Friday Focus: St. Mary’s Animal Welfare League

The St. Mary’s Animal Welfare League helps cats, dogs and horses by providing veterinary, fostering and adoption services. We spoke with logosource_green_RESIZEDKatie Werner, President of SMAWL, who shared a favorite story about a particularly special dog and gave us the inside scoop on how you can help a local animal find a “furr-ever” home.


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

A: The St. Mary’s Animal Welfare League (SMAWL) is a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1990 that works to help the homeless, abused and neglected animals in our local community and — in times of extreme need — in our larger national rescue community. Immediate goals include aggressive campaigns to find homes for homeless cats and dogs and to curb pet overpopulation through spay/neuter programs. Future goals include the building of a no-kill shelter in St. Mary’s County. Services provided include pet adoptions, discount spay/neuter vouchers, monthly low-cost rabies clinics, humane education and the Pet Food Pantry. SMAWL is an all-volunteer organization and welcomes new members and volunteers. SMAWL offers a variety of volunteer opportunities, including fostering animals waiting for adoption. To contact SMAWL, call 301-373-5659, send an e-mail to [email protected], or visit

The Snowflake Society was created in 2006 as a division of St. Mary’s Animal Welfare League (SMAWL) to help horses and other hoofed animals. The mission statement of the Snowflake Society reads: “To provide shelter, care, rehabilitation and adoption services for abused, neglected, and unwanted horses and other hoofed animals; and to promote humane treatment of hoofed animals through education, investigation, and legal intervention.”

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

A: There are many favorite moments and all of our animal adoptions are reason to celebrate, but the most rewarding is when we are able to help those special animals that are considered “unadoptable.”  Once such recent rescue is Martha, a blind Beagle we pulled from Tri-County Animal Shelter.  We were fortunate enough to find a foster home that had a very special cat, Dutchess, who helped Martha adjust to her new home. The two became inseparable! Like so many of our foster family, Dutchess’ family became “failed” fosters and adopted Martha.  Having the ability to rescue animals such as Martha is why we do what we do.  We are able to continue our rescue mission because of the support we receive throughout the year from our friends, sponsors and the community at large.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Since we do not have a permanent shelter, our biggest problem is having foster homes for our animals.  We are limited in the animals we can take in due to the foster space we have available.  Foster homes are vitally important to help in the care and socialization of our animals.  SMAWL pays for the veterinary care and asks our foster families, in addition to providing a safe environment for them to live, to transport them to veterinary appointments and to adoption events so that they can find their “fur-ever” homes.

In addition, we do have many other volunteer opportunities such as working at our Rabies Clinics and Adoption Events.  We also need assistance in caring for some of our cats who reside at the Petco in California, Md. and at our “Cat Castle” in Callaway, Md.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: We have Adoption Events at the Petco in California on Saturdays between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. and at our “Cat Castle” in Callaway on Saturdays and Sundays between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.  In addition, we have Rabies Clinics on the second Monday of the month between March and November at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds in Leonardtown, MD between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.  We also hold adoption events at other locations such as the PetValu in Leonardtown, the Tractor Supply Co in Hollywood and Pepper’s Pet Pantry in Solomon’s.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: There are several things people can do to get involved:

  • Become a member – membership fees help us continue our mission.
  • Volunteer – there are many volunteer opportunities, from helping at an adoption event to helping to organize our Animal Fair.
  • Foster – the more foster families we have, the more animals we can save!
  • Have a pet food drive to help keep our Pet Food Pantry stocked.

Friday Focus: The Humane Society of Calvert County

Helping stray animals find permanent, loving homes is the mission of this week’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.

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: The Society’s 13th Annual Pet Day 5k is coming up on Saturday, September 12 at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Solomon’s Island. Race registration starts at 7:00 a.m.; the race begins at 8:30. You’ll enjoy a beautiful view of the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay for the duration of the walk/run. Dogs are welcome!

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: Humane Society of Charles County

The “dog days of summer” are here, and so in honor of our four-legged friends, we’re featuring some of our local animal shelters. This week’s Friday Charles-County-Humane-Society-bigFocus takes us to Charles County, where the Humane Society has worked to make a difference in the lives of our furry friends and their families since 1978. From providing vaccines and training classes to adoption services, the Society has helped countless animals live happier, better lives and even find their “forever homes”.

