Talbot Interfaith Shelter Wraps Up First Year of Service

When planning first began last year, the team who developed Talbot Interfaith Shelter hoped to provide an emergency overnight shelter, the county’s first, for the two coldest months of the winter.

But with the help of 417 volunteers from 12 congregations and the community at large, Talbot Interfaith Shelter did much more. Over a three-month period, TIS provided 272 bed nights to 12 guests, served 1,450 meals, and was the only shelter in the region to provide daytime shelter as well, offering a warm place to stay in the morning and afternoon.

A group of volunteers and the TIS board of directors recently met in Easton to review the year’s accomplishments and plan for the year ahead, in which TIS hopes to expand its mission.

Evelyn Sedlack, who originated the idea for TIS, thanked the volunteers for helping overcome the many hurdles that arose during the shelter’s first year of operation.

“None of this would have happened if you hadn’t stepped forward to help others, and for that we are eternally grateful,” she said.

“It was an amazing outpouring of support,” said John Hobson, program coordinator, though he noted that there is much more work to be done.

“We just saw a small picture of the homeless situation in Talbot County,” he said.

To accomplish that, the TIS board of directors is hoping to expand the shelter next year, perhaps locating in a commercial space in Easton. This year, the shelter rotated through six congregations from week to week.

Because of fire code regulations, TIS was only able to house up to five guests per night, and a commercial space would allow for more people to be accommodated. The board is considering expanding to 10 or 12 guests per night next year, as well as opening in December rather than January, since a survey of volunteers found that a large number would be willing to work during the winter holidays, said board member Gail Benjamin.

TIS also hopes to involve even more volunteers and faith communities from around the county for next year.

“I think it is fantastic how we’ve drawn these faith communities together, and I just want to gather more,” said Julie Lowe, board vice president.

TIS’ new board of directors were also announced at the meeting. Members are: Evelyn Sedlack, president; Julie Lowe, vice president; Kim White, treasurer; Lisa Menditch, secretary; and board members Gail Makovsky, Pamela McCloud and Gail Benjamin. John Hobson will continue as program coordinator and executive director.

In closing, Sedlack noted that the TIS volunteers were not the only ones who deserve thanks.

“In return, the guests gave us something too — they opened our hearts and our minds to those who are needy; for this, we can be grateful to them.”

TIS is in need of donations and volunteers for next year. To get involved, call Evelyn Sedlack at 410-822-0605 or Lisa Menditch at 410-745-6563, or visit www.talbotinterfaithshelter.org. Donations for TIS may be made online at www.creatinglegacies.org. Checks should be made out to Foundation for Community Partnerships, with Talbot Interfaith Shelter on the memo line. They may be sent to: TIS, P.O. Box 2004, Easton, MD, 21601.