Local business provides shelter and more to homeless in blizzard

White Plains, MD - Among the many heartwarming stories to come out of the blizzard of 2016, Exit Realty in White Plains was one business that stood up and made a difference.

The Charles County business opened its heart, performing minor miracles over the two-day snow event and beyond.

Through an association with The Arnold House and LifeStyles of Maryland Inc., along with long hours from volunteers and donors who contributed to pay for hotel expenses and an enormous array of food, water, clothes, sleeping bags, blankets and outdoor supplies, Exit Realty helped almost 30 of the county's homeless population find shelter from the storm.

There is something to be said for the humanitarian in all of us that emerges during a time of need. LifeStyles was challenged enough trying to get help those they knew about.

Executive Director Sandy Washington said Jan. 25 that she was worried about those the agency might not have known about. By standing up and taking the initiative, Exit Realty helped to turn a miserable situation into an outpouring of compassion.

“We started again early yesterday [Jan. 21] and worked until hours after the first snow hit,” Exit Realty’s Bernadette Cole explained. “As we were trying to move people around to accommodate our latest guest, I turned to see him sitting on the couch waiting patiently and offered him a cup of hot chocolate. 

"He thanked me profusely and was so incredibly grateful for the hot drink," she said. "I also offered him one of the food bags all of our EXIT family and community donated and helped prepare. I had to run out to a couple of the rooms with management. When I returned, he was eating one of the Cup of Noodles and remarked that this was the first hot meal he had in months. He was so happy and appreciative of a 30 cent meal.

“I had to hold back the tears at the reality of the situation,” Cole added. “I let him know his room was ready and that he would be sharing. He then said to me, ‘You could put me in a room with as many people as you want. I can even sleep on the floor. I’m just so thankful for all you are doing and that I have a place to stay.’ ”

Cole said that The Arnold House helped to pay for two nights worth of lodging.

LifeStyles helped with additional supplies and blankets and worked with the business to provide shelter to as many as they could find and place.

The volunteers are struggling to keep their effort going and is asking the community to help with donations of money and food through the blizzard's aftermath. The rooms they have provided the homeless run $45 a night.

“This storm is crippling for those of us who have a place to stay,” Cole said. “Imagine how it is for those who do not.”

To donate, go to the link at:

The group stresses that 100 percent of funds received will shelter, feed and clothe the homeless.

Contact Joseph Norris at

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