Friday Focus: Golden Retriever Rescue of Southern Maryland

When circumstances force a dog owner to give up his or her canine companion, the Friday Focus-Golden Retriever Rescue of Southern Maryland Golden Retriever Rescue of Southern Maryland is there to help find a new, loving home for the dog. The Rescue takes in around 50 dogs each year, depending on caring foster families to provide temporary homes for them until they can be adopted. We spoke with Pat Johnson, Founder and President of this St. Mary’s County-based 501(c)(3) organization for this week’s Friday Focus interview.

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

A: Golden Retriever Rescue is a local organization that takes in golden retrievers at Tri County Animal Shelter or from owners who can no longer take care of their dog due to relocation, illness, death, lack of time or resources.

In addition, we are a resource to local dog owners providing information about nutrition, behavior, health, training, etc. via our website, blog, Facebook page, newsletter and at local events.

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

A: My favorite moment is when we were contacted by a local vet who was concerned about a litter of golden retriever puppies who had been exposed to the deadly parvo virus. The owner could not afford the treatment for the puppies, and some had died.

We did not hesitate to bring the puppies into rescue where they were quarantined and treated at the vet’s office. A temporary or “foster” family then cared for each puppy until a “fur-ever”, or adoptive family was carefully screened. Pups were all placed with loving families and are all healthy and happy now.

We are a small rescue and most of our goldens are adopted locally, so we were able to watch the pups grow and become beautiful adult goldens.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Golden Retrievers are an expensive breed to own. They have been referred to as “lovable lemons”, as over 60% die of cancer. They also have a tendency towards orthopedic problems and allergies.

Golden Retrievers often come to rescue with expensive medical problems that the rescue pays to treat, so fundraising is a big effort.

We also often need loving, temporary homes for golden retrievers until they are adopted.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: We are hosting a lecture/discussion/potluck this Saturday at the Charlotte Hall Library from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. The topic is “Helping your Fearful Dog”. Admission is free for members; $5 for non members.

Our annual meeting in on Saturday, February 28th at the Charlotte Hall Library from 1130 to 1 pm. RVSP is necessary to

We also have activities such as dog park meet ups, beach blast and hikes where you can bring your dog.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization? 

A: For more information about joining Golden Retriever Rescue of Southern Maryland call 855-477-3728 or Annual membership is $30 per family.

Home Makeover: Indoor Edition

Winter may have you spending more time in your home, but that doesn’t mean your Construction Couplehome improvements have to stay dormant. There are still plenty of things you can do inside your home to improve its appearance, keep you busy, and most importantly, beat those winter doldrums. Best of all, you don’t have to spend a fortune in the process.

Here’s a quick list:

Rearrange furniture. One of the most affordable and easiest ways to give your home a new look is to rearrange the furniture. You can rearrange furniture in a single room or shuffle pieces from other rooms in your house. You’ll be surprised at how moving a few pieces of furniture can change the entire feel of a room.

Awaken tired walls. Nothing makes a room look newer than a fresh coat of paint. Painting a room in a brighter color is a great way to brighten up the dark days of winter. Also, consider painting your trim around doorways to freshen the look of your house.

Re-fixture your cabinets. Tired of looking at the same-old kitchen cabinets? Give them a fresh look by changing the handles and fixtures. The right fixtures can make all the difference and will save you the high cost of having to replace your cabinets.

Re-grout tile. Do you have tile in your bathroom or kitchen that looks old and worn? Over time, grout between your tiles can get dirty. For a fresh new look, re-grout your tile with a new color. It’s time consuming work, but inexpensive. Another way to give your bathroom a refresh is to replace worn faucets and fixtures.

Clean your garage. Looking to get more space in your garage? Winter is a great time to get organized, and give yourself more space to work or store items.

Light up your home. See your home in a different light. Literally. Consider purchasing new lamps and lighting fixtures to give your home a brighter, new appearance.

These simple projects are great ways to spruce up your home. After all, if you’re going to spend your winter indoors, you may as well be surrounded by beautiful scenery.

