Lessons You Can Learn from Recent Data Breaches

Identity theft in word tag cloudIn recent months, several major data breaches have made headlines. Large-scale retailers like Target, The Home Depot, Neiman Marcus and Michael’s have been targeted, leaving hundreds of thousands of pieces of customer information vulnerable.

With a number of recent compromises, you may be wondering if your information will ever be safe. While it’s impossible to know exactly when the next data breach will strike, here are a few lessons you can learn from recent ones to help keep your private information as secure as possible:

A data breach could happen anywhere, anytime and affect anyone.

The fact is, you can be as careful as possible and still fall victim to a data breach if you use your debit or credit card to shop. Identity thieves are growing more sophisticated in their tactics, using complex malware to compromise point of sale terminals, as seen in the Target and the Home Depot incidents. A safe alternative is to use cash when you shop, so no identifying information is used to process the transaction.

It’s important to be proactive.

It is more critical than ever to carefully monitor your monthly statements for your debit and credit cards. Review each transaction and contact your financial institution immediately if you suspect a fraudulent charge. When shopping online, always use a credit card over a debit card, as they are not directly linked to a bank account.

Create unique passwords and logins.

It seems like every website involves a username and password, and while it’s tempting to use the same one over and over, doing so could greatly increase the scope of damage if your identity is stolen. Recent breaches, including the Russian hacking incident, are suspected to have affected billions of username and password combinations. Using the same login information across several websites (e.g. your financial institutions, credit cards, online shopping accounts) could make it easier for thieves to strike multiple places.

Get identity protection services.

In the unpredictable digital world we live in, you can take steps to safeguard your identity by signing up for identity protection services. Community Bank offers ID Restoration Services through Deluxe Provent, a completely customizable suite of monitoring services that will not only help you keep your identity safe, but will also assist you if you find your personal information has been compromised.

At Community Bank, your security is always our priority. Click here for updates on current data breaches and more information on how we are working to keep your information safe and secure.

Friday Focus: The Conservancy for Charles County

The community around us is constantly growing and changing, and in recent years, Charles County has seen stunning levels of growth and development,Charles County Conservancy often at the expense of the natural landscape. The Conservancy for Charles County recognized a need to protect the natural resources, farmland, watersheds and historical sites within the county, and works hard to ensure that these places will remain a part of the community for years to come. We spoke with the Conservancy’s President, Hal Delaplane, for this week’s Friday Focus interview.

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

A: We are an all-volunteer qualified local land trust that is designated a charitable 501(c)(3) nonprofit.  We were formed in 1996 by local residents who were concerned with the pace of development and its obvious threats to the environment and our quality of life.  Our purpose is to protect the scenic, natural, forest, agricultural and historic places in Charles County for the benefit of all its residents.

We are the only land trust operating exclusively in Charles County. In partnership with the Maryland Environmental Trust (MET), we have protected over 1,800 acres of privately owned land throughout the county by working with landowners in a voluntary program of donated conservation easements.

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

A:   I think our coolest single moment came a few years back.  In 2006, we acquired a conservation easement on the 186-acre Mudd Farm tract near Waldorf in a complicated series of transactions.  The farm, which had been in the Mudd family for more than 200 years, surrounds the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House where Dr. Mudd set the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln on April 15, 1865. The house and farm are operated today by the Dr. Samuel Mudd Society as a museum and is Charles County’s most visited tourist site.

When the Conservancy became involved, the farm had been sold to a La Plata developer for development as a subdivision.  The developer generously allowed us time to arrange its purchase by the county with Rural Legacy Program funds.  The county in turn sold the farm to the Mudd Society who donated the easement jointly to the Conservancy and the county.  The process took about five years.

The easement enhances and sustains an irreplaceable historic landscape.  Visitors can look down from Dr. Mudd’s bedroom window on a view of rolling farm fields and Zekiah Swamp that is unchanged from Dr. Mudd’s day. (Pictured in photo).

