With the threat of COVID-19 still hampering many businesses and causing hardship for residents across Frederick County, a local police union decided to step up to help.
Drawing from its fundraising and dues collected from members, the Fraternal Order of Police Francis Scott Key Lodge #91, which represents Frederick city police officers, handed out two $1,500 donations late last month to the Frederick Rescue Mission and the Downtown Frederick Partnership. While the union typically donates several times a year to local nonprofits and other causes, special consideration was taken in selecting the Rescue Mission and the partnership, both of which serve critical roles supporting businesses and individuals hit hardest by the pandemic, said Sgt. Charlie Snyder, the current lodge president.
At its virtual May meeting, the union realized organizations would be challenged to provide crucial services, Snyder said. So the union wanted to help.
“We just saw a need with the virus spreading and thought about how we could reach out and work with the community and eventually identified these two organizations,” Snyder said.
The Rescue Mission, a nonprofit that provides addiction and homelessness recovery services, has served meals most days from its headquarters on West South Street, as well as provided groceries to 600 people a week. That’s all while housing close to 40 men and women between its male recovery program and a separate shelter for women, said Arnold Farlow, the executive director of the nonprofit.
Farlow said he and others at the Rescue Mission support and acknowledge the voices calling for increased accountability and transparency for law enforcement agencies nationwide. But the Rescue Mission has also had overwhelmingly positive interactions with local police, who often respond to the mission to handle disturbances or just to check in on the staff and volunteers.
“The police come here quite a bit just to show their support to the mission so they’re always welcome and it’s an honor for us to receive this donation from them,” Farlow said.
As for the Downtown Frederick Partnership, the money donated by the FOP will go toward a new program aimed at helping local retail businesses adapt business practices during the pandemic, said Kara Norman, the partnership’s executive director.
Called the Small Business Resiliency Series, the program will provide a series of webinars, as well as advisers and other resources to teach local businesses about how to switch their operations to e-commerce, best practices for health and safety, and other topics, Norman said.
“I don’t think everybody in the community has realized how much businesses have had to pivot and change in a very short amount of time under the pandemic,” Norman said. “The idea behind the series was to provide the whole support system that a business would need … it’s not unlimited but it should be enough to get you going in the direction you want to go.”
Snyder said he and the rest of the FOP were proud to do their part in supporting both causes, saying he viewed the donations as part of the role of police officers in the community.
“This is really just an extension of what we do working our normal shifts as police officers; we work with and help people in the community, that’s what we do as police officers and that’s what we’re trying to do, here,” Snyder said.