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Messiah Lutheran Church helps fight local poverty

Messiah Lutheran Church dedicated its entire special Lenten offerings -- a total of $850 -- to two local programs aiding neighbors who are homeless or impoverished.

Recipients were Human Services Programs of Carroll County, a nonprofit that provides a broad spectrum of assistance to homeless and at-risk people, and ESCAPE Ministries, a coalition of churches that connect local residents in need to resources for health, housing and food, among other services.

Corina Canon, Human Services Programs associate director, spoke at Messiah on April 27 and explained that, as part of their services, HSP runs six shelters in Westminster for homeless men, women and families. Each year, hundreds of Carroll County residents pass through these shelters.

Aside from a men's and a women's shelter, there are specialized facilities that include an intact-family shelter, a women's and children's shelter for victims of domestic violence who need a safe place to stay, and safe haven shelters for men and women with chronic mental illnesses. From Nov. 15 through April 1, HSP hosts cold-weather shelters, which provide a place for people to come in out of the cold.

HSP seeks to put at-risk families in touch with aid, including food, monetary assistance, child care and transportation, and does so in partnership with organizations such as ESCAPE Ministries.

ESCAPE Ministries was established by a group of pastors from various churches and is staffed by volunteers. Messiah Lutheran is among the founding organizations. ESCAPE Ministries helps Sykesville, Eldersburg, Finksburg, Woodbine and northern Howard County area people in need connect with resources to get back on their feet.

ESCAPE Ministries distributes bag lunches every Wednesday, and can also distribute Martin's Grocery food vouchers, as well as gas vouchers. When funding is available, ESCAPE helps with prescription medications and other emergency needs.

Messiah Lutheran Church and Nursery School are at 5600 Old Washington Road, Sykesville. For more information, contact the Rev. Michael Dubsky or the church office at 410-795-9174. The pastor may also be reached by email at dubsky@aol.com; the office email is secretary@melchurch.org.

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