Epiphany has long recognized the interrelated community needs for stable housing, enrichment for school aged children, affordable high-quality childcare, and food security to support healthy and thriving children and families.
For forty years, the Epiphany Early Learning Center committed to nurturing in each child a love of learning. The ELC provided affordable early childhood education for over a thousand working families in Baltimore County. As County demographics shifted, we transitioned from solely tuition based to include grant support for our program. As a result we served both the needs of the most vulnerable families in our community and those with greater economic means while creating a more racially and socioeconomically diverse student body.
Since founding the Episcopal Housing Corporation Inc. (EHC) in 1995, Epiphany has been committed to creative and ecumenical solutions to the rise of poverty and lack of affordable housing in Baltimore County – one of the country’s most segregated metropolitan areas, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This non-profit real estate development company has built over 600 units of affordable housing and community-based service centers across central Maryland.
In 2009, in response to increasing need in its surrounding suburban neighborhoods, Epiphany founded the Neighbor-to-Neighbor (N2N) program, a life-changing approach to eviction prevention, rapid re-housing, and family stability which has successfully supported nearly 400 families in their journey from homelessness to self-sufficiency. Neighbor-to-Neighbor partners with faith communities, public funders, and private grant makers throughout greater Baltimore to help families and to build community across divisions of race, income, and faith. United Way of Central Maryland recently awarded Neighbor-to-Neighbor $100,000 to start a third family stability program, essentially doubling the number of families served.
As Epiphany developed deeper relationships with families in Neighbor-to-Neighbor, it worked with them to address other barriers to their success. Our community’s only free after-school program closed in 2015, leading us to found the Homework Club in January 2016, making it one of only two free before and after school enrichment programs in the county. Homework Club partners with neighborhood public schools and provides low-income, school-aged children with nurturing care and academic support while their parents work.
And then in 2016, Epiphany founded our weekly Community Dinner initiative to provide a warm, healthy meal in a supportive and hospitable setting. This meal brings together families and individuals from all parts of the Epiphany community. We also began the Epiphany Free Food Store to get healthy food into the hands of those we serve. In addition to regular collection of canned food and dry goods that program participants request, we are also working through our on-site Community Garden, a food rescue program for fresh produce through an area distribution center, and a community supported agriculture partnership with a local organic farm.
These stories of social justice work at Epiphany are just some of the countless initiatives members of the Epiphany community take part in to make this world a safer and more welcoming place for those in it by being the difference love makes.