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:

www.stmarysartscouncil.com 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 www.stmarysartscouncil.com

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 www.stmarysartscouncil.com

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!

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!

Friday Focus: Focused on our Community

In the summer of 2013, Community Bank of the Chesapeake kicked off a brand new blog series called “Friday Focus”. The goal of the series was simple: to help boost awareness for the many nonprofit organizations hard at work in our communities.

After a year and a half, and over fifty interviews, we wanted to take a moment to thank the organizations we have featured for the work that they do. Every one of these organizations fills a special role in the community; from helping families in need with  food, shelter and clothing to providing opportunities for cultural enrichment to protecting our lands and natural resources.

The New Year is a time for resolutions, and there’s no better time to make a new commitment to getting out and getting involved! This year, consider joining or supporting one of these organizations; there are so many ways that your time and talent can help. And don’t forget to check our blog on Fridays as we continue to get the inside scoop on new nonprofits throughout 2015!

A Community That Shares (ACTS)

Accokeek Foundation

Adult Day Care of Calvert County

Alzheimer’s Association

Annmarie Garden & Sculpture Center

American Red Cross

Anathoth House, Inc.

Barstow Acres Children’s Center

Belle Grove Plantation

Calvert Hospice

Humane Society of Calvert County

Calvert Nature Society

Calvert Library Foundation

Cedar Lane Senior Living Facility

Center for Children

The Center for Life Enrichment

Children’s Aid Society

Charles Regional Medical Center Foundation

Charles County Holiday Trail

Charles County Dive Rescue Company 13

Christmas in April—St. Mary’s County

Christmas in April—Calvert County

Conservancy for Charles County

Dahlgren Heritage Museum

Fairy Godmother Project

Greenwell Foundation

Historic St. Mary’s City

Humane Society of Charles County

Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum

King George YMCA

Lifestyles of Maryland

Mattawoman Creek Art Center

Nonprofit Institute at CSM

Point Lookout Lighthouse Preservation Society

Project Echo

Rappahannock Community Foundation

Rappahannock Goodwill Industries

Rappahannock YMCA

Southern Maryland Food Bank

Southern Maryland Mission of Mercy

Southern Maryland Animal Welfare League (SMAWL)

Sotterley Foundation

St. Mary’s Museum Division

The Arc of Southern Maryland

The Community Foundation of Southern Maryland

Toys for Tots King George

Toys for Tots Calvert

United Way of Calvert County

United Way of Charles County United Way of Rappahannock

Vacations for Vets

Windows of Strength, Limited

Zonta Club of Charles County

Do you know of an organization that would make a great Friday Focus feature? Contact Monica Meinert at meinertm@cbtc.com or 240-427-1048 for more information about the blog series.

A Special Holiday Message from our President

Winter is in the air, the holiday season is in full swing and another year is drawing to aHoliday2014- close. While it’s easy to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle, it’s important to remember that the holiday season is a time to reflect and give thanks for the blessings and opportunities that we have had over the past year.

2014 was a big year for us at Community Bank of the Chesapeake. We started off the New Year with an updated name, a new red sailboat and a commitment to continuing our tradition of exceeding expectations. We brought our personalized style of banking to new markets as we celebrated the opening of a new branch in Fredericksburg and a Lending Center in Annapolis. We saw our workplace family grow as we welcomed new lenders, customer service representatives and support staff to our team. We supported the mission of many nonprofit organizations through our Casual for a Cause program, Day of Caring participation and Holiday Food and Toy Drive. We helped hundreds of high school students understand the importance of being fiscally responsible, financially literate young adults with the help of our Financial Scholars Program and watched with pride as they received their certifications.

We have so many things to be thankful for this holiday season. But above all, we are thankful for our wonderful communities and for you, our customer. You are the reason that we are able to do what we do at Community Bank of the Chesapeake. It is a joy and a privilege to serve you day in and day out, and we look forward to continuing to do so in 2015.

