SOS Names Local Residents to Executive Council

SOS Sink or Swim, a local non-profit that has funded free swimming lessons for 2,500 Talbot County children over the past four summers, recently formed an Executive Council to help sustain the program into the future.

“We have been fortunate to attract council members who are enthusiastic about our mission to teach children how to swim and be safe in and around the water,” said SOS President Elizabeth C. “Libby” Moose. “We have received great community support for the program, which has been administered since its inception by the staff of the St. Michaels Community Center.”

This year, SOS is on track to fund swim lessons for 1,100 children, ages 18-months through 18-years, at the George Murphy Community Pool in Easton and the Bay Hundred Community Pool in St. Michaels. Talbot County Parks & Recreation Department has worked closely with SOS and the community center to hire swim instructors and provide pool time for the three, two-week sessions of classes provided each year.

Graduates of the 2017 SOS Sink or Swim Program show off their new T-shirts at the George Murphy Community Pool in Easton.

Moose, a Claiborne resident, was one of the founders of the SOS Sink or Swim when it was started in 2014 by the Miles River Yacht Club Foundation. Originally from North Carolina, her summers growing up were spent on the water. A love of swimming and some exciting boating experiences gave her the idea that, with so many miles of waterfront around Talbot County, everyone should know how to swim. She is also a member of the Board of Governors of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, SOS’s fiscal sponsor.

The other members of the Executive Council are:

Dick Cooper, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and photographer who has sailed the Chesapeake Bay for 40 years. He moved to St. Michaels in 2006 after a career as a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer. As a boater, he knows the importance of swimming. He joined the SOS Council after writing a magazine story about the program and being impressed by its successful approach to teaching children how to swim.

Bev Pratt, a former law school administrator, worked with the California Partnership for Children, an advocacy and research organization for children’s health and welfare. Her work with SOS Sink or Swim is a natural extension of her past professional experience and priorities. A resident of St. Michaels for 10 years, she also serves on the Christmas in St. Michaels Board and SMASH Executive Committee.

Kelly Simonsen, marketing and communications manager for Easton Utilities, is passionate about most water sports. This interest, combined with her fondness for children, makes SOS Sink or Swim a perfect fit. She hopes to spread awareness about the mission of Sink or Swim and its importance in this region surrounded by so much water.

Mary Tydings Smith is an executive search consultant with 30 years of experience recruiting senior management and board members for foundations, cultural institutions and colleges. From 1992 to 1993, she worked on the Clinton-Gore transition team as a search manager. Earlier in her career, she was an editor and reporter for the Mutual Broadcasting System before joining “The Larry King Show” as a producer. She is a member of the boards of Bowdoin College and the Lucky Dog Animal Rescue.

René Stevenson recently retired from the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, where she served as vice president of constituent services, and was responsible for development, membership, admissions and the Museum Store. Prior to joining CBMM in 2009, she worked in bank administration and in business development at the Nemours duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del. She serves as treasurer for SOS Sink or Swim and also serves as board secretary for the St. Michaels Community Center.

Deanna Van Skiver has lived on the Eastern Shore for the past 18 years, since moving from northern Indiana in 1999. The close proximity of water, mountains and metro made Easton the perfect spot. Over the years she established ties of family and friendship, and adopted a quirky collection of pets. She lives in Easton with her husband, Dan, and eight-year-old son, Elliott. She became interested in joining the SOS council after her son’s positive and successful swim-lesson experience in 2016.

SOS Sink or Swim has already started fundraising to support free swim lessons for local children next summer. It costs just $50 to teach a child to swim. To support SOS, visit sossinkorswim.org and click “Donate Now.” Checks can be mailed to SOS Sink or Swim, 606A North Talbot Street, St. Michaels, Maryland 21663.

