Late in 2008, a small group of compassionate individuals from a number of religious faiths met to discuss a shared concern – the plight of people without a home or shelter, especially families, in our area. In January 2009, we opened our doors for the first time, and we have been successfully serving people in need ever since.
Talbot Interfaith Shelter was formed in 2008 by a group of concerned members of Talbot County faith communities alarmed by a growing number of requests for assistance from those who were hungry, homeless, or about to become homeless. We hoped to be able to fill the gap to provide a safe haven to families in need. As things happened, we ended up with a continually changing mixed group of families, individual men and individual women who needed shelter.
For 5 years, the shelter was a “homeless” homeless shelter, rotating cots, blankets, supplies and support through Talbot’s faith congregations. Teams of volunteers from 19 faith communities came together to bring hot meals, drive shelter guests to showers at the YMCA, make bagged lunches and spend time with the shelter’s guests. Shelter guests had to leave each morning, and return again in the evening to allow the churches and synagogue to conduct their normal schedules of day school and outreach meetings.
Due to fire code restrictions in the houses of worship, we were able to house only 5 individuals each night. This restriction, and the fact we were unable to provide daytime shelter, made it practically impossible to help families in the faith-based rotating shelter model. We began supporting one family at a time in an apartment rented to us in 2011.
Since the need far surpassed our capabilities, we began investigating buildings and properties, with an eye toward a permanent facility to allow us to function year round. After looking at various properties in Easton, we began to negotiate with the owners of the Easton’s Promise Bed and Breakfast in early 2014 to purchase their property at 107 Goldsborough Street.
That building, centrally located, with its 6 en suite bedrooms, large dining and living areas and kitchen, offers a tremendous amount of flexibility. With an ever-changing population of men, women, and families with children, having six private rooms with their own bathrooms enables us to serve any combination of individuals who present at any moment in time.
We received a significant pledge from one Talbot family to help us secure the Easton’s Promise Bed and Breakfast property. After receiving a permit to operate at 107 Goldsborough Street from the Talbot County Board of Zoning Appeals in the summer of 2014, we encountered some opposition and engaged in a lengthy legal process which challenged the validity of our permit.
To ensure that we could continue serving our neighbors in need during the appeal, we signed a lease with the owners of Easton's Promise, and opened our doors on November 30, 2014. On September 15, 2016, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld our permit to operate at Easton’s Promise, and our opposition declined to pursue the matter any further, allowing us to close on the purchase of the property on November 2, 2016.
Since opening our doors at Easton's Promise, we have served dozens of individuals and families with children. Hundreds of volunteers - more than 450 at last count - contribute over 10,000 hours of their time each year, providing shelter supervision, meals and fellowship for our guests.
Through partnerships with the Housing Commission of Talbot and one private landlord, we have expanded our organization to include eight transitional apartments. We have developed a program called S4 (Shelter - Stability - Support - Success) which provides guests with access to the services and tools they need break the cycle of poverty and homelessness and reclaim their independence. Our full-time Operations Manager Fran Doran provides case management and direction for shelter guests and apartment residents, and part-time Executive Director Julie Lowe develops relationships in the community and oversees the staff and operations of the shelter and off-site housing.
Click here to learn more about our S4 Program.