Winter Relief Program changing lives in AA Co.

Posted at 8:27 PM, Mar 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-17 20:27:16-04
Warmer weather on the way means the Arundel House of Hope Winter Relief Program is coming to a close. The people who have counted on a warm, dry place to sleep at night during the colder months will have to find shelter elsewhere. 
The program has helped more than 180 people experiencing homelessness this season alone. 
What began in October will end the first Monday in April.
"Some of the folks will have obtained housing by then a lot of the folks will end up going back into the streets and the woods for the summer time," Karen Biagiotti, program director, said. 
Biagiotti said the latter is true for somewhere between 50 and 70 percent of their guests. Those are much higher numbers than she would like to see, but there are cases that prove what's possible.
"It is an amazing gift when we get to see someone who has transitioned and done really well but we don't always get to see that end of it," she told ABC2. 
Biagiotti has gotten to see that with Pattie Carter. She was a guest in the winter relief program two and a half years ago. After transitioning into a housing program (WISH) for year. she is now in her very own apartment. 
"I love the open windows here. There's a lot of light, a lot of natural light." Carter said as she gave the tour.
There is a lot she is experiencing for the first time in years with her new place. Carter said having all this space for herself took some getting used to, but she has settled in over the last year with decorations and family pictures all over.
"It's great because I can keep it as clean or as dirty as I want, you know, because I do run this ship," Carter said. 
She said accepting that she needed help made the biggest difference for her. 
"If you need help, ask for it because there are resources out there. For me, I was very ashamed and embarrassed but whatever your situation is, you need to come forth. No one is going to knock on your door and say 'do you need help?' ... I would like to encourage people that I saw there to better their lives and I would like to be an example of that," Carter said. 
Biagiotti and other organizers could still use volunteers for the last two weeks of this season, specifically people who can help provide meals for the guests.  
Arundel House of Hope provides year round support with other services like a free medical clinic and community recovery center. They are already getting ready for next season which starts up again in October.