What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been

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With apologies to the Grateful Dead, this headline just seemed to sum up the experience that 2020 has been so far. These are unprecedented times, and we have all been forced to adapt to a new way of life. For those of you fortunate enough to have hung onto your income, to have kept food on the table, and to have remained COVID-free, you are still dealing with the inconvenience of business closings, social-distance restrictions, home-schooling, or most of all, fear of catching the virus or passing it on to vulnerable loved ones.

We all seem to have a degree of anxiety, but if you can manage it through laughter, prayer, volunteer work, or another constructive outlet, then you have discovered a valuable coping tool that will help you stay resilient throughout the future of the pandemic.

At SPAN, we know that for some of our neighbors, the worst is yet to come. Up until recently, there has been a moratorium on evictions and utility shutoffs, but now many families are faced with bills they cannot pay. Because of the severity of the situation, we have relaxed some of our requirements, and as long as our budget holds out, we will be paying late notices on utilities, not just turnoff notices. Likewise, we will be giving financial assistance with overdue rent, not just court-ordered evictions. In some cases, we have even increased our benefits. Please call us at 410-647-0889 between 10:00am and 1:00pm Monday through Thursday to see if you qualify for food or financial assistance. We have revamped our operating procedure so that we have a no-contact system.

SPAN has remained open throughout the pandemic, even creating a temporary, free outdoor pantry to help our neighbors access food easily and safely. We could not have done any of this without the help of Mike Monahan, Tia Johnson and Elle Johnson. We also owe a huge thanks to Nancy Stow and her brother, Bob, for renovating our storage room upstairs. Thanks to the ASP Team from Severna Park United Methodist Church, who, despite having their mission trip canceled, conducted a gigantic food drive for SPAN in lieu of their traditional ASP auction. Thanks also to the Severna Park Elks Club, who secured a $2,500 grant, and used the entire amount to purchase food for SPAN over the course of five weeks. Thanks also to numerous neighborhoods, businesses, civic groups and individuals for an unprecedented level of generosity with donations, both financial and in goods. And thank you to the Severna Park Voice for helping us get our word out!

We would be remiss if we didn’t give a shout-out to our SPAN board and member churches, who are the foundation of our existence. Our member churches are Asbury United Methodist, Baldwin United Methodist, Bay Area Community, Broadneck Baptist, Brooklyn Community United Methodist, Hope Springs Community, Our Lady of the Fields Catholic, Our Shepherd Lutheran, St. Andrew by the Bay Roman Catholic, St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic, St. Martins-in-the-Field Episcopal, Severna Park Baptist, Severna Park United Methodist, Trinity Bible, and Woods Memorial Presbyterian churches.

Please stay well, try to accept the situations you cannot control, find the humor in situations, and for goodness sakes, wear your mask!

SPAN (Serving People Across Neighborhoods) is an independent nonprofit food pantry and emergency services provider that has been helping local families with eviction prevention, utility turnoffs, medical/prescription bills and food since 1990. SPAN serves 14 zip codes in Anne Arundel County. SPAN is located behind Our Shepherd Lutheran Church at 400 Benfield Road in Severna Park. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 10:00am-1:30pm. For more information, call 410-647-0889, email spanhelps@yahoo.com or visit www.spanhelps.org. Financial donations may be made through the website. Food donations may be dropped off 24/7 using the storage bin behind SPAN’s building. Please “like” SPAN on Facebook!

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