This season, Paul’s Place will distribute 240 holiday baskets and 140 Thanksgiving baskets in addition to offering 125 Baltimore families the opportunity to use the organization’s gift shop, a resource that supplies needy families with access to holiday toys and gifts.
“Everybody needs help during the holidays,” says Deputy Director Sadie Smith.
Paul’s Place began in 1982 as a group of people serving soup and sandwiches out of a car parked outside St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, says Smith, and has since expanded to include more than 20 programs such as a marketplace, eviction help, and hot meals.
Unlike some other similar organizations, Paul’s Place allows children to volunteer in all of its programs.
“The children can really benefit — and especially the school groups that come — to get to know a life that is different from theirs,” says Smith.
By recruiting volunteers to work either as teams or as individuals, Project PLASE helps the homeless and the at-risk in Baltimore City and Baltimore County with housing and support services.
Unlike an emergency shelter, Project PLASE helps its clients find permanent housing solutions that allow them to live their lives by their own schedule as opposed to having to abide by the rules and hours of an agency. If there is a need, the organization can also arrange for transitional housing. Their facilities are handicapped accessible, something Kristen Kearby, director of development and communications, says really distinguishes it from other local programs.
“We’re all in it together,” says Kearby of the relationship between Baltimore’s homeless and the rest of the local community. “They’re our neighbors.”
Youth Empowered Society Drop-In Center
Only a year old, the Youth Empowered Society (YES) Drop-In Center was founded to help what the organization describes as the most overlooked members of the homeless and at-risk population: teens and young adults.
Dedicated to those between the ages of 14 and 25, the center offers access to washers, driers, a computer lab, food and a comfortable place to rest.
“It was founded as basically a space where you can have everything in one spot,” says Nadja Bentley-Hammond, peer counselor at YES.
She says people learn about YES through social media channels and word of mouth. When a young person makes his or her first visit, their information is taken down, but from then on they are free to come and go as they please.
The program works to connect homeless and at-risk youth with other young people in the community, including matching clients with peers who have been through some of the same struggles.
“We connect because we’re all peers,” says Bentley-Hammond.
Would you like to make a difference this Thanksgiving and Chanukah? Visit one of these locations and spread the light.
The Baltimore Station »
INNterim Housing Corporation »
Jewish Volunteer Connection »
Our Daily Bread »
Paul’s Place »
Project PLASE »
YES Drop-In Center »