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Talbot Hospice Creates Artist-in-Residence Program

As part of its unique continuum of support services and pursuit of innovative programs, Talbot Hospice has created an Artist-in-Residence (AIR) Program. The Artist-in-Residence, during a year-long residency, will collaborate with patients and their loved ones in creative ways. Using various forms of art, families can work with the AIR to tell their stories, explore and express their feelings and sentiments and transform those emotions into art. The AIR will help facilitate ideas with the intention of creating a lasting legacy that captures the specialness of the individual through a favorite memory, for example.

BEAUTIFULWendy VanNest, who for 14 years has been Director of the Pathways program at Talbot Hospice, brought the idea to the staff in May. VanNest says she was inspired by Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco, which, according to its website, may very well have created the first AIR program at any hospice organization in the country.

“I was struck by their program and immediately thought it would be a good fit for Talbot Hospice and for me as I continue my work here,” VanNest said. VanNest is an artist with a background in editorial illustration and has long been creating artwork for Talbot Hospice including holiday and sympathy cards, posters, collages and illustrations. She was the artist for the 2007 Festival of Trees. VanNest will serve as the first Talbot Hospice Artist-in-Residence and develop the program.

VanNest is currently working toward her certificate in Thanatology – the study of death, dying and grief – at the National Center for Death Education at Mt. Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts. Her final project, “The Art of Losing My Mother; Anticipatory Grief Observed,” focuses on the use of creativity as a tool for meaning-making before a death. She hopes to bring awareness to the process of anticipatory grieving; that it can be a time of personal growth and creativity.

ALABASTER EGGS“The urge to create is part of being human,” said VanNest. “I believe that art in all forms can be used to make meaning for caregivers and their loved ones. Creativity may enrich their limited time together. For example, I found it much easier to articulate my keen awareness of the impending loss of my mother through art than in words. I realize in hindsight that the art I created of her and for her are visual eulogies.”

One example of how VanNest intends to share her talents with Talbot Hospice families is to provide a pen and ink and watercolor sketch of a special item or an illustration of a memory that is particularly meaningful. The image can include a person’s name, a song lyric, poem, quotation, bible verse, or any language that is significant. This memento is a gift from Talbot Hospice at no cost.

“Our Artist-in-Residence Program is an exciting initiative that will provide opportunities for families to express emotions in ways that words may not capture,” said Executive Director Vivian Dodge. “Through this program we hope to enhance the lives of people we serve in new ways. We are very proud to have Wendy spearhead this initiative, and we are thrilled she is named our first Artist-in-Residence. This AIR program is just one of the many creative ways we offer support to our families.”

Local creative and performing artists will be invited annually to submit proposals for the residency with the requirement of actively contributing their artistic skills in ways that will benefit Talbot Hospice patients and families. Talbot Hospice will offer space for the AIRs to exhibit or perform their work and time for presentations to the staff, volunteers and Board of Talbot Hospice on what has been learned and contributed through their AIR experience.

Talbot Hospice serves patients at the end of life and helps family members manage the practical details and daily challenges of caring for a dying loved wherever they call home – in their own residence, in assisted living and nursing facilities or at Hospice House on Cynwood Drive in Easton. For information about hospice services and programs, call 410-822-6681 or visit

For more information about the Artist-in-Residence Program at Talbot Hospice, contact Wendy VanNest at or 410-822-6681.

Talbot Hospice Appoints Four New Board Members

Four new members were recently appointed to the board of directors at Talbot Hospice. They include Jack Batty, Steve Burleson, Dr. Ludy Eglseder and Steve Slack. “We are pleased to welcome this distinguished group of community leaders to our Board,” said Susan Piggott, outgoing President of the Board of Directors. “Each of them brings diverse talents and experience as well as passion and commitment to our mission.”

(Front l-r) Outgoing Talbot Hospice board president Susan Piggott and incoming board president Diane Rohman. (Back l-r) New Talbot Hospice board members Steve Burleson, Ludy Eglseder, M.D., Steve Slack and Jack Batty.