Character Counts Partners with Annapolis Police Department

Character Counts Mid Shore’s Winners Walk Tall program headed west across the Chesapeake Bay to partner with the City of Annapolis’ Police Department after receiving a call from Miguel Dennis, APD Director of Professional Standards.  Dennis, a former Character Coach at St. Michaels Elementary School, knew the program would benefit the youth in the Annapolis area.  Georgetown East Elementary School’s grade 4 was targeted.  Members of the Annapolis Police Department were trained as Coaches and matched with classrooms.

The Character Counts program at GEES was a huge success”, Dennis remarked. “The program was enthusiastically embraced by school personnel, students and coaches.  We look forward to the 2017-2018 school year with another opportunity to teach our younger citizens.”

Front row – Officer B. Coppage; Cpl. A. Miguez; Ms. A. Woytko; Ms. M. Ross; Ms. P. Norris and Cpl. K. Freeman. Back row – Sgt. N. Vaden; Mr. J. Hudson; Chief S. Baker; Lt. K. Krauss; Firefighter K. Smith; Mr. M. Dennis.

An awards celebration was held in May and a Character Counts bench was presented to the school by the APD coaches.

Principal of the school, Mr. Andre Dillard stated, “The program was a complete success! The officers and staff of the Annapolis Police Department were extremely professional and friendly. They were able to build a strong rapport with our students and staff. They also implemented the pillars of the program with complete fidelity. We look forward to having the Character Counts program and the Annapolis Police Department with us for the upcoming school year and for years to come.”

CCMS Executive Director, Susan Luby added, “Youth need a solid foundation of values and to build relationships with law enforcement officers.  This is a win-win opportunity for both the students at Georgetown East and APD.  We are thrilled to expand our programs that make a positive difference in the communities.”

No mid shore funding was used to support the program in Annapolis.  For more information about Character Counts Mid Shore, visit www.charactercountsmidshore.com or call 410-819-0386.

Dorchester’s Newest Mural to be Dedicated July 21

Dorchester County’s newest public mural will be dedicated on Friday, July 21, at 4pm near the corner of Maryland Avenue and Route 50 in Cambridge. All are invited to attend the dedication.

The mural highlights Cambridge’s rich African-American history, culture and heritage, particularly in the community around Pine Street, which is one of the oldest African-American communities in the country that dates back to the mid-1800s. The 11-foot-by-48-foot mural was created by artist Michael Rosato, whose studio is in downtown Cambridge. Rosato’s work is featured in museums, public spaces and private residences across the country, including the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum in Oklahoma City, OK.

The mural gets some final touch-ups at Maryland Avenue and Route 50 in Cambridge.

Rosato met with community members to discuss the mural’s design and to get ideas about the people and places they thought should be included. The final product is a mix of some of Dorchester’s most well-known citizens, as well as “ordinary” people. Rosato explained that the design of the mural is very deliberate.

“At the center of the mural is Harriet Tubman, who is a symbol of courage, hard work, perseverance, and loyalty to her family and community,” Rosato said. “Everything radiates out from her, from her heart and center.” (Tubman was born into slavery in Dorchester County, just a few miles away from the mural.)

To Tubman’s left and right are leaders, including Gloria Richardson Dandridge, a key figure in the civil rights movement in Cambridge in the 1960s, and small business owners and everyday people whose contributions may not be as well known but resonate to this day—a bricklayer, a barber, a baker, a farmer, a high school athlete, and more. Other figures in the mural represent a Tuskegee airman; Dr. J. Edwin Fassett; Nurse Maxine Magee, one of the first African-American public health nurses in the country; and Ella Fitzgerald, one of many popular African-American musicians who performed on Pine Street.

“Several of the people in mural are looking out, engaging you, inviting you to learn more about them,” Rosato explained. “To me, it’s a very upbeat, positive look at this vibrant community and its accomplishments over the decades.”

