Restoring Hope and Changing Lives

Many will have read about the Talbot Interfaith Shelter over recent months and even years. You may think you know what happens there. But the more you know…the more you know how much you don’t know.

Talbot Interfaith Shelter isn’t a bed for a night. It’s a place where one goes to reinvent oneself. It’s a home where there is a family to greet you; buoy you up; redirect you; support you; feed you; clothe you; and ultimately, send you off on your own. TIS is a place that prepares people to accept life’s challenges and ultimately thrive.

Each executive staff member has a unique connection to the services provided at Evelyn’s Place where Laura Richeson (left) Director of Development; Julie Lowe, Executive Director; Fran Doran, Director of Operations; and Jeffrey Washington, Case Manager of Evelyn’s Place, stand by the ready.

The journey isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s not “wrapped up in a little neat package with a bow on top” easy. To thrive, one has to commit and earn Every. Step. Of. The. Journey.

TIS is a place of transformation. It’s complex and unique to each individual and a lot of work for everyone involved and … it works. Talbot Interfaith Shelter provides more than a roof over one’s head. To “enter” TIS, one has to buy into the S4 Program: Shelter, Stability, Support, and Success. S4 is the core, the base, the foundation. The goal upon entering TIS is for each resident to go from homelessness to self-sufficiency by way of shelter, rigorous case management, life skills training, connection with local service providers and transitional housing.

Talbot Interfaith Shelter’s two shelter buildings on Goldsborough Street include Easton’s Promise, on the left, and Evelyn’s Place.

For background, a Talbot County cold weather shelter was established in January 2009 where individuals would rotate to different churches each night during the “cold” months. No shelter was provided during the day, however. Fast forward five years and Talbot Interfaith Shelter secured a permanent home at a former bed and breakfast, Easton’s Promise at 107 Goldsborough Street in downtown Easton. On June 6, the first resident of Evelyn’s Place took residence next door at 109 Goldsborough Street. Evelyn’s Place, affectionately named after founder Evelyn Sedlack, serves single men and women while Easton’s Promise focuses on families.

Each home is just that – a home. Dinner is served at 5:30 p.m. Laundry day is assigned. Chores are required. The home environment is integral to success. The word success is unique to every resident as each has his or her own journey, goals, and challenges. Small successes create momentum and eventually, financial independence.

The S4 program is tailored to each resident. At its core, however, it comes down to one plan to build financial stability, which is achieved with the assistance of a case manager. The Evelyn’s Place case manager is Jeffrey Washington, a man who is unflappably capable. Jeffrey is a guest’s partner in the S4 Program and will connect guests with the necessary service providers and provide supervision and counsel. Guests who enter the program without a GED are tasked with earning one as part of their personalized plan. Guests who enter the program who are in recovery will attend relapse prevention classes. All guests attend relevant classes, including health, parenting, budgeting, nutrition, and on poverty, entitled “Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World.”

Eventually guests will transition to an off-site apartment once they are able to save for a security deposit, secure half of the first month’s rent and pay utilities. When they have proven they can maintain a realistic budget, they enter the next phase of the program. Guests pay between $250 and $300 per month in rent and continue with rigorous case management and educational opportunities for about two years as they incrementally assume self-sufficiency.

It doesn’t all happen without a committed staff and a vast network of volunteers. Pre-Covid, volunteers topped 400 individuals who worked 10,000 hours annually to provide supervision, meals and fellowship. Today, volunteers are slowly returning, but many are still needed, according to Julie Lowe, executive director. People are needed to assist with everything from meals and events to house management. As the old adage states: It takes a village!

Part of the TIS “village” is Laura Richeson, who was recently hired as the new Development Director of TIS. It is her hope to achieve the organization’s goals through donor relations, events and bringing awareness to the community of the vital work that is being accomplished at Talbot Interfaith Shelter. She said, “We are not just a homeless shelter, we are a program that will change the lives of many in Talbot County.”

On July 9 from 5 to 8 p.m., Hummingbird Inn presents Bushels & Brews, an AYCE Crab Feast with live music by Jayme D to benefit Talbot Interfaith Shelter. Future dates include August 13 and September 10. People are invited to enjoy a crab feast while learning more about TIS. Call 410-822-0605 to make a reservation. To get a tour of Evelyn’s Place or Easton’s Promise, contact Julie Lowe at 410-310-2316 or Laura Richeson at lauraricheson@talbotinterfaithshelter.org. For more information, visit www.talbotinterfaithshelter.org.

The Impact of a Gift

On June 6, Evelyn’s Place opened its doors. The first guest, in her words, wanted supporters to know the impact of their gift:

“Sometimes when you’re connected to something remotely, you don’t get to see the impact that it has on people. You may be thinking, “I’ll write this check, and I know this is where my money’s going, but I don’t know exactly what it’s doing.” Just know that your contribution, your connection, your input, your donation is making an impact on real people that have lives, who love and are loved, and who just want to be healthy, and that you’re aiding in that process. It’s like you’re planting seeds and you’re watering them even if you’re not the gardener. If you’re buying the seeds and paying the water bill, you’re contributing to the growth and development of the garden, and I think that’s something awesome.”

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