Our History

Gaithersburg HELP evolved from a vision that started in 1968. The faith community of Gaithersburg recognized that emergencies can happen on a moment’s notice, yet government assistance often takes time. To meet the immediate needs of families affected by financial challenges, local churches and synagogues joined together to form Gaithersburg HELP in an effort to provide short-term assistance in a coordinated fashion.

Today, our network comprises more than 22 member congregations and over 200 volunteers working together to help those in need within the greater Gaithersburg area. We also receive substantial support from local businesses and civic organizations. A team of committed translators help us serve our diverse community, especially Spanish-speaking clients.

Gaithersburg HELP is governed by the leadership of a Board of Directors. The Board is comprised of an Executive Committee and delegates from each of our member congregations; bi-monthly meetings are open to the public.

For 50 years, Gaithersburg HELP has supported local residents in need by providing food, transportation, and other services. Here’s a snapshot of how we made a difference.

In 2016, Gaithersburg HELP provided assistance for more than 6,000 situations:

  • 3,569 food packages, each containing a 3-5 day food supply
  • 1,282 diaper/formula packages
  • 869 rides to medical and social services appointments
  • 332 essential prescription medications funded

Our Vision

As a vital neighbor-helping-neighbor link in a countywide network of providers, Gaithersburg HELP strives to assist clients with food and other basic needs.

Our Mission

Gaithersburg HELP provides individuals and families in the Gaithersburg area with basic needs assistance, to the extent resources are available, and provides them with information and/or a referral to other organizations and agencies. We accomplish this mission through the hard work of our volunteers and the generosity of our donors.

Strategic Plan: 2016-2018

1. People/People Development

Reevaluate the composition of our Board of Directors and restructure as needed to attain optimal support for our mission through more diversity in experience and background, such as members with business and fundraising experience.

  • Develop strategic corporate partnerships and seek delegates with business and fundraising experience to augment the board as at-large members
  • Find ways to motivate delegates, including more effective communication with them
  • Consider client participation
2. Processes/Programs

Reassess and restructure our processes and programs to allow participation of volunteers with varying work schedules and to create a spirit of innovation across the volunteer corps

  • Complete position descriptions
  • Ensure that all processes and procedures are documented
  • Develop and administer client surveys to yield outcome information and data that we can apply to enhance our programs
  • Ensure regular reporting from all leads (rationale: outside funding requires more transparency back to our funders; pantry operations must be sustainable; the County requires quantity of reports)
  • Improve the assimilation of new volunteers
  • Implement role backup training across all key positions
  • Review and revise current processes to see if efficiencies could be gained and flexibility built in to encourage volunteer participation
  • Revise online application to get targeted information about prospective volunteer’s background and experience
3. Technology/Technology Implementation

Perform a critical review of our technology base to diagnose weaknesses and to tap into technological advancements and improvements in software, focusing first on the client database, but including scheduling and collaboration and communication within and outside of the organization.

  • Establish an IT budget
  • Integrate information technology into all processes and programs
  • Assess current voicemail system to determine technology changes needed for improvements and enhancements
  • Collect client email addresses so that data is available as input to process and program improvements
  • Actively recruit for a volunteer who can serve as Director, IT
4. Environment/External Relationships

Engage in outreach efforts that will benefit Gaithersburg HELP in such areas as identifying new funding sources, collaborating in food recovery initiatives, and improving delivery of services to clients.

  • Strengthen our fundraising program
  • Strengthen our relationship with Manna as well as other key organizations providing the types of services Gaithersburg HELP provides
  • Investigate capabilities of other organizations providing transportation services to gain process efficiencies and lower costs
  • Expand our participation in the various collaborative initiatives focusing on all dimensions of food security