Churches help take chill from winter for homeless


November 17, 1999|By Donna Koros Stramella | Donna Koros Stramella,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FOR MOST OF US, the cooler weather means warm sweaters and a cozy fire in the fireplace. But for a segment of the population, the winter months can be deadly.

When you sleep in the woods, inside a cardboard box or under a freeway, keeping warm isn't as simple as piling another quilt on the bed.

So each winter, a group of volunteers ensures that homeless men have a safe, warm place to sleep each night. Now in its eighth year, the Anne Arundel Winter Relief Shelter began Nov. 8 and houses an average of 20 men a night during the coldest 20 weeks of the year.

The guests are sheltered at local churches from 5: 30 p.m. until 7: 30 a.m. Volunteers provide dinner, breakfast and a bag lunch. The men are on their own during the day, unless weather conditions are particularly brutal.

The shelter rotates among churches every one or two weeks. Holy Trinity Church in Glen Burnie is playing host this week.

Robbie Miller, chairman of the effort at the parish, said many of the men are working, but can't save enough for a security deposit and first month's rent for an apartment.

"Last year, a good number of them worked in minimum-pay type jobs," he recalled. "There's a lot of us that are just one paycheck away from being out on the street with those guys."

The shelter provides a way for the men to get back on their feet again. "Some don't stay the whole year," Miller said. "Some get a job, get back with the family. Each one has his own story."

The Salvation Army sets the ground rules for participants.

Volunteers also offer a sympathetic ear to men who have little opportunity for conversation. Often, a couple of families or a particular ministry group from a church will cook and serve a meal together.

Other area churches that serve as shelter hosts include St. Paul Lutheran, Glen Burnie United Methodist, Harundale Presbyterian, Glen Burnie Baptist, Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Abundant Life and Marley United Methodist Church. Other churches assist by providing volunteers and food.

Information: 410-766-5070

Food for giving

Looking for a way to share your gratitude this Thanksgiving? Why not help the North County Emergency Outreach Network (NCEON) help others?

NCEON needs nonperishable food items and turkeys. Cash donations are also appreciated.

"We especially want to help families with the holidays because that's where your memories come from," director Marsha Frazier said. "There are a lot of people coming to see us who are no longer on food stamps." Although the number of people seeking food varies, Frazier expects the numbers to climb next week -- and the amount of food on the shelves may not be enough to accommodate the need. For the past two weeks, the supply has been extremely low. But Frazier is encouraged.

When she began to make the needs of NCEON known, the community began to respond. Students from Glen Burnie High are collecting nonperishables from local neighborhoods.

Donations will be accepted Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2: 30 p.m.

NCEON is at 304 Fifth St., SE. Information: 410-766-1826.

Christmas musical

The holiday spirit will come alive as Faith Baptist Church presents "A Christmas Prayer."

Performances are scheduled at 7 p.m. Dec. 5, 6, 8 and 9. An additional matinee show will run at 4 p.m. Dec. 5. Tickets are free, but must be reserved in advance.

The musical tells the story of a family torn by tragedy, and a father forced to confront his need for God's love.

Other Faith Baptist choir performances will include the Sanctuary Choir at the "Festival of Trees" in Timonium at 8 p.m. Nov. 26.

The combined choirs will also sing at Annapolis Mall at 7 p.m. Dec. 17.

The church is located at 7378 Furnace Branch Road. For tickets, call 410-761-5346.

For seniors

Pinewood Village will sponsor an information and assistance program for senior citizens at 11: 15 a.m. Monday at 7885 Gordon Court.

Irene Huster of the Department of Aging will discuss options such as transportation, in-home services and discounts available through the county for seniors.

The Department of Aging can also steer residents to resources available through private companies and other government agencies.

Information: 410-222-4464.

Employee honored

North Arundel Hospital honored Glen Burnie resident Debbie Miller with its "Excellence in Service" award.

A four-year employee with the hospital, Miller works in the Information Systems Department. She was recognized for her organization, dedication and creative knowledge.

Miller received a letter of commendation, gift check and plaque, and her photo will be displayed in the west lobby. Her name will also be engraved on the "People Who Care" display wall.

The quarterly award was also presented to Ivy Queen of Severn and Gretia Hardy of Odenton. Information: 410-787-4367.

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