On behalf of the executive team and the entire staff, I wish you and your family a very happy holiday season, and a prosperous New Year.

Friday Focus: Toys for Tots

Each year, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program works to brighten the Toys for Totslives of less fortunate children throughout the United States with its annual toy drive. From October to December, the organization works with local communities to accept donations of new toys to be distributed at Christmas time. Their mission is simple: to deliver a message of hope to one of the nation’s most valuable resources—its children. This week, we spoke with Staff Sergeant Brett Wagner, a coordinator from King George County, VA,  who shared some information about the organization and one particularly special instance of how Toys for Tots was able to touch a family in need.

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

A: The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

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

A: I was very touched when we were able to support a family that just lost their house due to a fire two days before Christmas, but there are a few stories that are similar that happen almost every year.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?  

A: Getting toys early in the campaign season.  A lot of people tend to wait until closer to Christmas to begin their shopping, but we need to get the toys to the families as soon as we can.

Q: How can people get involved this holiday season?  

A: There are many ways to support the program.  Volunteering in the warehouse and donations are the primary things that come to mind.

This year, Community Bank of the Chesapeake proudly supported Toys for Tots programs throughout the communities we serve through our annual Toy Drive. Thanks to the generous donations of customers and employees, we were able to donate over 270 new toys… just in time for Christmas!

Friday Focus: Southern Maryland Food Bank

For many of us, the holidays are a time of plenty as our tables are filled withsomdfood bank festive dishes, cookies and other treats.  But it’s important to remember that there are people in our community who are not as fortunate. Leading the charge against hunger in the Tri-County area is Brenda DiCarlo, Director of the Southern Maryland Food Bank. We caught up with Brenda for this week’s Friday Focus, where she shared her organization’s story.

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

A: The Southern Maryland Food Bank has been serving the Tri-County area of Southern Maryland for 30 years and has been easing the pain of hunger since we began in 1983.  We provide supportive services and bulk food to nearly 40 pantries, group homes, soup kitchens and shelters in our area.  These sites rely on us for 50 to 100 percent of their weekly food supply, so that they can provide food to those experiencing food insecurity in their communities.  We also provide SNACK Sak bags to children in five St. Mary County Public Schools who are living in crisis situations.

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

A: Our favorite bittersweet moment was recently when we distributed over 1 million pounds of food to the community during our 30th fiscal year.  It was a milestone for such a small program, however, knowing that there was that much need in our community enlightened us as to how much more we still need to do to ease the pain of hunger.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Our challenges are many. We are in constant need of food donations, financial donations to purchase food with or expand our services and staffing.

Q: What advice can you give someone looking to work at a non-profit?

A: Always remember that we ourselves could easily be in the same situation as those we serve, so be kind and non-judgmental to those requesting services.

Q: How can people get involved this holiday season?

A: Food drives are a great way to get involved and to support those in need. You can also contact us or any pantry that may need extra help during the busy season of giving and receiving.

 

Friday Focus: The Charles County Holiday Trail

The holiday season is in the air in Charles County as several hiholiday trailstoric and contemporary sites come together once again to form the 2014 Holiday Trail! Working behind the scenes to coordinate the effort is Kate Zabriskie, who came up with the idea in 2012 as a creative way to promote tourism in Charles County. Her vision was quickly embraced by local organizations and has been gaining popularity ever since. As part of this week’s Friday Focus, Kate spoke with us about the trail and provided details about how and when to go this year.

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

A: The Charles County Holiday Trail is composed of historic and cultural sites in Charles County. The purpose of the trail is to share these landmarks with locals and visitors alike.

The participating landmarks include:

We are also excited to welcome several new sites to the trail this year, including:

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

A: The Historical Society of Charles County has stepped in as the umbrella organization for the event.  The County’s tourism office has also gotten behind the effort and sponsored the brochure design and printing.  It is exciting to see a little idea quickly grow into something that can be sustained for years to come.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: The biggest challenge is getting the word out.  People from the County will tell you they haven’t been to some of these sites in years—or ever, for that matter.  For those new the County, many don’t even know these places exist.

