Friday Focus: Humane Society of Calvert County

Helping stray animals find permanent, loving homes is the mission of this wecalvert humane societyek’s Friday Focus organization. The Humane Society of Calvert County works to place animals in responsible homes, increase awareness through education and outreach, reduce animal overpopulation and eliminate cruelty. They serve as an advocate for animals by promoting humane standards, and seek to enhance the relationship between animals and people. This week, we spoke with the Society’s Kirstyn Northrop Cobb, who talked with us about her organization’s work.

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

A: The Humane Society of Calvert County is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization specializing in placing homeless animals into loving homes throughout Southern Maryland.

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

A: A few years back, we brought in a very thin dog. He had been left chained out in the back of an abandoned home. He was thin, malnourished, hairless and had obviously lost hope. We brought him into our organization, fattened him up, made him healthy again and found him an amazing home. This is a story that repeats itself all the time within our organization and each and every time, it is special to us, but this guy really stood out as he was one of the first that I took part in.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Our biggest challenge, by far, is the constant frustration that there are still so many animals in need of homes and we are unable to take them in due to space limitations. We look forward to a day when there are no more homeless pets.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: We have many upcoming events! Our annual Rock ‘N Roll for Rescue is coming up. We have “Home for the Holidays” in December and November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization? 

A: We have many volunteer opportunities available. We are always in need of volunteers to walk dogs or help at events. We welcome visitors and, as always, the number one way to help is to adopt a pet!

Friday Focus: American Red Cross Rappahannock Area

redcross-logoThis week’s Friday Focus organization is part of the world’s largest volunteer network. Active in 187 countries worldwide, the Red Cross plays a fundamental role in the lives of many millions of people. We spoke with Jonathan McNamara, Regional Director of Donor and Media Relations and spokesman for the local Virginia chapter of the organization, about the important role the Red Cross plays locally, nationally and globally.

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

A: The American Red Cross exists to provide compassionate care to those in need. Our network of generous donors, volunteers and employees shares a mission of preventing and relieving suffering, here at home and around the world, through five key service areas:

Disaster Relief: The Red Cross responds to approximately 70,000 disasters in the United States every year, ranging from home fires that affect a single family to hurricanes that affect tens of thousands, to earthquakes that impact millions. In these events, the Red Cross provides shelter, food, health and mental health services to help families and entire communities get back on their feet. Although the Red Cross is not a government agency, it is an essential part of the response when disaster strikes. We work in partnership with other agencies and organizations that provide services to disaster victims.

Supporting America’s Military Families: The Red Cross helps military members, veterans and their families prepare for, cope with and respond to the challenges of military service. Emergency communications, training, support to wounded warriors and veterans, and access to community resources help an average of 150,000 military families and veterans annually.

Live-saving Blood: Your donations of blood are what make the American Red Cross the largest single supplier of blood and blood products in the U.S. Each year, nearly 4 million people donate blood through the Red Cross, helping to provide more than 40% of America’s blood supply.

Health and Safety Services: The Red Cross is the nation’s leading provider of health and safety courses, such as CPR, First Aid and Lifeguard training. Each year, more than 9 million Americans participate in our training programs, including first responders, educators, babysitters and people who want to be prepared to help others in an emergency.

International Services: The American Red Cross is part of the world’s largest humanitarian network with 13 million volunteers in 187 countries. Working together, we help respond to disasters, build safer communities, and teach the rules of war. Each year, we reach an average of more than 100 million people across the globe. 

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

A: Every moment where we help a family is special. From supporting families who have lost everything after a home fire at 3:00 a.m., to reuniting a loved ones seperated by armed conflict, our volunteers and staff work tirelessly to alleviate human suffering.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: We continue to have to adapt to the challenges our communites face. This is why we work so hard to recruit and train volunteers to support our mission. We also work with a variety of partners to commmunicate our vision and work to bring people together to build more prepared and resilient communities.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: We are participating in a variety of community events across our area. For more information about upcoming events, or to have the Red Cross at your next function, visit http://www.redcross.org/va/fredericksburg or call 757-446-7700. You can also follow the Red Cross on Twitter @RCCoastalVA or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/redcrossSEVA.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization? 