If bigger improvements are in store for your home, Community Bank can help with a loans and lines of credit. Stop in and see us today!

4 Simple Steps to Stop a Cyber Thief

In recognition of National Data Privacy Day on January 28, Communiidentity_Theft_Laptopty Bank of the Chesapeake reminds you to take an active role in protecting your data.

To help ensure the safety of personal information, try following these four tips:

1. Create c0mplic@t3d passwords. Avoid birthdays, pet names and simple passwords like 12345. It is also important to change passwords at least three times a year. Because friendly theft–theft by someone the victim knows–is the most common type of identity theft or fraud. Don’t share your passwords with family members and be mindful of who has access to your personal information.

2. Keep tabs on your accounts. Check account activity and online statements often, instead of waiting for the monthly statement. You are the first line of defense because you know right away if a transaction is fraudulent. If you notice unusual or unauthorized activity, notify your bank right away. When a customer reports an unauthorized transaction in a timely manner, the bank will cover the loss and can take additional measures to protect the account.

3. Stay alert online. Be sure computers and mobile devices are equipped with up-to-date anti-virus and malware protection. Never give out your personal financial information in response to an unsolicited email, no matter how official it may seem. Your bank will never contact you by email asking for your password, PIN or account information. Only open links and attachments from trusted sources. When submitting financial information on a website, look for the padlock or key icon at the top or bottom of your browser, and make sure the Internet address begins with “https.” This signals that your information is secure during transmission.

4. Mobilize your defenses. Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen. Use caution when downloading apps, as they may contain malware and avoid opening links and attachments–especially from senders you don’t know.

Data breaches can happen anytime, anywhere and can affect anyone. At Community Bank, we can help you gain the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you’ll have an expert on your side if your identity is stolen. Learn more about how our ID Restoration Services can help you in the event your identity is compromised or stop by one of our convenient branch locations for details.

Talking to Your Child About Money

Money can be a difficult—and in some cases, almost taboo—topic to discuss wHappy familyith your children, but as a parent, it’s important that you help your children and teenagers develop good financial habits that they can carry with them into adult life.

Here are a few ideas to help get your children thinking about smart saving and spending habits:

Young children

It is never too early to start helping your child develop a healthy respect for money and to help them develop some good financial habits. The practice of using an allowance can be worthwhile if it does the right things.  To teach your youngsters the basics, try the following:

  • Set a weekly allowance to match the age of the child – a five year old gets $5.00.
  • Tie the allowance to some required chores, like setting the table for dinner or keeping their bedroom clean.
  • Divide the allowance into three spending categories: 1/3 for immediate spending, 1/3 saved for some specific near-term purchase (like a small new toy) and 1/3 for a longer-term goal (like a major new toy).


This is often the most difficult time for children to deal with financial issues.  Peer pressure, a desire to have what friends have and the growing realization that they cannot have everything they want and do everything they want can add tension to any conversation about finances.  It is also the time when children can start understanding more involved financial issues and when financial habits are formed.

The allowance approach gets more complicated for teenagers, as the costs of items they want goes up and they are doing more things that cost money.  Now could be the time to discuss how a job could help them afford the things they want.  After-school and summer jobs are an ideal way for children to learn that money is earned, and not something that mom or dad will always provide.  A job can also teach children about responsibility since their employer will be relying on them to be present and punctual.  If an outside job is not possible, consider paying them an hourly rate for more chores and insist they treat it as a job.

Helping your child establish a checking account, or even prepare his or her own tax return will go a long way to helping them understand that money is a serious matter and that someday they responsible for their own financial decisions.  If your child gets a checking account, be sure you teach them how it works and that they must reconcile their account every month.

Keep the conversation going

Be open to discussing finances with your children.  Children are naturally curious about what they see their parents doing and you can turn that curiosity into teaching opportunities.  The conversations must certainly be age appropriate, but when your child sees you writing checks, it’s an ideal time to start talking about the importance of paying bills and balancing your budget.  A question about what it means when the TV news tells what the stock market did can lead to a more serious discussion about money and long-term financial goals.  And a discussion about choosing a college can be an eye-opening experience when your child learns what it costs.

