FRIDAY FOCUS: American Heart Association

Did you know that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women and yet it is 80% American Heart Associationpreventable?The American Heart Association strives to build healthier lives to prevent cardiovascular diseases and strokes. To increase awareness of their organization they have created a campaign called Go Red For Women and Today is National Wear Red Day! To support the American Heart Association we put on our red shirts and caught up with Annette Fisher, Senior Communications Director, to learn how they help strengthen our hearts.

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

A: The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world, cardiovascular diseases #1 and stroke #5. We team up with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. Our company is based in Dallas and is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke.

We serve the Maryland region in Baltimore and I’m the Senior Communications Director promoting 37 AHA initiatives.

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

A: My favorite moment is when someone called last week about CPR training. I was able to assist and they are now certified CPR trained. I love to provide customer service to the citizens of Maryland.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: My biggest challenge is working with limited resources. I wish we could help everyone who calls with a request.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: We are the midst of February’s American Heart Month! Kudos to our ambassador’s, we have a series of events happening around the Baltimore region. We are excited about Nutrition in March and National Start Walking month in April. To learn more about these events check out http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Affiliate/Baltimore.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: We are always recruiting volunteers to support the mission! Call 410-246-6726 or go to our website at heart.org.

Friday Focus: American Red Cross, Southern Maryland Chapter

american red crossThe American Red Cross provides a variety of services that help prevent and ease human suffering in times of an emergency through the generosity of donors and volunteers. Wouldn’t you love to help save a life? With American Red Cross you could take a CPR or first aid class, donate blood or funds, or even volunteer your time. This week’s Friday Focus we caught up with Jason Marshall, Executive Director of American Red Cross Southern Maryland Chapter, and discovered just how many services the American Red Cross provides and what upcoming events we could get involved with this year!

 

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

A: The American Red Cross of Southern Maryland serves Anne Arundel, St. Mary’s, Calvert, and Charles Counties. Our lines of service include emergency disaster assistance, service to the armed forces, health and safety classes, blood donations, volunteer opportunities and so much more.

 

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

A: We recently conducted a Home Fire Campaign canvassing event in Annapolis and Edgewater. The campaign is designed to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25% through the installation of free smoke alarms for homes needing them and through educational efforts highlighting home fire safety and evacuation plans. We had roughly 60 volunteers join us, along with the fire department and go door-to-door in these neighborhoods meeting with the residents and installing free smoke detectors and handing out educational materials.

 

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: The biggest challenge we face is explaining the wide array of services the Red Cross provides. Most people know us for collecting blood and responding to large-scale disasters like flood and hurricanes, but many people don’t know that we work closely with the military to verify emergency communications, provide volunteers at VA Centers and Military Treatment Facilities or that we provide trainings on things like CPR and First Aid.

 

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: We are planning on conducting two more Home Fire Campaign canvassing events in February and March (Charles and St. Mary’s counties). Additional information about these two events will be posted on redcross.org/somd as it becomes available. We also host a number of preparedness, health and safety trainings in the area. People can search for classes near them by visiting redcross.org and clicking “Training and Certification.”

 

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: Those interested can contact our Volunteer Specialist, Gloria Coliton, via email at [email protected] or via phone at 410-627-5369. We have a wide variety of volunteer opportunities throughout the Southern Maryland Chapter territory. Additional information is posted on the Southern Maryland Chapter website (redcross.org/somd) and the Southern Maryland Chapter Facebook page (search American Red Cross of Southern Maryland).

 

FRIDAY FOCUS: FOREVER FREE BOOKS

Winter is a great time to sit by the fire and read a captivating book. And wouldn’t it be great to help someone else do this too? This week’s Friday Focus features Forever Free Books, an organization dedicated to providing literacy programs and books to underprivileged children in the community. We spoke to Tanya Barnett, founder of Forever Free Books and learned how inspiring it truly is bringing joy to a child through a simple book.

 

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

A: Forever Free Books, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was founded in 2014 with the sole purpose of providing books to all children but especially to those in low-income areas in the Tri-County area, Prince George’s County and Washington, DC.forever free books logo

Our mission is to increase the reading and comprehension skills of disadvantaged children by conducting literacy events and distributing free books in their communities. Our vision is to provide a bookmobile in addition to promoting reading programs that highlight the benefits of reading and literacy in partnership with libraries and other community organizations. Through partnerships with these groups, as well as with parents, churches and schools, we hope to decrease the achievement gap between high-income and low-income families.

 

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

A: Our favorite moment was when we were able to send 150 books to an all-girls orphanage in India. The picture we received of them holding their books, brought tears to our eyes. It was the first time any of those girls ever owned a book.

