EDGEWOOD, Md. — During this pandemic, non profit organizations have been struggling financially - but that doesn’t stop them from giving back and helping those who truly need it.
In Harford County, there's a place doing just that.
Breathe 379 is not your average food pantry, it's more like a community resource center, offering a little bit of everything.
"If you need help with food, if you need help with clothing, if you need a place just to come and relax to get away from everything, we want to be that place."
Mike Nolan is the founder and CEO - who started this mission from his own home, then expanded to Nuttal Avenue in Edgewood.
"It’s good to have a place where folks can come be taken care of, be cared about and just be loved on really," he explained.
He took WMAR around what they call the Breathe Hope Center and showed us how they operate.
Typically when folks walk into the center, they’ll meet with Robyne and they’ll register and once theyre finished, they'll head over the coffee bar where they can get whatever drink they need.
A cup of coffee to calm your nerves and just relax.
They want to take your stress level in everyday life and bring it down a little bit
"We’ve been to food pantries and they can be an intense place, we don’t want you to feel like that in here. We want you to know no matter what’s going on, we care about you. Jesus loves you. Relax do what you have to and we’ll go from there."
That’s the feeling of the entire space - homey and comfortable. They are a faith based non- profit so they always offer to pray for you or with you.
One woman found Breathe 379 after relapsing in November - and losing her job. She just finished rehab and is ready to get back on track, but did not want to be identified.
"I’m doing everything I can to pick up the pieces and maintain with four children so I can get back to work," she said.
She got to pick out food and clothes for her whole family.
"You don’t feel like you’re in a food bank and every one is really nice. You sit down and have your coffee and you go shopping, you’re not in a line outside picking up bags you’re actually like a little family."
Everyone who comes in gets to pick out exactly what they want or need - so nothing is wasted.
Bailey Alanpi runs the pantry and organizes it, volunteering while being a full time student because she loves helping.
"All this food is donated weekly from Joppa town farmers market from...anything they have they give to us and we can give to anyone who comes through those doors," Alanpi said.
They're not only helping them with a canned good or a personal item but helping them in their emotional journey and anything they might need just to sit down and talk with someone about.
"I like hearing their story of where they’ve been and where they come from," she explained.
One of those stories is a woman she now works with all the time Edher Ripoada. Ripoada lost her job because of COVID and now volunteers — helping with the Spanish speaking community.
"I try coming all Wednesday, I start to help," Ripoada said.
Love - that’s what this place is run on. A group of people who just care and want to help. Giving physical, emotional and spiritual assistance.
"One of our big tag lines is that we're in it together and we can’t do it without help from the community and even beyond."
They hope to grow into a bigger space or have multiple places like the Hope Center around the area.
They’re open every Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and the second Saturday of every month from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m.
If you want to help they're always accepting donations and volunteers.
Click here for more information.
Breate 379 won Freedom Federal Credit Union's #FreedomToHelpChallenge this month. They won $1,000 that will go to helping the community.