The Shepherd’s Staff, a Christian outreach and support center serving those in need and encouraging pathways to self-sufficiency, opened its doors in Westminster in 1991. The organization has partnered with Wesley Freedom United Methodist Church to open a satellite office in Eldersburg in two weeks.
“This partnership will bring the same excellent Shepherd’s Staff services and programs to residents of South Carroll,” said Tony Love, Wesley Freedom’s senior pastor, via email. "Through our satellite office, more persons will be reached with the resources and support they deserve. I am grateful for Shepherd’s Staff and our Family Resource Center ... they will be a blessing to the South Carroll community.”
On Sept. 16, The Shepherd’s Staff will be celebrating the grand opening of its new satellite office from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Wesley Freedom. The Times caught up with Brenda Meadows, executive director of The Shepherd’s Staff, to find out how this expansion came about, who helped make it happen and what it will mean.
Q: First of all, what does it mean to have a satellite office?
A: Literally, it means that we will have a physical location in Eldersburg where folks can be served by The Shepherd’s Staff. Figuratively, we’ll be able to meet folks where they are. We’ll be able to save them travel expenses and help alleviate having to take valuable time away from work to seek assistance, thus saving the loss of wages and in some cases risking the possibility of job loss because of time away seeking necessary and much-needed services.
Q: What kind of services will be offered there and when?
A: We will be offering the same services and in-kind programs that we offer onsite here at the Westminster location; emergency financial assistance, Blessings Closet (for personal care essentials), and our in-kind programs like our Back to School Programs, etc. Laundry, shower and mail services will be the only services not available at this time.
Q: When and why did you start talking about doing this?
A: We have always served the whole of Carroll County. We have been talking about doing this for quite some time now and have been working to expand our in-kind programs in various communities around Carroll. For instance, this year we had offsite registration and distribution for our Back to School program at nine locations around the county. Lack of transportation to Westminster from Eldersburg is an issue for many of the folks we serve.
Q: What was the need and how did you become aware of it?
A: We were seeing a greater need from families in the area at our offices here in Westminster as well as through the partners we work with in the South Carroll area. The need for a satellite has become apparent over the last couple of years and this wonderful partnership with Wesley developed from there. Working with Sharon Feldman to bring this to fruition has been an absolute delight.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with this new site?
A: We hope to accomplish precisely what we accomplish at our site in Westminster; as our tagline reads, to be a “Beacon of Hope, Empowering Change, Transforming Lives.” It will also help to take the burden off of our Westminster location as we work toward our expansion project.
We have good people in this community that are struggling on a daily basis with crises we know nothing about. Many of us would be surprised to find that the neighbor that they greet daily is having a medical crisis and having difficulty making ends meet. Or, to learn that the mom that’s working two jobs is still unable to purchase school supplies for her children. Sometimes all folks need is that one-time assistance to get them past a crisis and they are able to move forward with their lives as if it was just a blip on the radar. And, many of these people give back once they are back on their feet, through monetary donations, in-kind gifts or volunteerism.
A: All of the above, but mostly the partnership with Wesley. Through the generosity of Wesley Freedom congregation and surrounding community, the physical site, equipment and staffing have been covered. It’s our hope that in-kind programs like the Blessings Closet will be directly supported by the South Carroll community. Going forward we will be working together cultivating partnerships, in-kind contributions and developing funding mechanisms together that will work to support both the Wesley location and the Westminster location.
Q: Any plans to expand into other parts of the county?
A: Nothing has been solidified, but there is some interest from churches (and us) in other parts of the county. Discussions will follow.
Q: Can you give me a basic rundown of the grand opening event, how that will take place and who should consider RSVPing and coming out?
A: Believe it or not, we are still working out the details. Right now, the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce will be joining us for the ribbon cutting; both our Board President Larry Bohn and Wesley Freedom’s Senior Pastor Tony Love will share a few words with the group. ... Refreshments will be provided. We’d love to invite the community to share the excitement of this partnership at the grand opening. RSVP’s should be received by Sept 6 at email@example.com or by calling 410-857-5944.