Q: How can people really help?

A: The public is invited to visit the sites the weekend of December 5-7. They can also visit our website, where they can connect with us via social media. Additionally, businesses, organizations or individuals can include this informational text in newsletters, Facebook posts, etc.

Q: What advice can you give someone looking to work at a non-profit?

A: Realize that nothing is below you.  At some point, you will probably end up cleaning dirty bathrooms before an event.  On that same note, however, there will usually be more to do than you can ever get done.  Choose what you will work on wisely.  Always be in recruit mode and never forget to say thank you!

Want to experience the Holiday Trail for yourself? Here’s what you need to know:  

The trail begins on Friday, December 5 with the Kris Kringle Christmas Market at the Charles County Fair. Admission is $1 or one nonperishable food item. All admission will go to the Southern Maryland Food Bank. Modelled after the markets in Germany, visitors can expect plenty of food, lights, greens, art, music, shopping and a living nativity.

Friday Feature: La Plata Business Association – Small Business Saturday

LBA logoYou’ve heard of Black Friday, but did you know that the Saturday after Thanksgiving is Small Business Saturday? Local businesses are the backbone of so many communities, and each year, shoppers are encouraged to support then as they do their holiday shopping. This year, the La Plata Business Association has been working hard to plan the first-ever “Shop La Plata” celebration, taking place this Saturday. We spoke to Keith Grasso, the Association’s President, who shared some details on the event and why you should be shopping local this holiday season!

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

A: LPBA provides opportunities for businesses, organizations, and individuals interested in the development, redevelopment and preservation of the downtown business district of La Plata to work together to promote the interest of the La Plata Business community through the sponsoring, marketing and programming of special events and to provide opportunities for advertising and joint marketing development.

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

A: Small Business Saturday® helps small business kick off the busy holiday shopping season. The role of a neighborhood champion is to inspire communities to participate in the day and support local Small Business Saturday celebrations.

This year, LPBA has partnered with Business Alliance of Charles County, Charles County Chamber of Commerce, Charles County Government Economic Development and Tourism, Town of La Plata, and University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center among other neighborhood champions for the “Shop La Plata” celebration on Small Business Saturday.

To date, more than a dozen neighborhood champions have joined together to recognize the day and to commit to serve as ambassadors, encouraging family and friends to shop small at independently-owned shops and restaurants in our neighborhood.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Public awareness is important. LPBA appreciates this opportunity to be featured on Community Bank’s blog to promote public awareness about the “Shop La Plata” celebration on Small Business Saturday.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: LPBA will host an inaugural “Shop La Plata” celebration on Small Business Saturday® to be held on Nov. 29, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the downtown business district of La Plata, Maryland.

Small Business Saturday® is held the first Saturday after Thanksgiving and was original created by American Express in 2010 to help small business kick of the busy holiday shopping season. By supporting independently-owned shops and restaurants on Small Business Saturday® and throughout the holiday season, you are helping to grow the local economy and build a better neighborhood.

“Shop La Plata” for one of the best small town holiday shopping experiences Southern Maryland has to offer.

Streets and storefront windows will be decorated with whimsical holiday décor. La Plata’s tops chefs at Casey Jones Restaurant & Bar and Charles Street Bakery will fill the air with wonderful aromas of sweet treats and tasty desserts! Shop La Plata for homemade pizza at Pizza Hotline.

