Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services (LARS)
LARS, more formally known as Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services, is a faith-based ministry dedicated to assisting persons and families who are in crisis. LARS helps provide the tools, resources, and skills needed to empower those persons it serves with confidence and a sense of competence, helping them to solve problems and become self-sufficient, returning stability to their lives. In other words, it helps folks get their lives back on track.
LARS was started by a group of local pastors and lay persons in 1987 as an effort to develop a consolidated approach to dealing with the number of folks who were coming to local churches seeking assistance. They believed that they could offer better aid as a group than any one of them could offer individually. Over the years, LARS has evolved to the point where it has its own office building, food pantry, and dedicated professional staff. LARS uses professional social workers, counselors, paid staff, social work students, and volunteers to provide services.
LARS serves clients in the City of Laurel, Prince George’s, Howard, and Anne Arundel Counties (ZIP Codes 20707, 20708, 20723, and 20724). The LARS office is located at 311 Laurel Avenue. Walk-in hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm. Appointments are available on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm and Monday evenings from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. LARS has been really busy lately, so appointments are strongly encouraged because staff members must see those with appointments before they see those without.
LARS provides emergency food, shelter, eviction prevention, utility assistance, prescriptions, transportation, and clothing for people in crisis based on the availability of funds or resources to do so. In addition to providing emergency assistance, LARS also provides transitional housing, life-skills and parenting workshops, and adolescent and children’s programs.
LARS does its best to convey to individuals or family in need that it provides “crises intervention” with the primary goal of helping families to become more self-sufficient. It does not want to be a “Band-Aid” for crises, but rather a bridge that helps individuals and families overcome barriers to self-sufficiency.
So what can we do to help? LARS relies on contributions from religious organizations in the Greater Laurel area, donations from individuals and businesses, and public and private grants to fund its services.
Listed below are some of the ways that you can help LARS throughout the year:
- Donate nonperishable food items or grocery gift certificates to the LARS food pantry.
- Donate “Connect A Ride” bus passes for transportation around the Laurel area.
- Participate in the “Help the Homeless Walk” held in September or October annually. LARS receives considerable matching funds for participation in the walk.
- Make a direct financial contribution through the United Way Combined Federal Campaign or Local Independent Charities (CFC #3907 for Central Maryland, CFC #8843 for the National Capital Region)
- Make a financial contribution or in-kind donation either directly or through First UMC.
- Volunteer to help in the office. Especially appreciated are folks who can answer the phones and take messages between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm Monday, Wednesday, or Friday.
- Help as a member of a Family Support Team (perhaps better known as the Adopt-a-Family program). The program matches families in need of structure and life management skills with support groups. LARS has four families that are in need of a team now.
LARS is a private, non-profit charity recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)3 organization and is also registered with the State of Maryland. Contributions to LARS are tax deductible.
If you have any questions or want to help in some way, please contact LARS directly at 301-776-0442 during their business hours on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday. LARS has a Web site located at www.laureladvocacy.org if you seek additional general information. If you have questions regarding First UMC and LARS, speak with Dave Meixner or Mike Woodruff.
Address: LARS, 311 Laurel Ave, Laurel, Maryland 20707