CENTREVILLE — For Taylor Walls, a senior at Queen Anne’s County High School and intern with the county’s health department, professional development and community service are the same after organizing a cold weather drive.
With the help of Elizabeth Strader, the county's public health emergency planner, and students from her school’s National Honor Society chapter, boxes of donations, including food and clothing were delivered to Haven Ministries Friday, Dec. 20.
“My supervisor asked if I was interested in starting supply drive for Haven Ministries at my school, and I said, yes, of course,” Walls said. “Once we started the donation time on Dec. 2, it was just incredible. We started with a goal of at least 100 donations, and there were (considerably) more than that. It’s great that people know we’re serving our community in this way.”
Walls said she learned how the efforts of one person could have a positive impact on those dealing with issues of winter preparedness. That lesson should be vital considering the star softball player plans to pursue a career as a pediatrician.
What started with modest goals by the incoming Gettysburg College freshman soon grew to ample donations. Through the internship, Walls also earned a work-based learning credit through the Project Lead the Way Biomedical Science program.
“Taylor had no experience of the role of the local health department in community health and emergency preparedness prior to her internship,” Strader said. “She learned the importance of preparedness within the community and organized something for the community’s benefit. The response was substantial, and we are pleased to (help) Haven Ministries for their cold weather shelter.”
Haven Ministries operates a shelter during winter to provide a safe and warm environment for men, women and children, generally between the months of October and April. Ministries include a homeless shelter, Our Daily Thread Thrift Shop, emergency food pantries, resource center, street outreach and a warehouse with a job training program.
“Donations keep (Haven Ministries) going especially during the winter season because we can distribute them,” said Krista Pettit, the organization’s executive director. “Our resource center is a place where people can go and keep warm, as well. It’s amazing when youth think of other people and do something to meet that need. That speaks very highly of (Taylor).”
Pettit said her organization works closely with the health department to help those in need and coordinate efforts to assist even long-term issues.
Haven Ministries assisted 19 individuals in the homeless shelter; the resource center serves an estimated 28 people a month; and food pantries serve about 90 individuals at each location.
“We just opened a second location of our resource center at Fisher Manor housing development and hope to expand that in the near future," Pettit said. "Also, we hope to expand our housing assistance program to offer longer-term housing to aid in affordable housing in the county."
More information on Haven Ministries, along with the locations and hours of operation for shelters, resource centers and food pantries, can be found at www.haven-ministries.org or by calling 410-739-4363.