Light House Statement on COVID-19

Dear Light House Community,

As we all continue to monitor and adjust to these uncertain times, I would like to thank you for being a part of our Light House family. At this moment The Light House is not in crisis, but we are taking proactive measures to prevent one and we can’t do this without your support.

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has presented unique challenges for our most vulnerable neighbors. The individuals and families we serve will be those hardest hit by this crisis, and most will also struggle with the difficult question of how to practice social distancing without a safe place to call home. Our supportive services will be needed more than ever before as we see an unprecedented increase in neighbors unable to afford basic needs such as food, adequate housing, and medication. The Light House is prepared to allocate more resources specifically to helping those who will be negatively impacted by this public health crisis, but your financial support will be essential to these efforts.

Many of you have asked how residents in our shelter and other community clients who come through our doors can practice social distancing. To be honest, this is an extremely difficult challenge. When all current recommendations focus on social distancing, how do we continue to operate a facility that, at it’s core, has been set up to function as shared living and community spaces? Preventing the spread of COVID-19 depends on how well we can practice social distancing, and for some, physical isolation may even be required. To accomplish this, we have had to make major changes to our everyday operations, and are greatly limiting the number of people who circulate through our building.

Our individual residential dormitories are set up to house 45 residents who live and sleep in very close proximity to each-other. To keep our most high-risk clients safe and provide greater distance between resident beds, we are temporarily moving half of our individual residents into hotel rooms. We are grateful for the support of the County, especially County Executive Pittman, our partners at the Department of Social Services, and the Department of Health who are helping us with housing and safety during this difficult time. We will continue to ensure that all of our residents in our Light House building and those who will be residing in hotels will continue to have food, basic needs, and regular in person case management services.

Our staffing, food needs, and other in-kind donation needs are still ongoing, but many procedures have changed. As many of you know, we rely heavily on the hard work and dedication of our volunteers, and we are lucky to have thousands of volunteers donate their time to our mission each year. Unfortunately, in order to minimize the number of people in our buildings and follow CDC guidelines, we have suspended all on-site volunteer opportunities (with the exception of meal service). We are also operating with a limited number of on-site staff members due to health precautions, lack of school/child-care, and other issues many of you at home are facing. Our facility is housing residents who are high-risk, and because of this, only essential personnel and meal service volunteers are allowed in our building.

We have also made changes to our donation policies and greatly limited the items we can accept. For those dropping off bagged lunches or other donation items we can accept , we ask that you please ring our doorbell and leave the donations outside of our lobby door where a staff member will come out and accept them. If you are scheduled to make bagged lunches, we kindly ask that you not prepare them yourself, but instead simply donate the ingredients so that our staff can prepare them in-house.

As you may already know, our social enterprise, Light House Bistro temporarily closed its doors earlier this week. This loss of revenue is going to be tough and we hope that once our Light House Bistro opens up again you will support us as enthusiastically as you have for the past three years!

These are extraordinarily trying times and the cost of this reality will be staggering to our organization. Simply put, we need you in our corner more than ever. Many of you are asking how you can help. The best way to stand by our residents, vulnerable community clients, and staff at this time is by making a gift — you can do so by clicking here.

I hope you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy and that you will keep your neighbors at The Light House in your thoughts and prayers.

With deepest gratitude.

Jo Ann Mattson

Executive Director, The Light House

Anne Arundel Women Giving Together: Grantee Spotlight – The Light House

Thank you to Anne Arundel Women Giving Together for their many years of partnership and support of our Light House programs!

Light House Bistro Awarded a $75,000 MD Department of Labor Opioid Workforce Innovation Fund Grant

The Light House Bistro Workforce Development Program, a restaurant and catering social enterprise created by The Light House Homeless Prevention Support Center, has been awarded a $75,000 Maryland Department of Labor Opioid Workforce Innovation Fund (OWIF) grant. This much needed support will provide individuals who have been impacted by the opioid epidemic with job training and work opportunities at Light House Bistro. Grant funds will directly empower these individuals with the skills they need to support themselves and their families, all while connecting them seamlessly to the wraparound support, mental health care, and other support services that are vital to their recovery.

For over 30 years, The Light House’s overarching goal has been to make homelessness brief and rare in central Maryland. The Light House meets the needs not only of homeless individuals and families living in their shelter, but also of those in poverty, coming out of incarceration, living in addiction treatment facilities and recovery centers, and at other shelters in the area. Over the past decade, The Light House has successfully created a continuum of employment programs to promote self-sufficiency and independence. One of these workforce development programs is Light House Bistro, which provides training and work opportunities in a supportive environment.

“Maryland Department of Labor is thrilled to support Light House Bistro’s continued efforts to empower and uplift Marylanders through our Opioid Workforce Innovation Fund,” said Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson. “Through this funding, individuals impacted by the opioid crisis will receive in-demand training and develop the skills necessary to re-enter our state’s workforce, further supporting their recovery.”

