The Washington Post

Capitol Heights nonprofit struggles to stay open

Once firmly in the grip of a drug habit, Denise Robinson of Landover credits Mission of Love Charities with rescuing her from her cocaine addiction and finding steady employment.

Today, the Capitol Heights nonprofit group is in danger of closing in June, and Robinson, an MOLC office manager and sober since 1996, prays it stays afloat.

The organization serves up to 12,000 residents per year with programs such as Basic Needs, which provides residents with free furniture and clothing, as well as substance abuse counseling. About 60 percent of those served are Prince George’s County residents, with others coming from the District, Montgomery County and Virginia.

The MOLC, which began in 1992, could have closed in April if it didn’t receive almost $300,000 to maintain operating expenses through the end of the fiscal year, June 30, said founder Douglas Edwards, a retired federal worker.

“I live on my own, but I still have bills I have to pay,” Robinson said. “When you get back into society, you start making things comfortable and affordable, but we still got to work to maintain.”

Since January, the nonprofit has received $100,000 in commitments, including ticket sales from it’s annual fundraiser, the Decatur “Bucky” Trotter Humanitarian Awards Gala. Trotter was a former state senator who died in 2004.

Edwards said he hopes to raise up to $150,000 from the fundraiser. The nonprofit also received $40,500 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program, money administered through the county Department of Housing and Urban Development, Edwards said.

“After June 30, I haven’t received any type of commitment from the county executive or the county council,” he said.

Although Edwards anticipates staying open through the end of June, he is depending on the success of the May 17 fundraiser to prevent laying off employees.

The organization received $125,000 from the county for fiscal 2012 from $1.4 million set aside for 45 county nonprofits. There was $7.3 million in requests for funding from nonprofits, said Thomas Himler, the county’s deputy chief administrative officer for budget, finance and administration.

Scott Peterson, a spokesman for Baker’s office, said the county government is out of fiscal 2012 community grant funding, but an exact system has not been finalized yet for fiscal 2013 nonprofit applications.

Robinson said there are many employees who went through personal battles like hers before they were able to get steady employment at the MOLC. She said to go on unemployment assistance would only net someone $600 per month, which she said is not a living wage.

“I pray that the staff doesn’t become homeless,” Robinson said. “We’ve got bills. Unemployment doesn’t pay for rent for one month.”

For information about the Mission of Love Charities, visit


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