North County homeless shelter reopens for a winter of caring Churches' shared ministry serves 9 men on first day

November 19, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

The rotating North County homeless shelter opened its doors for another winter last night, providing a warm cot and a hot meal at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Glen Burnie.

Early in the evening, nine men stopped by the Salvation Army center on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard for breath analysis tests to make sure they were sober, then trooped a few blocks to Holy Trinity where parishioners were preparing ham, green beans and scalloped potatoes for dinner.

For many, it would be their only meal of the day.

Frank Machen, 33, has been homeless since Oct. 29. In the past week or so, he has been sleeping in the woods, hauling scrap metal and aluminum to the Maryland Recycling Center on 8th Avenue in Glen Burnie to pick up $7 or $8 a day, he said.

"I scrounged up blankets, whatever I could get: plastic, rubber, foam to put on top of that," he said. "It's amazing what you can do when you have to. It was really cold."

He said that if it weren't for the shelter, "I'd probably be digging old doughnuts out of a trash can."

Father Gene Nickol, pastor at Holy Trinity, said he is "very happy we can have the facility to offer these people a place to stay during these cold months to help them get back on their feet."

Next week, the shelter moves to Delmont United Methodist Church in Severn and after that, to Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer in Glen Burnie.

But members of North Arundel Area Ministries, which has run the shelter for four years, hope to establish a permanent shelter in two years to provide counseling, education and employment assistance for the men.

"The success story is going to be to get somebody out of a program like this and to accomplish that we need a year-round shelter," said the Rev. R. Olin Herndon, pastor of Glen Burnie United Methodist Church, which has participated in the program since it started.

Since the program began four winters ago, it has helped 250 men, said Jim Fouse, coordinator of the North Arundel Winter Rotating Shelter Program.

The North County ministries have applied to the Arundel Community Development Service for a $250,000 grant to pay for a permanent shelter, which would house 10 men. By January, they should know whether they will receive any money, Fouse said.

The ministries already have raised $50,000 from churches that participate in the rotating shelter program. The money would be used to pay the salaries of a director, two case workers and for operating expenses, a total of about $70,000, Fouse said.

"I think the $70,000 figure is achievable," he said.

The shelter is to be modeled after the Lighthouse Shelter in Annapolis, which Annapolis Area Ministries operated as a rotating shelter before it found a permanent home on West Street in 1991.

Before reporting to a church for the evening, men in the Glen Burnie program must report to the Salvation Army on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard for a breath test to make sure they are not drunk, said Weldon Ward, coordinator of the program at Glen Burnie United Methodist.

Ward said the churches have "been working quite successfully" and have experienced few problems with the men.

"The driving force behind this is people feel they want to do something constructive, and just giving a handout to someone who is panhandling on the street corner is not the most constructive way to help the homeless," Herndon said.

Pub Date: 11/19/96

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