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A:   We are dependent on membership dues, individual donations and grants.  Like other small non-profits, we are looking for ways to make our funding more reliable from year to year, looking for new members and looking for Board members.  These are all expressions of the same underlying challenge: how do we make ourselves better known and more relevant to the community, especially to the young and to minorities?  How can we better convey our message to them?

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A:   We are exhibiting at the four-day county fair.  Next on the schedule is our only fundraiser of the year– our annual fall dinner meeting next week at the Waldorf Jaycees Friday, September 26.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: Anyone interested in being a volunteer, for example to help staff our exhibits at public events or monitor our easements, can contact us through our website, www.conservecharles.org, or email us at info@conservecharles.org.

Friday Focus: Rappahannock United Way

Fueled by a mission to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of the local community, the Rappahannock United Way staff work day in and day outVolunteer_pic_reduc to provide services and resources for those who need them. As the organization celebrates its 75th anniversary and prepares for its upcoming Days of Caring, President Janel S. Donohue took time out of her 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: Rappahannock United Way (RUW) is a nonprofit organization serving the City of Fredericksburg, Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties. RUW is excited to be celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. RUW is committed to advancing the common good by investing in programs that support the building blocks to a better life: education, income, and health.  We believe a quality education leads to a stable job, enough income to support a family through retirement, and good health.

At RUW, our goal is to create long-lasting change by helping more households emerge from poverty and achieve greater financial stability.  We encourage individuals, companies and organizations in our community to Live United — a call to action to give, advocate and volunteer locally. Rappahannock United Way is an efficient and effective organization.

RUW recently received a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, an objective, nationwide nonprofit evaluator. This is the fourth consecutive year RUW has received a four-star rating.  Charity Navigator measures a charity’s ability to effectively manage and grow its finances. Four stars means that Rappahannock United Way “exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its cause.” In fact, only a quarter of all charities rated by Charity Navigator reach the four-star echelon.

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

A: Our favorite moments are seeing firsthand the amazing support and partnership throughout the community among the people, nonprofits, companies and Rappahannock United Way.  Whether you are participating in a Day of Caring, a fundraising event, or a Community Event, the impactful changes made by Rappahannock United Way for those in need throughout the Rappahannock area is evident and inspiring.

A particular favorite moment was watching our 2014 Success Videos that demonstrated how Rappahannock United Way is changing the story for individuals right here in our community. It feels good to see real people solve real problems and achieve long lasting positive change in their life.  This is why we do what we do.

(Watch the videos here: Education: Project Discovery Program; Health: Micah Respite Program)

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: I think our biggest challenge is to mobilize the caring power of our community to go beyond inspiring people to act, but doing it in a way that means we are all working in the same direction. We are blessed to live in a community full of people who constantly give of their time, talent and treasures to make a difference.  However, when the work is thinly spread around to too many different good causes the impact is small.  RUW is designed to mobilize individuals around key issues which are very specific and focused – when we can get everyone to focus, we will have impact.  Mobilizing people isn’t hard — it’s already happening; however, mobilizing everyone in the same direction is the challenge.  That’s what RUW has to do to create long lasting impact.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A:  Rappahannock United Way is excited to promote two very important events in our local community. The first event is the annual Days of Caring.  Days of Caring will occur on September 26 in Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg and Stafford; September 30 in Caroline; and October 3 in King George. Days of Caring provide local nonprofit agencies and schools with volunteer teams from local businesses to complete meaningful projects that fulfill agency and community needs.  Last year, over 330 Day of Caring Volunteers completed over 30 projects in one day.

The second event will be held on Sunday, October 19 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Fredericksburg Agricultural Fairgrounds.  This community event is FREE and will be a family fun event to celebrate Rappahannock United Way’s 75th year impacting the community.  Come out to enjoy food, fun and much family entertainment.  There will even be a real Monster Truck on site to take individuals for free rides!

