Our TIS-Story

In 2008, a group of concerned citizens from various local faith communities, led by our founder, Evelyn Sedlack, got together to find a solution to the growing problem of homelessness on the Mid-Shore. What started as a cold-weather, rotating shelter serving five people at a time has now blossomed into two shelters, a transitional housing program, and a comprehensive program designed to help our neighbors move from homelessness to self-sufficiency. Read on to learn more about the history of Talbot Interfaith Shelter.

For our tenth anniversary, our Founder, Evelyn Sedlack, several of our past Board Chairs, Executive Director, Julie Lowe, and Director of Operations, Fran Doran, gathered at Easton’s Promise to talk about the history of Talbot Interfaith Shelter. 

We hope you will take a few minutes to watch this fascinating oral history, made possible by the people in this video and extraordinary supporters like YOU!

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.

For 5 years, we were a “homeless” homeless shelter, rotating cots, blankets, supplies and support through Talbot’s faith congregations during the cold-weather months. Teams of volunteers from 19 faith communities came together to bring hot meals, drive guests to shower at the YMCA, make bagged lunches and provide fellowship for the shelter’s guests. Guests had to leave each morning and return in the evening to allow the churches and synagogue to conduct their regular business.

Due to fire code restrictions in the houses of worship, we were able to house only 5 individuals each night. This restriction, coupled with the fact we were unable to provide daytime shelter or house people year-round, made it practically impossible to help families in the 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 negotiations in early 2014 to purchase Easton’s Promise, a former bed & breakfast at 107 Goldsborough Street.

That building, centrally located, with five en suite bedrooms, large dining and living areas and kitchen, offered a tremendous amount of flexibility. With an ever-changing population, having five private rooms with their own bathrooms enabled us to serve any combination of individuals who were present at a given time.  

After receiving a permit to operate at Easton’s Promise in the summer of 2014, we encountered some opposition and engaged in a lengthy legal process that challenged the validity of our permit.  To ensure that we could continue serving our neighbors in need during the appeal, we leased Easton’s Promise from the owners 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, allowing us to finalize the purchase of the property on November 2, 2016.

Having a permanent facility not only enabled us to serve more people, but it allowed guests to stay longer, giving us the opportunity to develop a program that would address homelessness and its root causes, rather than simply giving guests a temporary reprieve.

Our innovative S4 (Shelter – Stability – Support – Success) program was designed to address the unique challenges of rural homelessness.  The goal of S4 is to create sustainable change in the lives of our guests, providing them with access to services and tools that can help them break the cycle of poverty and homelessness to regain their independence. 

Along with implementing the S4 Program, we began building relationships with the Housing Commission of Talbot and several private landlords to procure more transitional apartments.  Moving into transitional housing allows our guests to move gradually from the shelter to full independence, providing a safety net along the way to ensure they will remain successful after leaving TIS.

For many years, our strategic plan included the prospect of a second shelter facility that would allow us to expand our capacity and help more of our neighbors in need.  In the spring of 2020, when the COVID crisis began, we anticipated devastating economic repercussions for many in our community.  Even before eviction courts reopened, we were already receiving an influx of calls from local families and individuals in need of shelter. 

In April 2020, we began actively exploring ways to expand our capacity to accommodate more people and help them through these challenging times.  After many months of discussions and planning, the solution presented itself… Directly next door to Easton’s Promise at 109 Goldsborough Street in Easton!

A large part of the success of the S4 Program thus far had been due to our unique shelter facility at Easton’s Promise.  Both its homey atmosphere and its location in the center of town give guests an immediate sense of dignity and confidence, and let them know that they are valued members of our community. We were thrilled to have found another such property at 109 Goldsborough Street, where guests have a home and a sense of belonging.  With seven bedrooms, three full baths, a kitchen, meeting space, laundry facilities and more, this is a perfect setting for guests to regain stability as they work towards earning a spot in one of our off-site transitional apartments. 

Appropriately, on November 17, 2020, during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, the Easton Board of Zoning Appeals (BOZA) voted unanimously to approve our permit to expand our services into 109 Goldsborough Street.  

We were fortunate that Easton’s Promise came with a name befitting the work that was done inside.  Dozens of supporters from across the community submitted suggestions to name our new building, and more than 1,000 people voted for the winner, Evelyn’s Place, an homage to our founder, Evelyn Sedlack.  Evelyn’s Place was designated as a shelter for single men and women, while Easton’s Promise serves families with children.

On January 26th, 2021, we finalized the purchase of this new property, and on June 6, 2022 (our Executive Director Julie Lowe’s birthday), we opened our doors to guests for the first time.  Within three weeks, every bed was filled with a local man or woman beginning their journey to self-sufficiency through the S4 Program.  

During the first fiscal year since our expansion, we were able to serve more than 100 of our neighbors in need. We would not have been able to make this incredible journey from rotating shelter to where we are today without hundreds and hundreds of dedicated donors and volunteers like YOU. You are the lifeblood of our organization, and YOU are the reason that our neighbors have the opportunity to rebuild their lives and achieve Success. Our gratitude knows no bounds! We can't wait to see what unfolds in the next chapter of our TIS-Story!