Talbot Interfaith Shelter

“As temperatures dropped into the teens the week of Jan. 11, volunteers with Talbot Interfaith Shelter stepped up to ensure that guests at the county’s first emergency cold weather shelter could stay warm during the day as well as at night.

Although Talbot Interfaith Shelter (TIS) was originally scheduled to operate nightly from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m., organizers wanted to prevent their guests from having to spend the day in freezing temperatures. Volunteers from that week’s host site, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Easton, and other faith communities quickly signed up to serve as supervisors during the day, ensuring that TIS could stay open around the clock.
Over the next month, TIS organizers hope to keep the shelter open during daylight hours, from 7 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m., but in order to do this will need many more volunteers who are willing to spend a few hours working at one of the Easton or St. Michaels host sites.
More than 210 people have already signed up to volunteer with TIS, and the community is also supporting TIS through donations of food, blankets and other supplies.

Recently, the Womens Club of St. Michaels dropped off 40 personal hygiene kits to be distributed to the guests. Regina Collins, civics chairman for the Womens Club, invited members to support the shelter by filling gallon-sized plastic bags with items such as shampoo, soap, combs, toothpaste and toothbrushes, among others.

Many other organizations and individuals in the community have donated to TIS as well.
“”John Wafer, Linda Lynch and the St. Vincent de Paul Society have been instrumental in aiding TIS by providing several hotel rooms and meals for our overflow guests, as we can legally only have five guests in each site at a time,”” said Julie Lowe, TIS steering committee member.

Lorry Hofman, administrator of Mid-Shore Mental Health Systems, donated a cell phone for the shelter’s use, while J.C. Penney of Easton donated five pillows and five double-size blankets.

Michael Boldosser, emergency planner with Talbot County’s Emergency Management Agency, loaned six cots that will be used at every host site, and also donated six blankets, a first aid kit, flashlight and disposable gloves.

TIS will be open through the end of February, and potentially into March depending on local need. For more information, to donate or to volunteer, contact Evelyn Sedlack at 410-822-0605 or Lisa Menditch at 410-745-6563.”

Talbot Interfaith Shelter

“If you are reading this, you are probably doing so from the warmth and comfort of your home. Sadly, there are many homeless people in Talbot County who are not so fortunate. Image their desperation as outside temperatures continue to dip.

Fortunately, the Talbot Interfaith Shelter (TIS), Talbot County’s first emergency cold weather shelter, is set to open on January 5. The shelter was organized and hosted by 12 local faith communities once they became aware of the overwhelming need.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, more than 120 people in Talbot County were homeless in 2008, including four families with a total of six children. On January 29, when the survey was conducted, 24 of those people were homeless for the first time.

The shelter’s steering committee has spent the last six months planning and organizing, and has modeled Talbot Interfaith Shelter (TIS) on successful shelters in Queen Anne’s, Kent and Anne Arundel counties.

The location for the shelter will move as five Easton congregations and one in St. Michaels have volunteered to serve as TIS host sites for a week at a time through the end of February. The first site will be Christ Church of Easton.

“”It is heartwarming to see so many faith communities working together to provide a safe haven for those needing overnight cold weather shelter,”” said steering committee member Evelyn Sedlack.

Volunteers are needed from around the community, and need not be affiliated with any religious group. “This is the most volunteer intensive effort I’ve ever done,” says Lisa Menditch, committee member.

TIS will open every night at 6:00 p.m. and run until 7:00 a.m., with volunteers needed to provide meals and transportation, to serve as evening or overnight supervisors, and to do laundry. Monetary donations are also needed to help with shelter operations.

Because of fire safety regulations, only five guests can be accommodated, so the shelter is open on a first-come basis. Recipients of the shelter must be referred by the Department of Social Services.

Each guest will receive dinner, breakfast and a bag lunch to take upon leaving the next morning. On Tuesdays, guest will be driven to the YMCA to take showers. On Wednesdays, volunteers will do laundry for the recipients. The goal is to assist people who are really down on their luck and trying to get back on their feet.

The Talbot County Department of Social Services and local law enforcement agencies are providing many support services.

In addition to Christ Church of Easton, host sites include Third Haven Friends Meeting, Shore Harvest Presbyterian, Temple B’Nai Israel and Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Easton, as well as Christ Church of St. Michaels. Many other local congregations are also collaborating with host sites to run TIS each week, including Fairview Church of the Brethren in Cordova, Easton Church of the Brethren, Presbyterian Church of Easton, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church of Easton and Union United Methodist Church of St. Michaels.

For more information, to volunteer or to donate, contact Evelyn Sedlack at 410-822-0605 or Lisa Menditch at 410-745-6563. Donations may be sent to Christ Church, St. Peter’s Parish, 111 S. Harrison St., Easton MD 21601, designating TIS as the recipient.