Rosato, who has lived in Dorchester County since 2002, said that living here and being able to create this mural added extra meaning for him. “Living here makes a difference,” he said. “You know there have been tensions and struggles, and dialogue is going on and it’s getting stronger. In a sense, I’m painting a part of that dialogue. It’s a dialogue with a very positive vibe to it.”

“The City of Cambridge is excited to have this mural,” said City Planner Pat Escher. “It’s an interim display representing Cambridge’s rich African American heritage. We anticipate a full community outreach process for the final design of the gateway project once more funds are available.”

Greg Meekins, a Cambridge native, 50-year graduate of Mace’s Lane High School, and long-time member of the Elks Lodge #223 on Pine Street, said that 2017 was the perfect time to create the mural. “This mural and its celebration of local African-American heritage ties in perfectly with other big events this year, particularly the opening of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center and the 50-year commemoration of the civil rights unrest in Cambridge,” he said. “We see the mural as a powerful way to share our history with everyone passing by on Route 50.”

The mural dedication is part of the “Reflections on Pine” series of events scheduled for July 20-23, which will commemorate 50 years of “civil rights, change, and community” in Cambridge. The events include a community conversation, church service, dinner, and more – all designed to encourage dialogue and healing in the community.

“The mural is an opportunity for us to share yet another chapter in the unique evolution of Cambridge that makes our city historically rich,” said Dion Banks, co-founder of Eastern Shore Network for Change, the organization planning the Reflections on Pine events.“It makes us proud to live here. Our visitors can continue their experience of learning by picking up our Pine Street Walking Tour Guide, schedule to be unveiled on July 20.”

For more information on the Reflections on Pine events, visit ReflectionsOnPine.org.

The mural was funded through a grant from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and the Federal Highway Administration, and is one of a series of murals throughout Dorchester County that are part of the Chesapeake Country Mural Trail. Find out more about all the murals at bit.ly/MuralTrail.

Jeff Trice Named Economic Development Director for Dorchester County

Eastern Shore native Jeff Trice has been named Dorchester County’s new Economic Development Director.

Most recently, Trice was the Director of Business Solutions for the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation where he worked with federal agencies, defense contractors, airlines and other businesses to expand the county’s employment base.

An experienced business veteran, Trice has launched workforce initiatives, created training programs and grown jobs at the county, regional and state level throughout Maryland.  He’s also started three businesses during his career.

“We are very excited to have someone of Jeff’s caliber joining our economic development team,” said Jeremy Goldman, Dorchester County Manager.  “We look forward to leveraging his experience and know how to continue the department’s success in developing and recruiting businesses to all of Dorchester County.”

From 2010 to 2016, Trice was Business Services Program Manager for the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation (DLLR) Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning. He also served as Special Project Coordinator for DLLR’s Upper Shore Division of Workforce Development.

Trice, who started his new position on July 1, views the Economic Development team as integral to the economic growth and stability of Dorchester County.

“I live and breathe business, but I also believe in taking a holistic approach and broad economic view of our county’s opportunities and challenges,” he said. “It’s not just about serving businesses. Economic development should include efforts that support career programs in our schools, grow the real estate tax base, create job opportunities and serve the citizens of Dorchester County.”

A native of Caroline County, Trice is now a resident of Preston. He started Marshy Hope Realty in Federalsburg in 2002 and served as President of the Mid-Shore Board of Realtors in 2009.

“It’s nice to be back on the Shore and have the opportunity to have a positive impact where I live.”  I hope to leverage a lot of what we do across multiple counties, cooperating and collaborating to market the Shore.”

Trice served in the United States Navy for eight years and was stationed at Pearl Harbor. He earned a BS Degree in Marketing from the University of Maryland College Park and is currently working toward certification with the International Economic Development Council.

He joins an established County economic development team that includes Business Development Manager Susan Banks, Eastern Shore Innovation Center Manager Steve Dolbow and Executive Assistant Tina Thompson.