This week, the Society’s Fundraising and Volunteer Manager, Leigha Messick, shared her thoughts on the organization’s work, the challenges they face and those special moments that make all of their hard work worth it.

Q: Tell us about your organization. Who do you serve?

A: It is the mission of the Humane Society of Charles County to provide shelter and care for homeless, injured and neglected animals through adoption, fostering, community partnerships, education and affordable spay-neuter and vaccine services. The vision of the Humane Society of Charles County is to create a community where animals are cherished and no longer need us for protection and shelter.

In upholding the vision and mission of the Humane Society of Charles County we will all work with these values: to always be compassionate and caring; to foster respect and understanding of all life; to protect, rescue, adopt and care for animals; to create partnerships for animal welfare; and to educate the community on animal welfare issues.

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

A: It’s hard to pick just one. Seeing the smiles of families reunited with their pets; watching an animal change from being frightened to being loving; watching an animal we’ve had for months finally leave to start a new life with its forever family. Knowing we are able to give hope to families who just need a little time or a little help to be able to keep their cherished animal brings so much joy to us. The happy stories keep us going.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Never knowing what will happen each day. It’s a roller coaster of emotions here—one minute we are elated to see an animal find a happy ending, just to have another pet brought in. One of the biggest misconceptions is that the animals at the shelter have something wrong with them—that is not the case. Usually when they are brought in, we are the last option. Most owners are devastated to be giving up their loved one, and we do everything we can to keep them safe and find them loving homes.

Q: How can people really help/get involved?

A: Volunteer, donate at, spread the word about these amazing animals!  Just the simple act of talking about the animals in our shelter to your friends or sharing a Facebook post can save a life.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Our “Mutt Madness at the Fairgrounds” event will be held on October 11, 2015 from 10:00 – 4:00pm. This year marks the 15th year that the Humane Society of Charles County will hold an outdoor event in the fall geared towards our pets. This year’s event will be our largest ever with new games, new contests, multiple food vendors, crafters and exhibitors. Please help make this year a memorable one and attend with your family, both human and animal!

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’sdahlgren 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 and gave us a sneak peek at some upcoming events at the Museum!

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 George 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,; 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, 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.

Summer Safety Tips

Summer may be a short season, but the longer days and warmer temperatures make it the best time of year to get outside and enjoy life. But before you Barbeque Timeput on your bathing suit or get out your gardening tools, it’s important that you protect yourself from some of the health dangers of summer. Here are some smart ways to stay safe this summer!

Stay hydrated. If you’re planning to exercise outside or are out and about on a hot day, remember that increased activity and warmer temperatures could lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke if you’re not careful. That’s why it’s so important for you to drink plenty of water. Expert recommendations vary, but the Institute for Medicine recommends 13 cups of water a day for men and nine for women. If you’re planning a strenuous or long outdoor activity, such as hiking or running, be sure to take plenty of water with you. 

Protect yourself from the sun. Though sun protection should be practiced year round, you must be extra careful during the summer when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Be sure to apply sunscreen regularly, and to protect sometimes forgotten spots, such as your lips, scalp, hands, and feet. 

Drink moderately. Summer sometimes involves more parties, cookouts and opportunities to drink. Keep in mind that alcohol is a diuretic, which can dehydrate you and put you at greater risk for heat stroke. If you drink alcohol, drink lighter drinks such as wine spritzers. Never engage in drinking if you are doing outdoor activities, such as swimming or boating. 

Protect yourself from bugs. If you plan to garden, be sure to cover up to limit exposure to ticks and mosquitoes. If you or your family members are partaking in outdoor activities, apply bug spray and check each other for ticks, which can carry diseases. 

Avoid your own fireworks displays. If you want to make fireworks part of your Fourth of July celebration, be sure to attend public displays versus lighting your own fireworks, which have been known to lead to serious injuries each summer season. 

Stay inside during storms. Summer is famous for bringing dangerous and unpredictable weather, such as lightning. Stay inside when you can and be sure to avoid water and open spaces during lightning storms. Pay attention to weather warnings and reports to ensure you’re prepared for what Mother Nature might throw at you. 

