With the change of seasons and cooler weather on the way, it’s easy to start thinking about Thanksgiving recipes and holiday gift exchanges. Most people can agree, however, that a not-so-welcome sign of fall is that feeling when your feet hit that cold floor every morning, especially if you forget to turn up the thermostat. But what if you didn't have heat? What if you didn't have a home?
Over 600 people in Calvert County are homeless, approximately half of which are homeless with their families. Last year, our county's only homeless shelter, Project ECHO was able to provide a temporary roof over the heads of 238 of those individuals. Southern Maryland Community Network utilized their Adult Crisis House to provide emergency shelter to an additional 27 homeless people.
But what happens if you do have a place to live? What if you're working but not able to make ends meet that month? That's where Community Ministry of Calvert County comes in. For the past four years, their Safety Net Program has been providing rent and utility assistance to those who need it most, when they need it most. For those about to face eviction, Community Ministry also offers a Homeless Prevention Program to ensure that families can stay together and receive safe shelter.
Occasionally, families like the Olsons will go through both programs. Mike Olson was working hard to support his family but still making less than 30% of the mean income, as determined by HUD. It was difficult for him to afford rent in addition to food, utilities, and other day to day costs needed to care for his wife and four children, one of whom is disabled. The Olsons were living in a sub-standard trailer that, in addition to being poorly insulated, had holes in the ceiling and an unreliable septic system. Something needed to change-- and something did. The trailer park was sold and the Olsons received an eviction notice. With just 30 days to find a new place to live AND move, Mike's wife Patty reached out to Community Ministry of Calvert County. Working with this agency and a local realtor, the Olsons found a place to call home.
So what do Project Echo, Southern Maryland Community Network, and Community Ministry have in common? They're all working to provide safe shelter to families in Calvert County-- and they are all United Way of Calvert County Partner Agencies. It is through your generous donations, that United Way can continue to strategically fund these organizations through our Basic Needs Grant and track how your dollars are being put to good use!
*names and photos changed to protect anonymity