Interfaith Service Coalition

116 West High Street

Hancock, Maryland

Phone: 301-678-6605

e-mail: debcohill@verizion.net

 

ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY

The Interfaith Service Coalition (ISC) was founded in 1989, as a cooperative effort of the Churches of the greater Hancock area to coordinate efforts of community outreach and support in times of need or emergency. Local service providers from Hancock and closely surrounding communities in the tri-state area of Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania also helped found the organization. In 1993, the ISC became an affiliated agency of the United Way of Washington County, Maryland.

Our mission is to assist individuals and families in need - physically, economically, emotionally and spiritually. We do this without restriction as to race, religious belief, national origin, gender, age, handicap or political affiliation. In providing assistance, we are committed to promoting individual dignity and self-worth and to encouraging and supporting people in helping themselves and others.

We achieve our mission by:

1. Working to assist those in need with food, nutrition education, literacy training, shelter and clothing as needs arise and resources allow.

2. Advocating for services with local, state and federal agencies.

3. Networking with Churches, schools, health care providers, social service agencies, civic organizations and other service providers to meet identified needs in the region.

4. Coordinating the delivery of existing goods and services.

5. Developing new programs and services as needs arise and resources allow.

Summary of Programs

Loaves and Fishes Thrift Store: The Loaves and Fishes Thrift Store is the most recent addition to the ISC programs. Open six days a week, it offers low cost clothing, furniture and household items to area residents. A part-time staff is funded through the Maryland Department of Aging Senior Aides Program. A substantial volunteer effort also contributes to the store's success. Proceeds from the store help fund other ISC programs.

Resourcing: A primary function of the ISC is to provide the people of the greater Hancock area with services and emergency assistance in time of need. We assist individuals and families by offering support, help and direction. This may include referring them to local, county and/or state resources which can best meet their needs. The ISC partners with county agencies in Hagerstown, in many cases completing applications locally and avoiding the need for residents to travel to Hagerstown. Our services are confidential and are offered without charge.

Food Programs - S.H.I.P.: Self Help in Partnership - is a national coooperative food program in which low income families supplement their monthly food budget with additional nutritious foods at a cost of just $5.25 per month. Each recipient who is physically able is asked to volunteer assistance in order to maintain their eligibility. The ISC also distributes free food on an emergency basis, including USDA commodity food to those who are eligible.

Literacy: The popular "Evening with Reading" program is held quarterly, with the goal of fostering a greater interest in reading among children and young people. Working with local elementary schools, all young people are encouraged to attend. It is a time to listen to adult volunteers as they read and, as the children feel comfortable, have them read as well. The children receive free books to take home with them at the end of the evening. In conjunction with our local schools, the ISC also provides mentors/tutors who work with young people who have specific academic difficulties. Literacy tutoring is also available to adults.

Shared Learning Initiative: Offered twice per year (Spring and Fall), this program is open to anyone interested, through it is geared primarily toward low-income women. Meeting once per week, Shared Learning Initiative offers training in basic life skills, such as computer and office skills training, preparing nutritious meals, home safety, budgeting and parenting skills. Numerous guest speakers are utilized.

Adventures in Friendship: This original ISC program offers life skills training to Middle School and High School young people. "Adventures" is designed as a one-week Summer Day Camp. Utilizing guest instructors, participants are taught home and health safety skills, drug awareness, nutrition and cooking, and CPR. Instructors are from local police departments, fire and rescue units and give the students familiarity with these officials. Our goal is to better equip our youth in being able to cope, respond and/or avoid hardships.

Keep a Senior Safe and Warm: This original ISC program provides instruction and offers resources to help keep senior citizens safer and warmer inside and outside of their homes. We provide sessions on winter driving, safety lessons on using wood stoves, kerosene heaters and space heaters, tips on energy saving, and resources for inexpensive weathering products. A nurse provides health information concerning assistance programs available to them, helping to avoid financial burdens which may result in reduced funds for food, prescriptions, etc. We provide winter clothing and new blankets. This program utilizes a variety of professions, resource persons and agency representatives.

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