Take advantage of these opportunities and by the time your child is ready to leave home, they will have a foundation to better prepare themselves for their financial future.

Start your children on the path to financial success. When you open a Kids’ Club account for your child at Community Bank, they’ll become a member of our Green Team. As a Green Team member, they’ll receive quarterly newsletters packed with fun activities to encourage healthy financial habits, and they’ll earn rewards for saving money! Stop in to your local branch for more information!

Don’t Be a Victim — Protect Your Mobile Phone From Cybercrime

Secure MobileMobile banking can be as safe as (and even more convenient than) banking from your home computer, as long as you take the same precautions. Imagine the following scenario:

You receive a text message or an automated phone call on your cell phone saying there’s a problem with your bank account. You’re given a phone number to call or a website to log onto and asked to provide personal identifiable information like a bank account number, PIN, or credit card number to fix the problem.

While the message may seem legitimate, beware: It could be a smishing or vishingscam, and criminals on the other end of the phone or website could be attempting to collect your personal information in order to help themselves to your money. While most cyber scams target your computer, smishing and vishing scams target your mobile phone, and they’re becoming a growing threat as a growing number of Americans own mobile phones and enjoy the convenience of mobile banking.

“Smishing” (a combination of ‘SMS texting’ and ‘phishing’) and “vishing” (‘voice’ and ‘phishing’) are two of the scams the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is warning consumers about as mobile banking becomes more popular. These scams are also a reminder that cyber-crimes aren’t just for computers anymore.

Here’s how smishing and vishing scams work:

Criminals set up an automated dialing system to text or call people in a particular region or area code (or sometimes they use stolen customer phone numbers from banks or credit unions). The victims receive messages like: “There’s a problem with your account,” or “Your ATM card needs to be reactivated,” and are directed to a phone number or website asking for personal information. Armed with that information, criminals can steal from victims’ bank accounts, charge purchases on their charge cards, create a phony ATM card, etc.

Sometimes, if a victim logs onto one of the phony websites with a smartphone, they could also end up downloading malicious software that could give criminals access to anything on the phone. With the growth of mobile banking and the ability to conduct financial transactions online, smishing and vishing attacks may become even more attractive and lucrative for cyber criminals.

Tips to Protect Yourself From Cyber Scams:

  • Don’t respond to text messages or automated voice messages from unknown or blocked numbers on your mobile phone.
  • Treat your mobile phone like you would your computer; don’t download anything unless you trust the source.
  • When shopping online, use a legitimate payment service and always use a credit card because charges can be disputed if you don’t receive what you ordered or find unauthorized charges on your card.
  • Check each seller’s rating and feedback along with the dates the feedback was posted. Be wary of a seller with a 100 percent positive feedback score, with a low number of feedback postings, or with all feedback posted around the same date.
  • Don’t respond to unsolicited e-mails (or texts or phone calls, for that matter) requesting personal information, and never click on links or attachments contained within unsolicited e-mails. If you want to go to a merchant’s website, type their URL directly into your browser’s address bar.

The Importance of Budgeting

So you’re all grown up and earning a steady paycheck—hooray!CoffeeWorker

Now it’s time to consider how you’re spending it.

If you’re trying to lead a better, smarter financial lifestyle, it’s important to understand how you’re using the money that you have. Having a budget for yourself is a simple way to help better manage your income. Tracking your income and expenses each month can shed light on bad spending habits and make you more accountable for where your money goes each month.

You can start a budget using old fashioned pen and paper, or if you’re more technologically inclined, Excel or Microsoft Money can be a good way to go. For smart phone users, there are many apps available like BUDGT or Mint that can help you keep track of your income and expenses from your smart phone.

As you start creating your budget, think about how much control you have over your expenses. Things like rent, taxes and insurance are probably pretty well set. Other expenses, like food, entertainment and gifts are more controllable. Just by thinking about these items, you may be able to find ways to spend less and save more. If nothing else, you can make judgments about which expenses are most important to you.

