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Old Town: Daily dinners still offered at Elizabeth House in Laurel

Elizabeth House, which is operated by the social services organization Fish of Laurel, continues to serve dinner each evening to the individuals who arrive at the small building along Gorman Avenue just off of Route 1.
Elizabeth House, which is operated by the social services organization Fish of Laurel, continues to serve dinner each evening to the individuals who arrive at the small building along Gorman Avenue just off of Route 1. (HANDOUT)

While everyone’s day-to-day calendars have been all but cleared for the foreseeable future, the coronavirus pandemic has not disrupted the commitment of Elizabeth House and its volunteers to provide a nourishing daily dinner for the hungry in our community.

Elizabeth House, which is operated by the social services organization Fish of Laurel, continues to serve dinner each evening to the individuals who arrive at the small building along Gorman Avenue just off of Route 1.

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The traditional sit-down meal served warm has been replaced for the time being by a prepackaged carry-out dinner. The meals are distributed from the front porch to keep clients and volunteers safe. About 45 individuals come for dinner each day.

“We know there are risks, but we have to protect our most vulnerable,” said Stephanie Hammond, who serves as the president of the Fish of Laurel Board of Trustees. “In this crisis or any other, we will always mobilize to ensure our clients receive a nourishing meal in a manner that is safe for them and our volunteers.”

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Fish of Laurel was founded in 1976 when Elizabeth “Betty” Colnaghi started a food pantry in the basement of her home. In 1988, a house along eastbound Route 198 was donated to the organization and the group expanded into the current meal kitchen. Elizabeth House operates seven days a week, 52 weeks of the year, and serves more than 12,000 meals annually.

Elizabeth House also continues to provide groceries to those in need, though the pantry is now open by appointment only so that guests and volunteers can maintain social distancing guidelines.

The group expects that demands for its services will only increase as the economic fallout from the pandemic grows. Elizabeth House is accepting nonperishable food donations for its food pantry, as well as prepared entrees for its nightly meal. Monetary donations may be made online at fishoflaurel.org. For more information, email volunteers@fishoflaurel.org.

Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services, which provides a range of services to local families in need, has established a special fund to assist those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The Laurel Cares Covid-19 Relief Fund will help clients with food, financial resources and other critical assistance. Donations may be made online at laureladvocacy.org or by calling LARS at 301-776-0442.

In the midst of so much bad news, St. Vincent Pallotti High School has shared some good news about its students. The co-ed high school continues to engage in online distance learning, including a special prayer called the examen that is being streamed live daily on the school’s Facebook page. Pallotti began using the prayer, developed in the 16th century by St. Ignatius of Loyola, during Lent as a way for students to examine the ways God is working in their lives.

In other Pallotti news, seniors Matthew Merritt and Michael Merritt were each selected for the AFCEA Central Maryland Chapter John & Angie Skinner Merit scholarship, a $10,000 scholarship for local area students going to college to study STEM. AFCEA is a nonprofit association that provides an educational forum for government, military, industry and schools.

The Merritts also received a Henry Taub Memorial Scholarship from the ADP Foundation. This is an annual stipend of $2,000 awarded each of their four years in college.

Senior Eniya Russell was selected to First Team All Met in the Washington Post (basketball). She will be attending the University of South Carolina next year. In addition, three other members of Pallotti’s girls basketball team will be attending Division I schools next year: Jasmine Valentine (Drexel University), Jania Hall (Monmouth University) and Larri Sydnor (Norfolk State University).

Students Amari Nichols and Emily Springer were recognized at this year’s Artist on the Rise Show at the Montpelier Arts Center. Nichols won second place for her piece and Springer received an honorable mention. Rhily Santanello and Riley Johnston-Napora also had work selected for the show, which showcased just 80 pieces from throughout the Washington, D.C., metro area.

Pallotti, in its first year competing, had two winners in the Prince George’s County History Day Contest. This year’s theme was “Breaking Barriers in History.” In the Senior Individual Performance, Kaitlyn Robinson placed for “Speaking for the Moving” and for the Senior Group Website, Mia Gonzales Jackson and Faith Singletary won for “The Impact of Ernest Hemingway’s Life.”

Thanks to all who responded to the call in my last column regarding community news. If you have ideas or resources to share during this time, please email me at marysullivan84@gmail.com. I’d love to hear your good news, too. A blessed holiday to all of our neighbors celebrating Easter and Passover this week.

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