Shop La Plata for fine jewelry, fashion eyewear, baby boutique and one of kind gifts, ornaments and chic home decor at Centerpiece Boutique and Home Design, House Boutique, and Joson Fine Jewelry & Home Boutique. Shop La Plata for holistic health and wellness, beauty, spa and yoga holiday specials at Alchemy the Salon, La Bella Viso, Live Out Loud Yoga Studio, New Moon Bodywork & Botanicals, Rejuvenation Medi-Spa, Tangles Hair Salon, The Loft Salon, and World Gym. Shop La Plata for new and hard to find vintage musical instruments at Island Music Company, high quality custom framing for your holiday family portraits and handmade furniture at Bernie’s Frame Shop. Shop La Plata for quality resale clothing at Hooks and Hangers and iPhone, iPad and iPod repairs at Wireless Junkies.

Participating merchants will be collecting canned goods and nonperishable food items on Small Business Saturday to support Southern Maryland Food Bank.

Ask participating merchants how to win prizes, no purchase necessary.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: Look for a full page ad in the Maryland Independent “holiday shopping guide” on Wed., Nov. 26 and Dec. 10. The guide will be available from Wed. Nov. 26 through Mon. Dec. 22 at Southern Maryland Newspapers Online web site www.somdnews.com

Stay updated and informed about the event by following the La Plata Business Association Facebook page. For inquiries, please contact Christine Parker, co-chair of the Shop La Plata celebration at 301-751-7553.

Friday Focus: Anathoth House

As the cold winter months approach, organizations like Anathoth House, Inc. banathoth houseecome especially important to the community. This all-volunteer initiative reaches out to individuals in need to provide sustenance, support and spiritual guidance. We spoke with Tracey Alston, a representative of Anathoth House, who shared a little more about the organization’s mission.

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

A: Anathoth House, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We provide meals, clothing, survival kits and emergency food packages to the homeless, needy and other persons in crisis. We combine our efforts with local agencies and churches in the hope of promoting the self-sufficiency of those we serve.

Along with physical restoration, we purpose to bring about spiritual renewal to those we come in contact with through prayer and ministering the written Gospel. Assisting others through physical means is beneficial, but we know that to be only a short-term solution. The true bread of life is the continuous application of the Word of God; as it is long lasting and a key ingredient needed to transform lives from brokenness to victorious living. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Our organization has no paid staff and all donations go towards those in need.

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

A:  I have two. The first is when we were delivering food to a senior who lives on very little income. She was very grateful for the holiday basket of food that was given to her. After giving her the food, our volunteers spent time talking and praying with her. The senior then asked if she could go with them to church, as she recognized she needed spiritual food more than natural food. She said that was needed most. So our volunteers picked her up and brought her to church the following Sunday.

My second favorite moment was when I learned one of the women who was living out in tents in the woods, had landed work. To date, she is still working and living in a studio apartment. She is facing health challenges, but she is out of the woods.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: The biggest challenge is attaining the opportunity where we can sit down and gather with those we serve. Our goal is to establish an ongoing relationship with them to prove ourselves trustworthy. As we go about accomplishing that, we slowly teach them basic fundamental skills that so many of us take for granted. Many we serve are victims of circumstances and/or have not been taught basic life skills.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: We have our holiday food giveaways and in 2015, we hope to resume our workshops, where we invite the women we serve. We have an awesome time of fellowship where we minister the Word of God and have brunch.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization? 

A:  They can reach us through our website, AnathothHouse.org, or call us at 301.751.4870. We have many people who want to volunteer. We like to first meet those interested in helping first; there is also an application and, depending on the project, we do background checks.

Friday Focus: Windows of Strength

Undergoing an organ transplant can be a lengthy ordeal for both the recipient and his or her family. This week’s Friday Focus organization, Windows of Strength, Limited, seeks to relieve some of the financial stress for transplant recipients and their caregivers. We caught up with founder, Sandy Walker-Samler, who shared more information about the positive impact her organization has had on the lives of those in need.

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

A: Windows of Strength is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization assisting organ transplant recipients and their caregivers with non-medical costs that are not covered by insurance, government programs or other organizations during their transplant process. These costs include transportation to and from follow-up doctor visits and testing, lodging for caregivers and family members during the recipient’s hospital stay, meals and other needs that may arise that do not fall under medical classification.

