HOPE For All Celebrates 20 Years Serving Anne Arundel County

Nonprofit Has Provided Clothing, Housewares To Nearly 20,000 Individuals In Need


Dozens of shelters, government agencies, nonprofits and churches in Anne Arundel County work tirelessly each year to serve hundreds of people experiencing homelessness, but what happens to those individuals when they transition out of homelessness into a place to call their own?

Glen Burnie-based nonprofit HOPE For All is a Christian ministry whose mission is to “provide furniture, household items and clothing to people in our community who are without the financial means to meet their basic needs.” This includes supplying tangible resources for those transitioning from homelessness, as well as people simply in need of a helping hand. They offer clients “the essentials necessary to create a healthy home.”

This year marks two decades of HOPE For All’s service to Anne Arundel County. Executive Director Connie Cooper highlighted that over the last 20 years, HOPE For All has served an estimated 4,000 families representing nearly 20,000 individuals.

The nonprofit – which not only aids those transitioning into housing, but also assists hundreds of underserved school children each year – was established in 2004 by founders Leo and Diane Zerhusen. Both Anne Arundel County school teachers, the couple had begun to collect clothing for people in need after a mission trip to Appalachia, but they quickly recognized that the same need demanded action in their own backyard. Compassion for children and families lacking basic necessities, such as clothing to wear to school, inspired the Zerhusens to start HOPE For All.

Board member and volunteer Dave Chaffee, who resides in Millersville, explained that HOPE For All has three primary missions. Through “Turning Houses Into Homes,” they collect and distribute donations of furniture, kitchen supplies and household goods to people who are transitioning from homelessness to affordable housing. Over 1,700 families have been served through this initiative in the last five years.

Cooper, who has been involved with HOPE For All for over 12 years, shared the story of one woman HOPE recently assisted that illustrates how common it is for individuals transitioning into housing to be met with empty rooms and no means to furnish them.

“She didn’t have any furniture except a card table, a desk and a coat rack, and they were sleeping on the floor, which is kind of normal when we go in to these people coming out of homelessness,” Cooper said. “So I said, ‘Well how long have you been in your home?’ And she told me two years, and I’m like, ‘Two years? Why did it take you so long to ask for help?’ And she said, ‘I kept thinking I’d be able to afford a bed (with) my next paycheck.’

“These are people who are trying to make it, who are trying to work, but between housing costs and food costs, there’s nothing left. So we try to stabilize that household by bringing along all the furniture, housewares and linens that they need.”

HOPE’s “Head to Toe” program provides thousands of Anne Arundel County public school children with school supplies, shoes and clothing. More than 500 children have received these essentials over the past three years. Similarly, their “Next Step Clothing” mission provides emergency clothing for more than 500 people each year who are taking the next step in their lives.

Chaffee got involved with HOPE For All after his wife, Ann, began volunteering in their warehouse by sorting donated goods each week. He explained that donations from across the county are sorted into household essentials that are distributed through “Turning Houses Into Homes,” and nonessential items ranging from golf balls to Christmas decorations that are sold at semimonthly yard sales. Proceeds from the yard sales are used to purchase needed items that aren’t as frequently donated and to fund the nonprofit’s operation.

HOPE For All is also financially supported by individual givers, corporate sponsors, partner churches and grants. Over 35 local houses of worship, including several in the Severna Park area, not only donate to HOPE For All but refer families in need, rally volunteers from among their congregations, and assist with deliveries.

Cooper explained that faith is what motivates HOPE’s staff and volunteers to serve. “We just want to spread God’s love, and we do it in a very physical way so (recipients) can physically see and feel and touch how much he loves them,” she said.

The first year that HOPE For All was established, the nonprofit served 13 families; this past year, Cooper said it was able to resource 382 families. The need continues to grow, and there are numerous opportunities to get involved. Many people are introduced to HOPE’s mission through donating items, as well as sorting donations, assisting with yard sales, helping pick up and deliver items, and more. A complete list of volunteer opportunities and more information about HOPE For All can be found at www.hopeforall.us

“We’ve proven over these 20 years that we’re here, we care, and we’re not going anywhere,” Cooper said of HOPE’s history as it celebrates two decades in the community. “I’d love it if we went out of business tomorrow because there wasn’t a need, but as long as there’s a need we’re going to keep doing what we do.”


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