Generally speaking, a personal budget will enable you to understand where your money comes from and where it goes. With that understanding, you will be in a better position to make informed financial decisions, to monitor your spending and to potentially identify ways to spend less on some items so you have more to spend on more important things or to save.

Creating and maintaining a budget takes commitment, and sticking to your budget takes self-discipline. But remember that there are many different apps and programs available to help with budgeting so that wherever you go, you can take your good financial sense with you!

Ready to get started? Check out this article from Investopedia for more tips on getting started!

Friday Focus: St. Mary’s Arts Council

The St. Mary’s Arts Council plays a pivotal role in bringing the arts and culture to the smac2013local community. This week, we caught up the Art’s Councils Director of Outreach, Nell Elder, who spoke with us about the Arts Council’s work, some of great partnerships the Arts Council has forged with other community organizations and what you can do to help support the arts!

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

A: The St. Mary’s County Arts Council is dedicated to investing in the arts and increasing the awareness of the value of the arts and how the arts can enhance the quality of our community and our individual lives. We provide ladership to arts organizations and artists, encourage new creative endeavors in St. Mary’s County and invest in the cultural treasures specific to our County.

The majority of our funding comes from the Maryland State Arts Council, which we distribute in the form of grants to nonprofit arts organizations. Last year, we awarded over $20,000 of grants to nonprofit organizations in our community. The Arts Council board is dedicated to raising more money, specifically for arts education in the county. We are organizing and hosting a variety of art-related fundraisers throughout the year, and promoting individual and corporate donations.

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

A:  We have recently partnered with the St. Mary’s County Library to manage the Lexington Park Library Gallery. The gallery was started by Candy Cummings, a local artist who had the vision to have a Community Gallery in the Library. She made it happen and has continued to run it for the past 10 years. Candy lost her long battle with cancer in November and her wishes were that the Arts Council take over the management of the Gallery.

Last year, we partnered with The House of Dance and hosted the Cha-Cha-Ching Dance Event. This event spoke to the diversity of the arts in St. Mary’s County and to the diversity of the people who are interested in the arts. We raised more money for arts education and we increased awareness of the importance of the arts to quality of life.

Additionally, we recently partnered with Community Bank of the Chesapeake to showcase the work of local artists to the public. The Bank was recently remolded to accommodate a quarterly art exhibit and is now one of the venues where local residents can have access to original visual art.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Increasing public awareness that the arts are of vital importance to any growing, vibrant community is our number one priority. When we have any kind of budget cuts, the arts are the first to go. We need to change our thinking. Art is not just something you hang on the wall, but an essential part to our lives. People are looking for places to live, work, and visit where quality of life and access to the arts are an important thread in the fabric of any county.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A:  We have a reception for Candy Cummings’ work at the Lexington Park Library Gallery on January 29 from 5-7 p.m. A plaque honoring Candy created by local artists Mary Ida Rolape and Dhyana Mackenzie will be unveiled at the reception, and will hang permanently in the Gallery.

Additionally, On January 31 The Arts Council is sponsoring Guitar Fest at the Three Notch Theater:

21744 South Coral Dr. Lexington Park, MD.

Afternoon 2- 5 PM  Guitar Workshop

Evening 7-11 PM  Guitar Fest

Featuring:  Rob Levit, Hammett Ups, Dave Mileto, Brandon Aksteter, and many more. An Art Exhibit by Color and Light Society of Southern Maryland will also be featured.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: Every resident of St. Mary’s County should be a part of the arts council by going to our website: and signing up for our email newsletter

You will receive our monthly newsletter that highlights all of the arts related events in our county. Events include music and art classes for adults and children, exhibitions, music performances, theater events, historic tours, poetry events, wine tasting events and more. There are also volunteer opportunities like helping with our Annual Gala, Artwalk in Leonardtown, Lexington Park Library Gallery just to name a few.

Every resident should donate to the Arts council by going to our website

Why? Because every dollar you give goes directly to local arts organizations, local artists, and opportunities for more arts education for our children.

Every artist should join our Artists Registry by going to our website

Why? Because by doing so, we will connect you to the local arts community and increase your visibility as an artist. We also recommend that you join the MD State Arts Council so that you know of State opportunities in the arts.