“Light House programs have been increasingly serving people who have been directly and indirectly impacted by the opioid crisis,” stated Beth Rocca, Director of Light House Bistro Social Enterprises. “In particular, our Light House Bistro Workforce Development Program has been training and placing into permanent hire many of those struggling because of this epidemic. In fact, 82% of people in our workforce programs have been impacted by the opioid crisis, and 90% are also receiving treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders. This OWIF funding will give The Light House and Light House Bistro the opportunity to provide the next level of care and support these individuals need. Since the grant was awarded in October, 35 individuals have been beneficiaries of the funds. Each and every one of them receives career service advising from day one and establishes their career goal plan and an exit plan for permanent employment. As part of the program, they also receive work related certifications to bolster their résumés for hiring partners.”

This funding from the OWIF grant has enabled The Light House to establish a new partnership with Project Chesapeake, which provides integrated services for community members impacted by the opioid crisis. Project Chesapeake provides a broad range of mental health services to individuals seeking alcohol/drug abuse and/or mental health counseling services with treatment opportunities that result in long-term recovery and success. A licensed social worker from the Project Chesapeake staff now attends regular meetings at Light House Bistro to educate Light House Bistro staff about behavioral health services and works individually with Light House Bistro staff members to develop treatment service plans and monitor their progress. A Project Chesapeake social worker is also available to Light House Bistro staff for individual case management at Light House Bistro.

Jeremy is a great example of how this new partnership between Project Chesapeake and The Light House can pave the path to recovery and independence for vulnerable community members. Jeremy is an employee at Light House Bistro who struggled with addiction for 23 years. Last year, he made the decision to get clean and became a client of Project Chesapeake, where he was able to get the support he needed for both his addiction and mental health. He then came to Light House Bistro to fill out an application and start training and working as a line cook. He feels confident in his stability at Light House Bistro and is grateful to have the opportunity to heal and to grow while earning a living wage and receiving health benefits. He has been promoted to PM Sous Chef and just recently had the opportunity to run a “pop up” dinner at Light House Bistro on his own. He planned, created, and executed a five-course meal for 40 people, which was a great success! Jeremy’s story is a testament to how OWIF funding of partnerships between supportive workforce development programs such as Light House Bistro and mental health service providers like Project Chesapeake can rebuild lives of those struggling with addiction.

Happy New Year from Executive Director, Jo Ann Mattson

November and December are very busy months at The Light House, and 2019 was no exception. Here are some of the highlights from the last two months:

Our Coats and Clinics in partnership with Macy’s and Maryland Legal Aid was a great success. We distributed more than 400 brand new coats to men, women and children, and Maryland Legal Aid helped 40 people expunge their records, which is a very important barrier remover for both employment and housing.

Maryland Delegate Alice Cain visited The Light House with some of her staff members. They spent several hours touring The Light House and enjoying lunch prepared by our B.E.S.T. students. In a thank you letter to us she said, “We had a wonderful experience seeing the amazing work that you are doing here in Annapolis, supporting and empowering some of our most vulnerable neighbors. I especially appreciated the meaningful conversations with residents and staff, the delicious lunch, and the insights into issues and potential solutions for this community.”

I had the opportunity to participate in a podcast with Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue. Bistro chef, Jeremy Cox, and I spoke with the Secretary about the life-changing work The Light House is doing in our community. Jeremy did a beautiful job telling his story and describing his journey from hopelessness to hope. You can find the podcast here: https://www.usda.gov/sonnyside.

We had a grand opening of the Client Choice Pantry with special guests, Phil Gibbs (who funded the project), Delegate Shenika Henson, and Alderman Rhonda Pindell-Charles. That same day volunteers served a special Thanksgiving lunch to our community members, and The Light House distributed more than 300 Thanksgiving baskets and gift cards courtesy of the generous nursing staff at AAMC and others in our community. County Council members Amanda Fiedler and Jessica Haire donated several hours of their time serving lunch and helping out wherever they were needed. Thank you to all of you who participated in this day of thanks!

Ribbon cutting ceremony for The Light House’s new Client Choice Pantry: (L-R) Light House Culinary Assistant/ Pantry Coordinator, Liz Fleury, Light House Director of Culinary Services, Linda Vogler, Delegate Shaneka Henson, Alderwoman Rhonda Pindell Charles, Light House Supporter, Phil Gibbs, Light House Executive Director, Jo Ann Mattson

Thank you to the Hussmans for sponsoring a wonderful evening out to see the Festival of Lights on the Annapolis Jolly Trolley. 22 residents and children attended and had an absolutely wonderful time!