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A:  Rappahannock United Way has a call to action to be a part of the change you want to see in your community. We encourage everyone to Live United: Give, Advocate, Volunteer.  Giving is easy.  You can give through your workplace campaign, give online at www.rappahannockunitedway.org, or send a check to Rappahannock United Way, 3310 Shannon Airport Circle, Fredericksburg, VA  22408.  Volunteering is easy, too.  Just go to our interactive volunteer website to find the latest volunteer opportunities in our community.   We want everyone to find opportunities to make a positive impact in their community.

Rappahannock United Way also has volunteer opportunities from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for its Community Appreciation Day on October 19, 2014.  Contact Terri Center at tcenter@rappahannockunitedway.org for more details.

Six Tips for Protecting Your Identity

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country, affecting over 12.6 million people annually. In light of the many recent data breaches that have compromised personal information, it is more important than ever to take steps to actively protect yourself from having your identity stolen.

This month, Community Bank of the Chesapeake will be focusing on providing tips, tools and solutions to help you keep your identity safe and secure. To start, here are some useful steps you can take to keep your personal information just that — personal.

1.  Protect your Social Security number at all costs!

Your Social Security number is one of the most valuable pieces of personal information you have, so be sure to take every precaution to safeguard it! Never carry your social security card in your wallet, and only give it out when absolutely necessary. Consider keeping it in a safe deposit box with other vital records until it is needed.

  1. Review your credit report annually.

You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) each year. An annual review of your credit report will not only help you to ensure that you’re where you need to be credit-wise, it will allow you to see if there have been any fraudulent uses of credit in your name. Contact the issuing credit bureau immediately if you notice a discrepancy of fraudulent activity on your report.

  1. Avoid over-sharing (on social media, that is).

We live in the age where personal information in all too easy to find, courtesy of social media. Be judicious about the kind of information you share with the public and remember that anything you post on the Internet is there to stay. Keep the kinds of information that would be needed to complete a credit application (i.e. home address, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, etc.) off of your Facebook wall or Twitter feed. And if you’re planning a trip, wait until you come back to post about your out-of-town plans; announcing your home will be left unattended can provide a prospective burglar with a golden opportunity.

  1. Pick strong passwords.

Having a different password for each account you have may seem like a hassle, but it can go a long way to protect you. Secure everything — your phone, personal computer, tablet — with a strong password comprised of a combination of numbers, letters and special characters. Never give your password out, and change them immediately if you suspect they have been compromised.

  1. Check your statements carefully.

Diligently reviewing your monthly bank and credit card statements can help you stop ID thieves in their tracks before they can cause catastrophic damage. If you notice a fraudulent charge on your statement, notify your financial institution immediately. Online banking helps make this even easier, as you can often review charges posted to your account instantly, so you can check several times a week.

  1. Be cautious when shopping online

Online shopping is incredibly convenient, but can also be an ideal place for identity thieves to strike. Be sure that the sites you’re using are secured whenever you’re entering billing information. You can authenticate a website’s security certificate for checking that the web address has a green bar around it, or a lock icon next to it. When shopping online, use a credit card instead of a debit card; with a credit card, you are significantly less liable for fraudulent charges, while a debit card compromise could leave your entire bank account at risk.

Don’t wait for disaster to strike—take the steps to protect your personal information today. Check out these suggestions from Deluxe Provent, and talk with your branch manager about how Community Bank’s ID Restoration Service can help you. Visit your local branch or visit our website to enroll today.

Friday Focus: Barstow Acres Counseling and Children’s Center

This week’s Friday Focus takes us to Prince Frederick Maryland abarstow acresnd the Barstow Acres Counseling & Children’s Center. The Center is the vision of Executive Director Sonia Hinds, APRN-BC, RPT, a registered nurse specializing in mental health nursing and a clinical specialist-psychotherapist. Ms. Hinds recognized the need for additional quality mental health service for young children and families in a family setting, with specific modalities for children such as play therapy, art therapy and sand tray therapy. We caught up with Ms. Hinds for this week’s interview, who shared more information about the many ways Barstow Acres helps children and their families.

