Human Services Programs of Carroll County Inc. is turning 30 this year, and the nonprofit is celebrating in characteristic fashion: kicking off a new capital campaign to expand services to the people of Carroll — with some festivities to boot.
The festivities are a bull and oyster roast at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26, at Reese Fire Hall, featuring a wide array of food — raw oysters, crabs, pit beef, ham and more, along with beer and wine — with proceeds going toward the capital campaign, according to director of marketing and outreach Matt Peregoy.
“It’s $45 [per person] and that includes your beverages, beer and wine,” he said. “As part of the event we will have the typical fundraiser stuff: money wheel, silent auction.”
The capital campaign, meanwhile, is an effort to refurbish the interior of a building at 12 Carroll St. in Westminster, which HSP purchased in May, and get it ready for business.
“That building will allow us to have a better space to provide the services that we are currently providing,” said HSP Executive Director Angela Gustus.
HSP currently offers household goods to low-income families at the Second Chances free store, employment training out of a location at 23 W. Green St., and financial education programs from its main offices at 10 Distillery Drive, both in Westminster.
“Being able to bring all of that together is going to be really awesome for people in the community,” Gustus said.
The bull and oyster roast then will be a chance to celebrate HSP’s past, while also getting a glimpse of, and giving the organization a head start on, the future, according to Peregoy.
“We will be honoring a lot of the history of the agency as well as talking about the new building and looking at the mock-ups that have been done of the space,” he said. “We’re hoping to have a good time and just be recognizing how far the agency has come in the last 30 years.”
HSP was founded in 1987 by Sylvia Canon, an employee at the Carroll County Department of Social Services, who launched the nonprofit to help fill the gaps she saw in services.
Serving as HSP’s executive director until her retirement in 2001, Canon left an enduring legacy in Carroll County: The annual Sylvia Canon Humanitarian Award continues to recognize those who have made an impact in social service circles, while HSP continues to find and fill gaps in services to further help those that are struggling.
“This anniversary is a great opportunity to not only pay respect to how this agency started, but also to celebrate where we are since then,” Gustus said.
What began as a single program offering shelter to homeless women and children has now grown to more than 17 programs, Gustus said, including a number that are bursting at the seams in their current locations.
At 23 W. Green St., HSP runs its Second Chances free store and also housed there is the Opportunity Works program, which helps those just out of jail or struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues get back into the workforce, according to Jennifer Graybill, director of workforce development programs.
“Opportunity Works last year served 124 people,” Graybill said. “We served over 3,000 in the free store and accepted over $250,000 in donations, in 1,400 square feet — it’s teeny.”
At HSP’s 10 Distillery Drive office, a financial education program, which offers one-on-one coaching in budgeting and credit repair and other topics, shares time and space in the HSP board room, Graybill said.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which provides free tax preparation for individuals earning less than $54,000, completed 920 tax returns in 2017 — in just 250 square feet of space.
“We often take for granted how important our environment is,” Graybill said. “We are so very excited to not just provide space, but to provide professional, fully equipped and safe space for our participants to be able to build the necessary skills they need to move out of poverty.”
And it's not just the expansion of existing services that has people at HSP excited: A brand-new weatherization service could be active by late spring or early summer, according to Gustus.
“Weatherization is a program through the federal government that provides funding to states to help people to weatherize their homes, which in turn will decrease their utility bills,” she said. “Last year we had approximately 2,000 people that were interested in weatherization; however, there are not any weatherization programs here in Carroll County.”
Once the program gets going, HSP will sub-contract with construction firms to provide the weatherization services to homeowners and renters alike who qualify on the basis of their income, Gustus said. The program will initially be housed in HSP’s main office, but will become one of the many services at the 12 Carroll St. address, once it opens for business.
Gustus said construction could begin as soon as May and be completed as soon as next winter if the capital campaign goes well.
She has reason to be optimistic, as donations have already come in from a few donors.
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“Our goal is $1.7 million and we have already raised $256,000 without even officially starting our capital campaign,” Gustus said. “It’s huge, too, to be almost an eighth of the way there and you haven’t even done the kickoff. We have had a lot of great support.”