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

A: We have helped organ transplant recipients and their caregivers in many ways. Each time we provide assistance is considered a special moment. There is such a need for this type of support; we wish we could help more. We have aided in areas such as:

  • Providing gas cards for transportation needs to allow recipients to travel back and forth to their follow-up doctor appointments and tests.
  • Providing assistance with lodging and bus transportation for recipients who live out of their transplant clinic area when they must follow-up with doctor appointments and tests after their transplant surgery.
  • Helping to pay for parking fees for the recipients while at their doctor appointments and follow-up tests.
  • Helping with phone and utility bills, homeowner’s and car insurance for recipients in need of assistance due to their caregiver and/or themselves being unable to work after their transplant surgery.
  • Paying rent for the recipients in need of assistance due to the caregiver and/or recipient being on an unpaid leave of absence.
  • Donating to the Gift of Life Family House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Gift of Life Family House serves as a “home away from home” for transplant patients and their families by providing temporary, affordable lodging and supportive services to those who travel to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for transplant-related care.

These are the main areas where we have helped; however, there have been other miscellaneous requests that we have granted funding to help with financial assistance

Q: What is your biggest challenge? 

A:   Awareness, Funding, and Volunteers.

Windows of Strength was formed in 2010 and received 501(c)(3) status in 2011. Being a newly formed organization, we are faced with the challenge of growing awareness about the organization and our mission.   We started from the ground up and do not have any statewide chapters or a national umbrella that we fall under to assist with awareness or funding. We are not a “known” name throughout the community. Most of our funding comes from two major events we hold each year: a Mother/Daughter Tea and Fashion Show held the Sunday before Mother’s Day and a Holiday Gift Show held the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We have also held smaller fundraising events throughout the year which has helped in these areas.

In addition, most of the transplant clinics are located in the Baltimore and D.C. areas where there is a larger transplant community to draw from. Here in Southern Maryland, we don’t have transplant centers. Though there are many organ transplant recipients in the area, due to confidentiality and the sensitive nature of a transplant, we do not have the access as the larger organizations do to reach out to this community. With that being said, it has also been a big challenge to find volunteers in the Southern Maryland area to assist with the organization. We know the people are out there, but just need help in finding ways to connect to them.

We continue to make baby steps, however we are excited to report that this year we made huge progress in establishing great partnerships with transplant social workers from the Johns Hopkins Transplant Center and the University of Maryland Transplant Center. In order to verify a recipient’s need for assistance, a grant application must be submitted and signed off by their transplant social worker before submitting to Windows of Strength for funding. We have been able to provide assistance to many of the recipients from these centers, some of which are from the Southern Maryland area. 

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Yes. Our Annual Holiday Gift Show – Sunday, November 23, 2014 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the North Beach Volunteer Fire Department, North Beach, Md.

We also sell very delicious tea and tasty creamed honey over the holidays. They can be purchased individually or in gift sets and baskets.

Other ongoing fund raising events:

  1. When you shop online at AmazonSmile and choose Windows of Strength as your charity organization, Amazon will donate a percentage to Windows of Strength.
  2. If you like jewelry, check out www.bravelets.com and search for Windows of Strength as your charity.   Bravelets™ will donate $10 from each jewelry purchase to Windows of Strength.
  3. We have partnered with Phoneraiser.com in collecting used/old cell phones and ink jet cartridges. The donation of these items help Windows of Strength raise money for organ transplant recipients and their caregivers, while at the same time protecting the environment by giving old technology new life and keeping it from polluting our landfills. The unwanted cell phones and ink cartridges are recycled in accordance with EPA regulations or refurbished and reused.     

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?  

A: Contact Windows of Strength by phone at 443-951-5125; email at mywish@windowsofstrength.org; or find more information online at www.windowsofstrength.org. Windows of Strength can also be found on Facebook and Pinterest. Our mailing address is P.O. Box 584, Chesapeake Beach, MD 20732.