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

A: We serve children and families, including those at-risk, underserved and in need of mental health services. We provide a wide variety of mental health and developmental services, as well as enrichment programs for both children and adults.

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

A: Our summer camp program gives us most of our memorable moments. We provide a safe place during the summer for children with socio-emotional challenges who would otherwise be at home alone watching TV or playing video games all day. Children with ADHD, Asperger’s, anger and behavioral challenges benefit from the therapeutic camp experience. The children are taught coping skills and encouraged to take responsibility for their behavior while receiving support and feedback from their peers and staff.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Funding is our biggest challenge. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, we are always in need of operating funds. We accept monetary donations of any amount in order to provide services at a reasonable rate to the families we help. Checks can be made payable to Barstow Acres Children’s Center. We also collect used cell phones and empty ink jet cartridges.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Social Skills Groups for children and adolescents starting the week of September 22, 2014! Group members learn pro-social behaviors such as how to behave in a social setting, how to read social cues, making friends, anger management, yoga, Brain Gym® and art therapy.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: The biggest way people can get involved is by donating through the United Way. Another method is to sponsor a child for our therapeutic summer day camp via the “Adopt a Camper Campaign.” Our summer camp is a huge undertaking and we always need donations of volunteer time, supplies, and funds to ensure its success. We also have volunteer opportunities during our fundraisers, namely our Fashion & Talent Show and Annual Parent/Professional Empowerment Conference which educates the community on mental health issues.

Friday Focus: Dahlgren Heritage Museum

dahlgrenAt the foot of the Nice Bridge in King George, Virginia is the Dahlgren Heritage Museum. Overseen by the Dahlgren Heritage Foundation, the Museum’s mission is to preserve and promote the rich military history of the Dahlgren base and surrounding community. This week’s Friday Focus caught up with Foundation president Ed Jones, who shared some personal favorite moments and gave us a sneak peek at some upcoming events at the Museum!

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

A: The Dahlgren Heritage Foundation was founded three years ago to tell “the Dahlgren story”: how over the last century, a swampy piece of King George County farmland became a Navy base that is one of the crown jewels of our national defense. It’s a story about research, innovation and community, both on and around the base, both military and civilian. We tell that story through our museum on U.S. 301 at the foot of the Nice Bridge; through community forums about the history, present and future of the base and surrounding community; through our website,  dahlgrenmuseum.org; and through support for area students who are studying science and technology. Though we have strong collaborative ties with the Navy, we are a community-based, private, nonprofit organization. All of our funds come from memberships, contributions and grants.

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

A: One of our favorite moments was when we christened the exhibit on “Women in Science” at the University of Mary Washington’s Dahlgren campus. It tells the story of the base, with special emphasis on the role that women have played at Dahlgren over the years. Thousands have seen this exhibit on the walls of the lobby and hallways.

Another favorite moment was the opening late last year of the Dahlgren Heritage Museum in the former Welcome Center at the foot of the Nice Bridge. Currently on display are artifacts dealing with the little-known aviation history of Dahlgren, including a bombsight developed at Dahlgren that made a crucial contribution to U.S. airborne forces in World War II.

Yet another moment was our sponsoring of the school buses that allowed area students to attend a science fair in Washington that rates as the nation’s largest.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Spreading the word about our many activities, raising funds to lift us to the next stage of development before the 2018 centennial of the base, and encouraging more people to become active members of the museum.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: There are many! Join us for our second annual Fine Art and Memorabilia Auction at UMW/Dahlgren on Saturday, September 6. The preview begins at 5 p.m., with the auction starting at 5:30. Great bargains and great fun. The $25 tickets include refreshments and wine, and are available on our website, dahlgrenmuseum.org.

On Saturday, November 15, at the museum, we will offer a German Christmas Market from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. More details are on the website.

