By John P. Evans III
The hardest thing to hold on to when you are homeless may be hope, but there is an organization in Caroline County that is taking great strides in making the plight of the homeless a little better in their time of need.
Founded in 2010, His Hope Ministries provides housing, and safer and more secure living conditions to Caroline County’s homeless population, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or religion.
A 501(c)(3) nonproﬁt organization, the ministry relies greatly on the assistance of the Denton community, and county businesses and residents, to provide the funding needed to carry out its goal.
Brian Gourley, executive director of His Hope Ministries, said the group provides “essential human resources such as shelter, food, hygiene products, clothing, soft and life skills training and more” to families who are homeless or dealing with the threat of becoming homeless.
His Hope Ministries’ emergency shelter is located in the former high school building on the now-closed Wesleyan School campus at 401 Aldersgate Drive in Denton, and can accommodate up to 50 persons at a time. It is open from September through May.
“His Hope Ministries diligently helps vulnerable families and individuals ﬁght homelessness,” said Gourley. “We work towards a place where all people have access to quality housing, nutritious food, and opportunities to thrive.”
Gourley added that the ministry is “committed to working with compassion, integrity, accountability, creativity and an anti-oppression approach treating others with honor, dignity and respect to end homelessness and hunger.”
Homelessness, or the threat of becoming homeless, continues to be a growing crisis on the Eastern Shore. Caroline County is no different. Gourley stated that in 2016, His Hope Ministries served over 17,000 meals and provided emergency shelter to 138 people (72 children, 66 adults, 75 females, 63 males). Attaching numbers to its services, Gourley noted that His Hope Ministries provided 17,084 meals and 4,613 bed nights, offering a safe environment for its “guests” to live until their situation improves.
In addition, 71 people were provided with Rapid Rehousing, nine with Homeless prevention and 16 with Street Outreach.
There are currently 37 guests staying in the emergency shelter, which includes eight families and 21 children. Potential guests must be referred through the Department of Social Services, which can be reached by calling 410-819-4500, Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
Particularly important is the shelter it provides to children during the months they need it most – school days. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that toxic stress on children is caused by instability and trauma in their life, and that it can drastically hurt a child’s physical health and disrupt their developing brain.
“Since over half of those we help are children, it is very important to us to always remain open for services during the school year months,” said Gourley. “We pride ourselves in aggressively helping to reduce toxic stress for our children. We have seen and experienced great results with providing children and their families with stability, guidance, encouragement and essential human necessities.”
Guests in the emergency shelter are provided essential resources such as a bed, bedding, hygiene products, clothing, space for personal belongings, the ability to lock up valuables, and meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). The shelter is equipped with eight rooms (six private family and two dorm type) and has six restrooms and three showers. It also has a dining area, laundry room, computer area, and common relaxing area. Each guest or family entering the shelter is assigned an individual who works with them during their stay.
“His Hope Ministries reduces homelessness and enables families to live in safe, secure, and healthy stable housing environments. We have accomplished this through connecting everyone entering any of our programs with a Family Navigator,” said Gourley. “This starts an immediate client-directed approach helping identify and acquiring the right mix of resources to assist in aligning goals and promoting a robust pathway to moving beyond the client’s crisis situation into self-sufﬁciency and family success.”
Due to a recent partnership with Denton’s Christ Episcopal Church, the ministry was able to open a resource center, His Hope Resource Center, which is located downstairs at Christ Episcopal Church, 105 Gay Street in Denton. There, it provides support and guidance to encourage personal growth for the guests and clients. Clients have access to case management services, use of computers and internet access, engage in housing and employment searches, pastoral counseling, and participate in workshops designed to increase self-sufﬁciency; including ﬁnancial literacy, healthy grocery shopping on a budget, resume writing, smoking cessation, skills to pay the bills, and more.
His Hope Resource Center is within easy walking distance to local town resources including the public library, the Department of Social Services, the Health Department, mental health and substance abuse counseling services, among others.
In addition to the shelter and resource center, His Hope Ministries also provides the following:
Homeless Prevention – to help resolve a crisis that would otherwise lead to homelessness.
Rapid Rehousing – to help families and individuals quickly move out of homelessness and into permanent housing.
SOAR – SSI/ SSDI, Outreach Access, and Recovery – to help individuals that are experiencing a housing crisis and that are diagnosed with behavioral health and/or co-occurring disorder apply for supplemental security income.
Street Outreach – to help address the immediate needs of the homeless population that may be living in places not meant for human habitation.
“None of this would be possible if it wasn’t for our wonderful volunteers, such as the North Caroline Clergy Association Board of Directors, and Denton Camp and Conference Center, and funding partners.” said Gourley, who also said that assistance also comes from individuals and organizations who have provided meals, bedding, clothing and furniture, or “in kind” services that would normally cost the ministry to receive.
The organizations assisting His Hope Ministry come from diverse areas and include non-profits such as The Caroline Foundation, United Way of Caroline County, Women’s Club of Caroline County, and the United Concerned Christians of Caroline County. There are also local businesses and other organizations involved including Greensboro Pharmacy, Bilbrough’s Electric, R & M Performance, Ground Effects, Towers Concrete, Cook’s Tires, Shore United Bank, Furuno, Caroline’s Fraternal Order of Police, Town of Denton and the Caroline County Department of Social Services.
Local families lending large amounts of support include the Baggins, Baxter, Breeding, Citro, Frase, Hill, Jensen, Manley, Martin, McMahan, Saunders, and Towers families.
According to Gourley, “As we celebrate the joys of Christmas and the hope of the new year, please help His Hope Ministries give hope to many of your neighbors that find themselves struggling and fighting against homelessness. It is easy to fall into a homeless situation but difficult to climb out. If you want to be a part of helping and giving families hope and a fighting chance, please consider donating to His Hope Ministries. You can make a 100% tax-deductible monetary gift .to NCCA His Hope Ministries at P.O Box 31, Goldsboro, Maryland 21636.”
Anyone wishing to learn more about His Hope Ministries or learn about ways to support its mission, should call Gourley at 410-963-3594, follow on Facebook or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.