(Front l-r) Outgoing Talbot Hospice board president Susan Piggott and incoming board president Diane Rohman. (Back l-r) New Talbot Hospice board members Steve Burleson, Ludy Eglseder, M.D., Steve Slack and Jack Batty.

Jack Batty is a retired media and communication executive who spent 35 years at General Electric Company, where he also served as executive director of GE Elfun, the company’s volunteer service organization. A history/journalism major, he has a BA from Ohio Wesleyan University. His board experience includes Critchlow Adkins Children’s Centers in Easton; Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts; Fresh Air Friendly Town of New York and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and the YMCA of Pittsfield. Batty moved from Connecticut to Easton in 2001. Currently he volunteers with the Food Link surplus food distribution program.

Steve Burleson was a Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of eBay and PayPal from 2006 – 2015. He has 35 years’ experience in start-up environments and Fortune 500 global organizations in the technology, retail, distribution and financial services industries. Burleson is a CPA with an accounting degree from George Mason University. He currently serves on the advisory boards of Treatment Diaries and Pay2Day Solutions. Past board seats include Bill Float in San Francisco and Paragon Financial Corp in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Burleson will serve as Treasurer of Talbot Hospice.

Ludy Eglseder, M.D. comes back to the Talbot Hospice board after a three-year hiatus. He has been practicing general internal medicine in Talbot County since 1986. Eglseder received both his undergraduate and medical degrees from University of Maryland. He is a member of the American College of Physicians, the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society and the American Society of Internal Medicine.

Steve Slack retired from Tyco International Corporation in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he was the Vice President of Sales, Telecom Division, for North and Central America. Slack has a B.S. in Economics from University of Vermont. He and his wife, Anne, moved to Easton in 2013. Slack served in the U.S. Navy from 1965-1969 as Supply Officer aboard the USS WASP. He was Logistics Officer, Naval Support Activity, DaNang, Vietnam and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal with combat “V.” He was honorably discharged as Lieutenant (jg). Board service includes the United Fund Appeal Board and Eastern Shore Navy League. Slack volunteers at Choices Pregnancy Center and at Talbot Hospice as a cook, companion and end-of-life Doula.

Leaving the board are Addie Eckardt, John Merceron, Cammie Passarella, Lee Phillips and J.T. Smith. Piggott said, “These board members have been tireless ambassadors for Talbot Hospice during their tenure, and have made immeasurable contributions to the well-being of our institution. We have been fortunate and honored to benefit from their time and talents as they helped shepherd Talbot Hospice through the past several years.”

Assuming the leadership role of board president is Diane Rohman who has served on the board for two years and who will follow Susan Piggott. “I am just thrilled to be a part of such a dynamic group of board and staff members,” said Rohman. “The hospice philosophy and mission are near and dear to my heart, and I look forward to being an integral part of ensuring that we continue to provide the highest standard of excellence in the care we deliver to those who need our services at the end of life.” Rohman has been an administrative volunteer since 2009 and was co-chair of the 35th anniversary Barn Dance celebration in April, 2016.

Talbot Hospice Guthrie Award Recipients Recognized

Lori Miller

Lori Miller

Talbot Hospice Director of Volunteer Services Lori Miller and Chaplain Jody Gunn were recently awarded the Eugene and Elizabeth Guthrie Award for Professional Development. This annual award was created to honor and carry forward the commitment and passion of the co-founder of Talbot Hospice, Dr. Eugene “Buck” Guthrie and his wife, Betts. The purpose of the award is to educate Talbot Hospice staff in a manner that benefits both the individual staff member and the broader community. The award is for training above and beyond the usual requirements.