A: Each year, over one million Americans serve as Red Cross volunteers providing local community needs, such as:

  • Helping people in emergencies and disaster response
  • Teaching people how to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies
  • Teaching first aid and CPR, swimming and other health and safety skills
  • Delivering emergency messages to members of the military
  • Reconnecting families separated around the world through international tracking services, etc.
  • Organizing youth programs

Red Cross volunteers work directly with people, serve on boards of directors, serve as managers, advisors, and provide behind the scenes support. Be a Red Cross volunteer!

Helping others feels good, and helps you feel good about yourself. Your local Red Cross can work with you to provide rewarding experiences, opportunities to utilize your talents, or provide training to help you serve your community.

To join our team visit: http://www.redcross.org/va/fredericksburg/volunteer

Halloween Safety Tips

The candy bowls are full, the Jack-o-Lanterns are carved and your children have been wearing their costumes around the house in anticipation. However, before your children take to the neighborhood on October 31, it’s important you proceed with the proper safety precautions to ensure everyone has a great time while scaring up some fun. Here are a few helpful Halloween safety tips for both parents and chPumpkinsildren alike.

Costume Caution

As much as possible, encourage bright or light colored costumes. However, if your children like to take the scare factor to a whole new level by donning costumes fit for a horror movie set, there are ways to make even the most frightening frocks safer. While it might be difficult to convince your son of the need to brighten up his Batman costume for fear of “totally ruining it,” try adding reflective or glow-in-the-dark tape to the bottom of dark costumes and candy bags. Carrying flashlights and glow sticks can also make dark costumes more visible to drivers while not taking too much away from the costume.

‘One size fits all’ might work for the manufacturer, but such store-bought costumes are often far from that. Make sure your child tries on the costume with whatever footwear they intend to pair it with. Pay special attention to the costume’s length, and make sure it is the right size, as a costume that is too long could more easily result in trips and falls.

Masks can make it difficult to see and can hamper your child’s peripheral vision. Nontoxic face paint or make-up are better options, but start by testing a small amount your child’s arm beforehand to check for any possible reaction.

Safekids.org recommends that children under the age of 12 be accompanied by an adult. While chaperoning the group’s movement from house to house, make certain everyone remains on the sidewalks at all times and cross the street at crosswalks whenever possible. If a street does not have a sidewalk, always walk along the left side watching forward for any oncoming cars.

And if you’re children are old enough to venture out on their own, it’s best to remind them of these trick-or-treating rules. It is also a good idea to have them carry a fully charged cellphone and stick to familiar, well-lit neighborhoods.

Drivers, remember the popular trick-or-treating times are between 5:30 and 9:30 pm. Proceed with caution and keep an eye out for children, especially in neighborhoods, when out on the roads.

Rules of the Road

Safekids.org recommends that children under the age of 12 be accompanied by an adult. While chaperoning the group’s movement from house to house, make certain everyone remains on the sidewalks at all times and cross the street at crosswalks whenever possible. If a street does not have a sidewalk, always walk along the left side watching forward for any oncoming cars.

And if you’re children are old enough to venture out on their own, it’s best to remind them of these trick-or-treating rules. It is also a good idea to have them carry a fully charged cellphone and stick to familiar, well-lit neighborhoods.

Drivers, remember the popular trick-or-treating times are between 5:30 and 9:30 pm. Proceed with caution and keep an eye out for children, especially in neighborhoods, when out on the roads.

Candy Collecting

The Food and Drug Administration suggests giving your children a light meal before heading out. This can help prevent hunger, and cut down on the temptation to snack while trick-or-treating. This is especially helpful for parents as it provides you an opportunity to inspect your children’s candy after getting back home.

When checking your child’s candy collection, be on the lookout for homemade goods and any suspicious wrapping. A good rule of thumb is to stick with only candy or sweets found in commercially wrapped packaging.

