Fifth Annual Food and Toy Drive November 12-December 7. Donate today!

You can help us make a difference and brighten up the holiday season for those in need.Holiday Food & Toy Drive


We’re proud to announce the start of our Fifth Annual Food and Toy Drive. Each year it brings us great pleasure to bring back this special seasonal event to help support the organizations and individuals in our communities.

Helping others during the holidays

You can drop off non-perishable food goods, such as canned vegetables and fruit, soups, baby formula, powdered milk, peanut butter and hot/cold cereals, at any Community Bank branch between November 12 and December 7.

Collections made in Southern Maryland will be donated to the Southern Maryland Food Bank, collections in King George County will be donated to the Department of Social Services for the King George Food Pantry and collections in Fredericksburg will be donated to the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank.

We are also collecting new, unwrapped toys to distribute to local families with young children during the holidays. Toys collected will support the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.

Halloween Safety Tips

It’s the most “spooktacular” time of the year. That annual ritual when young pirates, princesses, superheroes, mermaids, and other characters venture out into the streets to collect tasty treats from friends and neighbors. But while Halloween can bring joy and excitement to children, it can bring worries to parents about their children’s safety. Here are some simple tips to ensure your child enjoys the treats of the season — and stays safe.Halloween Safety


Food Safety:

  • Instruct your children to eat only factory wrapped candy or treats from people they know and trust.
  • Carefully examine all the candy and treats for any signs of tampering.
  • Read the labels on all candy packaging. This is especially important to parents whose children have dangerous food and other allergies.

Costume Safety:

  • Ensure costumes are flame retardant.
  • Do not have your children wear masks or other equipment that obstructs their vision.
  • Before applying makeup, be sure to test it on a small section of your child’s skin to prevent an allergic reaction.
  • Ensure your child’s costume is not too long, which could cause them to trip or fall.
  • Choose comfortable shoes, such as sneakers. While princess heels may look great, they may cause your child to fall or experience foot pain.
  • Make sure your costumes are bright or reflective. Or, purchase reflective tape that can be adhered to any costume.

Road Safety:

  • Make sure young children are always accompanied by an adult.
  • Have children carry flashlights so that they can see and be seen.
  • Keep children on sidewalks and instruct them to walk not run.

General Safety:

  • Adhere to the trick-or-treat hours your city or town has established.
  • Instruct children to stay away from candles and lighted jack-o-lanterns or other decorations that use fire.
  • Teach children not to enter any houses without being accompanied by a trusted adult.
  • Ensure children only go to houses of people they know.
  • If a house is dark, instruct children to stay away.

Home Safety

If you plan on handing out treats, here are some safety rules to ensure the safety of trick or treaters who visit you.

  • Turn on outside lights and make a clear path so young visitors can see where they are going.
  • Choose healthier, lower calorie snacks.
  • Limit the amount of snacks you provide to your young guests.
  • Turn out your lights when trick or treating has ended in your city or town or when you run out of candy.

Treat yourself to more safety tips.

For more helpful tips on keeping children safe, visit the Center for Disease Control or the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Friday Focus: The Accokeek Foundation

Along the Potomac River just across from the historic Mount Vernon plantation sits Piscataway Park, a 5,000-acre span of natural landscape. The park is a product of a large-scale conservation effort begun in the 1950s, when rapid development threatened to destroy the land. Today, the stewardship of the park is a joint effort between the National Park Service and the Accokeek Foundation, an organization dedicated to sharing the land and its heritage with visitors. This week’s Friday Focus is a conversation with Anjela Barnes, the Foundation’s Marketing Director.accokeek



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

A: The Accokeek Foundation’s mission is to cultivate passion for the natural and cultural heritage of Piscataway Park and commitment to stewardship and sustainability. We were founded in 1957 to protect the view from George Washington’s Mount Vernon as one of the nation’s first land trusts, and we continue land conservation efforts today to ensure continued protection of the viewshed and the working landscapes in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Through a partnership with the National Park Service, the Foundation uses Piscataway Park to interpret agriculture and environmental stewardship to its 20,000 annual visitors, including school youth, local residents, recreational enthusiasts and D.C. area tourists. The National Colonial Farm, a well known historic farm museum established in 1958, demonstrates Maryland agriculture during the 18th century, and has been the backdrop for hundreds of school tours each year. The Ecosystem Farm, a certified organic 8-acre farm, teaches visitors about sustainable food production using innovative growing techniques. It is the goal of the farm to demonstrate a compelling variety of possibilities that inspire people to want to grow while creating a thriving, engaged community.