Miller will attend an intensive Doula workshop at the New York Open Center in 2017. An End-of-Life Doula is a trained volunteer who helps an actively dying patient and their family in the final hours of life. The 18-hour training will enhance Miller’s knowledge of the dying process and teach her techniques and tools to utilize as a Doula. After the training, Miller will share what she learns with volunteer Doulas and staff through in-service trainings. “The Doula program at Talbot Hospice has become an important resource for families and patients,” said Miller. “I look forward to helping strengthen the skill set of our Doula volunteers.”

Jody Gunn

Jody Gunn

In January 2017 Gunn, who is pursuing a Masters of Divinity degree through Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Indiana, will attend a two week intensive class called “Gospel of Peace” that explores biblical texts in relationship to peace and violence. After the coursework, Gunn will offer an in-service training for staff and volunteers on conflict transformation, mediation, peacemaking and working with families. Through her training and assistance, fellow staff members and volunteers will learn how to be a non-anxious presence, listening, reflecting and providing support through difficult interactions within families who are in the midst of losing a loved one.

“We are so pleased to provide Lori and Jody with these educational opportunities that will in turn help us better serve the patients and families in our care,” said Vivian Dodge, Executive Director of Talbot Hospice. “Dr. and Mrs. Guthrie’s passion for and commitment to providing excellence in hospice care is a high standard that we strive to achieve in our day to day work here at Talbot Hospice.”

Growing Medical Marijuana to Become Big business in Maryland

The Washington Post reports that people lining up to profit from Maryland’s legal medical-marijuana market include former sheriffs and state lawmakers, wealthy business executives and well-connected political donors, according to previously undisclosed public records obtained by The Washington Post.

Nearly 150 businesses, including Alternative Medicine Maryland in Easton,  are competing for up to 15 cultivation licenses that will be awarded starting this summer, the first footholds in an emerging industry that is already worth billions nationally.

Read the full story here

St. Vincent de Paul Awarded $11,000 Grant for Food Pantry Operation

Quality Health Foundation has awarded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Sts. Peter and Paul Conference a grant of $11,000 to buy a walk-in refrigerator for its food pantry.

“We are so grateful for this award from Quality Health Foundation,” said Alex Handy, president of SVdP’s local conference. “The new refrigerator will mean we can store more perishable food items,” he said.

Volunteers receive a grant of $11,000 to buy at walk-in refrigerator for the food pantry at the St. Vincent de Paul center on Canvasback Drive in Easton. From left to right: Alex Handy and Gloria Freihage, St. Vincent de Paul; Jane Kasper and  Brenda Crabbs, Quality Health Foundation; and Kathy Weaver, St. Vincent de Paul food pantry manager.

Volunteers receive a grant of $11,000 to buy at walk-in refrigerator for the food pantry at the St. Vincent de Paul center on Canvasback Drive in Easton. From left to right: Alex Handy and Gloria Freihage, St. Vincent de Paul; Jane Kasper and Brenda Crabbs, Quality Health Foundation; and Kathy Weaver, St. Vincent de Paul food pantry manager.

The grant award coincides with the expansion of the SVdP Center at 29533 Canvasback Drive in Easton. The building will grow by 2,000 square feet, Handy said, and will have a more efficient floor plan to better serve the people of Talbot County.

Working with the Maryland Food Bank, SVdP acts as a food hub, providing groceries to 30 other churches and organizations who are distributing food throughout Talbot County.

“We share resources to help others,” said Kathy Weaver, food pantry manager.

“We use our SVdP truck to pick up meats and vegetables from area stores, so our local community groups don’t have to travel all over or pay for distribution of food. They come to us and we share with them,” Weaver said.

In addition to its food pantry, the SVdP Center includes a thrift store, furniture and boutique. It is open Tuesday afternoons from 1-4 and Saturday mornings from 9 to 12.
All proceeds from thrift center sales go to supply the food pantry.

