St. Mary's County shelter moves one step closer to new 30-bed facility
Leah's House officials meet with representatives from the Harbor Bank of Baltimore to close the deal on financing for the Happyland Club purchase. Pictured from left to right are Harbor Bank (HB) V.P. Carla Nealy, HB Assistant V.P. Charles Cummings, Founder Rev. Marguerite Morris, Corporate Secretary Doris Day, and Leah's House Office Manager Susan Miller
CALLAWAY, Md. (November 15, 2007)A proposed 30-bed shelter for the residents of St. Mary's County came one step closer to reality on Friday, November 2. Officials from Leah's House met with representatives from the Harbor Bank of Baltimore to sign the papers that provide financing for the purchase of the Happyland Club property in Valley Lee. The property is located at the corner of Piney Point Road (Md. Route 249) and Happyland Road.
Leah's House currently operates a small shelter in Callaway for women and children. They provide emergency beds for
30-45 days and transitional services for 18-24 months.
Following the closing, representatives from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development toured the current shelter and the new Happyland site.
Leah's House was founded by Reverend Marguerite Morris, who also serves as the Pastor of New Beginnings Christian Worship Center. A demand for services prompted Morris to seek expansion of their existing facility.
The first phase of the project includes the purchase of the Happyland property and its subsequent renovation. Once the building has been updated, the existing Callaway shelter will be relocated to this facility.
The second phase of the project involves constructing a new building on the property that will provide 30 new beds. State Senator Roy Dyson (D-29) recently announced plans to seek a $250,000 bond bill in the 2008 session. If approved, the funds will be used for the construction of the new building.
Morris said her organization is assembling a "dream team of professionals" to help bring the new shelter and related services to St Mary's County.
Members of Morris' team include the engineering firm of Mehaffey and Associates, Chesapeake Trails Surveying, Inspection Connection, the Maryland Volunteers Lawyers Services, Maryland Bank and Trust, Home Builders Foundation, Networx Inc., Alexander Homes, and numerous churches, foundations, and individuals. The organization has also hired the architectural firm of JMH Designs.
Once the new shelter has been completed, Morris does not anticipate any problem filling the beds. Leah's House has entered into an agreement with Department of Social Services to help serve clients in St. Mary's County. The organization has also received a letter of support from the St Mary's County Commissioners toward that goal.
To ensure that the shelter is well integrated into the local network of existing facilities and social programs, Leah's House has signed agreements for the coordination of services with several other agencies including the Mental Health Authority, Pregnancy Care Center, the County Library, the Housing Authority, It's a Better Life, Amoren Christ Church, and Graceworks. Other letters of support have been received and more are expected, noted Morris.
Morris expressed her appreciation to the host of financial supporters and volunteers who have helped make her vision a reality. "We are happy at Leah's House that you (the public) have invested both time and funds, including a host of volunteers who include many students from the St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM) and PROOF," wrote Morris. "We hope we have not disappointed you."
PROOF is a group, formed by Morris' church, of at-risk children. PROOF stands for Positive Reinforcement of Our Future.
Although plans for the new shelter are moving along on schedule, Morris stressed that Leah's House is still very much in need of financial support.
To help raise funds, the organization is holding its 2nd Annual Putting on the Glitz fundraiser this coming Saturday, November 17, at the Crystal Room in Callaway at 6:30 pm. A keynote speaker will speak about, "The Domestic Violence VictimFinding a Voice in 2008." Entertainment will be provided by Michael Cook of the Mighty Clouds of Joy, David Norris, the New Briscoe Brothers, and the DJ Sounds of Harry Knight Music.
Guests will be treated to the unveiling of the architectural renderings of the new Happyland building as well as the introduction of the Phase III plans for Leah's House.
For more information call 301-994-9580. Tickets for this event can be purchased at the door.
Expansion for Leahs House Moving Ahead,
County Times, June 7, 2007