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

A: There are so many favorite moments that it’s hard to choose just one, but I would say that the best moments come by way of the school tours offered to kids aged 13 or younger. Last fall, the organic farm we operate was host to a group of kids from D.C.’s Mundo Verde Public Charter School. The kids learned about what it’s like to be a farmer, where their food comes from and even helped to harvest carrots–a lot of carrots! For many of the kids, it is their first time visiting a farm, an experience quoted by one teacher as, “one they’ll never forget.”


Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Because of recent federal budget cuts, including sequestration and the 2014 shutdown, the Accokeek Foundation has been impacted by a decrease in federal funding. Support from private foundations and individuals help to provide the funds needed so we can maintain and provide an open space that is available daily and free for all to enjoy its beauty.


Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: There are many ways to get involved with the organization. Volunteering on a recurring basis is often the most rewarding way to get involved and give back by helping with the gardens, caring for heritage breed livestock, working the on-farm market or lending a hand during special events. Individuals and families can also join and become members of the Accokeek Foundation to support the natural and cultural heritage programs offered. Or simply visit, bring your family and friends, and enjoy the natural beauty of Piscataway Park, preserved and protected for generations to come.


Friday Focus: The Charles County Literacy Council

Founded over 50 years ago, the Charles County Literacy Council has a long history of helping people in the community achieve their personal and professional goals. Working one-on-one with their students, each volunteer tutor puts in a significant amount of time and dedication, and the rewards are many. We spoke to Sue Lateulere, Program Coordinator for the Council, who shared some particularly heartwarming stories in this week’s Friday Focus.



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

A: The CCLC provides free, one-on-one, confidential tutoring to adults in Charles County in reading, writing, basic math, English for those who speak it as a Second Language, as well as help preparing for the GED test or the ASVAB military entrance exam. Our volunteers strive to ensure that all adults have access to the quality education needed to fully realize their potential as individuals, parents and citizens.

Our volunteer tutors have all taken a nine hour training course that teaches them how to tutor adults; anyone can do it. If you can read, you can teach another adult to read!


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

A: There are many favorite moments – I’m sure each tutor could share several!  But here are a few:

During 2014, one of our Adult Learners was able to pass the ‘written’ driver’s license exam. This may not seem like a big accomplishment to most, but for those who cannot read, the driver’s test is a huge obstacle to furthering themselves and leading a productive life.

A young mother of two children worked with one of our tutors for many months on her math skills. The hard work paid off and she passed the GED test. With this new asset on her resume, within one month she was able to find a job near her home that would accommodate her family’s schedule.

A man in his late 50’s came to us, embarrassed that he could not read a menu at a restaurant. He had developed coping mechanisms over the years to get by: memorizing road signs, pretending to forget his glasses, feigning migraines. He has recently completed Level 3 of our “Beginning to Read” series and shed a few proud tears when presented with each of his completion certificates.

A man in his 60’s recently received his United States Citizenship after working with one of our tutors on the Citizenship requirements (reading, writing, conversing, U.S. history and social studies).  When asked how he felt after taking the Oath of Allegiance, he replied, “Free”.

We have assisted many young men and women from Charles County to pass the ASVAB entrance exam and become proud members of our Armed Forces.


Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A:  As a small nonprofit, we face several challenges including the usual ones: funding and volunteer recruitment. But the challenge of most concern is getting the word out to those adults who need our services. The delicate nature of the services we offer limits the opportunities to engage and encourage prospective students in public settings. We rely heavily on recommendations from other agencies in the county to spread the word of our services.  But we also need the community to spread the word. There are many people in our local area who have never heard of the Charles County Literacy Council or know what we do, and we celebrated our 50th Anniversary this year!


Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Yes! Our next Volunteer Tutor Training Workshop will be held on September 12, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. in LaPlata. There are four hours of online videos and prep questions that must be completed prior to the workshop. For more information or to register, call the CCLC office at 301-934-6488, or check out our website Fees for the upcoming workshop have been waived.


Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A:  Encourage a student. Become a volunteer tutor. Make a donation.


Friday Focus: Calvert Marine Museum

Calvert MarineIf you’re looking for a fun, educational way to spend a day, visit the Calvert Marine Museum in Calvert County. Founded in 1970, the museum hosts exhibits and activities for children and adults of all ages. For this week’s Friday Focus, we talked with the Museum’s Marketing and Public Relations coordinator, Traci Cimini, who shared some of her favorite moments and gave us a sneak preview of the upcoming Patuxent River Appreciation Days event.



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

A. The Calvert Marine Museum (CMM), located in Solomons, is a regional museum with heavy visitation from Maryland, Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia and the Delmarva Peninsula on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. A sampling of our attendance in 2011 showed visitors from 50 states and 34 foreign countries. We enjoy an average annual visitation of over 75,000 guests from around the world.

At the waterfront Calvert Marine Museum, see where the local maritime and environmental history of Southern Maryland comes to life. Explore two of Maryland’s original lighthouses; come touch twenty million year-old fossils taken from Calvert Cliffs; or take a ride aboard the Wm. B. Tennison, a 110 year-old log-built bugeye. See skates and rays swim, touch a horseshoe crab or diamondback terrapin and watch our river otter at play. Stroll the marsh walk and spy water snakes, great blue heron, osprey and hermit crabs in their natural habitat. Shop in the Museum Store for gifts that will delight visitors of all ages, and become a museum member and get a discount every day!

Education is a primary focus for the museum and we provide programs for all ages, from toddlers to seniors. We offer school programs, offsite outreach, distance learning, summer camps and formal/informal programming around our three themes: regional paleontology, estuarine life of the tidal Patuxent River and adjacent Chesapeake Bay and the maritime history of these waters. We are a research museum, renowned for documented discoveries in Miocene paleontology and publications on local history based on original research.

The museum has remained a cultural anchor in the community for 45 years, and is assisted in its governance by a voluntary board of 15 community leaders approved and appointed by the Calvert County Commissioners. CMM is fully accredited by the American Association of Museums, earning reaccreditation for the third time in 2009.

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

A: Seeing the wonder on a child’s face as they touch a diamondback terrapin; watching a World War II vet in our maritime exhibit talk about the amphibious training base where he was stationed in 1942 as a young man; taking teenagers who have lived here all their lives but never been out on the water out in our skipjack, the Dee of St. Mary’s; hearing a six year-old tell his mom, “This is the best place in the world!”

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: There is so much we want to do to reach our community and to share the riches of the Calvert Marine Museum. Juggling staff time, limited space and shrinking budgets to accomplish everything will always be a challenge.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Patuxent River Appreciation Days (PRAD) is almost here! The longest running festival in Southern Maryland, PRAD is in its 38th year, and always takes place Columbus Day weekend:  October 10 and 11 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.  The event is sponsored by the Calvert County Commissioners. Admission is free and complimentary parking is available.

Activities include an arts and craft show with over fifty artists, local food vendors and two music stages hosting live performances. Children can build their own toy boats, ride a pony and feed a goat.  The whole family can enjoy free cruises aboard the Wm. B. Tennison and Dee of St. Mary’s, or take a self-propelled ride in the boat basin in a canoe or our newly-christened paddle boat.

Over 40 nonprofit groups will be on hand with exhibits, demonstrations, displays and educational activities about green products, recycling, oyster farming, native plants, wildlife, restoration efforts, live animals and more.

On Saturday, local wineries offer wine tastings, and a wonderful array of fall produce, potted mums, honey and homemade jellies/jams and lavender products will be available for sale.

Visit the Museum Store book fair tent on both days to visit local adult and children’s authors, including Janie Suss, Elaine Allen, Kelli Nash, Peter Vogt, Eugene Meyer, Richard LaMotte, Jennifer Keats Curtis and more, made possible by Schiffer Publishing. This is a perfect opportunity to find a new favorite book and/or personalize a book for a special holiday gift.