 

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Our biggest challenge is finding committed volunteers and board members who get our mission. We are a hands-on organization that is extremely small. We need board members who are actively engaged in fulfilling the mission. This takes fundraising to cover the cost of books, storage of the books, insurance for the books as well as the cost to host literacy events. We are hopeful that in 2016, we will onboard highly energetic people who love literacy and love children. Retirees are WELCOMED!

 

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: We are partnered with The Better Family for the Tots to Teens Expo in April at the Washington Convention Center. We will be hosting a reading lounge, where we will be conducting story time and giving away free books to over 12,000 families. We also partnered with TLL Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. in our Books, Boys, N’Cuts barbershop literacy program. In the spring, we will be visiting local barbershops in the Tri-County area to read stories, provide snacks and of course, FREE books to all the boys there.

 

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: We desperately need help with fundraising and securing venues for our FREE reading events. People can visit our website ForeverFreeBooks.com to see us in action or they can email me at [email protected].

Are you prepared for the Snow?

 

Baby, its cold outside. The winter season is in full swing as we start seeing our first flurries of snow. We all love a good snow day (maybe) but the question remains, are you prepared for when it happens? Getting yourself, your home and even your car ready for the snow can help give you a smooth winter experience.

Cold hard tips for warm winter dressing: Hibernating inside by a toasty fireplace or hot stove sounds like the perfect way to avoid the cold, but winter weatherthe reality is we all have to venture out at some point. Dressing properly will help you brave the snow!

  • Dress in layers. In general, you should have three layers of protection, to help contain your body’s heat. A base layer, log johns or thermals. A middle layer, your actual outfit for the day, insulation and an outer layer, clothing that is in direct contact with the elements.
  • Dress by activity. Depending what your plans are for the day, you will have to prepare your outfit accordingly. For example if you are doing a sedentary activity such as hunting you will need to bundle up with several layers. However, while you still need to be warm, doing an active sport such as ice skating will require fewer clothes, to not overheat.
  • Protect your hands and feet. Wear gloves and insulated boots when leaving the house. The snow and cold can be brutal, by covering your hands and feet you increase your chances of staying warm. Tip: Mittens actually keep your hands warmer over a longer period of time then gloves because your fingers are warmer when they are together.

Winterizing your car: Just as you prepare your body to withstand the harshness of winter with heavy coats and gloves, you can also prepare your car for winter.

  • Check your oil, battery and tires. The colder weather can impact several aspects of your car: the tire pressure, the oil in your car and the battery capacity. Checking these regularly throughout the snowy cold months can help save you from a frozen disaster.
  • Maintain your windshield wipers. Heavy snow or ice can make visibility low. Be sure to frequently check and refill windshield wiper fluid and replace worn blades.
  • Stock your car. Accidents happen more frequently in the snow. Prepare by stocking your car with an emergency safety kit that includes a blanket, flashlight, extra gloves, scraper, washer fluid, water and a charged phone. You never know when you could get stuck on the side of the road.

Home hibernation: The snow day is here and you’re stuck at home! Make sure you think about preparing beforehand.

  • Stocked Supplies. Snow is unpredictable. You want to make sure you have enough food and drinks stocked in case you are stuck at home for a few days. Imagine the power went out! Preparing water and food items that do not need to be cooked is smart planning.
  • Keeping Warm. You will also want to make sure you have the proper snow gear for inside and outside. This includes hats, scarves, gloves, jackets, ski pants and plenty of blankets!
  • Fire building. Who doesn’t love a nice warm fire on a snow day? Stock up on wood and matches to ensure you are prepared. Keeping your wood dry is also important. Store it outside in a woodshed or cover it with a tarp outside.

 

The snow is coming, and now that you’re all prepared, just grab your s’mores and hot chocolate and enjoy!

Give your Brain a Winter Workout

5 smart ways to get your brain in tip-top shape

With freezing temperatures and shorter days, winter may not seem like the ideal time for exercise. However, it is one of the best times to get one of your most important body parts in shape — your brain. Keeping your brain active is a great way to maintain good mental health, enhance your memory and improve your problem solving ability.

Here are five easy ways to get your brain in tip-top shape this winter:

