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, transportation, prescription medications, 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: 2019-2021

1. People/People Development

Reevaluate the composition of our Board of Directors and restructure as needed to attain optimal support for our mission through a wider range in experience, such as members with business and fundraising backgrounds.

  • Develop a strategic corporate partnership and seek delegates with diverse backgrounds to augment the board as at-large members
  • Engage and inform board members outside of the planned meeting cycle
  • Explore methods for client participation in program development
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

  • Maintain updated position descriptions through yearly review and edit
  • Ensure that all processes and procedures are documented
  • Develop and administer annual client surveys to yield outcome information and data that we can apply to enhance our programs and for grant outreach
  • Ensure regular reporting and recordkeeping from all leads (rationale: outside funding requires more transparency and reporting back to our funders; pantry operations must be sustainable; Montgomery County, Maryland, requires quantity of reports)
  • Mentor select new volunteers to develop them as possible candidates for leadership positions and to enhance their role versatility
  • Maintain role backup training across all key positions
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.

  • Continue to integrate information technology into all processes and programs
  • Leverage our detailed assessment of current voicemail system to select a vendor that can implement the changes needed for improvements and enhancements
  • Continue to collect client email addresses and document their use to disperse information that connects families with assistance in such areas as finance, health, food security, education, and employment.
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
  • Network consistently with leaders of other HELP organizations to strengthen our collective impact on the dialogue surrounding food insecurity and potentially identify new sources of support
  • Strengthen our relationship with the Manna food bank program as well as other key organizations providing the types of services Gaithersburg HELP provides
  • Leverage our participation in the various collaborative initiatives focusing on all dimensions of food security to ensure that Gaithersburg HELP is included in key decision-making processes and benefits through information transfer
  • Increase our participation in Nonprofit Montgomery to enhance our communications and collaboration with other social service organizations in our area
5. Cultural Competency

Enhance the cultural competency of our leadership, volunteers, and program operations.

  • Explore our policies, practices, and publications relative to the diverse race, ethnicity, and languages that characterize our community and clientele
  • Review our personnel, programs, and procedures with respect to the wishes of the LBGTQ community, including the use of terms that our clients feel comfortable using to describe themselves
  • Strive to make the composition of our decision-making bodies and service-delivery volunteers reflect the diversity of the clients we serve
  • Examine our program operations regarding the many and varied needs and wishes of our clients, including religious dietary requirements, cultural dietary preferences, and health restrictions and needs
  • Identify any physical and attitudinal barriers to participation by persons with disabilities to determine how best to ensure full access for our clients when applicable