Practice water safety. Make sure to swim only in places where lifeguards are on duty, and never swim alone. If you have children, sign them up for swim lessons and ensure they are never left unattended near water. If you go boating or canoeing, give each person with you a life jacket to wear.

Summer is only here for a few precious weeks. Make the most of it by being safe.

Friday Focus: Greenwell State Park

Located alongside the Patuxent River, Greenwell State Park provides St. Mary’s County residents with year-round opportunities for recreation and Greenwell Logo 2013leisure. While the land itself is managed by the state of Maryland, the programs offered by the park are coordinated and funded by the Greenwell Foundation, a nonprofit organization. This week’s Friday Focus interviewed Cara Fogarty, Director of Communications for the Foundation. Cara spoke with us about the Foundation’s work and some upcoming events, and also shared her favorite story about how Greenwell’s summer camp program was able to touch a local family in a special way.

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

A: The Greenwell Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to providing accessible and inclusive programs, services and facilities for all community members, with and without disabilities, in Southern Maryland. The Foundation operates in Greenwell State Park, a 600-acre property located along the lower Patuxent River in Hollywood, Maryland.

The Greenwell Foundation offers therapeutic and recreational horseback riding, summer camps, nature programs, veterans’ programs, accessible site rentals and regularly develops new programs—often in collaboration with area agencies and nonprofit organizations—to meet community needs. All programs are designed to be inclusive, allowing people with disabilities to fully participate. Additionally, the Foundation serves veterans, at-risk children and transitioning youth with disabilities.

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

A: There are several, but one that sticks out in my mind comes from a family with three children. One of the children has Down syndrome. The mother discovered that he could attend Camp Greenwell alongside his two sisters. She didn’t have to put him in a “special” camp. She didn’t have to undergo an interview/intake process. She could simply sign him up as easily as she did her other two children. For the first time in his life, she said he was treated equally and given the same opportunities in the same environment as every other child. Our mission is to create this environment that allows all children to play and experience camp together.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: There are many challenges, but I would have to say that funding is perhaps the biggest. Many people think because we are in a state park that we are funded by the state of Maryland and that their tax dollars support us. In actuality, the Greenwell Foundation is a small, private foundation that relies on donations, memberships, program fees, grants and facility rental fees. We receive no funding from the state of Maryland. The state takes care of the park itself, but the Greenwell Foundation runs the programs. We have an excellent relationship with the Department of Natural Resources/Maryland Park Service, but we are on our own! A nine-member Board of Trustees and an executive director oversee the work of the Foundation. We maintain a very small permanent staff and add a seasonal staff. This is purposeful to help us maintain costs.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: We have an active and growing volunteer program. Volunteers are the heart and soul of Greenwell. Our volunteer coordinator helps people find the right fit, whether it is volunteering with the Therapeutic Riding Program, Vets Helping Vets, gardening, construction projects, etc. We also have a Camp Buddy program for 13-16 year olds who volunteer with our summer camps. It’s valuable experience for the young teens and a tremendous asset to our campers.

Fireworks Safety Tips

For many people, fireworks have become something of a tradition at picnics, barbecues, celebrations and of course, the biggest American holiday in the Sparkler with American Flagsummer, Independence Day. And while fireworks are certainly fun to watch, they are also a leading cause of summer-related injuries.

As you prepare to celebrate the Fourth, remember these important firework safety tips. Take a moment to read and share them with family members and friends who are thinking of making fireworks part of their summer celebrations:

  • If you insist on lighting your own fireworks, make sure they are legal where you live.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place before using them.
  • Always have a bucket of water, a working hose or fire extinguisher nearby in the event of fire.
  • Have an extra person in charge of water in the event a fire should break out.
  • Never wear loose clothing when using fireworks.
  • Do not allow children to play with or near fireworks.
  • Stay far back from fireworks you have lit.
  • Read the directions and warnings very carefully before lighting any fireworks. Never use fireworks that aren’t labeled with instructions or warnings.
  • Be extra careful when lighting fireworks in windy weather conditions.
  • Light fireworks on a smooth flat surface away from flammable materials.
  • If a firework does not light, do not stand over it or look inside it. Instead, use a hose to put it out with water and then get rid of it.
  • Never light fireworks indoors or in other structures, such as carports or garages.
  • Never light fireworks in areas with dry grass.

