart to help us help others. Together we can create an empowered community where basic needs are met.”





Abba List

P.O. Box 16325
Chesapeake, VA 23328

757-522-7052
http://abbalist.org