The Talbot County Garden Club Installs its New Officers

The Talbot County Garden Club is proud to announce its new team of officers that were installed on June 27th, 2017.  This year in particular is very special for the Club and all of its members as it is the Club’s Centennial Celebration.

The Garden Club’s Board includes chairs from its key committees and the recently installed Executive Board includes:  Pamela Keeton as president, Rita Osgood as vice president, Ann Ashby as treasurer, Lucy Spiegel as recording secretary, Meg van den Berg as corresponding secretary, Peggy Hegwood as parliamentarian and Mary Louise Maechling as member at large.

Talbot County Garden Club’s new officers installed on June 27th 2017 from L-R – Peggy Hegwood, Parliamentarian, Peggy Hegwood; President, Pamela Keeton; Corresponding Secretary, Meg van den Berg; Recording Secretary, Lucy Spiegel; Treasurer, Ann Ashby; Vice President, Rita Osgood and Member at Large, Mary Louise Maechling (Photo Credit by Marsie Hawkinson)

As the Club celebrates its Centennial and looks forward to its next 100 years, this new Executive Board is well positioned for its leadership role.   The executive team comes to the table with a range of senior leadership experience in Finance, Healthcare, Journalism/Television, the Arts, and the Military; as well dozens of years of board experience.

“This Executive Board is a very talented and strong group of women.  They all come to the table with career experience that enhances their role on the Board.    Our new Board will do an amazing job at jumpstarting the next century for Talbot County Garden Club”, said Mary Louise Maechling, immediate past president.

About the Talbot County Garden Club

The Talbot County Garden Club was established in 1917 to enrich the natural beauty of the environment by sharing knowledge of gardening, fostering the art of flower arranging, maintaining civic projects, supporting projects that benefit Talbot County and encouraging the conservation of natural resources.  Noteworthy projects include maintaining the grounds of the Talbot Historical Society, Talbot County Courthouse, Talbot County Free Library, the fountain and children’s gardens at Idlewild Park and numerous other gardens and activities.  There are currently a total of 101 active, associate and honorary members.

Local Business Owner Gives Back to The Community

Business owner, FayeAnn Carson of Cambridge, Maryland and resident of Talbot County, made a generous donation to Brookletts Place – Talbot Senior Center in honor of her late grandmother, Mrs. Alice C. Jackson, who was a regular member.

Left to right: FayeAnn Carson, Joan Muzzillo (fundraising committee member, and Childlene Brooks (Manager of Brookletts Place – Talbot Senior Center).

In addition to her donation, Carson expressed her desire to give more back to the organization that gave her grandmother another place to call home. Initially wanting to offer complimentary services as a nail technician to the Center’s members, FayeAnn’s idea evolved into a larger fundraising event called “Spa Day” after consulting with the Fundraising Committee. “Spa Day” was the first event of its kind to be held at the Center and received very positive reviews from the members.

In addition to Carson’s manicures, the “Spa Day” fundraiser included several other vendors that offered services to the members such as chair massages by Stephanie Latham, LMT of Massage plus, yoga sessions lead by Dee Dee McQue of Eastern Shore Yoga, and intuitive medical readings and chair pilates by Jena Latham.

Carson is now also a member of the Brookletts Place- Talbot Senior Center Fundraising Committee.

About Brookletts Place – Talbot Senior Center

Brookletts Place is dedicated to serving residents 60 years of age and older from all walks of life in Talbot and surrounding counties. Brookletts Place strives to create an environment where individuals can create, thrive and participate in life-long learning that enhances their physical mental and emotional lives. To learn more, please visit www.brooklettsplace.org or call 410.822.2869.

Chesapeake Bay Herb Society to Discuss Tools and Techniques

Chesapeake Bay Herb Society members will discuss their favorite gardening and cooking tools and techniques at their July 13 meeting.

CBHS members include some very experienced cooks and gardeners.  They will share their tips with members and guests.  Everyone should learn something at the meeting.

