Far too many people in Anne Arundel County—and the region—have to struggle without basic necessities and nonprofit has been doing its part for the past 13 years to help out as much as they can.
He Opens Paths to Everyone (H.O.P.E.)—which provides furniture, clothes, school supplies and other donations to help needy families get back on their feet—was honored at their Glen Burnie warehouses Monday by Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot with the inaugural William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award.
While many Marylanders remember the who died last year for his big projects such as the National Aquarium in Baltimore, it was the smaller acts that he prided himself on, Franchot said.
“,” Franchot said of the man who served as comptroller before him. “He was about providing individual acts of kindness to people who needed help.”
Founder Leo Zerhusen told Franchot and a group of H.O.P.E. volunteers that he was humbled by the honor and stressed that there was still a lot to be done for needy families in the county.
“If nothing else comes of [the award], I want people to know that we need their stuff,” he said.
The organization is constantly in need of clothing, shoes, coats, furniture and more to help needy families get back on their feet. All the families HOPE works with are referred from groups like Arundel House of Hope, Sarah’s House, the county school system, the county Department of Social Services, Birthright and Community Residences, among other groups.
When H.O.P.E. receives a referral, volunteers meet with the family to assess their needs and try to offer what they can.
Franchot created the Scheafer award to honor the legacy of public service exemplified by the former governor and comptroller. A panel of close Schaefer friends vetted the nominees and one winner will be selected in each of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions, Franchot said.
“This is a compliment—you kind of look like [Schaefer],” Franchot said to Zerhusen as they toured H.O.P.E.’s Glen Burnie warehouses. “He would have loved this.”