And every first Saturday (from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and third Saturday (from noon to 4 p.m.), the museum is open with free admission. Through October, a flea market will be set up in the parking area at those times. Check the website for special opening times as well.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: Become a member by going to dahlgrenmuseum.org, or by leaving us a message at 540-663-3680. When you go to the website, be sure to read the latest edition of the DHF Digest, our outstanding quarterly newsletter.

Friday Focus: St. Mary’s Animal Welfare League

The St. Mary’s Animal Welfare League helps cats, dogs and horses by providing SMAWL logoveterinary, fostering and adoption services. This week, we spoke with Katie Werner, President of SMAWL, who shared a favorite story about a particularly special dog and gave us the inside scoop on how you can help an animal find their “furr-ever” home.

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

A: The St. Mary’s Animal Welfare League (SMAWL) is a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1990 that works to help the homeless, abused and neglected animals in our local community and — in times of extreme need — in our larger national rescue community. Immediate goals include aggressive campaigns to find homes for homeless cats and dogs and to curb pet overpopulation through spay/neuter programs. Future goals include the building of a no-kill shelter in St. Mary’s County. Services provided include pet adoptions, discount spay/neuter vouchers, monthly low-cost rabies clinics, humane education and the Pet Food Pantry. SMAWL is an all-volunteer organization and welcomes new members and volunteers. SMAWL offers a variety of volunteer opportunities, including fostering animals waiting for adoption. To contact SMAWL, call 301-373-5659, send an e-mail to smawl@yahoo.com, or visit www.smawl.org.

The Snowflake Society was created in 2006 as a division of St. Mary’s Animal Welfare League (SMAWL) to help horses and other hoofed animals. The mission statement of the Snowflake Society reads: “To provide shelter, care, rehabilitation and adoption services for abused, neglected, and unwanted horses and other hoofed animals; and to promote humane treatment of hoofed animals through education, investigation, and legal intervention.”

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

A: There are many favorite moments and all of our animal adoptions are reason to celebrate, but the most rewarding is when we are able to help those special animals that are considered “unadoptable.” Once such recent rescue is Martha, a blind Beagle we pulled from Tri-County Animal Shelter. We were fortunate enough to find a very special foster home that had a very special cat, Dutchess, who helped Martha adjust to her new home. Within half an hour of her arrival, Dutchess had introduced herself and was taking Martha on a tour of the house. She showed her where all of the water bowls were and the family set one up on the bathroom floor for Martha since she seemed to like that area. Dutchess decided they were sleeping together on the sofa that first night, so that was where they spent the night. Martha had a nightmare and was whimpering and of course her assistant came to get her foster mom and she calmed down when she was held. Martha likes to snuggle against her foster mom with Dutchess against her. The family gated off the bathroom for Martha so that she had a larger area to stay in while they are at work; Dutchess can hop the gate. The two became inseparable!

Like so many of our foster family, Dutchess’ family became “failed” fosters and adopted Martha. Having the ability to rescue animals such as Martha is why we do what we do. We are able to continue our rescue mission because of the support we receive throughout the year from our friends, sponsors and the community at large.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Since we do not have a permanent shelter, our biggest problem is having foster homes for our animals. We are limited in the animals we can take in due to the foster space we have available. Foster homes are vitally important to help in the care and socialization of our animals. SMAWL pays for the veterinary care and asks our foster families, in addition to providing a safe environment for them to live, to transport them to veterinary appointments and to adoption events so that they can find their “fur-ever” homes.

In addition, we do have many other volunteer opportunities such as working at our Rabies Clinics and Adoption Events. We also need assistance in caring for some of our cats who reside at the Petco in California, Md. and at our “Cat Castle” in Callaway, Md.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: We have Adoption Events at the Petco in California on Saturdays between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. and at our “Cat Castle” in Callaway on Saturdays and Sundays between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. In addition, we have Rabies Clinics on the second Monday of the month between March and November at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds in Leonardtown, MD between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. We also hold adoption events at other locations such as the PetValu in Leonardtown, the Tractor Supply Co in Hollywood and Pepper’s Pet Pantry in Solomon’s. In May we have our Annual Animal Fair, which is a fun-filled day for families and pets with many activities for everyone – one of the most popular of which is the “Woof-It Down” Contest (a “pie” eating contest where dogs and their humans compete).

