Over three decades now, The Shepherd’s Staff has been providing services to people in Carroll County that they can’t always get elsewhere, from free back-to-school supplies to help with utility bills to the faith-based nonprofit’s annual community Thanksgiving dinner.
All told, The Shepherd’s Staff served, in one way or another, 3,500 households or around 9,400 individuals in Carroll in 2018, according to Executive Director Brenda Meadows, and if you think those clients were limited only to those at risk of losing their housing, think again.
“We have folks come in that are above the poverty level and they may not be able to be helped by other agencies in the community, and that’s where we can pick up,” she said. "There are a lot of folks out there that are really struggling and people really have no idea. It very well could be their neighbor."
With the holiday season here, The Shepherd’s Staff could use some help from friendly neighbors.
The Shepherd’s Staff 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 The Shepherd’s Staff, the Times also raises funds for Access Carroll, Carroll County Food Sunday, Carroll Hospice and Neighbors in Need Year Round.
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.
“The benefit of Holiday Hope for an organization like ours is tremendous,” Meadows said.
That’s especially true given the fact that in addition to all the many long running programs and services of The Shepherd’s Staff — there’s also the ongoing Festival of Trees and the Empty Bowls in April, and the annual coat drive, holiday stockings program and the blessings closet — is now expanding services with a new satellite location.
“We now have a satellite Shepherd’s Staff at Wesley Freedom United Methodist Church in Eldersburg,” Meadows said. “In taking on that satellite location, that requires quite a bit more emergency financial funding to come through the organization so that we can help those people as well.”
The Shepherd’s Staff had already been offering services to people in all corners of the county, Meadows added, but the Eldersburg location is the first physical satellite office.
If the nonprofit can garner enough support, it may not be the last.
“We are continuing exploring other partnerships in other parts of the county that have those because we have other parts of the county with tremendous needs,” Meadows said. “We are exploring those options now.”
That could mean more than just expanding access to services, but really expanding The Shepherd’s Staff experience, Meadows said, which has really been built upon face-to-face interactions at the nonprofits main location, a small white house at 30 Carroll St., in Westminster.
“We have people that come with major emergency financial requests, and we have other people who walk through the door who are just looking for a hug or a prayer, and both of those are equally important,” she said. “People need to be seen and heard and made to feel worthy.”