Holiday Hope: The Shepherd's Staff helps people 'over the rough spots'

The Shepherd's Staff is one of five beneficiaries of Holiday Hope

The Shepherd's Staff provided assistance to 5,119 Carroll County households last year and executive director Brenda Meadows said the organization is assisting “many more homeless families.”

“We’re seeing folks with children living in their cars,” Meadows said. “They’re working but it’s hard to make ends meet on minimum wage jobs. We have the personal necessities here. Whether it’s a roll of toilet paper, some trash bags, a shower, some clean laundry, or a can of soup, these small items can boost a person’s self-esteem. We serve the whole person here and meet as many of their needs as we can.”


The Shepherd’s Staff is one of five beneficiaries of Holiday Hope, an annual campaign with the Carroll County Times aimed at driving donations to organizations that help those in need in the Carroll County community. In addition to The Shepherd’s Staff, the Times also partners with Access Carroll, Carroll Food Sunday, Carroll Hospice, and Human Services Programs’ Neighbors in Need Year Round. This year, the Holiday Hope campaign goal is to raise $110,000 for the five organizations by Christmas. To participate in Holiday Hope, readers need only clip the advertisement that appears in the paper every day between now and Christmas, or go to and print out the form.

“Without the community’s financial donations, in-kind donations, and volunteering, we couldn’t possibly do what we do,” Meadows said.

According to Meadows, the organization provided 724 households with emergency financial assistance, 125 individuals with prescription financial assistance, 1,085 students with back-to-school essentials, 150 pets with food, and 2,286 households with blessings closet items. More than 4,500 individuals were assisted during the Call for Coats drive. The Shepherd's Staff also has special holiday projects, which include a community Thanksgiving day dinner, an annual Fourth of July cookout and a Christmas celebration, as well as distributing Christmas stockings and Easter baskets to those in need.

“Nonprofits in the county work closely together and strive to make sure we do not duplicate services,” Meadows said. “We try to serve those that fall between the cracks and may not be able to be served by other agencies because of their requirements.”

Meadows said the idea for The Shepherd's Staff started in 1989 as a cooperative ministry of churches. The vision was to create one place where anyone in need could find immediate assistance. Its goal was to consolidate the efforts among area churches to avoid duplication of services and provide information about available community resources. In 1990, the name The Shepherd's Staff was chosen and a mission statement was adopted.

The organization opened its doors in 1991 and moved to a site on Main Street, provided by the Westminster United Methodist Church, in 1992. The Shepherd's Staff then moved to 30 Carroll St. in 1994. The 10-room house, owned by Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, helped the organization expand into a more-comprehensive operation.

Ann Gifford, of Westminster, has volunteered at The Shepherd’s Staff for 26 years. She encourages the community to donate to Holiday Hope because The Shepherd’s Staff is “a very uplifting and family-oriented organization.”

Pat Hyde, of Westminster, has volunteered there for 17 years.

“They help so many people and are so warm and inviting to everyone,” Hyde said. “They’re always looking for ways to make people feel comfortable and help them over the rough spots.”