Mission & History


We procure no longer needed goods and supplies from hotels, restaurants and other concerned businesses, and provide these items, at no cost, to those living in poverty. We accomplish this through the generosity of contributors, the dedicated work of our volunteers and through our partnerships with organizations providing homeless services in the Greater Washington, DC Metro area.


Beginning in 1998, the inspiration for KEYS for the Homeless Foundation, Inc. emerged from a recognition of the powerful influence the hospitality industry and other concerned businesses have in supporting homeless services in our Nation’s Capitol.

Two striking, parallel problems sparked the attention of Valerie Guste Johnson, President & Founder: Hotel staff faced the task of finding time to place no-longer needed inventory with community service providers and vice versa, a non-profit organizations providing homeless services, faced budget constraints in acquiring basic, essential in-kind goods to meet real life needs of those living in poverty.

With determination to offer a lasting solution to better serve our communities, Valerie envisioned a foundation that bridges the non-profit sector with corporate leaders more efficiently. With the support from her family, a shoebox project of Holy Trinity Catholic Church to collect personal care items for the homeless, and a willingness to share “Joy, II All” (the family’s ’96 Buick Roadmaster), rooms of new and gently used in-kind goods, time and again, were delivered.

After a compelling read, The Street Lawyer, by John Grisham, Valerie personally found the real character and characters of the story to explore the needs-spectrum of care providers and the mission took route. We called ourselves KEYS for the Homeless, reflecting the unique “key” contributions of every aspect of our program. By 2004, the program grew to a level that evidenced public support for this charitable work. Effective October 15, 2005, KEYS for the Homeless Foundation, Inc. received IRS 501c3 designation.

A grassroots method fueled our energy and our drive to stay on the road. An emerging network mapped out a plan for the future. While crossing over the KEY Bridge, heading into the heart of DC, this bridge between the hospitality industry, corporations and volunteers in working together was KEY to ending homelessness.

With a firm commitment to social responsibility and respect for human dignity, KEYS set out on a tangible, practical mission to serve as catalyst between concerned businesses and charitable organizations and individuals in need. The allocation of available goods and resources is a win-win strategy in promoting stability and well being in our communities.

Advocating in action, we are providing assistance to transition from homelessness and poverty to self-sufficiency and we are responding to the great demand in our region for initiatives that support the core basic needs, stimulate progress and help secure brighter futures for us.

Over the past 20 years and growing, the hospitality industry, universities, non-profits, corporations, churches and other concerned businesses have opened the doors to KEYS and have supported this economically, naturally productive initiative. We reap the benefit of long term relationships. Our goals are having a positive impact in strengthening the model of corporate investment in the communities by contributing valuable resources in substantial and meaningful ways.

In 2008, KEYS joined The Hotel Association of Washington, D.C. as an Allied Member. The Downtown Business Improvement District and Golden Triangle BID magnanimously supports our endeavors. We now partner with more than 65 service providers who care for more than 40,000 people annually.

Since 2005, through the generositiy of our donors, funders and volunteers, KEYS has joyfully contributed an estimated fair market value of nearly $5million (in-kind goods) to advance the quality of American life.  

together, we are KEYS for the Homeless!

Virginia Linen
Adobe Foundation
JBG Companies
Nixon Peabody
The W.O'Neil Foundation
Holy Trinity Catholic Church
John Edward Fowler Memorial Foundation
The Hay-Adams
The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
Fairmont Corporation
Share Fund
Stuart Dean Co., Inc
The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation
The Greater Washington Community Foundation
OMX Office Movers Express
OMX Office Movers Express
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