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Holiday Hope: Human Services Programs of Carroll County helps people ‘get back on their feet’

Aysia Jefferson and Barry Solomon put away a delivery of food for the family shelter at Human Services Programs of Carroll County in Westminster Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020.
Aysia Jefferson and Barry Solomon put away a delivery of food for the family shelter at Human Services Programs of Carroll County in Westminster Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Dylan Slagle/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Human Services Programs of Carroll County executive director Scott Yard said the organization strives to give people in need a hand up, not a handout.

HSP is a nonprofit Community Action Agency made up of various programs that were created to meet unique needs of Carroll County residents struggling with poverty.

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One of those programs, Neighbors in Need Year Round, was implemented years ago as a gift-giving service, but HSP has since done away with the name to focus on other areas of community assistance.

“It’s our job to help support people that need help supporting themselves, to get back on their feet, and be self-sufficient,” HSP executive director Scott Yard said. “We do that with a series of services and we’re probably known for operating the Shelter and Housing Program for Carroll County.”

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Human Services Programs of Carroll County is one of five beneficiaries of Holiday Hope, the Times’ annual campaign aimed at driving donations to organizations that help those in need in the Carroll County community. Now in its 22nd year, Holiday Hope raised more than $120,000 for local nonprofit organizations last year. In addition to HSP, the Times and partner NWSB Bank, a division of ACNB Bank, raise funds for Access Carroll, Carroll County Food Sunday, Carroll Hospice and The Shepherd’s Staff.

HSP operates three emergency shelters to accommodate the needs of homeless men, women, and families year-round as well as a safe haven shelter and cold weather shelter.

The safe haven shelter serves homeless adults who suffer from a chronic mental illness and the cold weather shelter is open annually from the evening of Nov. 15 to the morning of April 1. Guests at the cold weather shelter receive a hot meal, shower, laundry services, and a warm place to sleep. This shelter is largely staffed by teams of volunteers from the community.

Family shelter case manager Aysia Jefferson puts away a delivery of food at Human Services Programs of Carroll County in Westminster Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020.
Family shelter case manager Aysia Jefferson puts away a delivery of food at Human Services Programs of Carroll County in Westminster Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Dylan Slagle/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

“We work very closely with Carroll County Government, we work very closely with state government, federal government for a series of programs,” Yard said. “When we also get grants and things, we need to fill the gaps … the support from the community allows us to fill the gaps and continue to help people, whereas some grants might fall short.”

Yard said the Holiday Hope campaign allows HSP to heavily fund its supportive employment and financial education services because there is a significant shortage in grant funding for these programs. These services are designed to help 150-200 people increase their income through employment and benefits, develop a budget, and maintain a savings plan.

“It’s one thing to provide someone shelter, but the other thing is those individuals need to make a budget,” Yard said. “They need to understand how to manage their finances because they probably have never done it successfully before.”

The coronavirus pandemic altered HSP’s ability to assist shelter individuals and Yard said they try to maximize their space to keep the largest amount of people off the streets, especially during the holiday season. HSP opened a temporary shelter to allow for more space while serving the same amount of people in the safest way.

Barry Solomon brings in a delivery of food for the family shelter at Human Services Programs of Carroll County in Westminster Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020.
Barry Solomon brings in a delivery of food for the family shelter at Human Services Programs of Carroll County in Westminster Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Dylan Slagle/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

HSP works with Maryland’s Office of Home Energy Programs to provide home energy assistance for people suffering from financial hardships as well. Yard said they have seen in increase in applicants this fall, especially those who use oil and propane to heat their homes.

“They don’t have the funds to fill up the tanks,” Yard said. “So, they can come in and apply for energy assistance if they’re in a heating crisis … we help individuals with emergency deliveries, we work very closely with oil vendors and kerosene vendors in the county so make sure we can keep people staying warm that don’t have the means to do it.”

Human Services Programs of Carroll County child development assistants Julie Lupro, left, and Alexis Otto, right, have encouraged children who visit with them virtually over Zoom sessions in the family center to share messages of thanksgiving.
Human Services Programs of Carroll County child development assistants Julie Lupro, left, and Alexis Otto, right, have encouraged children who visit with them virtually over Zoom sessions in the family center to share messages of thanksgiving. (Dylan Slagle/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

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