New name, new funding for group helping needy students

When someone sets out to do good for the greater Towson community, I believe that this community shows up to help. Laurie Taylor-Mitchell has found that to be true in her work with the Loch Raven Network. In a little more than two years’ time, Taylor-Mitchell has grown her small grass-roots effort into an organization that is really making an impact on the lives of local students in poverty. And now she has some exciting news to share.

In 2015, Taylor-Mitchell started the Loch Raven Network, initially to support Loch Raven High School by providing essential items requested for students by school staff. Recently, Parkville High School and Pine Grove Middle School volunteers have joined the Network and have established programs at those schools.

On May 30, the Loch Raven Network officially changed its name to Student Support Network Inc., and will operate as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with the mission of serving impoverished students in Baltimore County public schools.

There was a tremendous response from our community to calls for action through the Loch Raven Network. Fall and spring drives for clothing, outerwear, shoes, toiletries and nonperishable food pantry items were so successful that the group was able to share support not only with Loch Raven High School, but with 20 schools around Baltimore County.

It’s hard to believe, but there are more than 2,000 homeless students in Baltimore County Public Schools, and 86 schoolhouses with 50 percent of students in severe poverty (nearly 50,000 students). Food insecurity is a major problem, as are high risks of bullying and depression among these vulnerable children.

As the Student Support Network, the new name recognizes that their efforts have an even broader reach than initially anticipated, and it reflects the organization’s growth and commitment. “The Student Support Network will serve as the umbrella organization, with the separate school networks operating within its financial structure,” explained Taylor-Mitchell. “We are thrilled with the progress we’ve made.”

To bolster the efforts of Student Support Network, the Mt. Moriah Lodge Charitable Foundation will donate a total of $12,000 this year! Gregory Jones, president of the Mt. Moriah Lodge #116, said: “The Freemasons were founded on beliefs in assisting those in need and in the enlightenment of education. We see our partnership with the Student Support Network as a natural synergy and a most meaningful use of our financial support.”

The Mt. Moriah Foundation and Rosedale Federal Savings & Loan will both serve as title sponsors for a Student Support Network fundraiser slated for Oct. 16.

Additionally, Pat France, of Knollwood, has named Student Support Network as a beneficiary of the Towson Area Citizens On Patrol’s “National Night Out,” on Aug. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m., on Washington Avenue. Attendees are encouraged to bring 2-3 items to help homeless students, and deposit them at the Student Support Network table.

For more details on the popular National Night Out event, go to towsonareacop.org. For more information on Student Support Network, visit studentsupportnetwork.org, or find them on Facebook.

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