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Grassroots program provides opportunities for all to help [Clarksville]

Dayton 4-H Club members help prepare a meal for the Cold Weather Shelter held at Linden Linthicum Univeted Methodist Church.
Dayton 4-H Club members help prepare a meal for the Cold Weather Shelter held at Linden Linthicum Univeted Methodist Church. (Courtesy photo)

During the first week of March, Linden Linthicum United Methodist Church (LLUMC) hosted the Grassroots Cold Weather Shelter, a program that provides overflow lodging for those who need a place to stay. The shelter program, a partnership with Howard County government and the local faith community, can serve up to 25 people per night and is open to individuals and families with children. It is run by the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, resource to those in need of immediate assistance with a personal, mental health, family or shelter crisis. More information is available at grassrootscrisis.org.

From November through March, local congregations take turns hosting the shelter for one or two weeks. They supply volunteers to provide transportation, make meals, launder linens and work shifts in the shelter. Linden Linthicum has been hosting the Cold Weather Shelter since the service began in January 2004. It is the only congregation in Clarksville that participates in the program. The shelter is one of LLUMC’s biggest outreach opportunities, involving about 100 members.

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During this year’s event, numerous volunteers of all ages worked to feed the shelter guests and make them feel welcome. Volunteers cooked meals for the visitors. They also provided transportation to and from the Mall at Columbia every morning and evening. Many helpers assisted with set up and take down as well as with laundry service. Other volunteers chaperoned in the evening. Every night, two members worked an overnight shift to assist the Grassroots personnel.

“Aside from the obvious benefit of providing hospitality in the biblical sense of the word, one of the greatest joys of the week is the growth of our sense of community among our members,” said Helen Frederick, longtime coordinator of the shelter at LLUMC. “As they work side by side, friendships and faith are often strengthened. Most volunteers will tell you that the benefits of participating far outweigh the cost!”

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This year, two new coordinators took over the reins of the program for LLUMC. Carol Gleason and Michele Meaney oversaw the many volunteers and numerous tasks involved in the venture. Their planning and organization ensured that the operation was a success.

“I found that coordinating the Cold Weather Shelter was made easy by the tremendous outpouring of love and support from the congregation,” said Gleason. “It is nice to see that the community has a program that serves people who are facing challenges in their lives at this time—a warm place to sleep and good food are always welcoming.”

In addition to members of the church, volunteers from the local community also help out with the event. The Dayton 4-H Club annually provides the Thursday evening meal. And young helpers are encouraged to take part as well. Members of Linden Linthicum’s Youth Group assist throughout the week.

“As winter draws to a close, the church family at LLUMC will be praying that the guests that needed these services this season will find themselves in a warm, dry and safe place to live,” said Frederick.

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More info about Linden Linthicum United Methodist Church at llumcorg.wordpress.com.

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