NETS Inc. looks to support western Charles residents
Organization eager to serve western Charles
A local Christian organization has become a safety net for the working poor and homeless in the western part of Charles County still in need of resources.
NETS Inc., or Neighbors Eager To Serve, is on a mission to identify and respond to the needs of the hundreds of people in that particular region who have nowhere else to turn.
“Look at what’s happening to the western part of Charles County — people are suffering now,” said Corrine Pearson, chair of NETS Inc. “It is imperative that we provide affordable, accessible services to those in the area.”
“I would like to see the area begin to thrive again,” said Linda Hilwig, vice chair of NETS Inc. “Having grown up in this area, I remember it was a thriving community where people interacted. But now there’s no bank or grocery store. This has become the underprivileged side of the county.”
Pearson said God placed it on her heart to create NETS in 2000 and she successfully had it up and running in 2001, exclusively for charitable and educational purposes. The NETS office, located in Bryans Road, officially opened in July 2005 and continues to provide primary assistance to clients in need of food, water, fuel oil, electricity, gas, rent, shelter and more.
NETS is made up of 15 volunteers from different walks of life, each sharing the same passion to love and help others, they said. The organization sponsors many programs geared toward assisting the homeless and working poor of Western Charles County including Easter food baskets and a backpack ministry, plus participation in the Safe Nights Program with LifeStyles Inc.
NETS also delivers meals for the Meals On Wheels program in Charles County, volunteering its time during Christmas in April Day and cooking dinner for the homeless at local churches.
“Unfortunately, we do not receive any government funding or grants since our focus is to assist the western side of Charles County,” Hilwig said.
“We restrict our giving to residents of western Charles County because we are the forgotten people of the county,” said Connie Sanders, secretary of NETS Inc. “We would love to do more to help the community, but we need more donations and funding in order to do so.”
Hilwig said since NETS’ inception, local families have benefited from more than $200,000 in donations solely from individuals and local churches. Also, 4,344 holiday food baskets (specifically around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays) have been provided to 19,398 family members, of which 10,602 were children.
Many of the active members of NETS are originally from the western side of Charles County and have witnessed firsthand how the organization benefits the area.
“I grew up on this side of the county and when I retired, I figured it was time to give back and help out the people where I grew up,” said Jean Simmons, advisory board member of NETS. “Over time I could see the decline in the Indian Head and Bryans Road community. But this organization has done wonderful things to help people and I know they appreciate it very much.”
Christine Braswell, an active member of NETS, said she has enjoyed volunteering with the organization for the last three years. She loves the fact that she can lend a helping hand at NETS’ thrift shop.
“I enjoy the customers and it gives me joy to be giving back to people who are forgotten and in need,” Braswell said.
NETS is in need of additional volunteers who are eager to serve. Pearson and Hilwig said there is a lot of work to be done in the community but if there are more helping hands involved, they can all accomplish so much more together.
The NETS office is open every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 9 a.m. to noon to schedule appointments and meet with individuals. For more information about NETS, call Connie Sanders at 301-375-8576.
Linda Hilwig, vice chairwoman of NETS Inc., at the NETS office in Bryans Road.
Connie Sanders, secretary of NETS Inc., works at the NETS office in Bryans Road.