Whether you will be out trick-or-treating with your children or on your way home from work, just remember to keep these safety tips in mind on Halloween night. We hope everyone has a safe and very Happy Halloween!

Friday Focus: The Calvert Nature Society

This week’s Friday Focus organization invites people to take a break frKLPom the hectic buzz of the technological world and escape to the natural landscape of Calvert County. Working with the local Division of Natural Resources, The Calvert Nature Society (previously known as the Battle Creek Nature Education Society) provides opportunities for appreciation and understanding of the natural world through various outreach initiatives. We caught up with Anne Sundermann, the Society’s Executive Director for this week’s interview.

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

A: Battle Creek Nature Education Society was formed in the late 1980s to support the Calvert County nature parks: Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, Flag Ponds Nature Park, Kings Landing Park, Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm and other natural areas in the county. The Society works in partnership with the County’s Division of Natural Resources to offer nature programs to residents and park visitors. We also support the preservation of the Calvert County’s natural heritage, work to protect lands in the county, highlight the importance of our natural resources, and promote environmentally aware and literate communities.

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

A: The Society has a long tradition of supporting the county in its effort to improve and expand the nature parks in the County. Right now, Calvert County has provided the Society with a grant to rebuild the Fisherman’s Shanty at Flag Ponds. The Flag Ponds fisherman’s shanty is a reminder of the thriving commercial fisheries that were a main component of the economies of our bayside towns. The shanties were in use from the early 1900s until the mid to late 1950s.

The Flag Ponds shanty was destroyed in an act of arson during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. So many people in Calvert responded to our plea for donations of both financial support and for period items to refurnish the shanty. Work will start soon on the new building and we are very excited to be able to have such a large part in bringing this piece of Calvert history back to life.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Time. Our hectic schedules leave little room for downtime and often a walk in the woods gets put on the back burner in the rush to complete errands or catch up on chores. And there are so many distractions, with the constant interruptions from electronic media. As people spend more time online, they can become disconnected from the “IRL” (in real life) opportunities around them. BCNES/Calvert Nature Society strives to re-connect individuals to the natural world. We already provide programs for pre-school to adult, but we want to provide more programming that will catch the interest of middle and high schoolers.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: We have a full calendar of fall and winter events, including our volunteer events. We have a lot of fun events scheduled for late October/early November. The Nature Photography Mini Camp connects art and nature on October 27. Our Barn Owl Workday is scheduled for Friday, November 7. Calvert Stewards are planting holly trees at the Cypress Swamp on November 1. And there is a dog walk at our newest park, Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm, also on November 1. Most events are free for Society members. See the full calendar at www.calvertparks.org/calendar.html.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: Assisting at the Calvert County nature parks is a rewarding way to raise awareness of the importance of our natural lands. Natural Resources staff develops programs that present a continuing stream of environmental action activities at the county nature parks for children, families, and adults.

Our volunteers teach school children the ChesPax curriculum, they plant trees and butterfly gardens, they walk the trails, help monitor wildlife, and in general, provide stewardship for our nature parks. Our Junior Ranger Corps engages youth, ages 12-16 in park projects and teaches outdoor and leadership skills. Calvert Stewards tackles trail maintenance and other park projects.

Our volunteers come from all walks of life and have many different interests, but all use their experience to help preserve the natural heritage of Calvert County. Volunteer opportunities are listed at www.calvertparks.org/volunteer.html

Is email marketing right for your business?

Today, nearly everyone has an email account. And, if you’re in business, n370001Bearly everyone could be your target market. Put the two together, and all your problems are solved, right?

The answer is “maybe,” if you do it right.

The broad definition of email marketing is the promotion of products or services via email. You communicate with current customers with their permission, or by “cold calling” potential customers from a purchased list. Your goal is to get them to buy something, buy more of something, or just stay loyal to your brand.

But, once you hit “Send,” you’re no longer in control. The email recipient could choose not to open your email, delete it, or decide to opt out. Maybe it ended up in the Spam pile. And, if the email IS opened, the timing could be off.

