Neighborhood Service Center Equips Citizens for Becoming Self-Sufficient

The Neighborhood Service Center (NSC), Inc. is a non-profit Community Action Agency whose mission is to improve the quality of life both socially and economically for low-income residents in Talbot County by equipping them with the tools and potential for becoming self-sufficient. The Center began in 1969 as an off shoot of the Tri County Community Action Agency and with the vision of Dorothy W. Black, began as a small non-profit that provided not only emergency services but hope, stability and support to hundreds of families in Talbot County.

Local government funding, as well as private donations and state and federal funds, allows NSC to assist low-income and elderly residents through its Emergency Services Program. The program helps those who are facing eviction and/or utility cut-offs and provides hotel placement when needed. Customers moving into their homes for the first time can also be assisted with first month’s rent from this program. When funds are available, NSC can also help with Maryland IDs, prescription medications and other emergency situations through this program.

Marilyn Neal, Executive Director of the Neighborhood Service Center, stands in front of a 28-room low-income rental property at 36 West Street in Easton, which was donated to the Neighborhood Service Center by Gregory Webb.

According to Marilyn Neal, Executive Director, requests for services have increased in every area over the 49 years the Neighborhood Service Center has been operating in Talbot County. The Center serves 2,000 families a year. She comments, “The Emergency Service Program tugs more at my heart than any other program – helping to prevent homelessness, keeping people healthy, and helping people keep and to get jobs. Ninety-eight percent of our clients are working people who just need a hand up.”

The Neighborhood Service Center serves the total family. NSC’s focus is to promote self-sufficiency, not dependency. With other community partners, NSC can provide its low-income residents the right mix of assistance, encouragement and incentives to become self-sufficient. The Center is located at 126 Port Street in Easton.

The Dorothy W. Black Youth Center, located on the second floor of 126 Port Street, provides an After School and Summer Program for youth ages five through 12. The Center also has other programs in place to help the citizens of Talbot County, including an Emergency Food Pantry, a Summer Youth Program, the Maryland Energy Assistance Program, the Electric Universal Service Program, a Rental Allowance Program, and a Representative Payee Program.

The Center’s Ridgeway House Transitional Shelter is located at 120 North Aurora Street and provides a minimum 90–day stay. Residents, however, have stayed over a year to ensure that they are able succeed upon their departure. Residents here are assisted by case management – helping them to find jobs and permanent living arrangements.

In September 2016, a 28-room low-income rental property at 36 West Street in Easton was donated to the Neighborhood Service Center by Gregory Webb. The Center is currently seeking civic and faith-based organizations and businesses to adopt a room in the building or a part of a room to help with its renovations and furnishings.

Marilyn comments, “We have 27 people in Talbot County on a waiting list who are on fixed incomes and need more permanent housing. The new rental property will enable us to put 22 of these people in affordable housing and get them away from ‘couch surfing’ and wondering where they will spend their next night.”

Marilyn states that the persons who are on the waiting list for 36 West have a fixed income of $700 or less. The new rental facility will offer rent between $300 and $340 a month. She adds, “This will provide stable housing, enabling our residents to eventually move toward self-sufficiency and successful lives.”

The Neighborhood Service Center accepts donations of furniture, clothing, household items and food from local residents, organizations and businesses. For further information about the Neighborhood Service Center or to adopt a room in the Center’s 36 West Street low-income rental property, visit or call Marilyn Neal at 410-822-5015.


~Originally printed April 2017
The Faces of Philanthropy column, written by Amelia Blades Steward, will visit the faces of those who have benefited from the generous and tireless work of nonprofits on the Mid-Shore. Perhaps unknown to many of us, these individuals have had their lives transformed by the missions of these organizations and are giving back in unique ways to better our world. Amy has been a freelance writer in our community for more than 15 years and offers a glimpse into the lives of residents on the Mid-Shore whom she has met along the way.


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