Imagine having spent months or even years working your way back from homelessness, and coming within arm’s reach of self-sufficiency, only to have an unpredictable and uncontrollable event threaten everything you have fought so hard to achieve. For many of the guests in Talbot Interfaith Shelter’s (TIS) S4 Program – Shelter, Stability, Support, Success -the COVID-19 crisis could have been a severe setback in their quest for financial independence. Instead, their usual curriculum of classes in health, parenting, nutritional cooking, and poverty was supplemented with an equally important lesson in kindness, compassion, and community spirit.
Throughout the crisis, TIS has been pleasantly overwhelmed by support from the community. Hill’s Café and Juice Bar provided weekly grocery boxes for the guests in their apartments. Snifter’s Craft Beer and Wine Bistro prepared many meals for the families in our transitional housing and the guests at their shelter facility at Easton’s Promise. Eat Sprout made frequent visits to drop off snacks and meals for shelter guests and staff members. The University of Maryland Extension Program dropped off weekly meal kits with ingredients and recipes so that guests could continue to learn about nutritional cooking while self-isolating. They also planted the raised beds in the backyard at Easton’s Promise – TIS’ shelter facility – with fresh vegetables for guests to enjoy.
Shelter supporters donated handmade reusable face masks and made sure that the shelter and apartments were always stocked with hard-to-come-by essentials like toilet paper and cleaning supplies. Others created a meal fund so that the shelter could purchase food from local restaurants if needed. These are but a handful of the myriad acts of generosity TIS has experienced over the past few months.
Some of TIS’ guests have written letters to thank the shelter’s donors, volunteers, and business partners for easing their anxiety and ensuring they had everything they needed.
“Covid 19 has been a very scary and stressful time in our lives, but having TIS as part of our daily resource, we have been able to stay safe and healthy,” said one mother. “With the help of TIS and the local restaurants my 2 children and I have had full bellies, and big smiles every night! We are so grateful for Talbot Interfaith Shelter and their staff/volunteers!!!! You truly take care of your own community!”
Another parent thanked shelter supporters for making it possible for the prolonged time with her family during the stay home order to be quality time. “With the current pandemic affecting everyone and everything I believe the scariest part for me is knowing that my 2 1/2 year old son could contract COVID from something as simple as a run for milk or a forgotten ingredient for dinner.” She continued, “Receiving food made it possible to spend more time with my family and less time in the kitchen. An absolute help and huge relief… To all the organizations helping us during this pandemic, thank you and God bless you all. You show me that even when times are hard there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Executive Director Julie Lowe also thanked the community for embracing Talbot Interfaith Shelter in a time of need. She said, “We have been humbled by Talbot County’s response to the COVID crisis. Even while working hard to preserve their own health and livelihoods, our neighbors went out of their way to take care of others, not just at TIS, but throughout our community. We are blessed to be surrounded by such extraordinary people.”
However, Lowe cautioned, “We believe that Talbot Interfaith Shelter’sresponse to COVID may just be in its early stages. As things have opened up, we have already begun to see a big uptick in calls for shelter, even before the moratorium on evictions is lifted. We anticipate that there will be many more in need of our services before the end of the year and are exploring ways in which we can expand our capacity to help as many people as possible to overcome this unprecedented challenge. We know that whichever direction we choose, our incredible community will stand behind TIS and our neighbors to make sure they have everything they need to get back on their feet.”
Talbot Interfaith Shelter (TIS) is dedicated to ending homelessness on Maryland’s Mid-Shore by providing Shelter, Stability, Support, and a path to Success for families and individuals in need. These are the tenets of TIS’ S4 Program, a long term, comprehensive program which is designed to guide guests from homelessness to self-sufficiency. Guests start out at TIS’ shelter facility, located at a former bed and breakfast called Easton’s Promise. There, they receive case management, are connected with necessary services, and participate in educational programming including health, parenting, and nutritional cooking classes, among others. Once they have reached a certain level of financial stability, guests are invited to move into one of TIS’ ten off-site transitional apartments. There, they begin by paying approximately $250 per month to start, while TIS subsidizes the remainder. Over time, their portion increases, until they are able to take over the full rent and reach financial independence.
To learn more about Talbot Interfaith Shelter’s S4 Program and how you can help, visit talbotinterfaithshelter.org or contact Executive Director Julie Lowe at 410-310-2316.