You have to reach your targets when they are ready to act, not when you are. It stands to reason, then, that holiday-related emails might draw a higher response than one you send in the middle of March.

And, speaking of timing, are you over-emailing? Are you bombarding digital inboxes with emails that are now the equivalent of paper “junk mail”? Worse still, are you in danger of violating the government’s SPAM act?

How should you approach email marketing? Take a look at what this digital marketing company spokesman considers 5 Brands That Get Email Marketing Right, from Amazon to Moosejaw Mountaineering!

Are you currently email marketing, but with limited success? Entrepreneur.com offers tips on How to Create an E-Mail Marketing Campaign That People Will Notice.

And, last but not least, comes this warning, when it comes to emails in general: Never substitute emails for good, old-fashioned common business sense, ever! Don’t send that email, pick up the phone.

Do you have an email newsletter for your business?

7 Tips for Protecting Yourself Online

Though the internet has many advantages, it can also make users vulneSecurity Button On Keyboardrable to fraud, identity theft and other scams. According to a Norton Cybercrime Report, 556 million adults worldwide were victims of cybercrime in 2012. The American Bankers Association recommends the following tips to keep you safe online:

1. Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.

2. Set strong passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

3. Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with.

  • Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at spam@uce.gov – and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email.

4. Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.

5. Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it.

6. Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.

7. Read the site’s privacy policies. Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects. If you don’t see or understand a site’s privacy policy, consider doing business elsewhere.

Friday Focus: Point Lookout Lighthouse Preservation Society

Photo credit: Lisa Kane

Photo credit: Lisa Kane

At the southernmost tip of St. Mary’s County is the Point Lookout Lighthouse, a historical landmark that has stood since 1830. Today, the preservation and maintenance of the lighthouse is managed in part by the Point Lookout Lighthouse Preservation Society, Inc., a nonprofit foundation started in 2006. As the organization prepares to host its annual “Feel the History 5k” race this weekend, we spoke with Chuck Kohls, Treasurer and Volunteer Coordinator for the Society.

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

A: We were founded to assist in the preservation of the Point Lookout Lighthouse when it was transferred from United States Navy ownership to the state of Maryland. Unfortunately, the state park did not have funding to maintain, let alone restore, the historic structure in Point Lookout State Part at the confluence of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay in St. Mary’s County.

We hold open houses so visitors can see and learn about this landmark. We also give special tours to groups of interested persons. In addition, we hold ‘preservation workdays’ when our volunteers meet to do a variety of tasks such as cleaning the house, painting, yard maintenance and repairs needed to prevent further deterioration. We also hold fundraising events and have a small gift shop open during open houses to raise funds for the restoration of the lighthouse. Since the lighthouse is considered haunted by many authorities on the subject we also hold ‘Paranormal Investigation’ nights, where individuals and groups have several hours of nighttime access to conduct their own investigations. These are very popular and have proven to be a good fundraiser.

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

A: It sounds so simple but we were able to raise the necessary funds to purchase and install a new flagpole to replace the 50 plus year old wooden pole that was rotting and becoming unsafe. Just seeing the flags fly when we are open brings a big smile to my face.

But, I think our most rewarding moments are when we talk with of visitors and provide them with an understanding of the history and importance of this gem.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Because the lighthouse is state owned we are limited in what we can do with the structure beyond emergency repairs and maintenance until the Maryland Park Service finalizes their plans and the General Assembly provides funding to accomplish the restoration. If we had to go it alone, it would be many years before we could tackle the myriad repairs that are necessary to turn it into a proper museum for all to enjoy. Some such repairs would be a total rewire and replumb of the house and installation of a modern HVAC system.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Open House from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on November 1.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: Send an e-mail to volunteer@pllps.org or visit us during an open house and talk to me. We can use all types of volunteers of all ages. Currently, we have two elementary/middle school aged volunteers who come with their grandmother and great aunt. We also have two octogenarians who are regulars.

Community Bank of the Chesapeake is proud to support the Point Lookout Lighthouse Preservation Society as a sponsor of their 4th annual “Feel the History 5k” race this Saturday, October 11. Registration for this event is still available online at http://www.feelthehistory5k.com/Register.html. Participants may also sign up at the event.

