Despite the many challenges, MHP teachers have been innovating to remain connected to their students. “We’re a really big figure in their lives,” says Jenny Mendez-Guerrero. Take a look.
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Through good times and difficult times, our partners and supporters are there for MHP and the communities we serve. Thanks to you, we are housing people, empowering families, and strengthening neighborhoods.
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MHP staff continue to rise to the occasion, using innovative means to overcome the challenges of quarantined life due to COVID-19. One of our preschool classes shared a glorious graduation ceremony virtually, complete with graduation caps and proud parents. Students performed several musical pieces thanks to a partnership with the Washington Conservatory of Music. Students were congratulated by MHP President Robert Goldman and Kathy Judd, Executive & Artistic Director of the Conservatory.
Several parents expressed gratitude for the program, including one father who said the program has been “the backbone of my family” by making preschool available and accessible. The students will be moving on to kindergarten. MHP is proud that 85 percent of our enrichment program students demonstrate kindergarten readiness. Congratulations, graduates!
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MHP’s young students may not be in our classrooms right now, but they are still connected to us. Recently MHP distributed 140 storybooks to students thanks to a generous donation from a partner nonprofit program, Share Literacy. The books were tucked into bags of donated food that went home to families in need in MHP’s Wheaton-based homes.
“Share Literacy is proud to be part of the inspiring work of MHP communities to support families and the education of the community’s children during these challenging times,” said Steve Whitney, a volunteer with the organization who delivered the books.
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Terry is a resident of The Bonifant, MHP’s residence for seniors in Silver Spring. She saw a need during the COVID-19 pandemic and took action to help her neighbors and others. Here’s her story.
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World Central Kitchen (WCK), the nonprofit launched by chef/restaurateur/philanthropist José Andrés, is delivering donated meals to feed residents of MHP’s The Bonifant senior residences in downtown Silver Spring. The collaboration is part of Montgomery County’s effort to work with nonprofit partners to address COVID-19 food insecurity issues, while also supporting local businesses.
WCK provided 180 meals during the first dropoff, which were gratefully welcomed by MHP President Robert A. Goldman and Dr. Earl Stoddard, director of Montgomery County’s Office of Emergency Management & Homeland Security. The meals were prepared at Nats Park. The food was delivered directly to individual residents by Humphrey Management staff to minimize residents’ exposure potential.
Dr. Stoddard said the partnership was an important way to help address food insecurity while encouraging seniors to stay healthy by sheltering in place.
Several residents sent email thank yous, including this one: “My first meal was just delivered and I am so thankful.”
Montgomery County created a short video about the donation:
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MHP President Robert A. Goldman is urging the Montgomery County Council to support efforts to protect low-income renters during the COVID-19 crisis as a top funding priority. The recommendations are contained in submitted testimony on fiscal 2021 budget priorities.
He recommended that the Council support:
- $20 million in emergency rental assistance for renters, with priority given to residents ineligible for unemployment insurance;
- Temporary 100% PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) property tax abatements;
- An additional $10 million to continue production of new affordable housing; and
- Support for the County Executive’s Affordable Housing Acquisition/Preservation Fund
The Council is poised to respond to some of these priorities soon. As a first step, the panel will consider a $2 million special appropriation for emergency eviction prevention and housing stabilization programs to help low- and moderate-income households.
In addition, led by Councilmember Evan Glass, the Council has sent a letter to County Executive Marc Elrich requesting that he expand eligibility guidelines for rental assistance programs, and to work with landlords to provide renters with a six-month transition period to meet rental obligations for vulnerable residents once the state of emergency is lifted. The letter can be viewed here.
For more details on MHP’s testimony on funding priorities, see the full statement here.
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As we connect with MHP residents about the impact COVID-19 has on their daily lives, we have identified two main needs: access to food and rental assistance.
Thomas, one of our residents, told us that he doesn’t know what lies ahead. In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, his wife has been laid off and his work as a taxi driver has dried up. He doesn’t know how they will be able to continue to feed their family of six.
MHP has set up a special emergency fund for our residents who are trying to meet basic needs in the midst of the crisis.
Find out how you can help Thomas and his family and others like them here.
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Residents of MHP’s The Bonifant apartment building in Silver Spring, seniors who are limiting their social interactions to protect themselves from exposure to the COVID-19 virus, were treated to donated meals delivered by El Sapo Cuban Social Club in Silver Spring and distributed by resident volunteers.
The delivery resulted from a collaboration that included restaurant owner/chef Raynold Mendizábal of El Sapo and Urban Butcher in Silver Spring, Montgomery County Silver Spring regional service center director Reemberto Rodríguez, and The Bonifant resident Janet Brown, who works at the service center on a volunteer basis.
The Bonifant is a high-rise apartment building constructed by MHP in downtown Silver Spring with support from Montgomery County to provide quality affordable housing in a transit-friendly location. It is home to 170 seniors, many with disabilities. Residents in the most need have been prioritized to receive the donated food.
Brown, an active and typically social senior who celebrated her 80th birthday in December, says residents were particularly thrilled to receive meals from El Sapo. “That is where we go to celebrate” in normal times, she noted. The food is being dropped off at The Bonifant. Volunteer residents in the building, recruited by Brown, deliver it to individual apartments, sanitizing their hands before and after each interaction.
“It is really heartwarming to see our community respond to this crisis in so many innovative ways,” said Rodríguez. “This is a wonderful example of how empathetic our entrepreneurs, faith community, and civic activists can be. The idea is to demonstrate what can works in small ways. Hopefully others will replicate this example and take it to scale.”
In describing his motivation in preparing and sharing free food, Mendizábal said, “I am a human being. This community has been very good to me. It is the least we can do.” He plans to continue the project providing meals, which will be funded through his donation of profits from his restaurants’ takeout and delivery businesses.
He noted he and his staff are working to expand these aspects of his businesses, which are the sole operations under the new Maryland restrictions to limit social interactions to combat potential exposure to Covid-19.
The Bonifant has been taking many steps to protect its residents, sharing information and following protocols recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As seniors, they are particularly vulnerable. Weekly social gatherings are on hold, in accordance with state and Federal guidelines. Onsite staff is cleaning all surfaces in the common areas, lobby, elevator buttons and light switches multiple times daily, and common areas are closed with the exception of restrooms. The building is managed by Humphrey Management.
The response goes beyond cleaning — Bonifant residents are looking out for one another as well. Brown noted that some of her neighbors have limited support systems, so neighbors have been helping neighbors.
“Yesterday a neighbor gave me her phone number because she is able to share with someone in need,” she said. “This virus situation is a bad thing. However, it shows you who people really are. There are beautiful people here at The Bonifant.”
Mendizábal says he is looking to replicate the food donation effort in other ways, scaling it up as vulnerable members of the community continue to cope with financial hardships and constraints on social interactions. If you are interested in getting involved in this or creating a similar community-based effort, contact Mendizábal at 202.246.5083 or email@example.com
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MHP is proud to be a member of the Mid-County Complete Count Census Committee, a group charged with guiding and assisting in outreach and education strategies to ensure everyone in Mid-County is counted. Each region of the county has its own committee.
The Mid-County committee will focus on undercounted census tracts in Wheaton and Aspen Hill. These communities are among the census tracts with highest predicted percentage of non-respondents in Montgomery County. Members of the committee include non-profits, county government representatives, business owners, neighborhood associations, faith-based groups and more.