Fighting for the needy

eye on harford

Resident aims to grow effort

August 31, 2008|By Cassandra A. Fortin | Cassandra A. Fortin,Special to The Baltimore Sun

For more than 25 years, Pat Eiler has been touched by the plight of homeless people.

She recalled one man who slept with a bucket on his head.

Then there was the man who drank heavily and slept under a bridge. He came to the shelter from the hospital, where he was treated for frost-bite, she said.

"He came to us for two years," said Eiler, 70, of Joppa. "Then he called one day completely ecstatic. He told me that he was getting a house, and getting a job, and he needed help to find furniture. It was so wonderful that he was getting what he needed."

After more than a decade of volunteering in Baltimore City homeless shelters, Eiler moved her efforts closer to home. In 1999, she helped start a rotating shelter that moved among county churches during winter. In 2005, she helped start the Welcome One Fellowship Center in a small trailer in Edgewood. In 2006, the county's first homeless shelter, a 28-bed facility called the Welcome One Emergency Shelter, was opened in the Riverside Business Park, in Belcamp.

However, even these facilities operated under the auspices of the Faith Communities and Civic Agencies United (FCCAU) are too cramped to meet the needs of the county, said Eiler, the president of the FCCAU.

"We have 30 to 40 people come into the center each day and we only have a small little area where they can go," Eiler said.

With a goal of moving to a larger facility, Eiler and the FCCAU is holding a "Hope For the Homeless Golf Outing" on Sept. 9, at the Mountain Branch Golf Course in Joppa.

The golf tournament, which is in its second year, raised $7,500 for the programs last year.

For information, call 410-676-2018.

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