First, NESAP celebrated an expansion. Then, the Hampstead nonprofit had to make changes for unexpected times.
April 20-- Apr. 20--The North East Social Action Program (NESAP) in Hampstead celebrated having 2,300 more square feet of storage space to aid their mission with a ribbon-cutting celebration on March 10. The addition added more space for NESAP's thrift store and freed up room to expand their food pantry.
It wasn't long before NESAP had to make some changes, however, after Gov. Hogan began issuing executive orders to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.
That caused the nonprofit to announce it would be forced to close the thrift store and loading dock drop-off area. What remains open to serve is their program office and food pantry, which assist local residents in times of crisis. The agency continues to post updates through Facebook and www.nesapinc.org.
NESAP urged all those seeking services to make an appointment. "We are here to help but need to make sure our staff, volunteers and clients are protected and safe," they wrote in the announcement.
During the thrift store closure, "staff will use this time to clean and sanitize the store and loading dock areas. We will also use this time to change the store and displays over to summer so when we reopen we will be ready for our customers. That date has not been determined and will be based on guidance from national and local health agencies," according to the announcement.
NESAP held the ribbon-cutting for staff and volunteers, town officials and partners in the expansion project at NESAP headquarters, located at 1046 S. Carroll Street. A pastor dedicated and blessed the building.
The project was made possible through a grant from the Lutheran Home and Hospital Foundation that covered about three-quarters of the project's costs. Other funding came from local business donations inluding a sizeable donation from Miles Electric Co. Inc. Ken and Donna Wright of Towne Pride Interiors in Hampstead put in "countless hours" towards the construction and coordination of the project and Ken served as the project manager, Executive Director Donn Dietrich said.
NESAP also launched a registered website on March 2, which can be found at www.nesapinc.org. Visitors can donate funds online and see what items are most needed at the food pantry at any given time.
The organization has been around since 1984 when a group of local churches got together to create a central place to coordinate their charitable efforts in one place where community members could seek assistance.
In addition to the food pantry, NESAP can offer emergency financial assistance for things like housing and medical bills and transportation. They also can provide food, clothing, school supplies and Christmas assistance.
"We're there for times of crisis," Dietrich said. You know, we're not a place that people come back to you monthly. We're there really to lift people up when they have fallen. ... A big part of our mission statement is to help people work back work towards self sufficiency."
The organization runs with the help of thousands of hours of volunteer time.
"We couldn't do this without our volunteers," Dietrich said. "This past year, we had over 6,000 hours of volunteer time donated."
NESAP is always open to new volunteers, but in particular they are looking for volunteers with administrative skills like event planning and social media, or IT skills.
Prospective volunteers can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 443-244-1496.
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Other ways to assist include contributing financially to the nonprofit or donating items to the thrift store. "The thrift store generates about 50% of our income that goes directly back into the community," Dietrich said.
"And we will always be a Christian organization. We always ask for people to pray for the ministry," he added.
NESAP planned to host its biggest annual fundraiser, Taste of Spring, on March 26, but announced a decision to postpone due to the governor's issuance of a state of emergency in Maryland.
They hope to reschedule. Ticket holders will have the option of using their tickets at the later event or returning them to NESAP for a full refund.
"We are hoping that folks will hold the tickets and join us in the fall," he said. "If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact me at email@example.com. I also want to add in this time of national crisis if you know of anyone locally that needs help please have them contact our program office or go on our website."
More information about NESAP is available at www.nesapinc.org.