You could choose a lot of words to describe the year that comes to an end today. Defined by a global pandemic, 2020 changed everything about the way we live. The first words that come to mind to describe this year are negative ones.
But after a little reflection, the word we’ll use is …
It’s in our most challenging and stressful and even tearful times that the true heart of a person reveals itself. The same is true for a community. And our community came together in 2020.
So many of us struggled this year. We lost loved ones to COVID-19 or any number of other illnesses or circumstances. So many people struggled financially or emotionally.
2020 was a hard year.
And yet, we saw so many people reach out and lift each other up during the hardest days. At LifeStyles, we heard from members of our community — individuals, businesses, civic and faith-based organizations — every single day. Always, they asked how they could help.
As we look forward to a better year in 2021, let’s take a moment to appreciate what we accomplished — together — in 2020. We are so grateful for everyone who opened their hearts to make it all possible.
- More than 450 volunteers joined LifeStyles to serve our community in 2020
- In partnership with End Hunger In Charles County, the Charles County Cares Cabanas operated for 36 weeks and distributed more than 110,480 ready-to-eat meal bags and 1,750 bags of weekly groceries in addition to curbside pantry distribution. Staff also made food pantry deliveries to those who were homebound.
- Along with our partners, LifeStyles helped distribute more than 46,000 gallons of milk
- We have expanded homeless services to include Calvert County, with staff conducting street outreach to 165 people in encampment areas and helping to connect those in need to available housing options
- LifeStyles joined with local churches to provide shelter during the cold weather months for 112 families — a total of 177 people — through the Safe Nights program
- The annual Big Hair Ball delayed but not stopped. This event, spearheaded by dedicated volunteers, took place in September at Running Hare Vineyards and raised more than $100,000 to benefit women and children in crisis, offering a hand up where gaps exist.
- The annual Walk to End Homelessness in Southern Maryland went virtual with families all over Southern Maryland participating. We raised awareness of the plight of the homeless and met our financial goal of raising $30,000 to serve the homeless.
- EXIT Landmark Realty’s Gifts of Love campaign raised nearly $25,000 for the homeless, and the EXIT team adopted many of our families and served those in Safe Nights on Christmas Eve, bringing smiles to so many faces
- Our annual Toy Drive helped provide gifts for more than 800 children during the holiday season
- LifeStyles worked with the Charles County Department of Health to provide COVID-19 testing to homeless individuals during street outreach and increased testing at shelters and for our frontline staff
- LifeStyles provided meals to individuals quarantined through coordination with Charles County Emergency Services, Department of Social Services and the Health Department
- The organization was recognized by the Transportation Association of Maryland for continuing to provide services during a pandemic
- LifeStyles was also voted Best Nonprofit Organization in Charles County in the Southern Maryland News Reader Approved Awards
- The organization helped lead an interfaith service on National Homeless Persons Memorial Day to remember those who died homeless and to work for change in our community
- LifeStyles distributed more than 1,100 Thanksgiving baskets and 950 Christmas baskets
- Our annual Toy Drive helped provide gifts for more than 800 children during the holiday season, with the last family picking up toys at midnight on Christmas Eve shortly after getting off of work
There was more, so much more, and we couldn’t possibly list all of the important contributions of so many incredible people.
We end 2020 on an optimistic note, in no small part because our community turned out to vote for LifeStyles of Maryland and helped us receive a Chick-fil-A True Inspiration award and a $175,000 grant that will ensure we can continue to provide help, hope and transformation for those in need in 2021 and beyond.
Thank you and Happy New Year!