The Assistance Center of Towson Churches. which provides services to those in need, has a new executive director.
Linda Lotz, of Towson, has replaced 17-year executive director Cathy Burgess, who will take on a part-time role as outreach director while awaiting retirement.
"We treat people with kindness, connect with them and bring it back to our churches," Burgess said. "Linda has all those things and that was important to me."
The Assistance Center of Towson Churches, a joint project of 48 churches, operates a food pantry, hosts special holiday projects and provides financial assistance with the help of three paid staff members and more than 60 volunteers.
The center collects personal items, such as deodorant, razors, socks and jackets, as well as perishable and non-perishable food, for distribution, and offers financial assistance when possible.
In 2016, the center helped 29,780 people by providing 312,686 pounds of food, 13,700 volunteer hours and $126,839 in financial assistance.
"The churches realized a lot more could be accomplished if we pulled together," said Calvary Baptist Church pastor Sarah Lee of the center's origins.
The center operates out of the old Bridge Builders cabin next door to Calvary Baptist. From 1985 to the mid-1990s, the center operated alongside Calvary's former Sunday school. In 2012, it was rebuilt with the help of volunteers.
"Everybody has their own spiritual gifts," Lee said. "Cathy brought it up to where it is now and [Linda] has gifts where I think we can bring it to the next level.'
Burgess said Lotz brings new ideas to the center, such as a matching spring gift program. Money donations to the center will be matched dollar for dollar by anonymous donors. In June, the center also will extend its Wednesday hours to better serve working families.
Lotz said the Biblical mission of the group will remain the same: "Bear one another's burdens."
"My goal is to do a bit more in terms of financial help," Lotz said.
Though Lotz said she thought of going to seminary school after graduating from Hollins University with a bachelor's degree in French, she chose to start a family instead. Thirty-six years later, she's found a new way to minister to Towson and the surrounding areas at the assistance center, she said.
"I love helping people and contributing to a healthier community," Lotz said. "If we can lift everyone up then we can lift the community up."
The Assistance Center of Towson Churches, at 120 W. Pennsylvania Ave., is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Starting June 1, the center will remain open on Wednesdays until 6 p.m.