United Thank Offering

Grant Story: UTO Board Member Visits Charlie’s Place at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church (2021 grant to the Diocese of Washington)

April 5, 2024
United Thank Offering

By Mathy Milling-Downing, UTO Board Province III Representative

Each month we like to share a story of where your thank offering has gone in recent years. This month, one of our Board members shares about her experience visiting Charlie’s Place.

Founded in 1990 as a nondenominational, anti-hunger and homelessness ministry by the associate pastor of St. Margaret’s and the Montgomery County Executive, along with a small group of faithful and concerned congregants, Charlie’s Place has flourished to become a solid program operating several days a week, providing a safe and welcoming environment to the city’s most vulnerable inhabitants.

Charlie’s Place is located in the heart of our nation’s capital, serving the homeless and underprivileged within the local community. The focus is to address the social needs of the less fortunate and is not based on religious beliefs. All participants are welcome regardless of race, age, gender, background, faith, or sexual orientation. All are welcome at God’s table without fear of judgment.

In 2021, in the midst of COVID-19, a UTO grant for $25,000 was awarded to Charlie’s Place with the focus being on a food ministry to feed the urban impoverished clients, many of whom were homeless. The goal was to provide nutritious food to an insecure food community. When buildings were mandated to close their doors due to the coronavirus, volunteers transitioned from feeding clients within the church building to a “to-go” meal service, placing safety first while still providing nourishing food to those who so desperately needed it. Volunteers could be seen around the community pulling wagons filled with bags of food for those who were hungry. The grant supplied additional funding for food when contributions from large corporate donors ceased. Funds from the grant were also used to offset salaries of staff who could no longer depend on responsible volunteers.

Charlie’s Place has come through the devastation brought on by COVID-19 in 2020 stronger than ever, but it has been a slow progression. Major donors such as World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and National Geographic have not completely returned to pre-COVID in-person hosting events. Food prices have risen. Only now are partnerships with restaurants and larger corporations beginning to grow again.

During the past two years, Charlie’s Place has added a case management component to its structure by working closely and forming a positive relationship with Miriam’s Kitchen, with whom they share a social worker. During 2023, they were able to place numerous clients in housing or provided vouchers to cover housing costs. Fifty-four clients benefited from this program, with 34 receiving permanent housing, while 20 others were given vouchers.

The hours of operations have changed somewhat to fit staffing schedules. Charlie’s Place is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Shower facilities as well as a clothes closet—including towels and linens, washing machines, and dryers—are all available for client use. One-to-one counseling services are also available and proving quite effective. The food pantry has expanded. Since August, 2,000 pounds of food have been distributed from the initial 2,500 pounds collected during the church’s food drive. 

As past donors and new contributors continue to support Charlie’s Place, the needs are still great, so all aid is welcome. It is wonderful that Charlie’s Place remained a beacon of light and a place for nourishment during the toughest days and months of COVID. Charlie’s Place offers hope, compassion, and nourishment for body and soul. It also sets an excellent example of the true meaning of “welcoming the stranger.”

The Rev. Cn.
Heather Melton

Staff Officer for the United Thank Offering

Click here