Op-Ed: How Do We Fix Gerrymandering? Vote Libertarian by Matt Beers

In today’s politically polarized world, there is little common ground that voters on both sides of the aisle can agree on. However, one issue that seems to be a unifying complaint by all voters is, ironically, the issue of dividing. Manipulating an electoral boundary, better known as gerrymandering, is one of a politician’s greatest guiles. Whether it is at the federal, state, or local level, “independent” commissions have been tilting the odds towards favored political parties since our country was founded. By either strategically spreading voter groups out to create safe districts, or by giving up certain districts and making other districts winnable, politicians can create a more predictable outcome while the voice of the voter is lost in a sea of collusion. In Maryland, widely recognized as one of the most gerrymandered states in the country, our politicians have chosen the latter. Remember, the goal of gerrymandering is not ensure total victory, but rather to minimize overall loss.

In 2011 Maryland’s congressional districts were redrawn, and the next election dropped the number of Republican representatives from two to one. But republicans shouldn’t be the only ones upset over the district rigging. Democrats on the eastern shore should be equally upset that they have been abandoned by their party, now have no voice, and are being represented by Andy Harris who votes with the republican party 96% of the time. In an unquestionably republican district where it is virtually impossible to lose to a democrat our representative has political carte blanche.

This has translated to Harris taking intrusive actions that have made him enemies with those both in and outside of the First District, leading residents of D.C. to call for a boycott of Eastern Shore businesses. But there is no incentive for republican voters who are upset with Harris’ actions in congress to vote him out, because although he may be further right than they might prefer, they at least share fundamental beliefs.

The only way to oust an incumbent in a district that was drawn for him, whether it is a democrat or republican, is to change the way political power brokers view the game. Gerrymandering only works as long as politicians can separate voters into groups by two major parties, then divide us ideologically so that we never consider voting for the other candidate. In a predictable system such as this, the only losers are the American people. But we don’t have to fight to reform the system, or even for fairer districts.

All voters have to do is show up on Election Day and vote for a libertarian. Libertarians have the social outlook liberals love, and the fiscal discipline that conservatives crave. A democratic voter in a gerrymandered republican district will get much more representation from a libertarian who will fight to end the drug war, and our interventionist foreign policy. Conversely a republican voter in a heavily democratic district will have someone who will fight to balance the budget, and reform the tax code by voting libertarian. And because libertarians have such cross party appeal they have the best chance of winning in a gerrymandered district.

If we want to truly take back our government we must send a loud and clear message to Washington that we will not let our system be taken hostage by a two party duopoly, instead we the people will decide the future of this country.
Matt Beers
Candidate, House of Representatives (District 1-MD)
Libertarian Party

Substance Use Disorder Support Groups Announced for July

Mariah’s Mission Fund has the following support groups available, without charge, to individuals and families suffering from the effects of substance use disorder.

Additional resources and information at

July 13th from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Together: Positive Approaches NEW LOCATION
• Talbot Partnership, 8 Goldsborough St. Easton (Bank of America building)
• Peer support group for family members currently struggling with a loved one with substance use disorder, led by trained facilitators.  No charge for attendance.
• Techniques of positive reinforcement to promote recovery of the individual stressed.

July 13th from 6-7:30 p.m. Together: Silent No More
• A grief support group for those who have lost a loved one due to substance use disorder and addiction; no charge to participate.
• Sponsored by Talbot Hospice with generous support from Mariah’s Mission Fund of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation.
• Monthly meetings at Talbot Hospice, 586 Cynwood Drive, Easton, MD.
• Please contact Shelly Kulp, Bereavement Coordinator for Talbot Hospice at 410-822-6681 or email her at

July 18th from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Together: Silent No More, Pasadena
• Support group for those grieving a loss due to substance use disorder.
• Sponsored by Chesapeake Life Center with generous support from Mariah’s Mission Fund of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation; no charge to participate
• Facilitated support group offering individuals a safe place to share, discussing common themes of grief as well as complex feelings and challenges that may arise following this type of death.
• Chesapeake Life Center, 90 Ritchie Highway Pasadena, MD.  To register, call 888-501-7077.

