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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Diakonia to benefit from award

(July 23, 2015) When Jack Burbage, owner of Blue Water Construction, was named the recipient of the 2015 Hal Glick award, he wasted no time in naming Diakonia, a nonprofit emergency housing shelter and service provider, the beneficiary of his share of the prize money.
The Hal Glick award is a five-year-old program to reward philanthropy in Ocean City and it is named for a pioneering area Realtor. The award’s prize component, given in November, is a one-third share in the fundraiser dinner where the award is formally announced.
The other two thirds go to Atlantic General Hospital and Temple Bat Yam. The dinners, in previous years, have brought in as much as $75,000 total.
Diakonia, one of two shelters in Worcester County, is the closest, geographically, to the resort. Its mission is to “address the root causes of homelessness.”
“It’s always a challenge to keep your name in front of the community,” Director Claudia Nagle said. “We deliver more than just a bed; more than just food.”
But tough budget years in Ocean City and Worcester County have made it more difficult to get funding to help provide those services at a steady level, as prices and costs increase.
“Grant money can be hard to get, and we’ve been flat funded from the government,” Nagle said. “We received $40,000 from Ocean City, $42,000 from the county commissioners and $7,500 from the Town of Berlin.”
At any given time, Nagle said, there are 40 people — one third of them children — in residence at the shelter.
“We’ve looked at different ways to help ourselves, the thrift store for example, which is staffed by volunteers. When people learn of us, they often want to help.”
The thrift store is “Used to be Mine” on Route 611 and Sunset Ave. in West Ocean City. It’s open Wednesday through Saturday.
“We’re very grateful to the community and thankful for their ongoing support,” she said.
Nagle explained Diakonia’s mission goes beyond a place to “rest your head.”
“The services and enrichments we offer helps people to get their lives back on track,” she said.
According to Nagle, beyond emergency housing Diakonia oversees a food bank where, once per month, about “five days” worth of food can be obtained. Nagle said 10,000 people availed themselves of this service last year.
“We offer support and learning opportunities, like how to save money for instance. Everyone living here gets a caseworker,” and access to medical services, should they be required, Nagle said.
Diakonia also offers a slate of veteran’s services and targeted classes plus programs to help keep their charges in permanent housing after they leave the shelter.
“It’s not always a quick turnaround but people leave here with a better sense of what it takes to get permanent housing. About 78 percent of people leave here to stay in permanent housing for at least six months, 90 leave here with increased income, and 100 percent are connected to the resources they need to maintain permanent housing,” Nagle said.
Burbage serves on the Board of Directors of Diakonia.