Salvation Army seeks new, larger quarters Number of people helped with food, clothing, money has quadrupled GLEN BURNIE

March 10, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

The Salvation Army, which serves more than 7,000 people a year in Glen Burnie, is looking to move from its cramped Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard quarters to larger offices.

The decision came last week as the agency ended its free used clothing and household goods program for lack of space.

"The building that we're in we've outgrown," said Peggy Vick, director of the Glen Burnie office. "We've quadrupled the number of people we serve."

Six years ago when it moved to its current location, the Salvation Army was helping fewer than 2,000 people a year. Its annual budget has swelled from about $130,000 to $248,000. The demand continues to grow. Its emergency fund, which gives small sums of cash to people toward paying bills, has run dry. A pantry, which began as one shelf of food, has taken over a wall.

The Monday night youth program draws more than 50 and a Thursday night adult fellowship program has about 15, meaning both programs have more than doubled in six years.

The free meal program, aimed at the homeless and others who are unable to put food on the table, attracts 50 people to noon dinners served each Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and the fourth Saturday of the month. Six years ago, it fed fewer than six people.

The Salvation Army is one of two businesses on its block between Ritchie Highway and Delaware Avenue, where it sits amid six vacant storefronts.

Downtown property owners and merchants occasionally complain about the Salvation Army's clientele causing other people to shy away from the area, but there has never been a reported problem.

Homeless people congregate outside early in the morning, at mealtimes and around 5 p.m., when they are waiting to go a shelter.

Clients are told not to loiter, Ms. Vick said. "We tell them to move on, but where are they going to move to? They're homeless."

Real estate appraiser Gene Floyd, who owns nearby properties, praised the work the Salvation Army does, but noted that its presence "tends to suggest that the community itself is in great need.

"In a way, I'd hate to see them go. We need another vacant store there like we need a hole in the head," he said. "But you couldn't ask for better neighbors."

Homeless men sweep the sidewalk on that block every morning and Ms. Vick has offered to have them help nearby building owners remove graffiti or do other maintenance.

Ms. Vick estimates that the Salvation Army could use at least twice the 2,500 square feet of space it rents now. The agency would like to relocate within three miles of its downtown Glen Burnie office. The building must be on a bus line so clients can get there. The best situation would be in a donated building that could be refurbished to house a gymnasium, expanded youth and adult services, and its free store.

The store began three years ago in rent-free space next to the office as a place where the poor, the homeless and people burned out of their homes could pick up necessities. But, Ms. Vick said, the landlord advised her in December that he probably would want to reclaim the room early in the year and last week told her he would need it within weeks.

"It's not a surprise and there's no hard feeling," Ms. Vick said. She said she is grateful for the "graciousness of our landlord" for housing the store for so long.

Goods have been sent to the Salvation Army's thrift shop at Jumpers Hole Road and Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard. Prices are low, but items are not free.

The end of the free store, which was open three days a week, leaves a gap in services, said Leslie Fries, an American Red Cross supervisor in Glen Burnie whose primary responsibility is providing emergency services in Anne Arundel County.

"They certainly have helped a number of our clients. We meet emergency needs, but that doesn't take care of all their needs," she said.

Adventist Community Services Center, a program of the Seventh Day Adventist Church of Glen Burnie, has a similar giveaway of house hold goods and clothes, but it is open only Tuesdays and on emergency calls. Nevertheless, director Grace A. Thomas said she expects more people to turn there for help.

"Whenever any of the agencies closes a service, it has an impact," she said.

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