Money Management Tips for College Children

Money Management - CollegeWhile the upcoming years will prepare you for your future, you don’t want to let financial difficulties weigh you down when you graduate. Which is why we have pulled together the following tips to put you, and keep you, on the right financial path!

Write it all down
Step one is create a budget. This is as simple as writing down your income (student loans, financial aid, employment pay and any help from family) and your expenses. If listing your expenses seems overwhelming – break it down to what you spend in one day and then gradually calculate the increase to a week and then a month. There are a variety of online money management tools – but a simple Excel sheet works just fine.

Prioritize
Organize your expenses into categories. Make a careful list of the essentials (food, books, health, transportation) and things that are optional (new clothes, concerts etc.). Then take a close look at both categories and see where you might be able to save. Ask yourself the tough questions – do you really need unlimited texting? Could you better utilize all the free communication channels like Facebook and email?

If your budget can’t balance and you are still in need of cash flow – consider these ideas to save and/or generate income or save money.

  • Sell your used books online
  • Tutor other students in your best subject(s)
  • Check with your school. Local residents and businesses often contact colleges when looking for “freelance” help with babysitting, dog walking, tutoring for children, odd jobs, special events, and the like. There may even be interesting part-time jobs available that will fit into your academic schedule.

Credit cards
By now most people are aware of the dangers of credit cards, but a credit card can be a great tool for building credit. That’s why we suggest for everyday expenses, use a debit card linked to your checking account, but have a credit card on hand for emergencies, or to make small purchases on a regular basis. Just remember to pay off the balance as soon as possible.

Keep track
Frequent attention to your budget and cash flow is crucial. As a general rule, the tighter your cash flow, the more often you have to monitor your budget. While daily management may seem like too much, a weekly check-in is a good place to start. Never be late paying your bills – added interest and fees can create additional expenses.

Available tools like Online Banking can help you keep track by allowing you to access your accounts and check your balances easily. E-mail alerts can also help you keep an eye on your accounts by sending you a notice anytime your balances drop below a certain level.

Communication
If you are getting help from home, be sure to communicate all of your spending activity and needs frequently. Do your parents (and yourself) a favor and show them how well you are managing your money – and theirs. Make your budget an open book.

For added convenience, consider linking your accounts so your parents can easily transfer money into your account when you need it.

Beyond monetary reward
Have you ever noticed that people who manage their money well seem so confident? By managing the money you have – you remove what could otherwise be an encompassing stress. Self-discipline and a respect for your financial limitations are empowering and free your mind for learning! Share your knowledge with your friends.

Friday Focus: Historic Sotterley Plantation

sotterleyOccupying a 94-acre piece of land along the Patuxent River, Sotterley Plantation is one of Southern Maryland’s well-known historical landmarks. As the organization enters the final days of preparation for its ever-popular Riverside WineFest event, we caught up with Sotterley’s Executive Director, Nancy Easterling, who shared with us some information about the plantation itself, and gave us an inside look into what 2014 WineFest attendees can expect this year!

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

A: Sotterley Plantation is a National Historic Landmark and one of the oldest museums of its kind in the United States, with a history dating back to the turn of the 18th century.  Many people have called Sotterley home over these many years.  Some came here to prosper; others worked the land, either for wages or under bondage.   Sotterley today consists of almost 100 acres of breathtaking beauty on the Patuxent River that includes over six miles of nature trails, Colonial Revival Gardens, and over 20 historic buildings.  Visitors to Sotterley enjoy a wide range of programming, including award winning education programs, acclaimed heritage tours, and a variety of entertaining and interesting special events for guests of all ages.  This jewel of Southern Maryland represents three centuries of our state’s and country’s history, and has become an integral part of the cultural landscape of our region.  Historic Sotterley, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) public charity with a mission to preserve, research, and interpret Sotterley Plantation’s diverse cultures and environments, and to serve the world as an educational, cultural, and community resource.

