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Holiday Hope: Neighbors in Need helps Carroll families ‘break the poverty cycle’

Human Services Programs of Carroll County, Inc., may be best known for operating Carroll County’s shelter system, including the seasonal cold weather shelter. But HSP offers a slew of other services designed to help people live more fulfilling lives, from support in building parenting skills to programs designed to promote financial Independence and stability.

But those types of programs are not always the most well-funded in terms of state, local and federal grants, according to HSP Executive Director Scott Yard, and so on occasion community needs may outstrip the programs’ budgets.

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That’s where Neighbors in Need Year Round fund comes in, he said: “It fills the gaps between the federal and state and local grants to allow us to make services whole.”

The Neighbors in Need Year Round fund of HSP is one of five beneficiaries of Holiday Hope, the Carroll County Times’ annual campaign aimed at driving donations to organizations that help those in need in the Carroll County community. In addition to Neighbors in Need Year Round, the Times also raises funds for Access Carroll, Carroll County Food Sunday, Carroll Hospice and The Shepherd’s Staff.

This year, the Holiday Hope campaign goal is to raise $125,000 for the five organizations. The Times is again partnering with Carroll Community Bank and donations should be mailed to or dropped off at their 1010 Baltimore Blvd. location in Westminster.

“It’s extremely vital, because using Neighbors in Need, we might have the ability to serve 30 people instead of 20 people in our financial education,” Yard said. “It may be the ability to take one staff member that is part time and make them full time so we can serve more people. It’s extremely vital to our operating at the Highest level of service for the individuals that need it the most.”

Just one example of a program that has benefited from the stop gap funding the Neighbors in Need program can provide is HSP’s Opportunity Works program.

“When we have an individual who is in one of our homeless shelters, often one of the barriers is employment,” Yard said. “The Opportunity Works program will take an individual with very limited work experience and teach them soft skills and hard skills at our Second Chances store, to be able to exit the shelter and go out and get a job.”

HSP also operates a Family Center, according to Yard, a program that supports both parents and children and which benefits greatly from Neighbors in Need funding.

“It’s families that have children under 4 that need a little help. They maybe grew up in a non-traditional family and they need the support and the services to understand how to be a parent. What children need to thrive,” Yard said. “It’s what’s called a two generation program, so the parent and the child are in the facility at the same time. The parent may be in a parenting class learning different family advocacy leadership skills, while the child is in the child development area working with a child development specialist.”

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HSP also offers financial education classes to help teach people coming from a disadvantaged background the types of money skills they may not have been taught while growing up, according to Yard.

“Poverty can be generational. If you lived in a household that experienced poverty, there’s a fair chance that the children are also going to experience that,” he said. “We work one-on-one with individuals to teach them how to do a budget, we have different workshops and one-on-one coaching. Once you establish a budget are you adhering to it? We look at credit scores so you can have more options for when you are looking for an apartment to lease and things like that.”

Those financial education offerings are planned to expand once HSP opens a second location at 12 Carroll St., in Westminster, Yard said, a project that is still in the planning and fundraising phases. Once completed, it will enable the nonprofit to offer poverty ameliorating programs to even more people in Carroll County, programs supported by the Neighbors in Need Year Round fund.

“That’s really what this does,” Yard said. “Neighbors in Need helps HSP to break the poverty cycle.”

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