After the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, one family sheltered another family that was homeless, and then the woman from the donor family lost her job and needed help. So she came to SPAN.
A social worker came to SPAN after she discovered that a student’s family was living in a cheap hotel.
Across Severna Park, these stories are more common than some people might think, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, SPAN, ACAN and other nonprofits have stepped up in a big way to help those in need.
“Everybody is one or two paychecks from being in need when you think about it, because if you have a high-paying job and live in an expensive house and all of the sudden you’re out of work, you’re going to have more bills due than the next person,” said SPAN’s director of development, Ellen Kinsella. “So we get some of that sometimes. A lot of white-collar families are just down on their luck.”
An independent nonprofit food pantry and emergency services provider, Serving People Across Neighborhoods (SPAN) has been helping local families with eviction prevention, utility turnoffs, medical/prescription bills and food since 1990.
The coronavirus has forced SPAN to adapt. Kinsella and SPAN’s director of operations, Jennifer Pumphrey, sent most of SPAN’s volunteers home for their safety through June, but SPAN had help from Mike Monahan, Tia Johnson and Elle Johnson.
“It’s five of us doing the work 50 people would do,” Kinsella said in early June.
The group kept SPAN’s front door locked and greeted visitors who displayed their Maryland IDs. Kinsella and Pumphrey have also been leaving boxes of food on the back porch for people to take as needed.
Clients in need have each received three bags with nonperishable foods like macaroni and cheese, pasta and soup.
SPAN went from 46 donations in March to 36 in April and 70 in May. Immense community support helped the nonprofit meet the rising need.
A $2,500 donation from Severna Park Elks Club has funded five weeks of tomatoes, bananas, green peppers, and other fresh foods. Students have spearheaded neighborhood food drives.
Troop 1802 sold 1,502 boxes of cookies from September through December and split the proceeds from 288 boxes between SPAN and Anne Arundel Medical Center. Audrey Tubbs, who is set to enter the second grade at Severna Park Elementary, led the pack by selling 416 boxes.
“It feels really good to give people extra help,” Audrey said.
Krystine Milewski, Katie McCord and Abbie Ellicott held a food and supply drive. The donations filled two cars full of bags and boxes of food, cleaning supplies, toiletries and masks, and even included $265 in financial donations.
Numerous other neighborhoods, businesses, civic groups and individuals, along with SPAN’s 14 member churches, have given the nonprofit a boost with monetary donations and food.
The recipients are grateful for the help. One woman, referred to as “Sarah” in this article to protect her privacy, recounted how she was fighting for disability compensation in 2012 when her godmother told her about SPAN.
“SPAN helped me with my BGE bill and also gave me food, hygiene products and baby items,” Sarah said. “I felt very fortunate to have found them.”
She has returned to SPAN several times over the years, most recently after the coronavirus began to spread in Maryland.
“When the coronavirus hit, SPAN had an outdoor pantry where I could get food and toiletries without coming into contact with anyone. SPAN has been a huge help to me. The people there are amazing, and they go out of their way to help people.”
SPAN is currently paying late notices in utilities, not just turnoff notices, as long as its budget can support that effort. The nonprofit is also offering financial assistance with overdue rent, not just court-ordered evictions.
Call 410-647-0889 between 10:00am and 1:00pm Monday through Thursday to see if you qualify for food or financial assistance. Financial donations may be made through www.spanhelps.org. Food donations may be dropped off anytime using the storage bin behind SPAN’s building behind Our Shepherd Lutheran Church.
Asbury Church Assistance Network (ACAN) is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year after being formed in 2000 by pastor Ronald Ward and Air Force veteran Clinton Wallace to help people with emergency services like food assistance and utility turn-off notices. The 20th anniversary has come at a time when ACAN is more vital than ever.
The number of households served by ACAN spiked from 93 in February to 234 in March and 406 in April. To meet growing demand, ACAN started a delivery service.
“Before, we allowed people to come in an do their own personal shopping,” said volunteer Rhonda Patrick, “but now everything had to move outside the building. Now we have to start with pre-packaged boxes and separate tables with other items.”
ACAN assists people of all needs, ages and backgrounds. It serves meals to more than 80 homeless people every week; supplies diapers, milk, wipes and hygiene products for 30-plus babies on a monthly basis; provides services for more than 100 seniors; and food and school supplies to 17 college students each semester.
ACAN volunteers have juggled all of their programs while grieving the loss of their beloved executive director, Janet Pack, to a heart attack on May 25.
The nonprofit is accepting new volunteers, as well as financial donations.
For more information or to donate, visit www.acansevernapark.org.
Walk The Walk Foundation
Walk the Walk Foundation is helping Love Anne Arundel, a coalition of churches that are arranging pop-up pantries for those in need. A Millersville-based nonprofit, Walk the Walk also continues to support Anne Arundel pantries and is supplying diapers to the pop-up locations.
Rhonda Patrick of ACAN called Walk the Walk founders David and Kim Mitchell unknown heroes in the community. Walk the Walk has provided diapers, wipes and baby wash to ACAN for low-income families.
“I get a chance to see the joy it brings,” Patrick said of Walk the Walk. “I see the gratefulness and the thanks when I give [supplies] out.”
To learn more about Love Anne Arundel, visit www.loveaaco.org.
My Brother’s Pantry
Broadneck-area families have looked to My Brothers Pantry for help. President Steve Myers has collected extra food for students while school is out and has revised distribution procedures to ensure everyone’s safety. To learn more, call 410-757-5190.
As they continue to help families navigating their way through crisis, area nonprofits are thankful to be in a position to help, whether the beneficiary is a senior citizen or the woman who lost her job after giving shelter to a homeless family.
“We hear stories like this all the time,” Kinsella said. “They don’t know what to do, so they come to us for help. It hits home. It’s very personal, and we’ve definitely run into people we know who come in for help and they’re embarrassed. But it brings out the good in people.”