Diakonia was originally established by the Mennonite church in 1972. In 1984, it became a separate, 501(c)(3) non-denominational organization. Diakonia operates two buildings in West Ocean City, Maryland where it provides emergency and transitional housing, emergency food services and counseling and assistance for its guests.
Diakonia is more than just a shelter, however. Diakonia attempts to address the root causes of homelessness through a variety of programs and initiatives.
For those who are in danger of becoming homeless, for whatever reason, Diakonia offers counseling, guidance and assistance in accessing a wide variety of support programs and, where necessary and appropriate, financial assistance for certain housing-related costs.
For those who are homeless, Diakonia offers a roof over their heads and much more. Our trained and dedicated staff provides counseling and support in addressing the issues that contributed to homelessness in the first place. For those who are ready to leave Diakonia and move to permanent housing, Diakonia provides assistance in making the transition as well as continued support.
Diakonia also operates a food pantry which provides food assistance to hundreds of needy families every month. The food pantry program also helps Diakonia maintain contact with its ‘graduates’ and ensure that they continue to have access to the counseling and support they need.
None of this is cheap. The scope and complexity of issues confronting many of Diakonia’s guests requires intensive case management and support by Diakonia staff and connection with other support organizations.
To keep our doors open and our programs running, Diakonia receives support from individuals, local civic organizations, churches, foundations and the United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore. Diakonia also receives support from the state and local governments. While Diakonia is not a religious organization, we do work closely with the local faith community to coordinate benefits and ensure that benefits reach those in need.
We also work closely with the Worcester County Departments of Health and Social Services, as well as local and regional voluntary organizations to help provide necessary services to our guests.
The total overnight capacity of our two buildings is between 35 and 45 persons; the configuration varies depending on the number of families, men and women in residence. We plan to add more capacity in order to respond to current trends which reflect the need is greater than the available resources and we are currently unable to serve all in need.
We also operate a thrift shop where Diakonia volunteers merchandise and sell in-kind donations received that cannot be used in our operations. Proceeds from the thrift shop contribute substantially to our daily operations.