HALO (Hope and Life Outreach Ministries) will celebrate their 2nd Annual Harvest for Hope Family Fest this Sunday, October 20, in an effort to celebrate fall while raising money for those in need. The event, to be held at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center from 4 to 7pm, is for all ages and will include games, dinner, entertainment and live and silent auctions.

HALO is a non-denominational, faith-based and Christ-centered ministry in Salisbury that provides services and programs for those in need. “We rely on the community for everything,” explained Executive Director Celeste Savage, adding that every aspect of HALO comes from community donations, from the meals that feed the homeless to the life skills programs offered daily. While some shelters and food banks rely on government funding, HALO is entirely donation-based. As a result, community donations through events such as Harvest for Hope are vital.

“The money that goes to the ministry, that money goes a long way,” said Savage. Area businesses have been extremely generous, added Savage, sponsoring the Harvest for Hope event and making donations for the auction. HALO also proudly announced that anonymous donors have offered to match up to $25,000 in funds raised from the event. HALO invites community members to join them in meeting the matching gift challenge.

HALO offers food, clothing, shelter, life skills and support to those in need, all while reinforcing the message of hope through Jesus Christ. The mission at HALO is simple; to see lives changed. HALO works with over 60 churches and businesses in the community to reach out to those in need, whether it is though providing shelter, clothing, food or support. Case workers and Salisbury University social work interns are available Monday through Friday to sit with guests in the Day Facility. Savage explained that “we connect them with agencies that will help them to better their life. Our goal is to provide educational guidance, so that is our philosophy; we want to provide a hand-up, not a continuous hand-out.” As such, there is no financial assistance offered at HALO; rather, guests find support, respite, and help to better their futures. “We teach them how to work as a team, we teach them about responsibilities, all wrapped in the message of hope,” said Savage.

In addition to providing support, HALO Ministries offers hope and comfort. The Emergency Shelter for Women and Children provides a bed, fresh linens, a shower, and more importantly, an escape from the dangers on the streets or from an abusive relationship. In addition to the overnight shelter, HALO also provides a Day Facility where individuals can feel safe and seek assistance. Case management, showers, restrooms, voicemail, mail services and a locked storage facility provide individuals with a sense of security. “The respite area allows the homeless a chance to come in and have a safe place to be,” said Savage.

Individuals can also apply for the Journey of Hope program, a six to 18 month program in which women live at the ministry while learning valuable life skills needed to get their lives back on track. “We take those individuals whose lives are spinning out of control and we bring them structure,” said Savage. Skills classes are offered, providing life lessons on everything from relationships to budgeting to cooking. Every member of the Journey for Hope program is also required to complete the GED classes if they do not already possess a high school diploma. The program is highly individualized, with each member given a life coach and a personalized life change action plan. “When these guys come in, they don’t see life – the big picture. We teach them how to see life,” said Savage.

While the shelter and Journey for Hope sections offer a safe place for those looking for assistance, there are also three dignitary rooms for homeless individuals with mental health issues and nowhere else to turn. “The homeless on the street are often dual diagnosed or have mental health issues, but have nowhere to go but the street,” explained Savage. “They can stay with us for as long as it takes for us to find them a safe place that they are comfortable with.”

HALO offers a number of classes and programs, including basic and advanced GED courses, nutrition classes provided by the health department, and classes in life skills from cooking to budgeting to parenting. “Those classes are open to any of the homeless guests that come through,” said Savage The ministry also houses a chapel area, with devotions held in the mornings and chapel services in the evenings.

The HALO Café is directly next door, feeding roughly 200 to 225 individuals a day. “We have about 290 volunteers that work in the kitchen,” said Savage, adding that in total, there are about 600 volunteers that assist HALO throughout the year. The café is strictly donations based and according to Savage, “the community has just been amazing with the donations they’ve given.” A tour of the food pantry revealed a stockpile of various food items donated by community members and businesses, as well as a small tilapia farm. The prototype is new to the HALO Café, and will provide fresh tilapia for the guests to enjoy. Savage explained that once perfected, HALO intends on sending the models to villages in Honduras, so that villagers can learn to farm their own fish. The café also has its own garden on site, providing fresh vegetables for lunches and dinner. Any leftover or extra vegetables from the garden are either donated to other organizations or frozen for the winter.

According to Savage, they are entering their busiest time of year at the shelter and the café. “By the time winter gets here we could have up to 140 people per night coming in for dinner.” Donations of all kind are welcomed, from gently used clothes, to food for the café, to furniture. Savage added that they also accept recyclables like scrap metal or damaged clothes. “If people bring them in we will recycle them to generate money that goes back to the ministry,” she said.

For more information on HALO or this weekends Hope for Harvest Festival, please visit: www.haloministry.org.