Community Bank is proud to partner with the St. Mary’s Arts Council to showcase local artists. Stop into our Charlotte Hall branch and see original works from many talented artists!

Resolution Series: Get Out of Debt

Whether it’s a student loan, a car loan or a credit card, most people have some sort of Young couple calculating their domestic billsdebt hanging over their heads that they’d like to pay off. Take a moment and think about the debt you have. Maybe it’s a home loan or medical expenses. Maybe it’s debt you’ve carried through the holidays that you now need to start paying back. Whatever debt you have, make the resolution this year to tackle it head on! Here are some tips to help you manage your finances and pay off your outstanding debts:

  1. Know what you owe. Listing all of your debts out (along with associated interest rates) will help give you a better understanding of exactly how much money you owe, and might also shed a little light on how you got into debt in the first place. It will also help you prioritize your repayment plan of attack.
  2. Stop spending. If your credit card spending is out of control, stop using your cards immediately. Put together a monthly budget for yourself that will allow you to pay your bills without depending on credit.
  3. Stick to a budget. Budgeting is key to paying off your debt in a timely manner. Planning out your monthly expenses, trimming unnecessary costs wherever possible and holding yourself accountable for making your payments will allow you stay on track and eliminate that debt as quickly as possible.
  4. Attack high-interest debt first. Rank your debts in order from the highest to lowest interest rate. Concentrate on paying down your high-interest debt as quickly as possible; you will save money in the long run.
  5. Find out if a balance transfer is right for you. Transferring a credit card balance can sometimes be a helpful strategy to employ when you’re managing your debt. Card companies typically offer introductory offers of very low or zero-percent interest rates for several months, which can give you time to make payments without worrying about interest accruing faster than you can pay it off. When transferring a balance, be sure to always read the fine print before accepting an offer.

Making the decision to start paying off your debt is the easy part — putting it into practice requires thought, planning and discipline. If you find yourself still struggling to make payments, always be sure to contact your lender or card company before you miss a payment. In many cases, they will be willing to work with you to structure a repayment plan that works for you. 

Learn more about how you can stay debt-free with these tips!

Friday Focus: Walden Sierra

Providing comprehensive behavioral health services and recoveWalden Logory support, Walden Sierra has been a powerful force for good in the community since 1973. This week, we spoke with Walden’s Christine Timmerman, who shared her organization’s story with Friday Focus.

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

A: For over 40 years, Walden has been at the forefront of behavioral health in the Southern Maryland Region. Since 1973, we have continued to grow and evolve to meet the changing needs of individuals and families, all while working hard to improve the overall health of our surrounding community. Our comprehensive array of services is designed to provide clients with the help they need, when they need it. Our mission at Walden Sierra is to contribute to the well-being of the Southern Maryland community: “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow”. Walden’s vision is to consistently provide the best behavioral health treatment and recovery support services to Southern Maryland.

The name Walden was inspired by the work of Henry David Thoreau. St. Mary’s County has been home to Walden since 1973. Walden is a local, community based 501(c)(3) nonprofit CARF (Commission for Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) accredited organization, with six different locations in Southern Maryland.

Central to our programming is our 24 hour local crisis hotline, 301-863-6661. This hotline is one of the oldest local, professionally staffed hotlines in operation in the United States. From the hotline, Walden is able to help individual community members and better understand unmet community needs. We have used this information to build our programming as a response to community needs.

Walden has received several excellence awards over the years. Some of these awards include: the Sunshine Peace Award, the NAMI Social Impact Award, and the Better With Less Award. We take great pride in what we do to help the community here at Walden Sierra, and we couldn’t do what we do without the support of our community partners, leadership team, and management team.

