Haven Ministries – One Woman’s Journey from Homelessness

By Amelia Blades Steward

Linda Bartholomew, age 44, of Grasonville has been homeless since 2013. She has had a genetic disorder since birth that affects one in a million people, leaving her in constant daily pain. The pain went untreated and she became addicted to marijuana and opioids at a young age before developing a heroin addiction later in her life. The addiction ultimately caused her to lose her three children and her home.

After getting clean in 2019, Linda felt the time was right and reached out to Sandi Wiscott, Director of Operations and Case Management at Haven Ministries in Stevensville, to start case management. Through support from Haven Ministries, Linda has gotten her own apartment and created a stable life for herself.

“I had seen Sandi help others and decided to reach out to her in April 2020. I knew I couldn’t ask for help until I was clean. I was tired of living with that gorilla on my back,” Linda comments.

“Sandi helped me out tremendously – helping me find a place to live and getting the medical care I needed at Johns Hopkins. She is the only one in my life who ever went to bat for me.”

Linda’s trip to Johns Hopkins confirmed her rare genetic disorder, which had never been diagnosed. The diagnosis will play a part in helping her to qualify for disability. The disorder causes Linda’s bones to be malformed. She has grown five full sets of teeth in her lifetime, which have had to be pulled; was born without any collarbone; has constant nerve pain from bone deformities, and even at one point became temporarily blind due to high blood pressure.

“I knew she shouldn’t live like this. She stayed in the Haven Ministries Homeless Shelter during the pandemic and received assistance through its case management program. We are happy to say that when the shelter season ended on May 1, everyone left with a place to call home,” states Sandi.

“I was living on workboats at the Narrows – it was all I knew and I felt safe there. My grandfather was a waterman. The watermen at the Narrows, however, had a betting pool about when I would die because of my lifestyle,” Linda reflects.

Sandi adds that Linda is very proud and initially didn’t want to get help from any agency. Her ethics and moral code had always been important to her. She soon learned, however, that there were people who wanted to help her.

“She has a big heart and is always giving back to her own network of people,” Wescott adds.

“The world has enough people who are not nice and I don’t need to be one of them. Respect, honesty, and loyalty don’t cost anything. I don’t judge anyone as I haven’t walked in their shoes,” Linda states.

“I was living wrong for so long and it didn’t get me anywhere. And now that I am living right, I am getting somewhere. My friends are seeing my progress and even the workboat community sees what I have accomplished.”

For information on Haven Ministries, visit haven-ministries.org or call 410-739-4363

Love shapes the ministry, love transforms people, and hope prevails at Haven Ministries.  Haven Ministries operates a seasonal Homeless Shelter, a Resource Center and Food Pantry in Queenstown, Our Daily Thread Thrift Store in Stevensville, Hope Warehouse in Queenstown, and a Food Pantry Truck in Sudlersville.

Pictured left to right are Linda Bartholomew of Grasonville and Sandi Wiscott, Director of Operations and Case Management at Haven Ministries.