Not to be missed on Sunday is the annual PRAD Parade with a one mile route along Solomons Island Road, beginning at 2:00 p.m.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: You can get involved by becoming a member. As a member, you are eligible to volunteer, or join one of our clubs. This is an opportunity to meet new people, make new friends, learn new things and be a part of a great volunteer family as you serve your local community. For over 40 years, volunteers have been an integral part of the museum. From its founding in 1970 by volunteers, to the “unpaid” staff of today, this institution could not function without them. With over 400 volunteers, CMM is able to offer many educational and engaging programs to our visitors.

Friday Focus: Southern Maryland College Access Network (SoMD CAN)

SOMDCAN LogoWith the school year officially started, many students may find themselves thinking ahead to college and their futures. This week’s Friday Focus organization, the Southern Maryland College Access Network (SoMD CAN) is dedicated to helping students of all ages and their parents navigate the often complicated processes of college preparation, application and financing. Founder Sonia K. Wagner gave us an in-depth look at the important work her organization does in the community.



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

A: Since 2006, SoMD CAN has provided multiple programs (now serving grades K thru 12) which focus on aspiring college-bound students and their families. We assist in their navigation and understanding of the college selection, application and financing process to attain a higher education. SoMD CAN programs include elementary school workshops for parents/guardians, middle and high school ‘in school’ curriculum-based programs, community outreach seminars pertaining to financing higher education and personalized financial aid application assistance. SoMD CAN also developed and manages the local scholarships application compilation for students and community scholarship providers.

SoMD CAN administers in-school programming for minority, low-to-modest income and first generation college-bound students maintaining a 2.5 or better GPA in Calvert County, Maryland. Students are oftentimes referred by school administration and self-select into the SoMD CAN programs, thus increasing our reach to students across the entire school system.

SoMD CAN is celebrating 10 years in Calvert County and has initiated several new programs for the 2015-16 Academic Year, thus making us an organization able to engage the entire K – 12 student/family community.

The I CAN program is a new initiative being piloted in several CCPS elementary schools which will deliver a presentation/workshop to engage parents/guardians in the fundamentals of financing a higher education. SoMD CAN will partner with the Calvert County Council of PTAs on this initiative to engage parents/guardians. We expect to reach 120 adults through the I CAN initiative.

The You CAN program is in its 4th year, engaging a cohort of 8th grade students matching the SoMD CAN Mission statement demographic. The You CAN curriculum is delivered monthly at Calvert Middle School and Southern Middle School. Included in the You CAN program is a parent/guardian component, where we engage through several newsletters and a seminar with the topic of early awareness of higher education attainment being central to the discussion. You CAN served 56 underserved 8th grade students in the 2014-15 Academic Year.

Another new initiative for 2015-16 is the We CAN program, delivered to 9th and 10th grade students in the four public high schools in Calvert County. Much like You CAN, We CAN will be delivered through a monthly, curriculum-based, volunteer-led program. The business community will be engaged to become SoMD CAN Mentors, trained to deliver the curriculum and under the supervision of the Site School’s SoMD CAN Pre-College Advisor. We expect, in our pilot year for We CAN, to reach at least 80 students within the targeted cohort criteria.

The origin of SoMD CAN programming, developed to educate, motivate, and engage our targeted cohort of students, is our Junior and Senior High School program. SoMD CAN consists of a two-year curriculum, delivered in-school on a weekly basis. Services and resources delivered through the curriculum and community outreach are college selection, college application, managing the financial aid application process, applying for grants and scholarships, study skills, college coping skills, and more. Our cohort of students numbered 251 in the 2014-15 Academic Year.

In addition to the in-school programs, SoMD CAN hosts the Financial Aid Night workshops for students and their families at each of the four public high schools and the Calverton School, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Line by Line workshop, and a presentation focused on understanding College Financial Aid Award Letters and Student Loans. We provide a “FAFSA Day” at each high school, allowing students and families time to meet one-on-one to complete the Federal form for Financial Aid with our professional staff. SoMD CAN hosts “College Goal Sunday”, a national initiative which assists students and families in completing the FAFSA.

