Founders Barbara Nock, Karla Schaefer & Robin Hoch

In 2009 a leader of Outreach Ministries at Back River United Methodist Church, Karla Schaefer, along with Rev David Deans called a meeting for representatives of all the churches in the area that they could locate. They wanted to discuss how we could work together to help people in the area who were homeless and living on the street. Back River UMC was already packing and delivering bag lunches every week, and they knew personally men who were freezing to death outside in the cold.

There had to be a way,

God would help us to find a way, to bring them into a safe, warm place.

The first year 2010, so many things came together that made it possible for our fledgling organization, Churches for Streets of Hope, to provide that shelter for the first sixteen men. Three women from different churches – Karla Schaefer, Barbara Nock (Prince of Peace), and Robin Hoch (Orems UMC) – met weekly to sort out all the details of the plan and write the letters to get the other churches on board to help. We were inspired by Frank Burrus, a talented musician who was experiencing homelessness, but who was convinced that God would make this project possible. With Pastor Lori Cantin at Back River UMC writing a grant for us, Baltimore County stepped up to help with staff salaries. Several churches provided space for our shelter on a rotating basis. Twelve churches at first agreed to bring meals and other food, as well as bedding, winter coats, even Christmas gifts.

By the end of the first winter – November 2010-April 2011 - our number of churches had grown to twenty, and it continued to grow. A celebratory dinner was held at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in April of 2011, with John Olsewski, Sr. and other Baltimore County officials, civic leaders, shelter clients (now alumni) and many church members in attendance. We thanked God then, as we do now, for making all of our work possible, for opening doors and inspiring supporters, for giving us the opportunity to live out our first motto, on the banner at the dinner:

“Love Thy Unhoused Neighbor”