Since Talbot Interfaith Shelter (TIS) began serving homeless men, women, and children in January of 2009, volunteers have been at the heart and soul of their mission. When TIS first opened as a traveling cold-weather shelter, members of the community would provide meals, laundry, transportation services, fellowship, and more. In November of 2014, when the shelter moved into its first permanent facility and began serving more families and individuals, the organization’s volunteers didn’t skip a beat. In the intervening years, they have provided thousands of meals as well as thousands of hours of supervision for the guests at TIS’ family shelter, Easton’s Promise, and singles shelter, Evelyn’s Place. TIS volunteers also help in many other capacities, including assisting with fundraising events like the popular annual Lip Sync Battle, moving furniture, and performing maintenance and landscaping on shelter grounds to help Evelyn’s Place and Easton’s Promise remain two of the most admired properties in Easton’s historic downtown.
On May 18th, Talbot Interfaith Shelter honored its dedicated volunteers with a luncheon at the VFW in Easton. This was the organization’s largest volunteer appreciation event to date, with nearly 100 guests (approximately one-third of the total number of volunteers at the organization). Some of those in attendance have been donating their time to the shelter since day one – that’s more than 14 years in service to the community.
The reception hall was beautifully decorated with floral arrangements donated by the Talbot County Garden Club. Volunteers dined on salad, soup, and sandwiches, with a specially made cake for dessert. Executive Director Julie Lowe addressed the crowd, thanking them for their steadfast support of the shelter and its mission. During her speech, she gave special recognition and thanks to two long-serving Board Members who are leaving their positions – Gail Benjamin and Harvey Zendt.
Next, TIS’ new Volunteer Coordinator, Nancy Cummings, spoke, reiterating the organization’s fervent thanks for the volunteers’ efforts and sharing some updates. Nancy also told volunteers about the TIS Ambassadors Program. TIS Ambassadors is a training program that was started in 2019 to help shelter supporters learn more about Talbot Interfaith Shelter and their S4 Program so that they can be well-informed TIS representatives out in the community. The program was paused during the pandemic, but sessions will now be held quarterly, starting on Wednesday, June 7th.
After speeches, the volunteers played a fun game of “Team TIS Trivia,” with the winner receiving a gift card donated by Plaza Jalisco. Shelter staff also raffled off a beautiful wooden bowl donated by Tuckahoe Hardwoods, which was won by Jay Lister.
“Our volunteers are truly the lifeblood of our organization. To see so many of them in one place and to be able to thank them in person for all they do for TIS and our guests was incredibly gratifying,” shared Julie Lowe. “They may not think that it’s a big deal to donate a meal or to hang out in our shelters so the staff can go about their good work. But those homecooked meals, the friendly smiles and words of encouragement – that’s love, and our guests feel that to the bottom of their souls. It fuels them and gives them the confidence to work their way through our program because they know this community is behind them, lifting them up.”
To become a TIS volunteer or sign up for TIS Ambassadors training, contact Nancy Cummings, Volunteer Coordinator, at 410-690-3120 or [email protected].
Talbot Interfaith Shelter is a homeless shelter and transitional housing program based in Easton, MD and serving the five counties of the Mid-Shore (Talbot, Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Annes). They have developed the innovative and comprehensive S4 Program (Shelter, Stability, Support, Success), which is designed to guide local families and individuals from homelessness to self-sufficiency.
Guests begin at one of TIS’ two neighboring shelter homes – Easton’s Promise for families and Evelyn’s Place for single men and women – where they receive rigorous case management and attend life skills training while they work to attain financial stability. Once they are ready, guests move into one of TIS’ 15 off-site transitional apartments, where they continue to receive case management while their portion of rent gradually increases until they can sustain all of their expenses.