Of course, the best way to avoid sustaining firework-related injuries is to avoid using them altogether. On Independence Day, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to catch professional fireworks shows in local communities (check out these links to find events in Southern Maryland). You can even watch the displays on TV, right from the comfort and safety of your couch!

On behalf of all of us at Community Bank of the Chesapeake, we wish you and your family a safe and happy Independence Day.

Looking for vacation ideas? What about a staycation?

Vacations can be costly and sometimes even stressful. But if you could, wouldna backyard campout / for excited little kids / with help from mommy’t you like to find a way to relax, spend time with family, and not spend


lots of money? Maybe you should consider a staycation!

A staycation is like a vacation, but without the time, expense and stress of actually traveling. The most expensive part of vacation is usually the combination of travel, accommodations and meals. In an effort to get the most out of the money being spent, there is often temptation to do as much as possible to feel the trip was worth it. While the experiences of a traveling vacation can be exceptional, there’s much to be gained from staying home — if you do it right.

Determine expectations

The first step to even considering a staycation is to determine the expectations of those taking part. Is the time meant to be relaxing or exciting? Family time or individual time? What kind of activities do family members like to do? Brainstorm as a group to come up with ideas.

Set a budget

While staying local will certainly save you money, you should still set a budget for your staycation. Your budget will probably be less than if you were going away, but more than you would spend at home. Planning a budget in advance will guide you in planning your activities and reduce the stress or guilt of spending money you wouldn’t normally spend.

Have a plan

This is the fun part! If you were traveling to a different state or country, you’d have a list of activities and sites you wanted to include in your trip. A staycation is no different. Be a hometown tourist. Put yourself in the mindset of someone who is visiting your home area. What is your area known for? What would a “tourist” do? What sites would they see or landmarks would they visit?

Put yourself in the mindset of “traveling” to your area. Visit the local chamber of commerce or their website. Pick up tour guides at your library or travel club. Look at the ads in your local newspaper. Make a list of activities you’d like to do or places you’ve always meant to visit. Then choose the ones you plan to do each day.

Or make a list of low key activities to do at home. A backyard pool that the entire family seldom has time to enjoy together becomes a point of reconnection when everyone is together without anywhere else to go. A game of whiffle ball or croquet takes on a whole new feel when everyone is focused on playing together. Plant a garden. Explore plants or wildlife in your backyard or neighborhood. Nap in that hammock that’s calling your name.

Splurge. You’re saving money by staying home so do something you wouldn’t generally do. Try out that expensive restaurant that doesn’t fit into your regular budget. Spend a day at a spa. Hire a housecleaner if you don’t have one. (Your room would be cleaned every day if you stayed in a hotel!) Take the kids to an attraction in the area that is usually cost prohibitive.

Make sleeping at home fun. Let the kids sleep somewhere other than their bed. Camp out in the backyard. Set up sleeping bags in the living room. Switch rooms with each other to mix it up. Have breakfast in bed.

Having a plan ahead of time will greatly reduce stress when you get up each morning. You can always change the plan, but having one to start with will make everyone happy.

Before you “go”

Prepare as if you were going away — pay bills, take care of the lawn, do all the laundry, pick up the house — do all the things you would do if you were going away. That way you won’t be distracted or feel obligated to do your regular household “chores”. And make a decision to not “get caught up” on household projects during this time.

If you were going away, you’d let your office know you’ll be unavailable. You must have the same mindset for a staycation. If you must be in communication with the office, at least designate one time during the day to check messages and email, but leave an out of office message indicating your limited accessibility. Remember, this is still your vacation. Same rules apply.

Making it count

No matter what you do for your staycation, the goal is for it to be relaxing, enjoyable, stress free and less expensive than if you went away. How you reach that goal is entirely up to you, but put some thought into it ahead of time to make the most of your vacation at home!

Friday Focus: Charles County Department of Social Services

Social services play a vital role in communities across the country, helping place children into temporary or longer-term living situations when the need CCG Web Heading3_3arises. The Charles County Department of Social Services supports children and families in our local community, and for this week’s Friday Focus, we spoke with Claudelle Clarke-Parchment, the Department’s Tri-County Resource Recruiter and Trainer, who shared how foster parents make such a large difference in the lives of children. 