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: There are several things people can do to get involved:

• Become a member – membership fees help us continue our mission. Membership fees are:

$35.00 – Individual

$50.00 – Family

$50.00 – Business

$250.00 – Lifetime

$500.00 – Business Lifetime

• Volunteer – there are many volunteer opportunities, from helping at an adoption event to helping to organize our Animal Fair.

• Foster – the more foster families we have, the more animals we can save!

• Have a pet food drive to help keep our Pet Food Pantry stocked.

Friday Focus: Christmas in April* Calvert County, Inc.

Christmas in April* Calvert County, Inc. In a true expression of neighbor helping neighbor, Christmas in April volunteers bring assistance to homeowners in need on their annual workday each spring. In 2013, the Calvert Count chapter of Christmas in April repaired a total of 34 homes, doing everything from cleaning gutters to roofing to landscaping. This week’s Friday Focus is a conversation with Bill Lloyd, President of Christmas in April*Calvert County, Inc.

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

A: Christmas in April*Calvert County, Inc., a United Way partner started in Calvert County in 1991, is a nonprofit, volunteer organization that repairs and improves the homes of low-income homeowners. Low-income homeowners, especially the elderly, disabled and families with children, are eligible to apply for Christmas in April services.  All repairs are paid for by Christmas in April.  Homeowners are not expected to pay for any services provided. Once a home is referred, a home visit is made by the House Selection Committee.  The Board ultimately makes the difficult determination as to whether the house meets the eligibility criteria, is in need and can be repaired by Christmas in April in one day. Homeowners and family members who are present and who are able-bodied are expected to work alongside volunteers on the Christmas in April work day, which is the last Saturday in April every year.

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

A: There are so many “moments” that happen on our workday. Just the look of happiness on homeowners’ faces on the workday is priceless. Imagine going five years without hot water, and then a group of strangers come to your home and not only fix your water heater but also landscape, remove trash and paint the inside of your house. I’m not sure who gets the most gratification, the homeowner or the volunteer. Our volunteers return every year!

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: We are always looking for more “house captains” that can lead a work crew in repairing the homes of our applicants. More donations are always welcome because we are a 100% volunteer organization, with all donations used to purchase supplies for the repairs of the homes. More donations would mean that we could repair more homes.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Yes, our application period is fast approaching. We only review applications during September and October, choosing and visiting the homes in November and assembling work crews in December. Applications received after October will have to wait until the following September to be considered. Applications are available on our website, at the office of aging, at the library, and at most churches. Homeowners that are interested in having their home worked on should have their application in during that time. A lot of work will need to be done before the workday including meeting the homeowner, ordering supplies and assembling work crews. The “work day” is always the last Saturday in April. The Board of Directors works yearlong preparing for that one day. Over 800 volunteers work on up to 32 homes each year.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: People who are interested in making donations or volunteering to work with us on our work day can print or email the relevant form from our website www.christmasinaprilcalvertcounty.org.

Friday Focus: Loyola on the Potomac

This week’s Friday Focus takes us to Faulkner, Maryland, and the Loyola on the Potomac retreat house. Located on Beach photo with chair faded253 acres of scenic riverfront property, the retreat offers a quiet refuge for personal prayer and reflection for people of all faiths. We caught up with Jim Palmer, Director of the retreat house, who talked with us about how his organization impacts the lives of those it serves.

Q: Tell us about your organization. Who do you serve?

A: Loyola on the Potomac is a Retreat House (in the Roman Catholic tradition) that was founded by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and opened in 1958. Loyola is situated on a bluff overlooking the Potomac River. There are 235 acres of woodlands laced with numerous paths for all to enjoy. With its woods, riverfront beach and spectacular sunsets over the Potomac, Loyola has offered thousands of retreatants the opportunity and means of experiencing the joy and serenity of God’s presence.

The retreat house welcomes men and women of all faiths and backgrounds. Programs include Ignatian weekend retreats, mid-week retreats, private and directed retreats and personal days of prayer and reflection. Additionally, we collaborate with schools, social service agencies, volunteer organizations and other Church ministries to provide the opportunity for retreatants to come aside and rest awhile.

The Loyola experience affords our retreatants the opportunity to be conscious of God’s action in their lives and in the world, to deepen their faith, and to renew their commitment to justice.

Retreat programs sponsored by Loyola are conducted in the spirit of prayerful silence, inviting our guests to truly become aware of the presence of God in our world and in their lives. Our facility space is also utilized by local churches, social service organizations and schools who sponsor their own retreat programs.

The main house offers two chapels, comfortable lounges and sitting rooms and 70 individual bedrooms (each with a half bath). In addition, we have one large conference room and six small meeting rooms, a small fitness room, music room and bookstore. Internet access is available in our main retreat house.

Our property also houses Huckleberry House, a historic home that is used by visiting Jesuits and as an overflow space for larger retreats. We also have a lovely Hermitage on the property which features 2 bedrooms, 2 full baths, a full kitchen, living room, prayer room and screened in porch. Our grounds feature well marked hiking trails and two outdoor Stations of the Cross pathways for prayer.

Loyola on the Potomac is also the home of St. Inigoes Youth Camp, an outdoor camping area equipped with a spacious bath/shower facility, two-story barn for group activities and worship, a dining pavilion, fire pit and amphitheater.

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

A: At the end of our Ignatian Weekend Retreats we hold a session entitled “The Gathering of Graces” during which time the retreatants share what has happened in their lives during the course of their retreat. Every session becomes a favorite moment as I become aware of the amazing transformation retreatants experience by the grace of our loving God.

Another favorite moment that gets repeated several times throughout the year is the gratitude expressed by our retreatants who participate in our partnership retreats. Loyola is blessed to be able to partner with the Ignatian Spirituality Project to offer retreats for homeless men and women; Damien Ministries to provide retreats for men and women living with HIV/AIDS; and the San Miguel School, an independent Catholic middle school that provides education to disadvantaged Latino boys in Washington, D.C. It is often overwhelming to hear these retreatants, both young and old, express what their time at Loyola has meant in their lives.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Funding! Like most nonprofits, the fees we collect from our retreatants do not cover the cost of the services we offer. And so, we engage in fund raising campaigns and rely on our benefactors to keep our doors open and ensure that the work and ministry of the retreat house thrives.

Our main house is a large structure and is now more than 50 years old; the upkeep and renovations certainly bring many challenges to our staff, as well as take their toll on our budget.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

Crab Feast and Open House – September 7, 2014 from 2:00 – 5:00 at the Retreat House

Night of Honor Banquet & Auction – October 22, 2014 at 6:30 pm at the Greater Waldorf Jaycees

Christmas Saintly Tea – December 14, 2014 at 3:00 at the Retreat House

Loyola 5k River Run (and 1 mile walk) – June 20, 2015 at St. Inigoes Youth Camp

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: Individuals who would like to experience a retreat at Loyola can register on line at http://www.loyolaonthepotomac.com/

Groups and/or individuals that would like to do a community service or volunteer project on behalf of Loyola are invited to call our Development Director, Lisa White, at 301-392-0819.

Financial Donations to support our work and ministry can be made online or mailed directly to the retreat house. All donations made to Loyola on the Potomac are tax deductible to the full extend allowed by law.

Friday Focus: Rappahannock Goodwill Industries

Driven by a mission to provide opportunities and resources to those with barriers to employment, Rappahannock Goodwill Industries is an organizRGI Logoation that is making a difference in Fredericksburg and the surrounding counties! We caught up with Megan Bergen, Vice President, Mission Services for Goodwill, who chatted with us about Goodwill’s mission, shared some personal favorite moments and gave us a preview of the Goodwill Collaboration Zone: an exciting new space and vision for the organization.

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

A: A Methodist minister named Edgar Helms founded Goodwill in 1902. More than a hundred years later, his vision of an “industrial program as well as a social service enterprise” lives on in 165 member agencies around the country that focus on the power and dignity of work. At Rappahannock Goodwill (a member agency), we serve the City of Fredericksburg and a 12-county region. We provide work opportunities and job training to people with barriers to employment, particularly those with disabilities. Operations include a commercial laundry, off-site custodial and administrative services, four Job Help Centers—and, of course, we operate twelve Goodwill stores, a Goodwill Outlet, and numerous Attended Donation Centers. In 2013, we served 3,898 people. 596 individuals were helped in our Job Help Centers, and 369 people were placed into jobs.

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

A: At RGI, we celebrate the successes of our program participants—and we are in the lucky position of having lots of successes to celebrate. Daily, we support people in our Job Help Centers who have not been able to find jobs—a veteran transitioning to the civilian workforce, an ex-offender trying to get that much-needed second chance, or someone who has a disability that has gotten in the way. The greatest moment is when we are able to help that person find a job, so they can experience the power of work which leads to independence and a positive future.

Here’s a recent favorite moment: One of our current program participants—diagnosed in the fifth grade with an intellectual disability and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder—was referred to RGI after she graduated from high school in 2007. A previous vocational evaluation had indicated she demonstrated distractibility, inappropriate interpersonal interactions, negative and uncooperative attitude and a slow work pace. Evaluators asked that she participate in a community based assessment/training program to improve these behaviors before being accepted into their programming.

RGI filled this role and has proudly and successfully served her ever since, providing her with the necessary supports to grow both personally and vocationally. She has served as a valuable member of all work teams she has been assigned, and has transformed into a capable and confident young woman with endless potential. If that isn’t a great illustration of the power of work, I don’t know what is.

My recent favorite moment was finding out that starting next week, she will graduate from a high support program to a more independent position, working on an RGI mobile crew that does custodial jobs at another location.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Mission awareness has long been a fundamental challenge for Goodwill. Research conducted ten years ago found that while 90 percent of people surveyed know Goodwill, only 26 percent know the mission behind the donation centers and stores. This is an issue both nationally and locally—to our surprise, last year someone told us that our Job Help Centers (which provide free assistance to individuals looking to upgrade their job readiness and job search skills) were our best kept secret! We are working hard to increase mission awareness, to let people know that by donating and shopping they are creating jobs for people with barriers to employment. In our stores, we’ve begun asking shoppers if they wish to round up to support the mission—it’s another way to start a conversation with individuals in the community about how our stores help us put people to work. The tagline of a national ad campaign launched in 2013 says it all: “Donate Stuff. Create Jobs.”

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: In November, we will celebrate the opening of the Goodwill Collaboration Zone: nearly 10,000 square feet of space set aside to be rented by nonprofits whose visions align with ours. Co-location of RGI staff and the staffs of other agencies will facilitate working together to better serve the people we all serve. The vision is that this collaborative environment will allow us all to help people with a variety of barriers reach their full potential, both on and off the job.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: We are always seeking volunteers to help us further our mission! We have many volunteer positions, from Goodwill mentor (working one-on-one with a particular person in the Job Help Center to achieve certain goals) to literacy tutor to Goodwill ambassador (increasing the general public’s awareness of RGI and its services). We even offer a virtual career volunteer opportunity to accommodate volunteers who are unable to be physically present during Job Help Center hours. People interested in volunteering should visit our website (www.fredgoodwill.org) for details.

Community Bank of the Chesapeake is proud to support Rappahannock Goodwill Industries through its annual Casual for a Cause program. If you would like to donate to Goodwill directly, visit their website at http://www.fredgoodwill.org/donate.