Mariah’s Mission Planning Committee: July 5th , 10 a.m., Easton
Making a positive impact against substance use disorder. New members welcome. Contact us at:

Mariah’s Mission Fund is a component fund of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, a public 501(c)(3) charity.

Andy Harris, Foe of Legalized Marijuana, Leads Push for Research

The Baltimore Sun reported this morning that Rep. Andy Harris has become a leader in an effort to have more research done on the medical beneifts of marijuana use.

Two years after Harris put himself in the center of a controversy over legalizing marijuana in the nation’s capital, the conservative Republican is emerging as a leading voice advocating for more research into the drug’s medicinal value.

Read the full story here

Talbot Community Vigil for Orlando Victims Set for June 16

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 9.54.22 AMIn response to the heinous murders in Orlando this weekend, the Talbot Association of Clergy, under the leadership of chairman Rev. Sue Browning, will sponsor a community vigil of solidarity on Thursday, June 16, 6:30 PM in Idlewild Park. The event will at the Peace Pole located in the park.

Participants may RSVP at the Temple B’nai Israel office at 410-822-0553. In case of rain, we will conduct the vigil in the sanctuary of the temple at 101 West Earle Ave.



Op-Ed: Is There More to the 2016 Elections than Winners and Losers by Tom Timberman

Is there more to the 2016 Elections than Winners and Losers?

Ben Franklin in 1787 recognized the vulnerability of representative democracy. One summer afternoon, he was stopped outside the Pennsylvania State House, by a young woman who asked whether the Constitution he was helping to write, would establish a monarchy or a republic. “A Republic,* he responded, if you keep it.”

All the Founding Fathers understood democracy would be high maintenance and inserted separation of powers and checks and balances among the three branches to stymie autocracy by the Executive. They envisaged elected officials usually compromising to advance the common good and the electoral system they introduced facilitating reasonably attentive voters to make relatively independent and informed choices.

Further, none of these men were innocents. They knew their construct was an experiment; thus they were hesitant to unleash too early the suspect power of the male-only mob aka voters. Therefore, they inserted filters. Initially only “responsible” men as defined by land ownership or other indicia of prosperity, were permitted to vote. For the same reasons, members of the US Congress were originally chosen by elected state legislators.

Also aimed at preventing the concentration of power, the drafters of the Constitution used an unusual template to distribute delegated powers: they divided them between federal and state governments, the latter with their subordinate counties and municipalities.

Not even this extraordinary group of patriots, however, could have conjured up the stresses their new government would undergo as the United States grew from 13 states and 3 million people to a global power with 50 and 320 million. That said, they would doubtless nod in satisfaction upon learning after almost 230 years, the Constitution had been amended only 27 times.

The Civil War and two World Wars further tested America’s political system and the strength and cohesion of its citizens. However, developments in the 21st Century have shaken it again and the 2016 Presidential Election has revealed some of the consequences, possibly signaling a drift away from the Founders intent. Speaking to the House of Commons in 1947, Winston Churchill reflected Ben Franklin’s sense of the neediness of democracy**: “Democracy, he said, is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

The negative impact on America’s representative democracy of: (1) limitless money, (2) multiple means of instant communication, (3) the formation of political tribes pledged to dogmatic beliefs outside the two party tradition, and (4) the disappearance of electoral norms of behavior, have raised serious foundational questions.

So, yes the 2016 election should be about more than who wins the White House.

* A Republic is a state in which the supreme power rests with all the citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives elected directly or indirectly by them.

** Democracy is government by the people either directly or through representatives elected by those ruled.

Tom Timberman is an expert on military policy and now lives on the Eastern Shore. Among his many assignments with the US Department of State, he has headed a provincial reconstruction team, embedded within a combat brigade in Iraq. He has also helped implement a new counterterrorism strategy in South East Asia as Senior Advisor for South Asia in the Office of Coordinator for Counterterrorism.