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Nonprofit view: Cold Weather Shelter is a vital resources for those most at risk in winter weather

Ralf Nies, center, pastor of Grace Fellowship Chapel in Westminster, says a blessing with volunteers, from left, Carl Reimer, LuAnn Gamber, Sean Staley, Keith Jarrin and McDaniel College junior Sam Wilson, who is interning at HSP, after preparing supper at the Carroll County Cold Weather Shelter in Westminster Thursday.
Ralf Nies, center, pastor of Grace Fellowship Chapel in Westminster, says a blessing with volunteers, from left, Carl Reimer, LuAnn Gamber, Sean Staley, Keith Jarrin and McDaniel College junior Sam Wilson, who is interning at HSP, after preparing supper at the Carroll County Cold Weather Shelter in Westminster Thursday. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO , Carroll County Times)

The wind is howling, the windows are frosted and the coffee is steaming. You are wearing your favorite slippers. You are cozy and safe, and the fireplace is roaring. We hope everyone’s winter is this perfect. The reality is that for too many Carroll County residents, this is not the case.

Human Services Programs of Carroll County operates five shelters within county borders. One of those shelters is our Cold Weather Shelter, which provides vital refuge out of the cold for over 140 people every year. The Cold Weather Shelter provides a hot meal, shower, laundry services and a safe place to sleep for the night. HSP staff engage with participants to provide support and linkages to community resources, and develop a plan to get their own home. Much of the hard work is completed by hundreds of community volunteers. The Cold Weather Shelter helps keep our entire community safe, while restoring dignity to our most vulnerable community members.

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For some, a roof is over their head, but the floor is cold beneath them. Our Home Energy Program provides financial assistance for heating fuel and energy bill assistance for your utilities. We help keep the heat on, the water running and lights burning bright.

When it’s cold outside, what happens inside sometimes matters most. Our Family Center is an exciting place for parents and their children ages 4 and younger to learn together. Parents have a selection of classes and presentations to attend. While parents attend their own sessions, the children receive top-notch care in our Child Development Room. For families who cannot make it to the center for our programs, we also offer home visits using the “Parents As Teachers” curriculum.

As the new year approaches, the burden of holidays can put a strain on your budget. HSP manages a free tax preparation site allowing working poor families to keep their hard-earned money. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is an IRS-sponsored program, with trained and certified volunteers and staff. We prepare most basic household tax returns for low-to-moderate-income families. If your income is less than $56,000 in 2019 you may qualify for free tax prep. HSP prepares about 1,000 returns annually, putting back over $1.5 million dollars into our local economy. Free tax prep allows working-poor families to keep all of their hard-earned money. Taxpayers are also introduced to HSP’s financial coaching services to make the most of their hard-earned income.

HSP can do so much more with your help. We currently need cold weather donations consisting of warm clothing, hand warmers, socks and undergarments. Our VITA program is currently in need of volunteers. Supporting HSP will help our most in-need Carroll County residents have a safe and prosperous new year. HSP’s New Year’s resolution is to renovate our building at 12 Carroll St. to expand our capacity to further serve our community.

Please make HSP part of your New Year’s resolution — visit us at www.hspinc.org, check us out on Facebook, and generously give of your time and money.

Scott Yard is executive director of Human Services Programs of Carroll County.

Each Monday, the Carroll County Times publishes a column from a local nonprofit, allowing them to share information about their organization and the issues facing it. To be considered, email cctnews@carrollcountytimes.com with the subject line “Nonprofit View.”

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