SoMD CAN partners with the Calvert Library, College of Southern Maryland, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and End Hunger of Calvert County’s Calvert Ca$h Program to increase the FAFSA completion rate among high school seniors in our region. We draw families from the Tri-County region to this event, generally held in early February. We served 400 individuals through these events.

SoMD CAN is the developer and managing agency of the Calvert Local Scholarships Application (CLSA) Clearinghouse. This common local scholarships application is in its 7th year and lists over 50 local scholarship providers. The CLSA Clearinghouse is a community service project, initiated by our founding member Sonia K. Wagner, which facilitates the ability of students to apply to multiple scholarships by completing one common application. The CLSA Clearinghouse allows local scholarship providers to draw from a larger, more diverse applicant pool. In 2015, the CLSA had 195 applicants, 48 local scholarship providers, approximately 88 scholarship recipients who received over $135,000 in local scholarship dollars. The SoMD CAN Educational Grant has been awarded to 36 students for a total of $30,600, in privately donated dollars, since 2007.

SoMD CAN believes that fulfilling our goal of increasing the college rate of Calvert’s high school graduates builds a highly skilled local workforce, thus improving the economic well-being of Calvert County and beyond.

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

A: Graduate testimonials:

SOMD CAN has made significant contributions to my success over the years. As a student at Patuxent High School (PHS), we would meet up with the CEO Ms. Wagner bi-weekly to talk about our plans for college. She encouraged us to apply to some of the best schools in the country. As a result of this, I was accepted into Penn State University and Drexel University. After being accepted, my next step was finding funding to attend these schools. SOMD CAN also assisted with this by going over the FAFSA application process in detail. She explained terminology such as Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and the importance of submitting the application before the deadline to achieve the maximum amount of aid. Although I wasn’t able to attend these prestigious schools, I was able to attend Morgan State University.

“During my college summers, SOMD CAN’s CEO Ms. Wagner also reached out to me to help with obtaining an internship. She informed me about local internships in Southern Maryland. Moreover, using her connections, she also got me in touch with a manager at Dominion Cove Point to assist with getting me an internship. SOMD CAN’s support has been invaluable over the years. I am very appreciative of the organization and its founder, Ms. Wagner. I am now a Morgan State University graduate. I graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering in 2012. I’ve been working as a DOD contractor for over 2 years. Additionally, I’m working on my master’s in information systems and expect to graduate next spring 2016. I owe a lot of my success to SOMD CAN. SOMD CAN has been very supportive of my continued success over the years.” — Jonathan Torney, Patuxent High School, Grad 2007

“It is an honor and privilege to share my testimony of how the Southern Maryland College Access Network impacted my life. In the fall of 2006, I embarked on a journey with this organization to prepare myself for college, but I was unaware that they would also fortify me with the skills necessary to establish my career, enhance my ability to leverage resources, and re-focus my talents to better execute plans of action. The success of the programs system became evident after receiving my first acceptance letter with a $65,000 scholarship towards my first two years. Initially, I was a bit overwhelmed. One part of me saw the figures; it was a lot of money. My family’s household brought in a modest income, and having a twin sister, I knew my parents could not afford to send us both to college at the same time. The other part of me recognized that the school’s curriculum didn’t grasp the content I was looking for to catapult my career.

“It was during this time of indecisiveness when I observed the servant leadership and commitment from the advisors in the program. They emphasized to me the importance of vision, planning, and commitment. They challenged me to continue using their system and I would find the scholarship money to attend the college of my choice. It was after that mentorship that I turned down my first scholarship. That summer, I applied the take-away from my first year in the program to secure an internship with the Naval Air Systems Command. I showcased my talents and abilities, just as I was advised to do in my scholarship and college applications. I cultivated my relationships with engineers, scientists, and leadership within NAVAIR, and upon my summer debriefing I was offered a full-scholarship to attend Morgan State University. I now serve as an engineer supporting the Naval Air Systems Command full time. Although many have played a role in the success I have had in my life thus far, I owe the launching of my career, choice of my education, and much of my early professional development to the Southern Maryland College Access Network. My hope is to one day help the future leaders of our country, as this organization does each and every day.” –Nathaniel L. Scott, Jr., Electrical Engineer, Naval Air Systems Command

Q: What is your biggest challenge?  

A: Fundraising. We serve anywhere between 800–1,000 individuals each year for the past 10 years. Our funding stream has remained static, and we SOMDCAN Schedule1have lost substantial funding in this Academic Year 2015-16.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Yes, we provide the Financial Aid Nights across the county, have introduced the I CAN program which brings Financial Aid and College Funding Early Awareness to parents with Elementary aged students, and several community/church based workshops. Below is the schedule for our Financial Aid Nights and supporting workshops.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: We have a new initiative that will be piloted at Calvert High School this academic year called “We CAN”. A Community Volunteer Advisor works with the SoMD CAN Pre-College Advisor to lead 9th and 10th grade underserved students through the beginning process of college awareness. We hope to have all four high schools on board for AY 2016-2017, needing 4 Community Volunteer Advisors.

SoMD CAN needs community members to be involved with some of the administrative responsibilities, such as a “Social Media / Marketing Volunteer”, a “Retention Advisor”, and a “Grant Writing Volunteer”.

The Calvert Local Scholarships Application Clearinghouse needs an individual or a company to champion the development of an automated system for students to an online method for applying to the 50 listed scholarships on the Calvert LSA.

Friday Focus: Adult Day Care of Calvert County

This week’s Friday Focus takes us to Calvert County, where we had the opportunity to speak to Ruth Lake, the Executive Director of Adult Day Care of ADCCalvert County. She and her staff work heard each day to provide an enriching and entertaining environment for the elderly members of their community.

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

A: Adult Day Care of Calvert County is a safe, structured day program of professional care, compassionate assistance, and community-based activities for frail elderly and disabled adults.  The program is designed to enhance the physical, social and emotional health of the participants, and provide some relief to caregivers.  The staff R.N. monitors individual health issues while supporting staff (with frequent help from volunteers) provide assistance, serve snacks and lunch, and lead activities.  Door-to-door transportation is provided within Calvert County.

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

A: My favorite story is about one of our participants.  Her daughter, who works full time, was becoming increasingly concerned about leaving her home alone after recent falls and signs of dementia.  After her daughter decided that adult day care was the best option for her, she was brought in for the intake meeting.  Her resistance, though not unusual, was escalated.  First, she would not get out of the car.  Then, when she finally did, she stood with her purse held tight, arm folded and shaking with anger at her daughter for bringing her to a strange place.  The best part of the story was that by the end of her first day, she (the resistant participant) was thanking everyone and looking forward to the next day.  Today, she gets upset when she has to miss a day at Adult Day Care of Calvert County.  She, a very social person, thrives in the community-based setting.  The daughter is very relieved to know that she is well cared for during the day.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: As an independent nonprofit organization, our biggest challenge in recent years has been funding.  Although we receive a grant from the state that enables us to offer a sliding scale fee for participants who are on a limited income, it, along with participant co-pays and fees, is not enough to cover program costs.  Adult Day Care of Calvert County depends on community support through philanthropic support, volunteerism, and spreading the word about our services.

Q: How can people really help?

A: Adult Day Care of Calvert County has opportunities for volunteers, monetary donations, and in-kind donations.  Volunteer opportunities range from student volunteers looking for service learning hours, to helping with fundraising and awareness, to community members willing to serve on the board of directors.  Donations can be made by visiting the center on the lower level of the health department building in Prince Frederick, or the website at .  Supporting fundraising events and campaigns is another way to help.  We also accept in-kind donations such as paper, plastic ware and supplies, as well as items to sell at our periodic yard sales.

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

A: The rewards outweigh the compensation!  Sometimes starting out as a volunteer is a good way to determine if an organization is a good fit, and is a good way to gain experience for future non-profit (or for profit) endeavors.  If you care about community, are willing to embrace challenges, and wish to feel good about what you do, then working for a non-profit is a great career choice.

