ELKTON — Starting this week, the Cecil County Men’s Shelter is serving its lunch program out of the Mary Randall Center rather than its West Main Street location.
“Looking at it, it just makes sense to bring it in,” said Sheri Snyder, the executive director of Meeting Ground, which runs the programs. “Some of our clients had to walk across town to be served. This just consolidates services.”
The Cecil County Men’s Shelter is an emergency and transitional housing program for men who are experiencing a period of homelessness, and has been running for more than 30 years. The program works closely with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and reserves eight of its 15 beds for veterans in need.
Many clients at the Mary Randall Center used the lunch program, so to bring it to North Street would make it easier for clients to get services at once spit. Snyder added that the consolidation would also free up the shelter’s space for other programs and needs. Since the lunch program runs from noon to 1 p.m. four days a week, it could get a little disruptive for ongoing services.
“We have a kitchen at the Mary Randall Center and so it makes more sense to host it there instead of having it crammed in a small dining room,” she said.
Timed with that announcement, Meeting Ground is also looking for the community’s support in refreshing the men’s shelter. The nonprofit has reached out to local church organizations or businesses to see if they were willing to adopt a room to clean, paint and decorate in the shelter.
The men’s shelter has five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, a dining room, entry and hallway and kitchen. The shelter has taken a back seat since Meeting Ground’s limited funding is currently focused on operational and residential needs.
“The house itself has not been kept up,” Snyder said. “Safety has always been first, but we’ve fallen behind for cleaning and funding for cosmetic changes.”
Meeting Ground has seen dips in funding since December 2017. Grant funding has also been a slight issue, so the nonprofit relies heavily on its volunteers, Snyder said.
“We would like to get the men’s shelter done all at once, but we can’t afford to do that unless we have volunteers,” she said. “If needed, we’ll do it one room at a time.”
In addition to these changes, Meeting Ground continues to serve those in need. This summer, roughly 50 clients walked into the Mary Randall Center’s day program each day. Summer tends to be busier for services, as Snyder opines that most experiencing homelessness are taken in by family pr friends in the colder months.
Five men have successfully transitioned from the shelter to permanent housing, with steady income, in July alone, she noted.
Despite the challenges, Snyder is confident that Meeting Ground is on the path of greatness. She has been the nonprofit’s executive director since March, after its former leader, Colandra Coleman, stepped down.
“I feel like we’re taking Meeting Ground down a great path to support the homeless population and help them off the streets,” she said. “I know it’s hard to see from the outside at points. I have a great vision for us, and we can’t do it without the help of the community.”
The lunch program will be operated at the Mary Randall Center at 401 North St. in Elkton, starting at 11:30 a.m.
Those interested in volunteering their time to refresh the Cecil County Men’s Shelter are asked to call 410-620-3128.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article stated that the lunch program was first held at Meeting Ground. We regret the error.