On Wednesday, April 27, the Lay Assistance Ministry (LAM) of Saint Mary’s, Arlington, began meeting Neighbors in Need at the Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington (SMGW), NOVA office. This new partnership has marvelous potential as SMGW works with Participants in the Next Step Program and STRIVE toward long-term, life-transforming goals, St Mary’s is a one-stop shop for one-time help with an urgent financial need. Approved applicants can receive funds to cover emergencies and large necessary costs such as rent, medical bills, and more.
St. Mary’s type of emergency financial assistance ministry is called “front-line” because their parishioner team used to meet applicants in their Lower Lobby at the church (or did, until the pandemic restricted access) and interview them in the Vestry and classrooms. However, for their neighbors seeking help in paying a utility bill, rent, or a storage unit fee, this location was not very convenient. Many folks in need had to ride multiple buses or drive from far away.
Now, the St. Mary’s Lay Assistance Ministry (LAM) team has moved to the front line, meeting applicants at the Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington Arlington location at 2207 Columbia Pike. Interestingly St. Mary’s Outreach helped Samaritan move into this Arlington property many years ago.
As LAM embarks on this new chapter in 2022, hours of operation are extended from 10-2 due to CDC-recommended occupancy restrictions at the site. Appointments are encouraged because those waiting gather on an unenclosed, covered porch. Walk-ups will continue to be welcomed. Hospitality ministers will provide coffee, tea, and refreshments and handle the check-in process. While other ministers compile the required paperwork, another will focus on the prayerful aspects of what we do.
LAM will operate this hybrid program of in-person services, while continuing to accept email and telephone applications until COVID-19 finally is in our community’s rearview mirror.
LAM’s ministry partners include caseworkers at the Arlington County Department of Human Services, Bridges to Independence, Arlington Housing Corporation, Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, Iglesia Santa Maria, Shirlington Employment and Education Center, Legal Aid and Justice Center, and SMGW.