We had several other holiday events including a holiday party and gift wrapping for families and residents with children, and a special brunch prepared by Lisa Sebroski’s family and friends on Christmas day. Lisa also organized a sweater drive and distributed sweaters, hats and gloves to our residents. The generosity of this community really goes off the charts during the holiday season! Thank you to all of you who help with these events!

Lisa Sebroski’s family and friends serving their annual Christmas Brunch to Light House Residents

Kris McNally has rejoined The Light House in a new position as Rapid Rehousing Program Administrator. She has only been in the position for a few weeks, but she has already housed four families and made some great landlord connections. Since late September, 12 families have been kept out of shelter and housed through Rapid Rehousing. Safe Harbour continues to average 35-40 walk ins per day, 80% of which are literally homeless and 20% at imminent risk.

Gabby Jenkins joined the culinary team on December 4th as the Director of Culinary Services, replacing Steve Allbright. She is off to a great start! All students in our current B.E.S.T. class have passed the Serv/safe exam and have been serving donor lunches as well as doing some other catering in the community, including dinner for 70 people at St. Margaret’s Church! Graduation is scheduled for February 7th and we hope to see you all there.

Thank you for being a part of The Light House! We couldn’t do it without you!

With deepest gratitude and warm wishes for a happy, healthy 2020,

Jo Ann Mattson,
Executive Director, The Light House

A Light House Day of Thanks Event Celebrates the Season of Giving

Ribbon cutting ceremony for The Light House’s new Client Choice Pantry: (L-R) Light House Culinary Assistant/ Pantry Coordinator, Liz Fleury, Light House Director of Culinary Services, Linda Vogler, Delegate Shaneka Henson, Alderwoman Rhonda Pindell Charles, Light House Supporter, Phil Gibbs, Light House Executive Director, Jo Ann Mattson

On Monday, November 25th, the Annapolis community came together at The Light House to ring in the season of giving with a special Day of Thanks event. We began the event with a ribbon cutting ceremony for the recent opening of our new Client Choice Pantry, followed by hot meals for community members in need and Thanksgiving baskets for those struggling with food insecurity. Local elected officials and other volunteer supporters came out to help prepare and serve meals and pass out Thanksgiving baskets to over 250 individuals and families. Special guests included Delegate Shaneka Henson, Alderwoman Rhonda Pindell Charles, Councilwoman Amanda Fiedler, Councilwoman Jessica Haire, and Legislative Assistant to Councilwoman Lisa Rodiven, Yanick Parker.

Recent Anne Arundel County data reports that one-third of our neighbors can’t afford adequate food, rent, or healthcare, and that over 75,000 of our county residents struggle to access fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Through hot meals, bagged lunches, and our newly revitalized Client Choice Pantry, we provide healthy food to individuals and families struggling with food insecurity. Since opening our new Client Choice Pantry system, we have been reaching a record number of food insecure neighbors. We are now distributing an average of 3,000 pounds of food each week and are on track to provide two and a half times more food than we have distributed annually in past years!

The newly renovated Light House Client Choice Pantry, which distributed an average of 3,000 pounds of food each week to food insecure community members

Our Board Member, Sam Davies, has been volunteering his time with The Light House for decades. Davies, who has been volunteering in the pantry every Tuesday since the new building at 10 Hudson Street opened in 2010, states that he has “always told community members he meets that The Light House is the best deal in town for food assistance. With Client Choice, what The Light House offers is even better. We now have a pantry volunteer greet each client, introduce themselves to the client and lead them through the pantry. It is really gratifying to see each client look over what is available in each aisle and make their selection. It adds the dignity of choice, which people struggling with food insecurity rarely get to experience. The new system has also made pantry volunteering an even more satisfying process for all who volunteer. It’s definitely a win – win solution!”

Councilwoman Jessica Haire and Councilwoman Amanda Fiedler help prepare and serve hot lunches to the community during The Light House Day of Thanks Event

During the Thanksgiving season, we also hold a basket donation drive and provide over 250 individuals and families with baskets filled with everything needed for a full Thanksgiving meal. These Thanksgiving baskets are provided to us with the help of Anne Arundel Medical Center and other local community supporters.

Interested in celebrating the season of giving by being a light for the homeless right here in our community? Visit our Holiday Needs page to learn more about the different ways you can get involved!

HeartSmart Foundation donates a life-saving AED to The Light House

(L-R) Light House Associate Director of Development, Anne Ryan, Light House Executive Director, Jo Ann Mattson, President and CEO, Leadership Anne Arundel, Kris Valerio Shock, Chairman of HeartSmart, Kenneth Brannan, Sam’s Club General Manager, Swavek Dziuba, Rotary Club of Annapolis President-Elect, Frank Andracchi, Light House Deputy Director, Heather Cassity, Rotary Club of Annapolis President, Dr. Carletta Allen, and Light House Director of Development, Jenny Crawford.

