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Grantee Spotlight - Beyond Housing Frederick

To better acquaint our members and the greater community with our grantees, we are highlighting some of the nonprofit organizations that have received WGC grant funds. This quarter, we reached out to Nick Brown, Executive Director of the newly branded Beyond Shelter Frederick, to learn more about the organization's mission to prevent and alleviate the effects of poverty in Frederick County. This organization, formerly known as The Religious Coalition, is a long-time recipient of Women's Giving Circle funding.

Please introduce yourself. What is your role at your organization and how long have you been with the organization?

Greetings! I'm Nick Brown, Executive Director for the newly rebranded Beyond Shelter Frederick. I've been with the organization for the last 14 years, and the last 7 as the Executive Director.

What is the mission of the organization, and what personally moves you about that mission? Beyond Shelter's mission is to prevent and alleviate the effects of poverty and homelessness in Frederick County. What I love about our mission is how it's specifically broad. It states just what we do yet still gives us the ability to expand and address future needs as they arise.

What are the most significant challenges that the organization is facing right now? What are the most significant challenges faced by the clients/populations that you serve? At the moment there are a few pressing issues. To assist our shelter residents out of homelessness, the affordable housing needed to transition into is extremely limited. What is available is well beyond our ability to meaningfully assist with those transitions and slows the success of helping residents rehouse quickly. The second largest issue is the ending of currently funded rental assistance. This has been a vital program and over the last year, has assisted over 800 separate households. The money will certainly run out before the need ends, and we continue to work to extend that programming as long as we can. 

What is the nature of the Giving Circle grant that you received in our last grant cycle, and what impact will it have on women and their dependents in Frederick?

Our latest grants received help operate two different programs here at Beyond Shelter. One assists the Emergency Family Shelter case management operations. That program is largely accessed by female single parent headed households. Case managers assist those households with a wide variety of linkages to resources, needed appointments and services, and most importantly, connections to housing opportunities. The second grant is direct service funding which we award to female headed households in danger of eviction, the ability to keep families intact and home is a primary goal for the organization.

Do you have any specific stories that you can share with us that illustrate what you are doing in the community?

One family, a mother and her two young daughters, arrived at our shelter with little more than just the clothes on their backs. After experiencing domestic violence out-of-state, they moved to the shelter when they ran out of short-term options. You might be surprised when considering their difficult circumstances how resilient, resourceful, and even generous many of our client families are. While the family’s 5-year-old daughter was reserved when she first came to the shelter, she gradually opened up and became best friends with one of the other children that was staying there at the time. They shared their favorite toy kitchen gracefully, even making “coffee” for staff. Meanwhile, mom was hard at work taking on two jobs and qualified for an apartment within a month. Our programs were able to assist with the payment of the first month’s rent and security deposit, and now the family has a kitchen of their own.

Sometimes, the most important thing that a family needs is a stable place to call home while they spend time reorganizing and planning their next steps. A mother of two children entered the family shelter after experiencing homelessness on and off for years. They stayed at different hotels for months, hoping to pull together enough money to afford an apartment. However, dealing with medical emergencies, financial insecurity, and difficult relationships made finding a home seem like a distant dream. When the case managers at the family shelter met with mom, they were impressed by her incredible drive to succeed as well as the relationships she built with agencies throughout Frederick County. One connection she was missing, though, was to Housing and Community Development. Within a week of applying for and receiving the housing choice voucher, mom secured a lease for an apartment and moved in with her family, securing housing stability for the long haul. Now her son, a future football and lacrosse star, and her daughter, a gifted dancer, have a safe place that they can call home.

A 52-year-old disabled woman spent two years struggling with her mental and physical health. She was displaced from her home when the residence she was renting was sold. Facing several surgeries and poor health, securing employment and housing was difficult. The Coalition was able to place the client in the hotel and provide personal hygiene supplies, and food. The client was able to successfully find an affordable apartment by providing a security deposit and assistance with her initial rent payments.

Is there anything further that members of the Giving Circle can do to help, in terms of volunteering, in-kind donations, etc?

Yes! We are in the process of redefining and redeploying our volunteer opportunities. COVID interrupted the bulk of our volunteer opportunities and we've been prioritizing getting new ideas bundled and back out to the public. In the meantime, there are certainly supply drives, food/meal opportunities in the shelters, wishlist fulfillment and we always offer "normalcy" activities for the family shelter. These are seasonal activities or other things that some folks may take for granted that our families and individuals don't experience regularly. We'd be glad to talk more about those!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

We're happy to have been a part of this community for over four decades and we're excited to have renewed energy and focus that allows us to continue to address the needs of those struggling with poverty here in Frederick.



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