Catholic Charities – Our Daily Bread Employment Center and My Sister’s Place Women’s Center
In 2007, Catholic Charities relocated Our Daily Bread and expanded the scope of its human services when it opened the Our Daily Bread Employment Center (ODBEC) in downtown Baltimore. ODBEC houses Maryland’s largest meal program, along with job readiness and job placement services for homeless individuals, screening for public benefits, and the Christopher Place Employment Academy for formerly homeless men. Since opening, ODBEC has seen significant growth in the demand for its services. In FY 2009, ODBEC served 5,126 clients and 267,000 meals, a 24 percent increase over 2008. Although its clients face considerable barriers to employment, ODBEC succeeded in placing 430 clients in jobs during FY 2009, with an average wage of $9.53.
With the relocation of Our Daily Bread to the new ODBEC center in June 2007, Catholic Charities was able to transform the former Our Daily Bread site into a new day center for homeless women and children, known as My Sister’s Place Women’s Center (MSPWC). Opened in November 2008, MSPWC provides three hot meals daily, showers, laundry facilities, case management, and adult literacy and employment services. In FY 2009, MSPWC served more than 1,200 clients and nearly 30,000 meals. Case managers assisted 114 women to find housing in FY 2009, and placed 36 women in jobs.
Although the two programs collectively serve more than 6,000 homeless and very low-income clients each year, both have struggled to engage clients in supportive services beyond the meals and day shelter services. A $500,000 grant from The Abell Foundation, awarded in September 2009, is helping to build the capacity of both programs to better engage clients in services that have the potential to transform their lives and move them out of homelessness and poverty. The grant funds support both existing and new staff at both facilities and provide supportive services for clients, including on-site health and mental health care, inpatient drug treatment, and flexible funds for such needs as client identification documents, security deposits and eviction prevention and utility assistance funds. Grant funds have been used to upgrade the computers in ODBEC’s computer lab, which clients use for job searches and resume writing. With this grant, both ODBEC and MSPWC have been able to provide the supports necessary for more of their clients to transition from homelessness to stable, permanent homes.