Friday Focus: Charles County Dive Rescue, Inc.

When disaster strikes on the water, Charles County Dive Rescue, Inc. (CCDR) is there to help by dispatching properly trained and equipped divers to assist in emergencies. The organization was founded in 1989, when medical advances in near-drowning resuscitation prompted a need for a specialized rescue team that could respond in those situations. Today, CCDR Company 13 is an independent emergency service agency that operates an in-house training program and maintains a fleet of dive and rescue boats and vehicles. We talked with Chief William “Skeeter” Porter for this week’s Friday Focus, who gave us an inside look into the organization.design4_01

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

A: CCDR is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that operates with other public safety agencies for emergencies around water and ice. Our mission is to serve the citizens of Charles County (as well as neighboring jurisdictions) by providing properly trained and equipped divers to assist in times of need. Further, we shall always strive to raise public conscience concerning safety around water and ice.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: It’s hard to pick a ‘favorite’ moment when your service is most needed at times when people may be experiencing a horrible tragedy. Suffice it to say, we are fortunate to have dedicated members who volunteer their time, knowledge and skills to help others in their time of need.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Many emergency operations on open water are difficult due to a lack of reliable information. Distance is very hard to estimate over water. Also, wind and currents create difficult contributing factors. Alcohol is often a contributing factor to accidents, which also makes obtaining accurate information about an incident difficult.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Our 26th Annual “Vampire Manor” fundraiser starts in October. The Manor is run by our team members and all profits go to support CCDR, the Bel Alton VFD and some of the local high schools who help provide the volunteer creatures. Check out the website at www.vampiremanor.com/ for more information.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: You can learn more about CCDR by visiting our website at www.ccdr.net.

Community Bank is proud to support Charles County Dive Rescue through our annual “Casual for a Cause” campaign. If you’d like to donate directly to CCDR, donations can be mailed to: Charles County Dive and Rescue, Inc. P.O. Box 13, Pomfret, MD 20675.

How to set (and stick to) a budget

How much do you spend? How much do you earn? If one equals the other, you’re in trouble. And, if you spend more than you earn, you’re in really big trouble.

The solution? Set a budget, and stick to it!

The goal? Live within your means, avoid falling off a cliff and into debt, and start saving https://www.cbtc.com/personal/savingsTypes.aspx?id=14 – for emergencies, special occasions, and for your future.

Easier said than done? No. All it takes is a little time, a little patience, and a little commitment. And, taking that first step.

Getting started
Check these 8 easy tips for creating a personal budget http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2013/10/18/8-steps-to-creating-a-personal-budget. Pay particular attention to Step #8: “Don’t set yourself up for failure. Making sacrifices is part of managing expenses, but if you set restrictions too high and too soon, you will be less likely to follow your budget over the long term.”

The first step to successful budgeting is knowing, and tracking, where your money goes. You can do it with pencil and paper, or consider one of the personal finance software programs http://www.forbes.com/sites/moneywisewomen/2012/01/03/budgeting-software-options/ such as Quicken or Mint.

Setting priorities
The second step is to set priorities. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson2/index4.htm Try to cut back your spending to about 90% of your income.

Stretching that dollar
If you think it’s impossible to save anything, or to save more than you’re saving now, you might be surprised that it is possible and, maybe, painless. Here are 10 tips for saving on a tight budget. http://americasaves.org/for-savers/make-a-plan-how-to-save-money/saving-on-a-tight-budget

And, if you simply can’t image how to spend less than you’re spending now, start thinking about new ways to reduce your monthly bills. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson2/index5.htm

Sticking to it
Don’t get discouraged. If Plan A doesn’t work, come up with a Plan B to focus on your finances http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/family/budget/stick-to-a-budget .
Budgeting will be easier once you find the path that works the best for you.

7 Ways to Keep Your Credit in Check

Keeping your credit in checkWhether you’re looking to obtain your first credit card, purchase a car, or even buy a second home, at one point or another in your life, you will need to borrow. To be able to borrow affordably you’ll also need a strong credit report. A credit report is the tool that lenders use to determine whether to grant you a loan and the interest rate to offer you. Continue reading

Young Adult Blog Series: Find Your Financial Co-Pilot

CoffeeWorkerIf you think of your financial life as one giant road trip with financial stability as the end destination, one of the first things you’ll need to do is find yourself a good co-pilot. Someone dependable, who will have your back if the going gets tough. Someone who understands you—how you operate, what your needs are—and someone you’ll enjoy having along for the ride!

