News Updates from Grassroots

Acts of Kindness and Generosity Sustain Us

We are thankful for the hundreds of people who have reached out to support Grassroots during a period when the pain and suffering of desperate callers, frightened shelter residents and others in crisis increases every day. We are grateful for:

Intrepid Volunteers Its doors are closed, but the Grassroots Day Resource Center volunteers deliver donated food and other supplies directly to unsheltered people in need, wherever they are. During April, 136 people were served, and 505 bags of supplies – 12,055 food items, 800 bottles of water, 300 masks – were delivered. Check out updated list of needed supplies here.

Concerned Friends The Chinese American Parent Association of Howard County delivered 1,250 face masks, 2,000 exam gloves, 3 gallons of hand sanitizer and a check to Grassroots “to keep your staff healthy and safe.”

Good Food Hometown cooks and donors of restaurant meals have been providing delicious food to staff and shelter residents, filling the daily schedule through May. Food is a bright spot in what can be otherwise bleak days.  The schedule for June is open. Sign up here.

Funders In response to the the COVID-19 outbreak, The Horizon Foundation made a grant to Grassroots to provide temporary housing to homeless individuals and families as a safety measure to ensure social distancing, as well as funding to purchase protective equipment and cleaning supplies for staff. In addition, a coalition of The Horizon Foundation, the Community Foundation of Howard County and the Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County made a grant to Grassroots in HoCoResponse COVID-19 Emergency Funding. Local donors helped fuel the HoCoResponse fund.

Surprises An anonymous donor dropped off a “Hero Box” for Grassroots staff who are working every day to keep people safe and cared for. The box contained Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) including N-95 masks, gloves, surgical aprons, and booties.

Enterprising Youth An Atholton High School student raised funds to purchase meals from local restaurants and have them delivered to Grassroots. In another act of charity, several Scout Troops responded to an emergency call, providing alcohol prep pads and rubbing alcohol to Grassroots to tide it over until the medical supply order arrived.

Saintly Churches While Grassroots was getting its new system of meal preparation going, Grace Community Church provided box meals.  Within hours of learning of pantry needs, St. Louis Catholic Church dropped off every item listed, all packaged in needed reusable grocery bags.

New and Long Time Donors A lot of people have sent their first donation to Grassroots this past couple of months, and many long time donors have made additional contributions.  It is heartwarming to see the outpouring.  It was good for staff morale, provided funding for needed services and helped offset the increased expenses of multiple locations and social distancing. It helped make it possible to do all the extra work we have been doing.

What’s Been Happening

Like everywhere else, Grassroots found April to be a difficult month.  Folks were pushed to the limits of their capacity to handle the strain.

Hotline Calls Over 4,000 calls were received in April, a quarter of which were focused on COVID-19 related anxiety over job loss, financial strain, and parent-child conflicts.

Suicide Prevention The number of suicide-related calls also increased significantly. Isolation impacts depression and anxiety, as does stress about the pandemic.

Substance Use Disorder Job loss, isolation/increased time alone and concerns about health are being identified by callers as triggers for relapse. Callers are struggling to navigate the behavioral health system, which is functioning differently during COVID-19.  Of SUD callers, 36% identify as opioid users, 36% as alcohol users, and 55% as crack cocaine users.

Mobile Crisis Team Typically the police contact the MCT for assistance on calls, but most calls recently have been from family members, over half from those 7-24 years old with the majority being under 17.  On responses, the MCT wore masks and met outside when possible. Conflicts over screen time, school work and chores escalate quickly when people are under stress. The visits have led the MCT to discover families dealing with new mental health symptoms without having current connections with treatment providers.

Suicide Prevention Training Grassroots  is hosting QPR suicide prevention training via online Zoom sessions on Wednesday, May 13, 7-8:30 p.m., and Tuesday, May 19, from 10-11:30 a.m. QPR is a three-step process that anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. Those trained in QPR are taught to recognize warning signs of a suicide crisis and to question, persuade and refer someone to help. QPR is a basic training designed for individuals who do not have training/experience in suicide prevention. The sessions are free for Howard County residents and workers.  Register at  For further information, contact

Fundraisers Cancelled Two major fundraisers for Grassroots, Soup’r Sundae and the Glen Mar Golf Tournament, have been cancelled for this year.  We hope to reschedule for the Spring of 2021. In the meantime, we are relying on our loyal friends and advocates to help offset the losses in expected funding.

