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Nonprofit View: Shepherd's Staff serves those with critical needs

Founded in 1991, The Shepherd's Staff is an ecumenical Christian organization that exists "to reach out to those in crisis, to aid those in need, to support those in trouble, to seek out and encourage pathways to self-sufficiency, and to be a witness for Christ in our community." Our guests include homeless and low-income individuals; employed, under- and unemployed residents; veterans, single parents, grandparents and extended families; out-of-school youth and elderly individuals on fixed incomes. During our first year a total of 498 households were helped. In 2015, as we began to celebrate our 25th anniversary year, a total of 5,842 were served.

The Shepherd's Staff is a 501c3 nonprofit organization located in Carroll County. We operate as an outreach and emergency support center serving those with critical needs in a spirit of dignity, compassion and respect. The mission is to aid those in crisis with short-term immediate assistance and to empower people to seek more permanent solutions, improving quality of life. We purposefully operate exclusive of federal, state and county funding in order that we can meet the needs of those that find themselves in difficult situations, living on a limited income, not necessarily only those that fall below the poverty level.

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In 2014, we launched our one-time assistance program to begin helping those that were otherwise unable to overcome an immediate emergency financial crisis. In 2016, with our Back to School program, we began expanding our in kind outreach to more remote areas of the county (Taneytown, Union Bridge, New Windsor, Eldersburg, Sykesville and Finksburg) with the hope of expanding our emergency financial assistance program to those areas in the near future. These programs were launched because of the increased need and changing demographics of our community. Because of the aging Baby Boomer population, our seniors are a large part of that change.

We work to avoid duplication of services by partnering with other local organizations and assuring we are not serving the same demographic and/or overlapping service areas. Some of our partners are local churches, Caring and Sharing, Westminster Rescue Mission, ESCAPE, NESAP, Caring Carroll, Human Services Program, and the Department of Social Services.

As a nonprofit, we can easily say that our largest obstacles are fundraising and in kind support. Our partnership with the business community has helped the organization by supporting us through in kind donations, financial support, program drives, providing professional services and hosting events on our behalf. It's easy to see from the list of ways the community has helped that we literally could not do what we do without them. In addition, with a staff of four (three of of which are part time), we must also recognize our volunteers. They are in the trenches, doing everything that needs to get done to serve our visitors with dignity, compassion and respect. It is a mammoth job and we are forever indebted to them for their gifts of self.

Please join us as we kickoff a year of celebration for an evening you're sure to remember with our first annual Dinner "N" Dance Fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 1. We'll be celebrating 25 years serving the community with wonderful food, entertainment, photo booth, and much more. Call The Shepherd's Staff for tickets and more information.

Brenda Meadows is the executive director of The Shepherd's Staff. Reach her at 410-857-5944 or email shepstaff@comcast.net.

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