A quick view of the archives or history books will reveal that St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on Roland Avenue and the Hampden Community came into existence at roughly the same time around year 1860. Some would say that Hampden actually came into being in 1802 with a small group of homes built for Mill workers, which is true, but the Hampden Association was actually formed years later around 1860 with the purchase of 450 acres of land from General Henry Mankin. Reportedly this tract of land or “the village” was named Hampden by General Mankin in honor of John Hampden, a Gentleman of Buchinghamshire and a patriotic Englishman who had opposed the levy of taxes on the Colonies.
St. Mary’s Church, Hampden
Over the years St. Mary’s Church and Hampden have grown and aided each other. They experienced several business depressions and recessions, urban expansion, a dramatic change in lifestyles and a commitment to Christian ideas and allegiance, especially by younger adults. St. Mary’s like all other religious institutions in the community began to experience a decline in Church activities in the early 1960s.
Housing for Seniors
To plan for the future, in 1960 St. Mary’s began to reflect society’s growing concern for the disadvantaged. In 1964, St. Mary’s responded to the need for affordable housing for the elderly. The rectory was razed and a Church sponsored, HUD subsidized apartment building, Roland View Towers, was constructed in its place. In 1967, Roland Towers East was constructed across the street. These two structures have, over the years, provided an affordable housing option for older adults.
In December of 1999, after years of struggling with declining membership and supporters, St. Mary’s Church of Roland Avenue, finally had to close its doors. The Diocese of Maryland in concert with St. David’s Church of Roland Park and the Hampden community announced in 2002 that the property would be used as an Outreach Center for the ministry and service to the Hampden Community. The name of this facility is the St. Mary’s Outreach Center (SMOC) and over the years, SMOC has become an independent 501(c)(3) organization and a mainstay in the greater Hampden community.
A Resource Center for the Community
During the past year, SMOC recorded 5,866 service units, serving over 680 clients. SMOC helped lower income clients claim over $516,700 in entitlement and emergency benefits. Among the many programs that make up our ‘service units’ are: Maryland Energy Assistance; Fuel Fund of Maryland; Medicare Assistance; Housing/Clothing/Food assistance; Transportation assistance; Medical help; Legal referrals; Renters/Homeowners Tax Credits; 30% discount on Water Bills; Educational Health Programs; and social and recreational Programs, such as Senior Luncheons, Cookouts, Ice Cream Socials, and Health Fairs, to name a few.
These programs are designed to help the seniors remain in their homes and community and continue to live independent lives. We have become a trusted presence in the greater Hampden area, and the seniors feel comfortable coming to our office, knowing they will receive confidential assistance from people who care about them.