NETS Inc. looks to sup­port west­ern Charles res­i­dents

Or­ga­ni­za­tion ea­ger to serve west­ern Charles

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Tif­fIndyNews

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.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

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.

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