  1. Read. There are many benefits of reading. One of the biggest is that it can help you relax and reduce stress, which can take a toll on your physical and mental wellbeing. Reading can also expand your knowledge, increase your vocabulary and even boost your memory. Invite your friends and family members to read along with you by starting a book club. Be sure to select a challenging and interesting book, since the harder the book, the harder your brain will work.
  2. Learn a new skill or language. One sure way to beat the doldrums of winter and sharpen your mental fitness is to take up a new skill or hobby. Consider learning to play an instrument or taking dance lessons. Another way to stimulate your brain is to learn a new language, which can expose you to new ways of thinking and expressing yourself.
  3. Exercise your body. Exercise doesn’t just help strengthen your body; it also can help strengthen your mind. Many people find yoga a great activity not only for getting in physical shape, but also for much-needed relaxation, concentration and stress relief.
  4. Start writing. Everyone has a story. Take some time this winter and write yours. If you’re not sure where to begin, try keeping a daily journal of your thoughts. A popular medium for writing today is blogging, where people share their thoughts and ideas about a topic they are passionate or knowledgeable about. Whether your passion is gardening or successful parenting, start sharing your insights with a daily or weekly blog.
  5. Play brain games. You’re never too old to play games; at least the kind that help stimulate brain activity. Take some time each day to take on a challenging crossword or Sudoku puzzle, or even to play online brain games. You can learn more about brain games at lumosity.com.

Ready … set … go — start training today.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a book and start your brain workout today; you won’t mind it at all.

FRIDAY FOCUS: DAHLGREN HERITAGE MUSEUM

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

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

 

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

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

 

Using Technology to Remain Financially Fit

Are you interested in trying a new bank technology but not sure what’s available? Look no further! Technology is almost limitless and staying up to date can help make your life a bit easier. FDIC Consumer News offers an overview of some current services and most of them are free!

 

Personal Financial Management and Budgeting: Financial planning tools are one way to stay financially fit. One great tool is an electronic check register on your home computer (many consumers find this much easier to use and balance than an old-fashion paper check register.) There are also “companion applications” for your smartphone that allows access to your electronic check register wherever you are.

Mobile banking services go one step further. They allow you to access your bank account from anywhere using your smartphone, iPad, computer or other device. According to FDIC Consumer News “an estimated 30 million Americans currently manage their finances using mobile devices.”

Think about this? Let’s say you are in a store and trying to decide upon a major purchase, you would need to know if you have enough money in your account to cover the cost. If you’re balance is low, you can use mobile banking to transfer funds from one account to another, in order to cover the charge.

Depositing checks using your smartphone or other mobile device: Many banks have rolled out a “remote deposit capture” (RDC) feature. We, at Community Bank of the Chesapeake, like to call it “mobile deposit capture.” This is a feature that allows customers to take a picture of a check with their mobile device and deposit that check electronically, without the interruption of visiting a branch or using an ATM. This is convenient for customers who do not live or work close to a bank branch, yet would like their money ASAP.

If you use mobile RDC, carefully keep track of the checks you deposit. For instance, you can write the date you deposited the item on the front of the paper check and hold onto it until the check has cleared and the money is in your account. We recommend holding it for 5 business days! Then you can destroy the check, preferably using a high-quality paper shredder. Contact us with any questions.

Account Alerts: Community Bank of the Chesapeake and most mobile banking systems, will allow you to sign up to get text messages on your mobile phone or e-mails if your account balance drops below a set dollar amount, which can help ensure that you don’t overdraw your account. We also call if we observe “suspicious” — potentially fraudulent — transactions involving your account. Setting up mobile alerts is a convenient and safe way to monitor what is going on with your checking account in real time!

Bill Paying: Paying bills through your mobile device or computer is just another way technology makes your life easier. Imagine you forgot to send your check in the mail and your bill is due! With Bill Pay your e-bills can be scheduled and set for auto pay, making sure you’re never late on a payment. Tip: We even let you create an “approved list” on our bank’s online banking web site.

As with any mobile banking service, always check with us before signing up to make sure you know about fees or other key factors.

Finally, when using any mobile financial service, keep privacy and security issues in mind. Protecting your devices with passwords is always a smart idea.

Friday Focus: Charles County Children’s Aid Society

The “Season of giving” is over but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to think of those in need all year long. The Charles County Children’s Aid Society, founded in 1934, provides for the basic needs of local families. This week we caught up with Children’s Aid Executive Director, Danielle Ryan, who shared her scoop of what they do and how we as a community can support this inspiring organization!CAS

 

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

A: Children’s Aid has been serving residents of Charles County for over 80 years. Our goal is to help ease the burdens many families in the county may have when it comes to providing basic life necessities to their families. We are a food pantry and clothing closet; and also offer a variety of items depending on what is donated. These things include baby items, personal hygiene items and household items. Children’s Aid also offers support to families during different holidays. We have a School Supplies Distribution, during which we distribute 1,500 filled book bags to children going to Charles County Public Schools. We have a Christmas program called Christmas Toy Connection in which we partner with Charles County Department of Social Services and help 1,122 families provide Christmas gifts to their children. We also distribute Easter Baskets and Thanksgiving Baskets.

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

A: Personally for me working our two major events, School Supplies Distribution and Christmas Toy Connection, have been my favorite moments with the organization. I have been a part of these events for the last four years, this past year being my first as Director. Every year I am amazed at the incredible people I have met. Whether they were clients who were just over come with gratitude for receiving the service or they were volunteers who have donated their time to help us work the events, I have met a lot of very special people that I will not forget.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: The biggest challenge our organization, like other non-profits in the area face is funding.

