Plumbing failure at a Rockville shelter leaves group short funds -- Gazette.Net


Rainbow Place, an overnight emergency shelter in Rockville, is scrambling to secure money to pay for the meals and warm beds it provides to scores of homeless women each year.

A plumbing system failure during the recently ended five-month sheltering season blew a hole in Rainbow Place’s budget that remains to be plugged.

The expense came at a time when Rainbow Place provided bed and board to 105 women — up 50 percent over the 69 women the shelter served in the previous season and the most it has served in its 32-year history.

The cost of repairs to pipes and to the basement of Rockville Presbyterian Church, where the shelter operates rent-free, has totaled more than $20,000 already and is still being assessed, said shelter director Nancy J. Sushinsky.

Meanwhile the shelter sought, but was not awarded, a $24,000 community development block grant that it had received in each of the past three years, she said.

Faced with growing needs and fiscal uncertainties, Rainbow Shelter workers and volunteers are hoping to raise money through two events: a benefit golf tournament at RedGate Golf Course in Rockville on May 9 and a fashion show and traditional tea at Rockville Presbyterian Church’s Calvin Room on May 2.

Some new funding has come in, including a $5,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Montgomery County. Also, Rainbow Place workers hope the shelter will be one of the nonprofits that receive grants when the County Council makes its final budget decisions in the coming weeks. But Sushinsky estimated that the shelter still will need to fill a $15,000 to $20,000 gap in its roughly $257,000 budget.

In the next season, which runs from Nov. 1 through March 31, the number of women that Rainbow Place will serve “may hold steady at about 100, but [we] don’t think it will go back to the smaller number of the past, given the state of the economy,” Sushinsky said.

Because social service agencies and advocacy groups are trying to stabilize the lives of homeless people by moving them quickly to more permanent housing, not all the women who stayed at Rainbow Place were there for the entire season or even for a long time, Sushinsky said.

In addition to hot meals, a bag lunch and a safe place to sleep, Rainbow Place provides women with a shower and laundry facilities, some storage space, some transportation and help finding social services and treatment programs, if needed.

More information on Rainbow Place, including how to volunteer, donate or register for the upcoming events, is available on its website,, or by calling it at 301-762-1496.

Registration for the tea and fashion show is $35; $65 for two; or $240 for a table of eight.

Registration for the golf tournament is $125, or $400 per foursome, and includes a continental breakfast, golf cart, practice balls, awards lunch and gifts.