Sarah's House calls for volunteers Shelter needs helpers to cook meals for needy

August 13, 1996|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Sarah's House has room for volunteers.

The Fort Meade shelter and transitional housing facility is looking for groups and individuals to make casseroles and cook meals in its emergency shelter, which houses 35 to 40 people.

While contributions to the shelter from the federal and state government have dropped in recent years, the need for shelter and food has not decreased, said Sarah's House director Mary Anne O'Donnell.

The shelter's $1.3 million budget -- from government and private sources -- is virtually the same as last year, O'Donnell said, so she plans to raise $81,500 this year to make up for decreases in government funding.

That means the facility needs more volunteers to make ends meet, she said.

"I believe very strongly that volunteers have helped make Sarah's House what it is," O'Donnell said. The push for volunteers will help meet an immediate need at the shelter, but will also help the shelter survive further budget crunches.

"We want to be in a positive position," she said. "We don't want to wait until something happens."

In addition to the emergency shelter, Sarah's House provides apartments as transitional housing for families in crisis. The facility is run by Associated Catholic Charities in converted Army barracks leased by Anne Arundel County from on Fort Meade property.

Volunteer and funds developer Jane Strong hopes to recruit people who want to serve the community but may not want to commit a large amount of time.

Individuals or small groups who thought they could not afford the time or money to help the shelter might be especially interested.

"We are trying to think of ways they could contribute," Strong said. "One of the ways is giving some of their time at home preparing a casserole."

Cooking for the shelter could be as simple as making a casserole at home, freezing it and dropping it off at the shelter. Or groups can organize members to come to the shelter once a month to cook an evening meal.

The volunteers provide the food for the meal they cook, but the shelter can supplement that with canned goods and bread, Strong said. She can also provide casserole recipes.

The emergency shelter serves three meals a day, seven days a week, but Strong is focusing on recruiting volunteers for the evening meals. About 10 meals a month are provided by volunteers, and Strong hopes to boost that to 25 to 30 meals a month.

Members of Asbury United United Methodist Church in Arnold cook Sunday dinner at Sarah's House four times a year and members have recently started making casseroles as well, said Sally Vavrek, who heads the church and society committee.

A group of three or four families from the church typically spends three hours preparing and serving a meal to residents, Vavrek said. And for volunteers who are new to the shelter, serving there can be a learning experience.

"They want us to know what they do, and that helps us feel better about what they are doing," Vavrek said. "It's more than a Band-Aid."

For more information, call Sarah's House at 551-7722.

Pub Date: 8/13/96

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