The society usually meets the second Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at Christ Church, 111 S. Harrison Street, Easton.  Meetings include an herbal potluck dinner, a short business meeting and a presentation on an herb-related topic.  The theme for the July dinner is herbs associated with the zodiac sign Cancer (sage, aloe, lemon balm, bay, parsley and chives).

CBHS was formed in 2002 to share knowledge of herbs with the local community.  The group maintains the herb garden at Pickering Creek Audubon Center.

For more information, call (410) 827-5434 or visit www.ChesapeakeBayHerbSociety.org.

Shore Neurocognitive Health to Hold Free Caregiver Event

Shore Neurocognitive Health to hold a free caregiver event on Friday, July 21 focusing on minimizing the behaviors of dementia. “Hands on Strategie Dealing with behaviors of dementia” will offer caregiver strategies to deal with difficult issues such as agitation, aggression and hallucinations often experienced by individuals with dementia. This interactive meeting, sponsored by Brightstar Health in Easton, Maryland, will be presented by Beth Parker-O’Brien, LCSW-C, lead clinician at Shore Neurocognitive Health.

This one-hour event will be held Friday, July 21 at 11 a.m. at Shore Neurocognitive Health, 29466 Pintail Drive #9, in Easton, Maryland. The event is free and open to the public. Space is limited and reservations are strongly suggested.

Also offered this month is a Caregiver Support Group, to be held on July 17 at 1 pm at the Talbot County Senior Center on Brooklets Avenue in Easton. Caregivers are encouraged to attend this hour long meeting for encouragement, support and help on caring for a loved one.

Located in Easton, Maryland, Shore Neurocognitive Health is directed by Beth Parker-O’Brien, LCSW-C, MSW. specializing in dementia and anxiety/depression disorders affecting the older adult. Now accepting patients, Shore Neurocognitive Health, for more information,visit our website at: http://snhealth.net. For reservations, or to schedule an appointment, call (443) 746-3698.

Partners In Care Sponsors a Support Group for Visually-Impaired Seniors

If you are older person with an eye condition such as macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, or glaucoma, you most likely have questions or concerns about how your vision issues will affect your ability to carry out your everyday life.

Partners In Care (PIC) Upper Shore is sponsoring a support group for visually-impaired seniors, both for PICmembers and for additional older adults in the community with their families and caregivers .

The group held their first meeting in June at the Brookletts Place, Talbot Senior Center which was well attended, and there was much input from those in attendance.  Attendees were very enthusiastic as they shared ideas and concerns andwere eager to learn more about products and services available to them.  Also, the caregivers, friends and families who attended learned much about their role in the life of visually-impaired individuals.  Future plans include topics such as transportation, services and tools for the blind.

The next meeting will be Tuesday July 18th from 1 to 2:30 pm at Brookletts Place, Talbot Senior Center, 400 Brookletts Avenue, Easton.  The featured speaker is Amanda Gonzales of the Maryland Library with information about free books on tape for visually impaired and handicapped individuals.  There will be applications to fill out and instructions on how to receive books on tape via pre-paid mailers.

Seating is limited to 20 visually-impaired members and 20 family, friends and caregivers. There is no charge for attending; however, an RSVP is required to the Partners In Care-Upper Shore office.  To reply, please contact Pam at 410-822-1803.

Partners In Care is a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to help older adults remain independent via services provided by volunteer members.  Membership is open to those who are age 50 +, who are ambulatory and willing to participate as good neighbors.  Membership is not based on income, and there is no monetary cost for membership or services.

Partners In Care provides many additional services including transportation and advocacy to help older adults remain independent in their homes. Partners in Care is supported by multiple community funding, including the United Fund of Talbot County. The United Fund enables Partners In Care and other non-profits serve the many areas of need in our community.

