UWCC logo
The United Way plays a crucial role in providing much needed health and human services nationwide. Locally, the Charles County chapter works hard day in and day out to meet the needs of the community through a wide variety of initiatives and partnerships. As the organization prepares for its largest annual fundraising event, a back-to-back golf tournament at Swan Point Golf Course, we caught up with Dayle Hadden, the United Way’s Director of Administration, Marketing and Communications for this week’s Friday Focus interview.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

A: United Way of Charles County was incorporated in 1983 and is a community impact organization that invests in the strategies for community improvement. Today, United Way of Charles County helps support the work of 40 non-profit health and human service organizations in Charles County. With the donations of Charles County citizens through yearly fund raising campaigns, United Way helps fund agencies so they can continue to provide assistance to the many thousands of needy citizens in our community each year.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: Every day brings a moment to where I feel good about the work we do. To have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life is an amazing feeling, there is no way to describe the sense of joy it brings to me. Whether its moments like Mission of Mercy, the annual Day of Caring or giving referral information to someone who just didn’t know where to turn or actually seeing someone’s life situation change, all moments at United Way of Charles County makes you feel like you made a difference. If I had to pick one moment that stood out the most in my mind it would be working the Homeless Resource Day and providing meals to the attendees. Having the opportunity to feed those that were hungry is a favorite moment in my life.

Being a part of the annual Homeless Resource Day, Mission of Mercy and the annual Day of Caring always brings ‘favorite’ moments for me.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: The biggest challenge United Way faces each year is the ability to raise sufficient donations to help provide the means to bring about positive change in people’s lives. Over the last several years, donations have gone down. United Way of Charles County relies on donations from corporate gifts and payroll deduction contributions to assist the people in Charles County who need help in areas of health and human services. With the economic downturn, we continue to stay positive that things will turn around so we will be able to continue the good work we do for the citizens in our community. “When you reach out a hand to one, you influence the condition of all”

GIVE * ADVOCATE * VOLUNTEER and LIVE UNITED.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: United Way of Charles County’s largest fundraiser is the Annual Back-to-Back Golf Tournament. This is the 17th year United Way has held the tournament. This year’s event is scheduled for April 16 at Swan Point Yacht and Country Club. You or your company can sponsor the tournament with Major or Tournament sponsorship levels and/or Tee Sponsorships and be publically recognized as a supporter of United Way of Charles County. You can also join in the event by putting a foursome into the tournament.

For more information for either of these events, visit www.unitedwaycharles.org and click on the ‘Special Events’ tab or call us at (301) 609-4844.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: People can get involved with United Way of Charles County by giving, advocating and volunteering. Individuals can GIVE by making a direct contribution to United Way of Charles County if their employer does not participate in the annual Payroll Deduction campaign. One could ADVOCATE, speak out and champion a cause that is important to you or simply VOLUNTEER. United Way of Charles County offers many ways to put your expertise, your ideas and your enthusiasm to work. One of the best ways to get involved and to learn about the community is to join our all-volunteer Board of Directors. United Way of Charles County is already advocating for many causes and many populations through the work we do and the contacts we have. Since our incorporation in 1983, we have been a voice for positive change. Join with us, and let your voice be heard about the things that are important to you and your community.

echo logo
For members of the Calvert County community who have fallen on hard times, Project ECHO is there to lend a helping hand. The homeless shelter provides rooms and meals to thousands of people in need each year, giving them an opportunity to get back on their feet and change their lives for the better. The organization is currently preparing to host its annual fundraiser dinner, the Empty Bowl Supper. We caught up with Executive Director, Trisha Gipson, for this week’s Friday Focus.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.).

A: Project ECHO is the homeless shelter of Calvert County that provides a safe, substance free environment for men, women and families for up to 90 days.  In 2013, the ECHO House provided over 12,000 bed nights and served over 27,000 warm meals to those we serve in the community.  The shelter is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: Keeping families together is our goal.  Working with families or individuals who want to realign their lives and work towards their goals of employment and housing is exciting and often a learning curve for them.  But seeing them take the leap to independence is a monumental outcome for all.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Our biggest challenge is funding.  We receive funding from the County Government, United Way designations, fundraising, individual giving and other sources.  However, the population we serve is growing, the cost to keep the lights on is increasing and we still operate on the same budget as we did three years ago.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: The Empty Bowl Supper—Project ECHO’s signature annual fundraiser—is absolutely vital to the ongoing operations of the shelter. This year’s Empty Bowl Supper will be held on April 5, at St. John Vianney in Prince Frederick. Proceeds from the supper go directly to providing temporary emergency shelter to men, women and children in Calvert County.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: People can simply call 410-535-0044 to get involved, donate directly or volunteer.  We have numerous fundraisers throughout the year.

lifestyles logo
Founded in 1998, LifeStyles of Maryland works to increase the quality of life for individuals and their families struggling with poverty and homelessness. Guided by the idea of “service through service”, the organization works to increase the quality of life for so many through the programs and resources they provide. We caught up with the organization’s Executive Director, Sandy Washington, for this week’s Friday Focus.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.).

A: LifeStyles is a compassionate care center that provides a multitude of services for those that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. These services range from basic safety net needs like food and clothing to self-sustaining services: shelter/housing, transportation, free tax preparation, homeless prevention and re-housing services. LifeStyles believes in serving as a one-stop-shop of resources to assist those in need with what they need, or to connect them with other services that are available.

Our staff and volunteers are members of the community and serve as advocates for those that are less fortunate. Not only do we provide needed services, but we assist persons in receiving services from other agencies, and many times walking them through the process of receiving much-needed benefits.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: One of my favorite “moments” is when we had a veteran single mother of a three year old who had suffered a domestic violence incident and was brought to our office. During the time that we have worked with her, we have provided her with housing, assisted her in obtaining public service benefits, and now have received a Veterans Administration Subsidized Housing (VASH) voucher through the U.S. Department of Veterans Administration and will be transitioning into her own place. She is now receiving counseling services, and is in a more stable place to handle being on her own.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Our biggest challenge is raising sufficient financial resources to serve the growing needs of the community. The organization had to move when the building we operated from was sold. Since our move in October 2013, our new office facilities have accommodated three times the number of clients we served previously. Those that are homeless and come to receive day services (i.e., showers, mail, laundry, food and clothing), and those that are suffering from the emergency needs of maintaining or receiving housing and transportation services would experience a significant gap if we were not here. Since our move, we have had increased operational costs to include increased rent and utility costs that have made it challenging to maintain a quality level of service. Our “Safe Nights” program has had a historically high number of participants, as high as 52 persons per night. With the increased number of participants, it has increased our fuel costs of transporting persons to and from the shelter host site, depleted our VanGO ticket inventory and has caused a need for an increased amount of staff to be on site.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Our annual “Walk to End Homelessness” is Saturday, November 15 at the La Plata Town Hall. This event supports our “Safe Nights” homeless shelter program. Registration usually begins in September and allows for individual and group registration online.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: There are multiple ways that people can get involved with our organization. We welcome volunteers to assist in the following ways: provide donations of food or gently used clothing or assist with the distribution of those items; provide “anytime meal lunches” for persons who don’t have access to cooking facilities; provide administrative support; assist as a volunteer case worker or care coordinator; serve as a volunteer tax preparer; and assist with financial donations for persons in need of homeless prevention services. They can contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Denise Hawkins, for more volunteer opportunities: 301-609-9900 ext. 210, dhawkins@lifestylesofmd.org.