Betty, as her friends called her, started FISH of Laurel, Inc. to help low-income Laurel residents. She opened a food pantry in the basement of her home. With the aid of area volunteers and a telephone Help Line, in addition to food from the food pantry, the group offered emergency financial aid and transportation.
Twelve years later, the generous donation of "Elizabeth House" made it possible for FISH of Laurel to open a soup kitchen that feeds a hot evening meal to area folks in need, seven days each week. Bag lunches are offered at the end of the meal so folks will have some food for the next day. Can one person make a difference in their community? We think so!
1976:Elizabeth "Betty" Colnaghi and Laurel-area volunteers incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
1988: A 1950s home was donated to FISH of Laurel and in 1990 it was dedicated as "Elizabeth House" in honor of 20-year veteran Elizabeth Colnaghi. The kitchen was upgraded and a soup kitchen was opened to serve the area homeless and those in need.
1988: A link to PayPal was added to the old website, making online donations possible for the first time.
2013: This website was created to give visitors easier access to information, services, and donation and volunteer opportunities.
Elizabeth "Betty" Colnaghi
More than 300 people volunteer for us each year and they make a BIG difference in the lives of Laurel area residents. Find out how you can help.
Helping to feed the homeless and working poor in the Laurel, Maryland area.
Thanksgiving and Christmas - holiday food baskets to folks in need. Summer - food drives are appreciated. Christmas in July and Christmas Bags - seasonal items for the homeless.
Seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, the volunteers in the Elizabeth House kitchen prepare and serve a hot meal to anyone in need. Meal preparation crews of 2–4 people prepare a meal and make bag lunches. Serving crews of 3–4 people serve the clients and clean up the kitchen, bathroom, and dining areas at the end of the evening.
About 45 people arrive for dinner every evening around 6:00 PM and most will pick up a bag lunch on their way out. Doors open at 6:00 PM and close at 7:30 PM.
Sometimes a generous donor will have previously dropped off travel-size toiletries that the volunteers offer to the clients. Two times a year, volunteers and donors give each dinner client a tote bag that's filled with seasonal toiletries, clothing, snacks, and other personal items.
Do you have a question about what we do? Want a speaker for your organization? Would you like to schedule a food drive or volunteer?
Because email requests can be routed more quickly and accurately to the correct contact person than voicemail, we prefer that you contact us via email instead of via telephone. Either click on the email link above or click Send A Message.
Laurel residents—If you need groceries, please text or leave a message on our Help Line operator. Our Client Services Coordinator will screen your request and, if you qualify, will schedule a day and time for you to receive your groceries. The coordinator will also explain the check-in process.
If you need financial assistance for utilities or medications, please call us. Our Help Line is available 24/7 or you can send an email to: