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.

Friday Focus: Calvert Library Foundation

For thousands of years, libraries have been a staple community institution where people could gather and seek out information. Today, the Calvert County Librarcalvert_library_logoy system continues the tradition, providing central hubs that provide not only books, but an endless list of programs and services as well. This week’s Friday Focus organization, the Calvert Library Foundation, plays a vital role in supporting the Library’s mission by providing additional funding. We spoke with Scott Deacon, Vice President of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, who shared his thoughts on the many ways the Library benefits the local community.

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

A: Calvert Library Foundation is an enabling organization whose stated purpose is to improve public library services and facilities in Calvert County, Maryland.  The Foundation accomplishes this purpose by securing non-government funding from residents of Calvert County and its surrounding counties in Maryland, businesses and private sources.  These funds are used to purchase resources that will make significant improvements to libraries and their programs not otherwise obtainable through governmental or other institutional funding.  In 2013, the Foundation provided needed funds to the Library for furnishings and for staff training to improve services for County residents. We also conducted a capital campaign and provided more than $225,000 for the outfitting of one branch.  Funds provided by the Foundation help bridge the difference between the Calvert Library being good and being GREAT!

The Calvert Library is comprised of four separate branches throughout Calvert County, Maryland.  In 2013, the library was able to provide the more than 88,500 county residents and residents of nearby counties with a complete range of library services and employed 54 full-time equivalent employees.  They served nearly 600,000 customers in-person, circulated the 265,864 items in their physical collection 1,121,505 times and answered more than 145,954 reference questions.  Their website saw 186,465 unique visitors and the webpage was viewed 904,867 times.  The computers were used 141,507 times.  Additionally, outside groups used the meeting rooms 3,471 times.

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

A: I do not think I have just one “moment”.  Actually, every time I go into one of the library facilities I get a sense of satisfaction.  You can almost feel the wonderment of those who are gaining from all the library has to offer.  When I grew up, we lived in an area that was so rural we did not have a library facility.  Rather, we had an old bus that served as a mobile library and brought books to our area once a week.  So when I go into the library facilities, I look at all the patrons who are benefitting from its very presence and I appreciate all of those who made and continue to make that reality.  For example, the Foundation provided a large flat-screen television in the meeting room which has become a mainstay for presentations, workshops, the cinema café movie nights, and is used extensively by community organizations on a daily basis.  Also, the circulating video games the foundation provided are very popular.  Finally, the Foundation has provided for children’s activity cubes, additional computers for patrons and staff, comfortable library furnishings and foreign language CDs and DVDs.

Q: Why is the Library important?

A: Calvert Library is a hub for members of our community to connect and interact across all demographic groups. The Library hosts a range of activities and social programs that engage our minds and provide opportunities to exchange ideas with other people.  It has numerous partnering agencies (College of Southern Maryland, public schools, Head Start, Workforce Investment Board’s Mobile Job Center, etc.) where its programs complement and reinforce theirs.  The library provides opportunities to bring diverse segments of the population together to have civil discourse about matters of importance.  Their “Choose Civility” programming is just one of many the library offers to address needs in our community.

It is also an important economic equalizer, providing equal access to technology, information and lifelong learning opportunities to all who wish to develop both professionally and personally.  It is a meeting place for those seeking to improve their English-speaking skills. Students and job seekers flock to the library to use computers for schoolwork, research, job searches and many other things.

It also makes green sense (environmental, not just dollars) to have reference materials, databases, literature and media in one place for people to access. Having hard copies to share across a community and online copies of documents shared by thousands of people in our county saves trees from being harvested and waters from being polluted. The Library provides timely, accurate responses to questions.  Its inter-library loan system connects people to the information they seek – all these services are provided free of charge to everyone.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Managing technology.  We need to assist the library in staying relevant to their patrons, young and old alike.  We also need to help the library stay abreast of the emerging technology as it relates to providing access to entertainment and knowledge.  There is a move toward having Maker-spaces in libraries where computers are programmed to manufacture 3D items. By providing cutting edge equipment such as this, the Library helps to ignite people’s imagination and foster the science, technology, engineering and math skills that make America competitive.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Coming up on October 25 is the Foundation’s 2014 Gala Art Auction. This is the second year for the event. Last year’s auction was a great success and raised over $10,000 for the Foundation.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: Please visit our website at http://calvertlibraryfoundation.com and look for activities and opportunities to join the foundation in its endeavors.  I should point out that the Calvert Library Foundation is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization and as such, your contribution is tax–deductible to the extent allowed by law.  Please contact us if you would like to become a member of the Library Foundation Board or if you would like to assist and/or participate in any of the Foundation events.  Finally, there are few—if any—institutions that provide so many free services and programs for people. Your donation will help this great institution innovate and reach out to all segments of the population. Your dollars will enable people to achieve their potential. And, you will know that you are an important part of something larger than yourself.

Community Bank is proud to support the Calvert Library Foundation through our annual “Casual for a Cause” campaign. If you’d like to donate directly to the Foundation, please visit their website.

Young Adult Blog Series: The Importance of Budgeting

So you’re all grown up and earning a steady paycheck—hooray!   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: Belle Grove Plantation

In its three hundred year history, Belle Grove Plantation has stood witness to many of America’s greatest historic events and has hosted many famous and historical people. As the Plantation prepares for its first major fundraising event, a Blues Concert and Picnic Under the Stars on July 4, we caught up with representative Michelle Darnell for this week’s Friday Focus.

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

A: Belle Grove Plantation, the birthplace of President James Madison, located in King George County Virginia, is now the home of Belle Grove Plantation Bed & Breakfast. Our Southern Plantation was established in 1670 on the banks of the Rappahannock River. Belle Grove’s stately, historic mansion has four master suites with private baths and views of the river and plantation. Each room is named after a family that owned Belle Grove Plantation through its history, and each is decorated with period antiques to reflect the period that a particular family lived at Belle Grove. Gourmet breakfasts await you in our formal dining room or on the riverside balcony. Social hour at 5:00pm will allow you to relax as you watch the sunset on the river.

Built in 1791, this mansion offers the charm of Southern days gone by. Here you will find the elegant Southern wedding of your dreams or a peaceful retreat for corporate and social gatherings. With historic and local attractions within easy drives and award-winning vineyards just around the corner, Belle Grove Plantation makes a great place to come home to after a day of adventure.

Just 90 minutes from Washington DC or Baltimore, 50 minutes from Richmond and less than a half hour from Fredericksburg, Belle Grove Plantation is a hidden jewel of the Northern Neck.

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

A: This one is a hard one to answer. We have had so many special moments since we opened in August 2013 and even before we opened. I have to say that one that sticks out in my mind was a very special visit we helped arrange for a local descendant of one of the owners of Belle Grove. Over the years, no access had been given to the public to allow others to come and enjoy the beauty of Belle Grove and to touch the ground where many of the local families’ forefathers once walked.

We were contacted by the wife of one of these families before we opened to arrange a very special birthday surprise. The family was about to move far away and the husband, who was a direct decedent as well as the family historian, had driven by this plantation many times, longing to come back and see where his forefather once called home.

His wife and I made an appointment on his birthday for them to come to the plantation. This was just a day or two before they were to leave for good. She blindfolded him and drove him to the plantation. As she helped him out of the car, you could feel the excitement of seeing his reaction once he knew where he was. When she removed the blindfold, his jaw dropped and I could swear I saw tears in his eyes.

That time with him was not only helpful to us as we were building the past history to preserve, but it was one of the most special times we had as we walked this decedent through the same halls his forefather had walked years ago.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Like with any business or historic landmark, our biggest challenge is money and fundraising. Our historic home, despite being here since 1791 and our plantation, founded in 1670, are really not very well-known landmarks. Most people assume that President Madison was born at Montpelier and don’t realize that he was actually born here; we have been working hard to get the word out to others who, like us, want to preserve this important landmark.

Our biggest challenge right now is the restoration and preservation of our three 1720 outbuildings. Our Summer Kitchen, Ice House and Smokehouse are the oldest buildings on the property and stood here when James Madison drew his first breath. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has even told us how important they are. Structures like our Summer Kitchen, which is half kitchen and half slave quarters, just aren’t around anymore from this time period, and it kills us as we stand by watching boards pop loose and bricks fall in, all while we rush to raise the needed funds to stabilize them and to restore them.

Our hope is to restore these structures back to the 1720 time period, and to make the Summer Kitchen into a small museum. We would like to use the kitchen side of to house the artifacts we have already found and to tell the story of the history of this elegant Southern plantation.

We would also like to take the slave quarter side of the Summer Kitchen and turn it into a memorial to the enslaved people of Belle Grove Plantation. While the slave cemetery has long been lost, we do have many of the names of the enslaved people from the early 1700s to just after the Civil War. We have uncovered them through death records, wills and inventories. Our goal is to place a bronze plaque in the slave quarter side of the Summer Kitchen to give these very important members of the plantation a name—to let everyone know that they were here, too.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: On July 4, 2014, we will be having our first major fundraiser to help us restore, preserve and improve Belle Grove Plantation. This event will be a Blues Concert and Picnic Under the Stars at Belle Grove Plantation, starting at 6:00pm. We invite the public to bring their lawn chairs or blankets and come enjoy an evening of music, food and fun. There are no fireworks this year, but when you hear the voice of our main band, The Alexis P. Suter Band from New York, you won’t need fireworks—Alexis has a powerhouse voice that will not only excite you, but move you! We will also have an opening act, Mike Mallack from Maryland. His Southern-fried rock sound will make you swear that you are listening to and seeing Chris Daugherty.

Tickets are available through our online store or by calling us directly at 540-621-7340.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: There are many ways you can help make a difference at Belle Grove Plantation. We have volunteers that help us in so many ways. You can see our list of volunteers on our website under our “Employment” page.

If you can’t volunteer, you can help us by spreading the word. ‘Like’ our Facebook page and share it with your friends and family. Ask them to share it with their friends and family. Help us by taking some of our postcards or brochures to local businesses and encourage them to display them.

Help us with our fund raising efforts. Besides donating yourself, you can help us in our upcoming donation drive to raise the needed funds to get us to the next steps in restoring, preserving and improving Belle Grove Plantation.

Support our public events, tours and bed and breakfast accommodations. By coming and enjoying our events, you are not only have a great time with us, you are helping to provide funds we so desperately need!

For more information, visit www.bellegroveplantation.com or email information@bellegroveplantation.com.

 

Young Adult Blog Series: Renting Your First Apartment

The day has come—you’re finally ready to move out of your parents’ house and find your own place!New Houses series

Renting that first apartment can be exciting and a little bit scary. You will probably look at several apartments to find the one that has the location you want, includes the amenities you need and is affordable.

That’s the exciting part.

Before the landlord will hand over your keys, you’ll need to go through the process of signing a lease. Often times, you’ll also need to do an application before the landlord will rent to you. Be sure to understand all the details, fill out the application completely (and honestly) and ask questions about anything you do not understand before signing anything.

As you go through the process, remember that the landlord is running a business and you are the customer. However, unlike making a purchase at a store, this transaction will span a much longer period of time, and your relationship with the landlord will continue as long as you live in the apartment. Starting the relationship on a good note and living up to your responsibilities as a renter can make the relationship (and your overall experience) more pleasant.

Here are some of the things you may encounter when applying for the lease:

Personal Information – You will probably need to provide information on your prior places of residence, your employment, contact information in case of emergency, information on your car and whether you have pets. You may also be asked about any legal record you may have.

Application Fee – You will probably have to pay an application fee which may be non-refundable. This covers the cost of the landlord processing your application. It’s worth it to ask your landlord if your application fee can be applied to your rent. You may not get it, but there’s no harm in asking.

Security Deposit – Once your application is accepted, the landlord will probably want a deposit that could equate to a couple months’ rent. The landlord holds this as security in case there are damages when you move out. Be sure to inspect the apartment before you move in to find any existing damages. Discuss anything you find with your landlord immediately, and make sure you are not charged for them when you move out.

Credit Report – It’s normal for a landlord to run a credit check on you before approving your application. This is one of the ways the landlord gets some comfort that you will pay the rent each month, based on your creditworthiness.

Guarantor – Depending on your situation, the landlord may require that someone else guarantees your lease. Remember, the landlord is in business to make a profit and he wants to make sure that the rent gets paid on time and that the apartment is well taken care of. It’s especially common of the landlord to ask this of young tenants who haven’t rented before. Don’t be alarmed or frustrated—ask a parent or guardian to be the guarantor.

Finally, be a good renter. Renters and customers that are pleasant to work with and pay their bills promptly usually get better service. A good relationship with your landlord can be important if things go wrong. Remember, your landlord is whom you are going to call if there is a leak in your roof at 3 a.m. or there’s no hot water. A good relationship may get the problem resolved easier and sooner!

Make your first renting experience a good one—check out this article for tips on avoiding 7 common mistakes among first time renters!

Friday Focus: Southern Maryland Mission of Mercy

The Southern Maryland Mission of Mercy is part of a national initiative to improve the dental health of those without insurance by holding free two-day dental clinics. The clinics provide services ranging from preventative dentistry and cleanings to restorative fillings and extractions. The last clinic held in Southern Maryland took place in June 2012 at Chopticon High School. Led by Dr. Garner Morgan and a team of local dental professionals and volunteers, the organization was able to provide dental services to around 900 people. We caught up with Jean Wathen, a representative from the organization, who gave us more information on the next free clinic, scheduled for July 18 and 19 of this year!

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

A: Southern Maryland Mission of Mercy is a free adult dental clinic provided by volunteer dental professionals and volunteer staff of several hundred people. Dental services for adult patients include:

• Preventive dentistry and cleaning
• Nutritional counseling
• Restorative fillings
• Extractions

All dental services are provided by licensed dentists and hygienists, mostly from Maryland. Mission of Mercy was launched by Virginia Dental Health Foundation in 2000. Over 50 MOM projects are hosted in Virginia, and are now spreading elsewhere.

The first local MOM for Maryland’s Charles, St. Mary’s, and Calvert Counties was held in June 2012 at Chopticon High School in St. Mary’s County.

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

A: Seeing people smile for the first time in a very long time. When you are not ashamed of your teeth, you have much more self-esteem in life.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Our biggest challenge is fundraising; the cost is $80,000 to $100,000 for the two-day clinic.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: The next Southern Maryland Mission of Mercy (SMMOM) will be held on July 18th and 19th at North Point High School in Charles County.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: This clinic is made possible by volunteers. Upwards of 400 community volunteers are needed as well as 200 dentists, dental assistants, hygienists, oral surgeons, physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and dental students.

Community volunteers do not need any special dental or medical training in order to participate. We need help with security, parking, volunteer and patient registration, meals, escorting, and more. Please register to volunteer online.

Community Bank of the Chesapeake proudly supports Southern Maryland Mission of Mercy through our annual Casual for a Cause Program!

Young Adult Blog Series: Student Loans

If you’re spending the dollars on a higher education, you likely have the prospect of student loans hanging over your head. You’re not alone—Forbes.com reports that two thirds of students graduating from American universities today are carrying some amount of debt with them. Even more staggering, the total student loan debt in the United States is estimated at around $1.2 trillion, with the average graduate owing $26,000.

In the flurry of excitement that comes with graduation, job searching and (hopefully!) snagging that first job, it can be easy to put off thinking about loan payback. Consequently, nearly one quarter to one third of borrowers are late or delinquent on their student loans, a misstep that can have a negative impact on a financial future down the line.

When it comes to student loans, it’s beneficial to take the time to understand your personal situation. Every student is different, so be sure to find out who you owe, and how much you have in debt. As you go through that process, there are a few things to keep in mind:

What type of repayment plan will you have? Many loan programs allow you to defer starting the repayment process until you graduate and then have level payments for up to ten years to pay off the loan. Depending on the type of loan you have and your situation, you may be able to extend the term or have variable payments.

What are the terms (repayment and interest rate) of your loan? As you review your loan, be sure to compare the student loan rate with any other borrowing you may have. For example, it may sound nice to pay off your student loan just to get it behind you, but if that means that your credit card balance would grow, it may not make sense.