HeartSmart, The Cliff R. Roop Cardiac Support and Education Foundation, recently donated a new Medtronic LifePak 500 AED to The Light House Homeless Prevention Support Center in Annapolis. Kenneth Brannan, Chairman of HeartSmart, visited The Light House to meet with Light House staff and give a presentation about the importance of AED placement.

“We are so grateful to HeartSmart for this donation,” stated Light House Executive Director, Jo Ann Mattson. “The Light House building at 10 Hudson Street houses our emergency residential program where 45 individuals, 5 families and up to 20 children call home. In this same building, we also serve an average of 100 non-residential community members each day through hot meals, case management, housing and diversion services, clothing, showers, and laundry. Add our many staff members and volunteers to these numbers and we are averaging well over 300 people walking through our doors each day. It is important to us that we do all we can to keep everyone at Light House safe. Both our Light House mission and the HeartSmart mission are centered around the belief that every life is precious, and we are thankful for their support and for the great work they do in Anne Arundel County.”

The new AED unit has been placed in one of the main ground floor hallways of The Light House facility, with the intention of easy access in case of an emergency. AEDs (Automated External Defibrillator) are important to have in buildings such as The Light House, because they allow minimally trained laypersons to treat victims of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). About the size of a laptop computer, with adhesive electrode pads, the device delivers a brief but powerful stimulation to the heart allowing it to start beating again. Every day in Anne Arundel County, a person’s heart suddenly stops beating as a result of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. An AED placed in businesses, community centers or gathering places can increase the chance of survival to 75%.

About HeartSmart, The Cliff R. Roop Cardiac Support and Education Foundation: HeartSmart is a non-profit organization committed to increasing the chances of surviving Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) in Anne Arundel County. Through fundraising and awareness education, the Foundation supports the placement of Automated External Defibrillators and corresponding training opportunities. The Foundation was created in 2000, as a project of Leadership Anne Arundel County, honoring the late County Councilman Cliff R. Roop who lost his life from SCA. Their mission is to make Anne Arundel County a “Heart Safe Community” by increasing the chance for its citizens to survive a Sudden Cardiac Arrest with an AED.

Light House Awarded a $75,000 Phillips Charitable Foundation Grant

(L-R) Jo Ann Mattson, Light House Executive Director, Jennifer Good, Vice President, Phillips Charitable Foundation, Inc., Nicole Thompson, Light House Job Placement and Retention Specialist, Eileen Gross, President, Phillips Charitable Foundation, Inc., Jenny Crawford, Light House Director of Development

The Light House Workforce Development Programs have been awarded a $75,000 grant from Phillips Charitable Foundation, Inc. This much needed support will provide job training and opportunities for individuals struggling with employment barriers, empowering them with the skills they need to support themselves and their families. Grant funds will help pay for the expansion of the Building Employment Success Training (B.E.S.T.) Building Trades program, the Light House Bistro social enterprise training program, and the Career Start soft-skills employment program for Light House residents.

To celebrate this grant award, representatives from Phillips Charitable Foundation visited The Light House to present Light House Executive Director, Jo Ann Mattson, with the grant check. “Employment is a critical link to stable housing, self-sufficiency, and to ending the cycle of homelessness,” stated Mattson. “Our workforce development programs promote self-sufficiency and independence for those struggling with barriers to employment. These programs rely on the generosity of our community, and we are very grateful to have this support from Phillips Charitable Foundation.”

The Light House offers a continuum of employment programs for both residents and community members. Their B.E.S.T. program provides hands-on job skills training in either Culinary Arts or Building Trades and has gradated over 350 students since it began in 2012. Career Start, which is a soft-skills program that utilizes the national, evidence based Worknet Solutions curriculum, is a key component of the B.E.S.T. program, and is also offered as an independent program for Light House residents who are unable to participate in the B.E.S.T. program. The Light House also offers real work experience for graduates of their programs through training and job opportunities at their Light House Bistro social enterprise restaurant.

About Phillips Charitable Foundation
The Phillips Charitable Foundation’s mission is to support charitable organizations that provide a genuine impact in the lives of others by solving problems, removing obstacles, and leading to lasting solutions. The organization targets problems where government interventions are not sufficient and economic and educational markets have failed to bring solutions. Through their grant giving they aim to bring measurable improvements in the prosperity, health, and vitality of people and communities. More information about Phillips Charitable Foundation can be found at https://phillipsgrants.org/.

In The News! Capital Gazette Features Light House B.E.S.T. Program

A Capital Gazette feature story highlighted our Light House B.E.S.T. Employment Training Program, which provides job training and opportunities for individuals struggling with employment barriers. Our B.E.S.T program empowers graduates with the skills they need to support themselves and their families, and has graduated over 350 students since it began in 2012!