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

A: Walden’s favorite moments are when someone in need of our services has been given the resources and support to achieve the utmost care that Walden can provide for them. Each year, we provide our community with an Annual Report informing Southern Maryland of the impact that Walden Sierra has had on the community, and the resources that we have provided to those in need of services. The Annual Report highlights our mission statement, provides our location information, the services Walden provides, and the amount of increased clients we have provided services to. In 2014, Walden Sierra received 13,634 calls to our 24-hour hotline, there was a 150% increase in clients receiving recovery support through Walden Sierra: Cove location in California, MD, and we received many testimonials and feedback about the experiences our clients receive at our facilities throughout the year. Here are just a few:

“Walden is a very welcoming and open-hearted place. Treated each other like family and had an ear open at all times.”    — Anonymous 

“All the staff have been incredible on my long road to recovery. They have not given up on me.” — Anonymous 

“I am very happy with the treatment I have enjoyed and learned a lot by coming here. I feel stronger about the way I feel and how I’m control everything. My body and mind are more clear. The staff have been fun and have shown me so much. Thank you. I am grateful for the opportunity of a lifetime. There is no other treatment program I could have asked for to help me succeed.” — Anonymous

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: WAYS TO DONATE – Financial Donations

Every dollar makes a tremendous difference and is greatly appreciated. We rely on donations from individuals, groups, and businesses as well as foundation grants to help us keep our underfunded programs going.  As a result, individuals and families can access many of our services regardless of their ability to afford them. Donations can be directed to a particular Walden program.  The majority of the general donations we receive go toward off-setting the costs of our crisis and emergency services and our services for vulnerable populations. All donations can be claimed for tax benefit. Donors are welcome to contact us to ask for a tour or to speak with a Walden staff member about our current needs and projects.  Thank you for supporting Walden!

Improving Your Fuel Economy in Cold Weather

The start of a new year means we’re nearing the height of the winter driving season, and colder temperatures could have an impact on the fuel ecoman pumping gasoline fuel in car at gas stationnomy of your car. Fuel economy tests show that, in short-trip city driving, a conventional gasoline car’s gas mileage is about 12% lower at 20°F than it would be at 77°F. It can drop as much as 22% for very short trips (three to four miles), and can be even worse if you drive a hybrid.

Why is winter fuel economy lower?  Cold weather affects your vehicle in more ways than you might expect:

  • Engine and transmission friction increases in cold temperatures due to cold engine oil and other drive-line fluids.
  • It takes longer for your engine to reach its most fuel-efficient temperature. This affects shorter trips more, since your car spends more of your trip at less-than-optimal temperatures.
  • Heated seats, window defrosters and heater fans use additional power.
  • Warming up your vehicle before you start your trip lowers your fuel economy — idling gets 0 miles per gallon.
  • Colder air is denser, increasing aerodynamic drag on your vehicle, especially at highway speeds.
  • Tire pressure decreases in colder temperatures, increasing rolling resistance.
  • Winter grades of gasoline can have slightly less energy per gallon than summer blends.
  • Battery performance decreases in cold weather, making it harder for your alternator to keep your battery charged. This also affects the performance of the regenerative braking system on hybrids.

In severe winter weather, your MPG can drop even further:

  • Icy or snow-covered roads decrease your tires’ grip on the road, wasting energy.
  • Safe driving speeds on slick roads can be much lower than normal, further reducing fuel economy, especially at speeds below 30 to 40 mph.
  • Using four-wheel drive uses more fuel.

What can I do to improve my fuel economy in cold weather?  You may not be able to completely mitigate cold weather’s effect on your fuel economy, but you can do some simple things to help your gas mileage:

  • Park your car in a warmer place, such as your garage, to increase the initial temperature of your engine and cabin.
  • Combine trips when possible so that you drive less often with a cold engine.
  • Don’t idle your car to warm it up. Most manufacturers recommend driving off gently after about 30 seconds. The engine will warm up faster being driven.
  • Don’t use seat warmers or defrosters more than necessary.
  • Check your tire pressure regularly.
  • Use the type of oil recommended by your manufacturer for cold weather driving.
  • Remove accessories that increase wind resistance, like roof racks, when not in use.
  • If you drive a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, preheating the cabin while plugged into the charger can extend your vehicle’s range.
  • If you drive a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, using the seat warmers instead of the cabin heater can save energy and extend range.

Community Bank reminds you to be safe while driving in winter weather!