Would consolidating your loans or refinancing them make sense? Again, you need to review all of the terms of any existing loan with the terms of a potential consolidated loan. Be sure to consider rates, terms and any costs of consolidating or refinancing.

What if you are having trouble making your required payments? Living up to your repayment responsibilities is serious. Missing payments may trigger penalties and ultimately that may be reflected on your credit record. If this is an issue, contact your lender immediately. You may be able to work out an agreement to extend the repayment period or change the terms to ease the problem. Your lender does not want to see the loan go into default and neither do you.

Looking for additional tips for managing your student loans? Click here to read more.

Friday Focus: The Community Foundation of Rappahannock River Region

Since 1997, the Community Foundation of Rappahannock has supported local organizations through its philanthropic efforts. Working with individual donors and corporations alike, the Foundation creates endowments, grants and scholarships that benefit a number of programs, groups and community-oriented charitable efforts throughout Fredericksburg and the surrounding counties.  Our Friday Focus interviewee this week is the Foundation’s Executive Director, Teri McNally, who shared with us the challenges and rewards of grant-making!

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

A: The Community Foundation is a private, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has been managing charitable giving on behalf of generous local individuals, families and businesses since 1997. We establish named charitable funds and invest and manage charitable assets for the benefit of the entire Rappahannock River region, which includes the City of Fredericksburg and the four surrounding counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford.

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

A: I’m happiest at work when I am talking to area donors about what they believe in, what they are grateful for and how they want to give back. And I love it when we get to “connect the dots” between generous donors and the nonprofit organizations who are working hard each day to meet our community’s needs – whether that be through environmental conservation, arts, education, health and wellness, etc.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: They biggest challenge is that there are so many nonprofits doing such great work, but a limited amount of grant funding to distribute. It can be hard to say no when multiple nonprofits are competing for a grant. But it has an upside, too, because it pushes us to look for the most efficient, strategic and well-planned projects to benefit from our donor’s giving.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: We will be hosting a continuing education opportunity for area professional advisors, such as investment bankers, estate attorneys, and accountants. This low cost, high value training will be held on September 16. Our website–www.cfrrr.org—will have more information and registration opportunities as the event draws closer.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: When the time comes in life to give back to a community that gives so much to each of us, I hope everyone will remember the local foundation that can help.

Opening a charitable fund at the Community Foundation is easy. A phone call is a great way to start! Teri McNally, Executive Director: 540 373-9292 or email terrimcnally@cfrrr.org.

Young Adult Blog Series: Do you know your credit score?

If your answer is “no”, don’t feel bad; a recent study by the Consumer Federation of America and VantageScore Solutions found that there are many misconceptions and a general lack of knowledge among Americans when it comes to their credit score.

When you’re young, a credit score probably isn’t something you regularly think about, but as your level of financial responsibility increases, it becomes an important thing to keep track of. So what is a credit score, and how do you find out yours?

Essentially, your credit score is a snapshot of your borrowing history, comprised of information from credit card companies, financial institutions and other companies. This history is used to calculate your creditworthiness—in other words, your likelihood of being able to pay back money that you borrow.

Each time you apply for credit, whether you complete a credit card application, apply for an auto loan or sign a lease for an apartment, someone is probably checking your credit report. When it comes to loans, your credit score is a major determining factor on whether or not a lender will approve you. It can also affect your interest rate; the lower your credit score, the more likely you’ll end up paying more in interest.

Here are some tips to help you build and maintain a solid credit rating:

-Make your payments before the due date Remember, promptness counts! Making your payments ahead of schedule will not only help you avoid late fees, but it will keep your account from delinquency.

-Pay more than the minimum on all credit cards if you can. Having a high credit card balance relative to your credit limit can negatively affect your credit score. If you have a high amount of credit card debt, make every effort to pay down your balances as quickly as possible.

-Order a credit report once a year There are three major bureaus that house credit card information: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You are entitled to one free report per year from each of the financial institutions, so make a yearly credit check-up part of your life! If you notice any errors on your credit report, contact the issuing bureau immediately.

Want to test your knowledge? Take this quiz and see how much you know about your credit score!