“Is that shirt what I think it is?” said a 52-year-old waitress to a customer who just sat down for lunch at Cracker Barrell in Sterling. “If you are referring to the Real Husbands of Loudoun County – yes, it is,” he replied. “Ha, my husband is a member and loves that group, he signed up for a Real Husband’s charity golf event in a few weeks,” said Nancy.
What Nancy was referring to is one of the largest all men Facebook (FB) networking groups for Loudoun County residents, aptly called, Real Husbands of Loudoun County (RHOLC) and profiled as RHOLC on shirts, hats, and bumper stickers.
The private FB group currently boasts over 7,000 men and growing – and no, you don’t have to be married to become a member, just invited or answer an online questionnaire so the administrators can judge if the applicant is a “fit.”
“We are all guys, dudes being dudes, so we joke, poke fun, perhaps a little crude but ultimately help each other in more ways than you can ever imagine,” said Suhile “Adam” Alami, the group’s founder.
“It started because my wife Lucia and I had kids earlier than most of our friends and as mine were getting older, my friends were just starting their families. I felt a bit alone as that comradery and brotherhood I once had with buddies began to vanish. It’s also a transient area so people were moving away,” said Adam. “Then I noticed my wife become more and more involved with a FB group for women and thought, maybe I could find one for guys.”
Having no luck finding anything of interest, Adam decided to take a leap and create his own FB group, inviting his friends and connections made through his career as a realtor.
“I created a place where new people could meet, connect my existing network of friends, family and business associates and get people plugged in who just moved into the area,” said Adam. “I see all the time where a new couple moves here and feels out of place for the first year or two. Unless you are a master networker, you simply feel like an outsider. I wanted to create a sense of community for everyone to feel welcome immediately.”
Having no name for the group, Adam actually turned to his then 9-year-old daughter and asked what it should be called.
“Because my wife was involved with a group called the Real Housewives of Loudoun County, my daughter said, ‘Why don’t you just call it the Real Husbands of Loudoun County.’” And so, in 2014, the name was given.
RHOLC membership grew because there were so many men who wanted a place to belong said Adam. “I also witnessed that sense of community transitioning into a valuable community resource. In a word, it was becoming a brotherhood.”
“Members would simply ask, ‘Anyone here know of a good mechanic?’ or attorney, dentist, carpet installer, plumber,” said Adam. “Members would post their skills, business interests and offer other members special brotherhood rates.”
The difference Adam explains, between other groups and RHOLC, is that sense of brotherhood, commitment and desire to help each other.
“We have guys going through difficulties with their teens, marriages, finances, you name it but its remarkable to see our brothers embrace each other and immediately offer help,” said Adam. “We have lawyers, doctors, clinicians, nearly every industry or business element is represented.”
As an example, one member simply posted a question asking if anyone could help him cut down a tree for an older veteran. In fact, an entire group of members came together to help. Recently, a member had committed suicide and within days nearly fifteen thousand dollars was raised for his family. The stories of impact manifest daily.
That demonstration of support sparked the idea that RHOLC could be much more – a resource to actually give back, a charitable group – one which makes a visible difference and sets an example.
“A number of members play golf, so the idea of a charity golf tournament seemed like a natural test,” said Adam.
Member and group administrator Michael Nogueira along with Kris Olsen and Casey Holm. volunteered to organize the RHOLC event.
“I was shocked that within a matter of days we had the course, graphics, sponsors beginning to sign up, it was amazing,” said Adam.
“Within eight days we had raised over $13,000 and had 70% of the 150 players signed up,” said Nogueira, who runs a local financial services business through New York Life. By the time the tournament is held on September 28th, we will be turning down players.”
All net proceeds from the tournament will go to benefit StackUp.org. RHOLC member Randy Holland is the local ambassador for StackUp which sends care packages to veteran and assists with PSTD issues.
“While we do intend to concentrate on local charities moving forward, StackUp represents a strong community of friends, family, brothers and sisters in arms, and supporters, all coming together for a common mission,” said Adam. “That reflects our RHOLC core brotherhood and vision for our future.”
Managing a group containing thousands of men does take administration and rules. Large FB groups such as RHOLC have to adhere to FB guidelines.
As RHOLC grew, Adam brought in Nogueira to help with administrative duties and moderation as well as active member and local Loudoun tattoo artist Corey Wheeler as an additional moderator.
“Our rules are simple, let’s forget about politics, religion, racism, that is just not going to be tolerated in our [online] community,” said Adam. “Those are the topics that divides us, so if you just eliminate that, at the end of the day we are all patriots and have so much in common. Without those dividing elements, brotherhood prevails regardless of our different beliefs, skin color or backgrounds.”
The future of RHOLC is just unfolding. Adam’s vision not only includes focus on the use of its membership to help local charities and causes yet includes an actual RHOLC building. The building which is in the early stages of planning now, will not only be RHOLC headquarters, yet a gathering place for members as well as fostering a business incubator – helping new ideas become startups and startup companies to develop by providing services such as management training, networking and cost-effective services and office space.
Find RHOLC on FB at Facebook.com/RealHusbandsOfLoudounCounty or Rholc.club.