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

A: The Charles County Department of Social Services (CCDSS) works to address and meet the needs of low income and vulnerable individuals through service provision, referral and community collaboration. CCDSS is able to accomplish this feat though our core values, which are as follows:

  • We respect the value, confidentiality, dignity and differences of our customers and ourselves.
  • We will measure outcomes and hold ourselves accountable for results.
  • It is essential for our customers to be economically independent, self-sufficient and live in permanent settings.
  • We commit to collaboration and partnership with other community organizations and businesses that are essential to excellent customer service.
  • We will continue to employ, train, recognize, reward and retain a competent work force.
  • We will continue to provide a safe, secure work environment for staff, customers and visitors.

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

A: There are many memorable moments at CCDSS, however the most memorable are working with the resource parents (formerly known as foster parents) and seeing resource parents leave an indelible mark on the lives of the children that they work with over the years. It is also empowering to see those very children blossom into young people who are making an impact on the world through their jobs, their conversations with prospective resource parents and their willingness to give unselfishly to others.

Q: What is your biggest challenge? 

A: The biggest challenge CCDSS face is finding resource parents. We need to find more innovative ways by using technology to launch our message about the need for foster parents. Additionally, we often lose our current resource parents to successful adoptions, relocations and family changes. This rate of attrition contributes largely to the continuous need for resource parents to stand in the gap. Shortage of resource parents results in children being displaced from their communities, their friends and losing attachment to everything that is important to them. These disruptions also create undue stress and trauma for the children. Despite our best efforts, we are unable to keep up with the number of children who are entering care and finding appropriate placements for these children. 

Q: Are there any upcoming events? 

A: The upcoming events are as follows:

June 22 – Training on Child Abuse and Neglect

July 1 – August 26 – PRIDE Training

July 30 – Meet and Greet/Ice Cream Social 

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?  

A: Community members who are interested in being foster parents can contact Claudelle Clarke-Parchment, Tri-County Recruiter and Trainer at 301-392-6727 or at [email protected]. I am looking forward to discussing how best CCDSS can partner with them to meet the needs of the children in foster care.

Inexpensive Ways to Keep the Kids Busy This Summer

Summer break is an ideal opportunity to spend quality time with kids, get a respite from homework helping, and maybe even sleep a little later in the Schools outmornings. Of course, summer vacation does come with one challenge — finding affordable ways to keep your children occupied and avoid that dreaded, but all-too-common phrase: “I’m bored.”

If your children aren’t enrolled in summer camp or sporting activities, you may be struggling to find affordable ways to keep them occupied. Rest assured, there are some fun activities you can do with your kids that are easy on your budget, including:

Summer picnics. A picnic in the park is a great way to connect with your children and enjoy the great outdoors. Pack some sandwiches and snacks and bring along a Frisbee and other outdoor equipment to ensure you and your kids get exercise together.

Take in a free summer concert. Your community may offer free concerts in the park. Take the kids along with a blanket and some snacks to enjoy free entertainment.

Head to the beach. You don’t have to spend an expensive day at a water park to stay refreshed. A day at the beach or lake is a great way to keep your kids busy. If you can, bring along other families and friends and encourage kids to play in the sand and water or to participate in a game of football or volleyball.

Go berry picking. You’ll get your kids outside and have tasty and healthy treats for them to enjoy.

Have a backyard campfire. If you can’t afford to spend money on a campsite, turn your backyard into one. Have a fire and bring some marshmallows to toast. Sitting around a fire is a great way for your family to talk and connect without technology.

Go fishing. Fishing is a relaxing and quiet activity that kids enjoy.

Visit free museums and libraries. Many museums offer discounted or free admissions during the summer.

Have a lemonade stand. You’ll not only teach your kids about business, but also will give them a fun activity they can enjoy. Have them deposit the money earned into their savings account; they’ll learn about the importance of saving!

Play games. Make every day a family game day. Set aside an hour or so a day to play card or board games with your kids.

Go for a bike ride. Many communities offer bike trails that make family biking fun and safe.

If you can get creative with your activities and make a schedule for your kids, you’ll help keep them busy and give them a summer they will remember for years to come.