Shelters with too many people, too little food are forced to seek donations Demand outpaces centers' provisions


Howard County's Domestic Violence Center is seeking donors to help alleviate a food shortage at its five domestic violence shelters.

The shelters' 34 beds are all filled, said Stephanie Sites, the center's executive director. Usually, the center has one or two vacant beds, she said.

The number of clients has made it difficult to keep a supply of food, especially now that children need lunches for school, Ms. Sites said.

"Howard County has been good about food donations, but we're going through them like water," she said.

Because shelters in neighboring counties, such as Baltimore's House of Ruth and the Family Crisis Centers in Baltimore and Prince George's counties, also are filled, counselors have been unable to direct clients outside Howard for assistance.

The 15-year-old Howard County center maintains four long-term shelters -- a single-family home, a town house and two apartments -- and a short-term, emergency shelter.

Because of the growing number of clients, counselors are looking to add another emergency shelter that would house up to eight people. The cost for the new shelter would run about $70,000 a year.

The Howard County center, which depends on grants, corporate contributions and group and individual donations, has not found enough money to open another emergency shelter.

"It's hard times for everybody," said Judy Clancy, spokeswoman for the center. "You do the best you can."

To relieve its short-term food shortage, the center is seeking donations of ground beef, chicken, hot dogs, pasta, spaghetti sauce, lunch meats, sliced cheese, cereals, canned soups, frozen orange juice, and cake or Brownie mix.

Further information is available by calling the Domestic Violence Center's Columbia office at 997-0304. Counseling through the center's 24-hour hot line is available by calling 997-2272.

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