Friday Focus: Charles County Dive Rescue

When disaster strikes on the water, Charles County Dive Rescue, Inc. is there to help by dispatching properly trained and equipped divers to assist in Dive Support13emergencies. The organization was founded in 1989, when medical advances in near-drowning resuscitation prompted a need for a specialized rescue team that could respond in those situations. Today, CCDR Company 13 is an independent emergency service agency that operates an in-house training program and maintains a fleet of dive and rescue boats and vehicles.  We talked with Chief William “Skeeter” Porter for this week’s Friday Focus, who gave us a look an inside look into the organization.

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

A: CCDR is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that operates with other public safety agencies for emergencies around water and ice.  Our mission is to serve the citizens of Charles County (as well as neighboring jurisdictions) by providing properly trained and equipped divers to assist in times of need. Further, we shall always strive to raise public conscience concerning safety around water and ice.

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

A: It’s hard to pick a ‘favorite’ moment when your service is most needed at times when people may be experiencing a horrible tragedy.  Suffice it to say we are fortunate to have dedicated members who volunteer their time, knowledge, and skills to help others in their time of need.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Many emergency operations on open water are difficult due to a lack of reliable information.  Distance is very hard to estimate over water.  Also, wind and currents create difficult contributing factors.  Alcohol is often a contributing factor to accidents, which also makes obtaining accurate information about an incident difficult.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: You can learn more about CCDR by visiting our website at

Friday Focus: Walden

Walden-LogoProviding comprehensive behavioral health services and recovery support, Walden 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 us.



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, 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 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 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!

Q: Do you have any upcoming events?

A: On Friday, September 18 at 7:00 PM Walden will be hosting our Second Annual Fundraiser! Starlit Night: Shining A Light On Hope at the Olde Breton Inn. This will be a fun-filled evening with wonderful food and entertainment. Tickets are $85 per person or $150 per couple. Donations appreciated. Please call Christine at 301-997-1300 x 889. We hope to see you there!

Friday Focus Interview: The Golden Retriever Rescue of Southern Maryland

The dog days of summer are almost over, but finding animals loving homes is a year-round task! Helping the effort in St. Mary’s County is the Golden Retriever Rescue of Southern Maryland.  When circumstances force a dog ownSONY DSCer to give up their canine companion, the Rescue steps in to help find a new, loving home for the dog. The Rescue takes in around 50 dogs each year, depending on caring foster families to provide temporary homes for them until they can be adopted. We spoke with Pat Johnson, Founder and President of this St. Mary’s County-based 501(c)(3) organization for this Friday Focus interview.

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

A:  Golden Retriever Rescue is a local organization that takes in golden retrievers at Tri County Animal Shelter or from owners who can no longer take care of their dog due to relocation, illness, death, lack of time or resources.

In addition, we are a resource to local dog owners providing information about nutrition, behavior, health, training, etc. via our website, blog, Facebook page, newsletter and at local events.

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

A:  My favorite moment is when we were contacted by a local vet who was concerned about a litter of golden retriever puppies who had been exposed to the deadly parvo virus. The owner could not afford the treatment for the puppies, and some had died.

We did not hesitate to bring the puppies into rescue where they were quarantined and treated at the vet’s office. A temporary or “foster” family then cared for each puppy until a “fur-ever”, or adoptive family was carefully screened. Pups were all placed with loving families and are all healthy and happy now.

We are a small rescue and most of our goldens are adopted locally, so we were able to watch the pups grow and become beautiful adult goldens.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Golden Retrievers are an expensive breed to own. They have been referred to as “lovable lemons”, as over 60% die of cancer. They also have a tendency towards orthopedic problems and allergies.

Golden Retrievers often come to rescue with expensive medical problems that the rescue pays to treat, so fundraising is a big effort.

We also often need loving, temporary homes for golden retrievers until they are adopted.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A:  The Golden Retriever Rescue of Southern Maryland has teamed up with Mixed Bag Designs for a new fall fundraiser. Beginning Friday, September 18 through the end of the year, the Rescue will receive 40% of online purchases when you enter fundraiser ID# 449566 at checkout.

We also have activities such as dog park meet ups, beach blast and hikes where you can bring your dog.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A:  For more information about joining Golden Retriever Rescue of Southern Maryland call 855-477-3728 or [email protected]. Annual membership is $30 per family.