As the snow started to fall Friday afternoon, more than a dozen Kent County service providers gathered under a tent adjacent to the Driftwood Motel in Chestertown to promote Kent Homelessness Resource Day and connect with individuals and families who need help.
Donated clothing and shopping bags of food provided by Community Food Pantry were available, along with spokespeople for the services attending the event. Eastern Shore Tent’s and Events donated the tent which made the event possible.
Organized by the Local Management Board, providers included Minary’s Dream Alliance, Crossroads Community Inc., Recovery in Motion, Kent County Department of Social Services, Kent County Health Department, House of Hope Community Alliance, MUSTBus, Delmarva Community Transit, DJ Real, Rebuilding Together Kent County, UM Shore Medical Center, Kent Attainable Housing, and Kent County Local Management Board.
Historically, people suffering from homelessness in the Chestertown area have been offered overnight cold weather shelter at Church of the Nazarene, First United Methodist, Presbyterian Church of Chestertown, under the roof of Samaritan Group of Chestertown. However, strict hours of operation and other eligibility requirements have kept people in the cold.
To address this, a newly formed organization, the Chesapeake Coalition for the Homeless, formed by Shrewsbury Parish Episcopal Church members, hopes to create a long-term solution to the growing problem.
Currently, Shrewsbury Parish Episcopal Church is applying grant funds from the Episcopal Diocese of Easton and their own funds, underwriting the cost of rooms in a local motel. Still, the cold winter months will require more extended stays, and more money.
Last week Kent County Commissioners stepped up with a $5,500 grant to help offset the costs the Parish had incurred as the Chesapeake Coalition for the Homeless studies ways offer a sustainable solution by coordinating with county, town, Samaritan Group, Chester Valley Ministers Association, and Dawson Hunter, housing and transportation coordinator with the Local Management Board.
Fridays Kent Homelessness Resource Day, its second event to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness, was both a step in the right direction and a reminder that some in the Kent community are falling through the cracks.
The good news is that plans are underway to go beyond one-night shelters and address the systemic issues that keep the revolving problem in place. A county audit is underway to determine the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness.
On any given night in Maryland, more than 6,000 people experience homelessness. While Kent County numbers are low—estimates are between 12-20—one is too many.
The Spy visited Fridays’ event and spoke to service organization volunteers.
This video is approximately five minutes in length.
Letters to Editor
Susan Basener says
The Community Food Pantry was pleased to supply bags of nutritious food for this important event to benefit the homeless.