Program Helps Citizens in Poverty Move from Just Getting By to Getting Ahead

Poverty and low wages impact how we live. According to the Census Bureau 2015 Quick Facts for Talbot County, 11.7 percent of the county’s population are “persons in poverty.” A new collaborative program of the Talbot County Department of Social Services (TCDSS) and Talbot Family Network (TFN), “Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’- By World,” is designed to help its participants understand the mental models of generational poverty, along with the mental models of the middle and the upper classes. This program allows participants to explore the impact that poverty and low wages have and what it takes to move from just getting by, to getting ahead and realizing the future that they really want.

When Mary of Easton needed temporary rental assistance for six months to pay her bills, she didn’t see herself living in poverty, even though she fit the poverty guidelines for the program which had helped her. Although she was once a government employee with a good job, after a failed relationship and a move to Easton, she could not find full-time work, which caused her financial situation to deteriorate rapidly.  She comments, “I was working two jobs and helping family members with their expenses. I couldn’t get ahead.”

Photo: Pictured left to right Melissa Micriotti, Director of Administration and Finance and Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World Facilitator, Chesapeake Mulitcultural Resource Center; James Carter, Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World Facilitator; Paris Quillet, Special Projects Coordinator, TCDSS; Katie Sevon, Executive Director, Talbot Family Network; Jazmine Gibson, a Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World Facilitator from Talbot Mentors; Tracy Donaghue, Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World Facilitator, TCDSS; and Estela Vianey Ramirez, Hispanic Outreach Coordinator and Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World Facilitator, Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center.

Falling further and further behind, Mary was then laid off from one of the jobs and it took a long time to find another job and then she became unemployed. She adds, “I was forced into an early retirement, but was not ready financially to retire.”

After receiving rental assistance, Mary was asked if she wanted to participate in the new “Getting Ahead in a Just- Gettin’-By World” program. She comments, “When I think of poverty, I think of people who are unable to locate resources.”

She adds, “I knew I needed the right full-time job with benefits. I needed someone to give me a chance.”

Among the information Mary has learned in the program are the “hidden rules” of each economic class; the resources she already has; and how to formulate a personal plan for success. The resources are financial, emotional, language, mental/cognitive, social capital/connections, physical, spiritual, motivation/persistence, integrity/trust, and relationships/role models.

According to Paris Quillet, Special Projects Coordinator, TCDSS, “Group participants are able to identify the resources they have, versus the resources they need, to formulate personal plans for the future based on their goals. Among the benchmarks for the program are evaluating whether participants’ income, housing, education/training, transportation, childcare, and language proficiency have improved as a result of their participation.”

Among the eye-opening sessions for Mary was learning about legal resources, such as the service agencies who could help her, versus the illegal resources, such as black market goods and services. In addition, she learned that she wasted a lot of time in working toward accomplishing her goals each day. Time management exercises have helped her to improve in this area.

According to Tracy Donaghue, Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World Facilitator with TCDSS, “Our participants are really vested in the program and freely provide insights from their own personal lives. The goal of the program is to help participants become more financially stable and to advance their careers.”

Participants in the program are known as “investigators.” The Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World Facilitator guides the group and together, with the group, investigates and helps group members solve problems. Co-investigation is the foundation for theGetting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World program.

According to Katie Sevon, Executive Director of Talbot Family Network, “This spring’s inaugural session provided childcare and transportation, if needed, and group members were also paid a weekly stipend. This helps ensure continuity of the group and remove barriers that would prevent participation.” She adds, “A lot of thought-provoking discussion and ideas have come out of the group so far. We are very excited about this new initiative and the positive impact it will have for our community.”

For Mary, despite her setbacks and personal crises, she states, “I have always had hope. This program is helping me see the things I can do to get ahead – making better use of my time and resources to do it. There is always something you can gain from a course like this.”

Persons interested in participating in this program as an investigator or as a referral source can contact Paris Quillet, Special Projects Coordinator, TCDSS, at 410-770-5870 or email paris.quillet@maryland.gov.