At a fundraising event billed as “community members putting on their superhero capes to help fight homelessness in Harford County,” two local nonprofits announced they will be joining powers to battle homelessness in the area.
Harford Family House and Welcome One Emergency Shelter, two long-standing Harford County nonprofits working to combat homelessness, announced their merger Wednesday evening at a fundraising event in Havre de Grace.
The merger, effective July 1, combine resources from both organizations to help eliminate chronic homelessness in the area. The newly formed organization will retain the Harford Family House name.
In February 2022, the two nonprofits finalized a merger agreement intended to leverage the strengths of both organizations with the end goal of providing more holistic and transformative services across the continuum of care to individuals and families experiencing homelessness, according to a statement from Harford Family House.
All staff members from both organizations will be retained and eligible for benefits through the new entity, according to Harford Family House. A new senior director of homelessness services position will focus on ensuring continuity and integration between the shelters, while an existing staff member will transition into the role of workforce development specialist, working across the organization on job training and placement.
Welcome One Emergency Shelter’s CEO, Liz Tutino, will be retiring on June 30. Harford Family House CEO, Robin Tomechko, will be the CEO of the merged entity, said Vashelle Nino, Harford Family House’s marketing and communications manager. There will be no changes in Welcome One’s hours of operation or services, Nino said.
“From our perspective, the merger will be more efficient because it will create a single point of contact for Harford Community Action Agency as they make referrals to serve individuals and families experiencing homelessness,” said Cynthia Mumby, spokesperson for the county’s department of homeless services. “Also, Harford Family House has some transitional housing, so someone in the Welcome One shelter could be placed there, opening up a shelter bed.”
The nnouncement was made at Harford Family House’s annual “Ahoy! Cocktails by the Bay” fundraiser, which featured a themed cast of community members who raised funds for the organization. The cast raised over $32,000, which is the most raised by an “Ahoy!” cast to date. This year’s theme was superheroes, and the following community members participated:
· Vickie Horne, Aberdeen Main Street coordinator – Catwoman;
· Jamila Mettee, accounting and HR for Frederick Ward Associates and realtor at Integrity Real Estate - Storm;
· Joy Waida, owner of Joy Home Design, Staging and Interiors - Batgirl;
· Mindy Pirczhalski, realtor at Cummings and Co. Realtors and Mrs. Central Maryland - Superwoman;
· Meggin Reeder, financial advisor at Northwestern Mutual - Wonder Woman;
· Susan Roarty, director of institutional advancement and alumni relations at The John Carroll School – Captain Marvel;
· Gary Barnoff, president of Jarrettsville Federal Savings and Loan - Batman;
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· Don Curry, president of TCA Property Management Inc. - Robin;
· Joe Ayler, president of Tar Heel Construction Group - Spiderman;
· Tim Langhauser, founder of Compass Home Group – Captain American;
· Mike Bennett, U.S. Army sergeant major retired - Superman.
Mettee received the Buoy of Hope award as the top fundraiser, raising more than $6,000.
Harford Family House is the largest provider of transitional housing for families with children experiencing homelessness and unaccompanied adults ages 18-24 in Harford County. Since 1989, they have served more than 600 families with children, transforming the lives of more than 1,900 individuals.
The Welcome One Emergency Shelter in Belcamp currently is the only year-round homeless shelter in Harford County, with 26 beds for men and 6 beds for women. Since opening in 2006, more than 2,000 people have passed through its doors.