In the context of finance, that co-pilot is your bank.
A good working relationship with a financial institution is part of a solid financial foundation, and it’s important to find the right one to work with. Depending on where you live, you’ll probably have several to choose from, so here are a few things to consider when selecting a bank:

• Location of branches and ATMs — While the days of traditional banking are giving way to online tools and mobile apps, it’s still good to find one that is conveniently located, in the event that you need to physically visit the branch. Also, consider their ATM locations in relation to where you live and work. Is there a branch ATM nearby? Many branches are also part of networks that don’t charge fees, so be sure to find out as you research different banks.

• Fairly priced products and services — Different banks will offer different accounts and services. Be sure to do a good comparison between banks you’re considering; take into account interest rates and fees associated with their various accounts.

• The overall “vibe” — Remember, you’re choosing a partner accompany you on your journey toward financial success. Interacting with your bank should be a positive experience, so be sure to find a bank that will take the time to understand your needs and genuinely wants your business. Trust your instincts—if you’re not getting the right feeling when you walk into a branch or speak to someone on the phone, find another institution.

When you walk into the branch, be prepared and know what you need, but also ask questions. Make sure you’re getting the products and services that are best for you. If you’re opening an account for the first time, you’ll need your Social Security number, identification and proof of residency. Consider signing up for some basic accounts and services: a checking account, savings account and ATM card are a good place to start. You could also consider enrolling in direct deposit to make it even easier to receive your paycheck.

Having all of these services under one roof and getting to know your personal banker can help keep your financial life simple, and can help down the road when you need other things like loans or mortgages.

 

Friday Focus: The Center for Life Enrichment

In 1963, the Center for Life Enrichment was founded in Leonardtown Maryland and has worked to positively impact the lives of people with intellectual disalogobilities in Southern Maryland ever since. The Center provides programs and services to help individuals increase independence, integrate into the workforce and have opportunities for social interaction. The Center is currently making the final preparations for its annual “Cash Bash” event this weekend, and Executive Director Randy Ferguson took time out of his busy schedule to chat with us for this week’s Friday Focus.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.).

A: The Center for Life Enrichment (TCLE) is a nonprofit organization that provides services to individuals with special needs in St. Mary’s, Calvert and Charles counties. The type of services that we provide are aligned with our mission statement: “to provide programs and support services that will increase the vocational and personal potential of individuals with disabilities”. We are currently providing support to nearly 250 individuals throughout the three counties. TCLE provides a variety of services, grouped according to an individual’s interest and needs: day supports, vocational training, community employment, in-home supports, transportation and community integration. To learn more about our organization, please visit our website at http://www.tcle.org.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: If you ask anyone who works in this field what their favorite moment would be, more than likely their response would be “Every day is special and the biggest reward is the smiles that we receive”. We have a number of individual success stories from individuals receiving their first job, their first paycheck, to individuals getting their own apartment. For TCLE, the favorite moments are all individualized.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: All nonprofit organizations will tell you that their biggest challenge is maintaining or raising money for their organization. The biggest challenge facing many nonprofits is to remain fiscally strong and sound and at the same time, be able to provide the necessary services needed by those we serve.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: We have a few events on our calendar. On May 17, TLCE will be holding our fourth annual Cash Bash at the Hollywood Fire House from noon to five, with tickets available at the door. We also have a golf tournament scheduled on September 26, 2014 at the Wicomico Golf Course.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: We have a number of ways individuals can become involved at the Center for Life Enrichment:
• We have a volunteer program where individuals can volunteer their time working directly with the participants or assisting us at fundraising events.
• We are always looking for the community’s support by accepting donations of clothes, toys, furniture and everyday knick-knacks that will support our four Vintage Values Thrift Stores.
• We have a boat and car donation program
• We are a United Way Recipient; our campaign number is #56384
• We accept monetary donations to support special projects

Individuals wishing to help or if they would like more information can contact us at 301-373-8100 or email us at contact@tcle.org.

Telecommuting: Is it good business for you?

There’s a popular trend that’s taking place in companies today; a growing number of employees are trading in their cubicles for their living rooms and working at home for at least part of the time. According to a report based on U.S. Census report statistics, 50 million U.S. employees hold jobs that can be conducted from home.