Dinner meals for Grassroots Needed

Dinner meals for Grassroots Needed

Grassroots continues to provide shelter and food for homeless families and individuals in our shelter.  We are asking for help from the community with providing and delivering cooked dinner meals for residents during the month of April (and beyond).    You can sign up for a specific evening and drop the meal off in our… Continue Reading

Grassroots Needs Your Help

Grassroots Needs Your Help

Grassroots provides 24-hour crisis intervention, suicide prevention, and support to individuals and families with a mental health, substance use or homelessness crisis. In the midst of the current public health emergency, Grassroots continues to provide vital services such as telephone crisis intervention counseling and shelter services while using every measure necessary to ensure the safety… Continue Reading

A message to the community regarding practices now in place at Grassroots in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

As Howard County’s 24-7 crisis intervention center and shelter for the homeless, Grassroots is committed to providing as much service to the community as possible during the public health threat posed by COVID-19. We are also using every measure necessary to ensure the safety of our residents and staff members. The following practices are now… Continue Reading

Grassroots Implements COVID-19 Plan

Counseling Provided by Phone 24-7 Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center is implementing a three-tier plan to respond to the public health threat posed by COVID-19, according to Executive Director Ayesha Holmes. “The purpose of the plan is to ensure we are prepared for every level of the outbreak,” Holmes said. The three tiers include response to… Continue Reading

Soup’r Sundae Is  Sunday, March 15

Soup’r Sundae Is Sunday, March 15

Note that Soup’r Sundae has been postponed due the public health situation. Stay tuned for a reschedule date. The Faith Community Partnership of Bethany United Methodist Church and Glen Mar United Methodist Church and Wilde Lake High School are hosting the 12th annual Soup‘r Sundae, a family event featuring soups prepared by area restaurants, as… Continue Reading

Overdose Protection and Intervention Toolkit Available

Overdose Protection and Intervention Toolkit Available

Grassroots and NextLOGiK, a Columbia-based technology firm, previously launched a Smart Phone app designed to reduce the risks of opioid-related overdose deaths. Inspired by Grassroots’ work, the Overdose Prevention and Intervention Toolkit (OPIT) app features a self-assessment tool for those individuals struggling with opioid use disorder and their loved ones to gain awareness about the… Continue Reading

Grassroots Opens New Beginnings Crisis Stabilization Facility

Grassroots Opens New Beginnings Crisis Stabilization Facility

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball joined Grassroots to officially open the “New Beginnings Crisis Stabilization” facility. Crisis stabilization is an important component of Howard County’s opioid intervention strategy to meet immediate needs for assessment, treatment, referrals and brief overnight housing and food. Pictures from the event can be found here. Video can be found here.… Continue Reading

Breakfast with Santa Set Dec. 7 and 14 at Seasons 52

Breakfast with Santa Set Dec. 7 and 14 at Seasons 52

Holiday event at The Mall in Columbia benefits Grassroots crisis intervention center and shelter for the homeless Santa will visit with youngsters, their parents and grandparents at “Breakfast with Santa” on Dec. 7 and 14, 8-9:30 a.m., at Seasons 52 restaurant at The Mall in Columbia,10300 Little Patuxent Parkway. Santa will talk with youngsters and… Continue Reading

Grassroots and NextLOGiK launch Overdose Prevention and Intervention Toolkit for people struggling with opioid use disorder

New Smart Phone App Helps Combat Opioid Addiction and Risks Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center and NextLOGiK, a Columbia-based technology firm, announced today the launch of a Smart Phone app designed to reduce the risks of opioid-related overdose deaths. Inspired by Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center’s work, the Overdose Prevention and Intervention Toolkit (OPIT) app features a… Continue Reading