Whether that funding comes from actual monetary assistance or by the donations of goods.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: The next event we have scheduled at this time is our Annual Coach and Michael Kors Bingo on March 6 at the American Legion in LaPlata. You can refer to our website, www.childrens-aid-society.org to find out more information.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: People can get involved with Children’s Aid in a couple of ways. We take volunteers in our warehouse and office on a daily basis, we also need volunteers for all of our projects throughout the year. Our organization survives off of donations, whether they are physical items or monetary donations. We accept gently used and new items so that we can distribute them back out into the community.

To find out more information on volunteering, donating or any other questions, people can visit our website, give us a call at 301-645-1561 or send us an email at [email protected]

National Clean Up Your Computer Month!

Your computer. It’s always there when you need it, an integral part of daily life, and has more of your personal information than many of your friends and family members you’ve known your whole life.

Learn through customer analytics

Most of us don’t realize how important our computers are until something happens and we have to live without them!

There’s a special time of the year to remind us about the importance of our computers and taking care of them — National Clean Up Your Computer Month. This annual awareness month, which takes place every January, reminds us to clean up our computer’s hardware and software, which are vital in ensuring the health and longevity of our computers. Here are some specific ways you can give your computer the TLC it deserves:

  • Clean your keyboard and mouse. Both are havens for germs, dust, and other unwanted debris. Use canned air to get in between keyboard keys. Also, wipe down your keys and your mouse with computer-approved cleaning agents.
  • Wipe down your monitor. Be sure to use products specifically designed for computers and to follow the instructions. Never use glass cleaner and other household cleaning products.
  • Remove unused files. Carrying excess files can slow down the performance of your computer. Take some time to delete old files as well as temporary files.
  • Empty your trash or recycle bin. You wouldn’t leave a full trash barrel under your kitchen sink, so why leave a full barrel of trash in your computer?
  • Back up important files. If you’ve ever accidentally deleted a file you needed, you know how important it is to regularly back up your files.
  • Clean out your cookies. If you do a lot of Internet surfing, you’ll probably have old cookies that can affect the performance of your computer. Clean out cookies in your browser.
  • Do a virus scan. If you don’t have virus protection software, make sure you purchase it from a reputable provider and run a scan immediately and regularly.
  • Uninstall old software programs. If you haven’t used an application in the last several months, take it off your computer by running an uninstall program. You just might find your computer runs faster.

Start celebrating National Clean Up Your Computer Month today!

Tips for the New Year

 

 

It’s that time of year — the time to ring out the old and ring in the new, to ditch bad habits and replace them with good ones. We can’t guarantee you’ll lose weight, or become a better human being, but we can give you some suggestions to help you whip your finances into shape. Here are some tips for the New Year.Tips for the New Year

 

Save and invest. Don’t underestimate your ability to save and invest. With compound interest, even modest investments now can grow over time.

Lighten your credit load. Paying off high-interest debt may be your best investment strategy. Few investments pay off as well as, or with less risk than, eliminating high-interest debt on credit cards or other loans.

Boost your “rainy-day” fund. Many experts recommend keeping about six months of expenses in a federally insured account to cover sudden unemployment or other emergencies.

“Sure thing” is fine as an expression but not as an investment pitch. Promises of guaranteed high returns, with little or no risk, are a classic warning sign of fraud. The potential for greater returns typically comes with greater risk. You know the saying—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Take charge of your money. If you don’t know where it goes, start keeping track. There are plenty of tools to help you set a monthly budget and stick to it.

Pay yourself first. Put yourself at the top of your “payee” list. Regular automatic deductions from your paycheck or bank account into a savings or investment account will keep you on track toward your short and long-term financial goals.

Know your investment self. You’re the best judge of yourself. Use that knowledge to find investments that are a good match for you, based on your goals and your ability to tolerate risks.

Make sure your older investments still fit you. Take time to review your holdings and see if they’re still appropriate for you. If you’ve outgrown them, it’s probably time to sell them and buy something better suited to you.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. One way to reduce the risks of investing is to diversify your investment holdings. Think twice before investing heavily in shares of your employer’s stock or any single investment.

Ignorance isn’t always bliss, especially when it comes to your account statements. Sure, it can hurt to look at statements when investments are losing value. But if you don’t review your statements, you may miss problems in your accounts that are unrelated to performance.

Do your homework. Asking questions about financial opportunities and checking out the answers with unbiased sources can help you make informed choices and avoid fraud.

To learn more financial tips and how to get your finances in our in the new year, visit your local branch or contact a member of our team today.