James Rada, Jr.

The Seton Center has been part of Northern Frederick County since 1969. Over those 53 years it has helped thousands of people, yet most people in the area don’t realize what the center does for the community.

“Most people think of the Seton Center as a store,” said Vickie Grinder, a Seton Center board member. “Some people still think of it as a day care center.”

However, the center offers a variety of services, such as financial assistance with rent, a GED program, dental care, and referrals to other programs.

“We’re here to help you because that’s part of what we do,” said Sister Martha Beaudoin, the Seton Center Director.

The staff and volunteers at the center have recently undertaken an effort to let the communities in Northern Frederick County know about the services available and that the center is much more than just a store. They have been speaking to groups and organizations throughout the area to find those people who are living at or below the poverty level and need help.

About half of the center’s clients come from Emmitsburg, while 45 percent are from Thurmont, and the remaining 5 percent come from other north county communities.

The largest need recently has been for housing. “We get a lot of requests for help with rent and housing,” Beaudoin said. “It’s hard to find anyone who will rent at a reasonable rate.”

Some of the center’s programs include:

•  Build Your Resources: Monthly resource workshops for anyone, regardless of income level.

•  Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World: A small-group program lasting 16-20 weeks to help people impacted by poverty to build their resources.

•  Staying Ahead Program: For Getting Ahead graduates to continue meeting monthly and building on what they learned.

•  DePaul Dental Program: Eligible clients can get reduced-cost dental care from area dentists and oral surgeons.

•  Holiday Helping Hands: The Seton Center helps about 250 families each year celebrate the holidays by providing gift cards to local grocery stores and helping the families plan their meals. The center also distributes toy and gift cards to children and teens.

•  Seton Center Family Store: Find gently used items at bargain prices and help support the Seton Center programs.

•  Workforce Development: A program to help match job seekers learn the skills needed to find and keep a job.

The center started a GED program in July that will run twice a week until the attendees take their GED test. They also offer COVID tests through the Frederick County Health Department.

Each year, the center helps hundreds of families through its programs; however, it wants to do more, which is why it has focused on outreach this year. Beyond the direct programs the center offers, the Seton Center can also make referrals to many other programs.

“We can’t apply for a person, but we can help,” Beaudoin said. “A lot of people don’t know they are eligible for certain programs.”

The center’s goal is to do more for the community than simply provide financial assistance and to do it for more people.

“We are trying to find those in need who don’t know the programs are there,” said Grinder.

For more information, visit the Seton Center’s website at setoncenter.org.

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