It’s easy to see why employees like working from home. They get to eliminate commuting time, save money on fuel and clothing, and gain valuable time in their personal lives. But what’s the impact for employers? Is allowing your employees to telecommute good or bad for your company? Here’s a look at the pros and cons:

The Pros

Increased employee productivity. Research has shown that employees who work at home are often more productive. When they are in the office, they have to stretch out work over an eight-hour day, whereas at home, they have an incentive to get their work done in less time. They also don’t have normal office distractions, such as socializing with co-workers and taking long lunches. Research has shown that employees who telecommute are also less likely to take sick days.

A valuable work/life employee benefit. One of the biggest benefits of telecommuting is that it reduces the time employees have to spend commuting to work, giving them more time in their personal lives. As a result, telecommuting can be a smart and cost-effective benefit for attracting and retaining employees, particularly those who have young children.

Cost savings. Telecommuting can impact your bottom line by allowing you to reduce expensive office space and other overhead costs, including office supplies and equipment.

Improved morale. Employees who have a work life balance are likely to be happier, and work harder to maintain their jobs.

 The Cons

Decreased personal interaction. The most successful companies are those that foster a spirit of collaboration and teamwork with employees. Having employees physically separated can limit their personal interaction.

Reduced control. When your employees aren’t physically present, it’s more difficult to monitor their work and progress. You can counter that by arranging to have in-person meetings from time to time and regular check-ins.

Security risk. At many companies, employees have access to critical and sensitive data. Providing remote access to this data on their home computers or allowing them to bring home confidential information can put the security of your information at risk.

Do your homework before allowing employees to work from home.

For more information on telecommuting, including helpful strategies, check out these articles from Monster.com http://hiring.monster.com/hr/hr-best-practices/workforce-management/employee-benefits-management/telecommuting-strategy.aspx and Mashable http://mashable.com/2014/01/27/employees-work-from-home-considerations/

Starting on the Road to Financial Security

CarAsk ten people what it means to be financially stable, and you’ll likely receive ten completely different answers. But whatever your personal definition of financial stability might be, the most important thing is making it a reality.

Reaching a point of financial security is a process that takes time, effort and yes, a little sacrificing. The results are worth it though, and starting early can give you a huge leg up down the line.  To get you started, here are 11 good financial habits that can help put you on the road to financial security.

1. Be organized. Keep your financial records together and figure out an organizational system that works best for you.

2. Use direct deposit for your paychecks. Direct deposit is a faster, safer way to have your paychecks delivered to you that a printed check. Plus, you can elect to have a portion of your check deposited into a savings account, which is a great way to ensure that you’re always saving!

3. Start saving for retirement. If your employer offers a retirement plan, contribute as much as you’re able. Remember that retirement savings deductions are taken pre-tax. If your employer doesn’t offer retirement options, consider starting an IRA for yourself.

4. Set up an automatic savings program. Commit to having a set amount of money transferred to your savings account each week, even if you can only save a small amount. Every dollar makes a difference!

5. Do a monthly budget. Take a good look at your income and monthly expenses. Write down the monthly expenses that you have: rent, student loan payments, bills, etc. Once those expenses are taken out, figure out how much you can afford to save, and how much you’re going to allow yourself for miscellaneous expenses. Discipline yourself to stay within your budget, especially when it comes to entertainment and leisure expenses.

6. Create a personal balance sheet. A balance sheet helps you calculate your net worth—the difference between your assets and your liabilities. It’s a good practice to update your balance sheet at least a few times a year so that you always have an accurate idea of where you are financially.

7. Use credit cards wisely. Credit card debt can add up quickly and can put you in a tough financial spot. While it’s tempting to be able to buy things today and not worrying about paying until tomorrow, remember that “tomorrow” will inevitably come and you’ll need to pay your balance. A good practice is to make sure that you can always pay your balance off in full each month, that way you’ll never get hit with high interest rates. If you think you’re likely to carry a balance month-to-month, be sure to shop for a card with a good interest rate.

8. Make credit card payments promptly and pay more than the minimum. If you find that you are carrying over a balance on a credit card, make every effort to pay more than the minimum—not doing so can lead to trouble for your credit score, and can increase your monthly payments in the long run.

9. Reconcile your checking account monthly. Keeping a close and careful record of your transactions will help you to ensure that you always have enough funds in your bank account and avoid overdraft fees.

