Community supported Winter Shelter at St. Philip's Church in Laurel [Letter]

Every year between November and March many of the local churches of all denominations in the Laurel area host an event called the Laurel Winter Shelter. The participating churches will host for one full week and some do so more than once. This gives the homeless a place to sleep on the coldest nights of the year, provides temporary emergency shelter, transitional housing, food, job placement and more permanent shelter. The Laurel Winter Shelter through the Laurel Advocacy Referral Services has referred guests to drug rehabilitation, medical attention, job replacement and more permanent shelter.

St. Philip's Episcopal Church hosted the homeless from Sunday Dec. 28, 2014 through Sunday, Jan. 4, hosting an estimated 30-35 people each night and were assisted in the large effort by many local groups and restaurants to provide food, personal supplies, lunches for the next day, conversation and company.


Boy Scout Troop 432, organized by Cynthia Chase, cooked venison stew and made homemade cupcakes using an outdoor grill in addition they made and provided lunches for the next day. Girl Scouts, organized by Sue O'Connor. donated and served chicken pasta and made lunches for the next day.

BNI Alliance of Laurel served a dinner of pizza donated by Ledo of Laurel, hosted by Lou Mason, and salad and breadsticks donated by Olive Garden of Laurel, organized by Brian Madden. The group also donated personal items and lunch supplies and packed lunches for the next day.

Panera Bread of Town Center, organized by Gloria Williams of Revere Bank with Health O'Laughlen of Panera Bread, donated chips and desserts for the week; and Outback Steakhouse of Laurel, hosted by Scott Overton and Joe Awad, donated steak, pork chops, baked potatoes and broccoli.

A wonderful pasta meal was donated by Gail Massiah, a member of St. Philip's Church, and ham and chili was donated by Bunny Richardson and Sandy Hellmann, members of St. Philip's Church.

Dr. Brian Valle and his wife Ellen Valle generously supplied us with dental kits and the Prayer Shawl Ministry of St. Philip's Church donated knitted scarves, hats and gloves.

There were donations of blankets, sheets, towels, wash clothes, pillows and hygiene items. There was even a laundry card donated to wash the laundry for the homeless.

So many parishioners from St. Philip's Episcopal Church donated food and time to help serve food, make lunches and just have conversations with the homeless. The hospitality was overflowing. This is what makes this event a success.

Linda Stapf