Days before thousands of revelers descended on the District for Fannie Mae’s Help the Homeless Walkathon – the nation’s largest campaign against homelessness – members of Alexandria’s Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Nu Xi Zeta (NXZ) chapter busied themselves with last-minute planning efforts to ensure two area programs benefit from the fundraising initiative.

The sorority chapter has partnered with the Carpenter’s Shelter and ALIVE!, both Alexandria-based service organizations, encouraging D.C.-area residents to donate their time and funds to their various projects. The Help the Homeless Walkathon allows participants to register with a number of local organizations combating homelessness and related causes, and Nu Xi Zeta members are passionate about the work ALIVE! and the Carpenter’s Shelter have done in Northern Virginia.

“NXZ has chosen to work with Carpenter’s Shelter and ALIVE! because of their wonderful work providing transitional housing services to homeless families in the area,” said Emmanuella Duplessy, the chapter’s president. “Together, Carpenter’s Shelter and ALIVE! provide housing services to over 200 homeless families on an annual basis. NXZ provides much-needed workshops on professional development, domestic abuse and health, as well as provide volunteer hours for food distribution and other services.”

NXZ’s partnership with the two organizations is part of a larger coalition called CBO Connect, a network of recognized community-based companies organized by the chapter. According to Duplessy, each participating organization possesses the “leadership, trust, sustainability and insight on the issues consistently affecting the communities they serve.” CBO Connect also provides the means to quickly disseminate timely and much-need education and support services to partners on issues facing their constituents, such as financial services, health and educational programs.

Along with ALIVE! and the Carpenter’s Shelter, the Northern Virginia Urban League, Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce, city of Alexandria and Community Lodgings are members of CBO Connect. Jointly, the collaborative has offered vision care, healthy relationship workshops and professional development initiatives targeting Alexandria’s African-American community.  

Representatives from these groups will be on hand Nov. 20 for the walkathon, which raised $5.8 million for 134 regional non-profit organizations serving people who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in 2009.

Preregistration is $15 for participants 25 and younger and $25 for general admission. Event day registration is $15 for youth and $30 for adults over 25. For more information about CBO Connect, visit To register for the walk, visit