10. Review all your bills and statements as soon as you receive them. You should make a point to look at your bills and statements as soon as they’re available to check for any discrepancies and see if any action is needed.

11. Get smart! Take every opportunity to boost your financial literacy—check out financial columns and blogs for the latest advice, and don’t hesitate to talk to your banker or financial advisor if you have questions.

 

 

 

Friday Focus: The Greenwell Foundation

Located alongside the Patuxent River, Greenwell State Park provides St. Mary’s County residents with year-round opportunities for recreation and leisure. While the land itself is managed by the state of Maryland, the programs offered by the park are coordinated and funded by the Greenwell Foundation, a nonprofit organization. This week’s Friday Focus interviewed Cara Fogarty, Director of Communications for the Foundation. Cara GreenwellFoundation_horse and barnspoke with us about the Foundation’s work and some upcoming events, and also shared her favorite story about how Greenwell’s summer camp program was able to touch a local family in a special way.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

A: The Greenwell Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to providing accessible and inclusive programs, services and facilities for all community members, with and without disabilities, in Southern Maryland. The Foundation operates in Greenwell State Park, a 600-acre property located along the lower Patuxent River in Hollywood, Maryland.

The Greenwell Foundation offers therapeutic and recreational horseback riding, summer camps, nature programs, veterans’ programs, accessible site rentals and regularly develops new programs—often in collaboration with area agencies and nonprofit organizations—to meet community needs. All programs are designed to be inclusive, allowing people with disabilities to fully participate. Additionally, the Foundation serves veterans, at-risk children and transitioning youth with disabilities.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: There are several, but one that sticks out in my mind comes from a family with three children. One of the children has Down syndrome. The mother discovered that he could attend Camp Greenwell alongside his two sisters. She didn’t have to put him in a “special” camp. She didn’t have to undergo an interview/intake process. She could simply sign him up as easily as she did her other two children. For the first time in his life, she said he was treated equally and given the same opportunities in the same environment as every other child. Our mission is to create this environment that allows all children to play and experience camp together.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: There are many challenges, but I would have to say that funding is perhaps the biggest. Many people think because we are in a state park that we are funded by the state of Maryland and that their tax dollars support us. In actuality, the Greenwell Foundation is a small, private foundation that relies on donations, memberships, program fees, grants and facility rental fees. We receive no funding from the state of Maryland. The state takes care of the park itself, but the Greenwell Foundation runs the programs. We have an excellent relationship with the Department of Natural Resources/Maryland Park Service, but we are on our own! A nine-member Board of Trustees and an executive director oversee the work of the Foundation. We maintain a very small permanent staff and add a seasonal staff. This is purposeful to help us maintain costs.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: We have a few events coming up this spring:

Every second Sunday of the month we have “Sundays in the Park” when we open the doors to Rosedale Manor from 1pm-4pm. People are welcome to browse through this historic building which was the summer home of John Philip Greenwell, the gentleman who donated his property to the state of Maryland. Our next “Sunday in the Park” day will be this Sunday, May 11.

On Saturday, June 7, we’ll be hosting our second annual 5K Fun Run & Dog Walk, held in conjunction with Dr. Tim Modic of Mechanicsville and Smiles for Life. People can run or walk the 5K, or they may bring their dog(s) for a nice trail walk with their best friend! This event also features raffles, kayak rides, soccer and other field games, water balloon archery, tie-dying shirts and pony rides. These are many of the same activities that take place at Camp Greenwell, so it’s the perfect opportunity to get a sneak peek at camp! The event is a benefit for the Greenwell Foundation’s Therapeutic Riding Program and Smiles for Life.

We also have our largest “event” of the year coming up—summer camp! Nine weekly sessions of Camp Greenwell and many specialty camps (Horse Camp, Fishing Camp, Kayak Fishing Camp, Nature Time Camp and Adventure Camp) begin June 16.

Visit http://greenwellfoundation.org/ for more information on any of these events and programs.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: We have an active and growing volunteer program. Volunteers are the heart and soul of Greenwell. Our volunteer coordinator helps people find the right fit, whether it is volunteering with the Therapeutic Riding Program, Vets Helping Vets, gardening, construction projects, etc. We also have a Camp Buddy program for 13-16 year olds who volunteer with our summer camps. It’s valuable experience for the young teens and a tremendous asset to our campers.