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

A: There are so many favorite moments for those of us who work here.  For me, however, the best moments will always be when we touch a guest’s life in such a way that our history comes alive for them, and that from their visit they gain a level of insight into our shared past that had not existed until that moment.

One such moment happened years ago when I took a field trip to Sotterley with my son just prior to my starting to work here.  On the way home while riding in the back of the bus, I heard all of the 8th graders talking – not about what new video games they were playing or what sporting events were coming up for them, but they were actually talking about the information they had learned during their Slavery to Freedom program. Yet another student stood up at her 8th grade graduation ceremony and said that her field trip to Sotterley was her favorite 8th grade memory because it was the best field trip she had ever taken – we had made history come alive for her.  Making that same connection to our students and heritage tourists is at the core of our mission, and for me these “a-ha” moments are always the most magical.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Sotterley is blessed to be a community that cares, but adequate and sustainable funding remains the biggest challenge we face.  Sotterley raises all of its funding through memberships, sponsorships, special events, site rental, grants, and other donations.  It is reliant on those who understand Sotterley’s mission and the importance of not only preserving the site for future generations, but continuing to provide such a wonderful cultural resource to our community.  There are ongoing preservation and maintenance challenges that far outstrip our limited budget, but we try to address as many as possible through donations or grant funding whenever possible.  Our hope is to one day have a larger and more sustainable base of operational funding, ensuring that we can always preserve Sotterley’s stories and our shared history for the future.

Q: How can people really help?

A: There are so many ways to help and support Sotterley!  Becoming a member is one of the easiest – our members are the bedrock of our financial support, and we provide our members with special ways to experience the site and its programming.  Businesses can be a part of Sotterley through financial support in the form of sponsorships, memberships, or donations.   Monetary donations are of course critical, but In-kind donations of goods and services  are also invaluable to Sotterley, and range from the time and talents of professionals in our community to the donations of serviceable equipment (from lawn mowers to golf carts to computer printers – the list is endless!).  We also invite everyone to Make History and Volunteer!  Sotterley volunteers are simply the best, and no matter how much time you have to give or your area of interest, there is a place for you in the Sotterley family: from helping the Sotterley Garden Guild, becoming an Interpreter or Guide, working in our Museum Shop, helping with the Hospitality team, or simply coming to support our special events.   No matter how you choose to support Sotterley, know that you WILL make a very real difference!

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

A: Working at a non-profit is one of the most rewarding jobs you will ever have, even though the pay will almost always be limited and often the hours long.  To serve a cause or mission that you believe in, however, is a incalculable joy, and you have the opportunity to work alongside people every day who truly care and who are dedicated to giving back and making a difference in our community.

Q: What events do you have coming up?

A: There is so much to do at Sotterley Plantation in the months ahead!  First of all, our Riverside WineFest at Sotterley is just around the corner on October 4th and 5th from noon until 6pm each day! With over 20 Maryland wineries boasting award-winning wines, an amazing live music line-up, artisan vendors, food and beer vendors, demonstrations, free mini tours of the Plantation House and Colonial Revival Gardens, and fun children’s activities, there is truly something for everyone!  Discounted tickets can be purchased through September 28th, but members old and new can buy at the gate for only $15!

A mere two weeks later we begin our Ghosts of Sotterley tours which will be held on October 17, 18, 23, 24 & 25.  On this walking tour of Sotterley’s grounds, you will encounter inhabitants of the past and those not of this earth during this year’s production: “Reapers in Red Coats: The Ghosts of Sotterley 1814.”   Tickets may be purchased on-line, and advance reservations are required.

But that’s not all!  There will be one more wonderful and FREE Speaker Series event on October 29th, “SPAT: Bringing Oysters Back to the Chesapeake Bay”, and then right around the corner will be our holiday events in December: Family Plantation Christmas, and our expanded Sotterley Christmas Traditions by Candlelight tours.

We hope that all of our guests will remember that by simply coming and having a great time with us, you ultimately also support Sotterley and its mission. Truly a win-win for all!  We hope to see you soon!

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.