Spy Minute: “Take the Helm” Boat is Launched

After seven months of vigorous construction, Take the Helm, a boat-building program designed to engage high school students with hands-on skills and a sense of community, set sail on “Inspiration.”

These students learned how to study building plans, assemble parts, and even learned a few life lessons along the way.

Jim Fodrie, the chief builder at Take the Helm, has been part of the YMCA of the Chesapeake for over ten years. “We’re building kids,” he said when asked about the program. His woodworking experience started in middle school shop classes. A genuine connection lies between himself and Take the Helm.

Adam Hollis, program director, was initially a YMCA camper. Now, he has a full time career with the Easton YMCA.

Take the Helm hopes to grow diversity in Talbot County. The program is open to all high school students in grades nine to twelve. Take the Helm is a free program for all participants. Congratulations to all who were involved with Take the Helm. Safe sailing!

This video is approximately one minute in length. For more information about “Take the Helm” please go here

Spy Scrapbook: The Juneteenth for 2017

The Academy Art Museum and Frederick Douglass Honor Society in Talbot County celebrated Juneteenth with valor and flair a few days ago.

Speakers, artists, vendors, and youth joined together to spread knowledge of what Juneteenth means to not only our community, but the nation as well. Collaborating with the Hill Project, the community learned there is a rich history all around Talbot County that makes it so special.

Visit the Academy Art Museum to view and learn more about the 1864 Sesquicentennial Maryland Emancipation Quilt, designed by Dr. Joan M.E. Gaither, an active member in local professional arts organizations documenting the lives and culture of African Americans in Maryland.

This video is two minutes in length. To find out more about Juneteenth, please go here.

Talbot Historical Society Project Rewind: Taking it to the Bank

This Talbot Historical Society Laird Wise Collection photo was taken at the Easton National Bank on Washington St in Easton,which was located where Bank of America is now. We’d love your help in identifying some of these gentlemen! Those already identified are second from the left seated Emory Slaughter, third standing Mr. ? Moore, fourth from the left standing Sheldon Blades and seated far right is Porter Matthews. What a special group of men!

Contact: Cathy Hill cvhill@atlanticbb.net to share your old photos. Comment, Like our page and join THS!

Spy Minute: Talbot’s Crashbox Theatre Company with Ricky Vitanovec and Kelly Bonnette

Crashbox Theatre, a summer program directed towards Talbot County youth, illustrates the unbelievable talent in theatre arts in our community and a direct link to the professional talents of New York City.

Richard (Ricky) Vitanovec, who serves our community as theatre teacher at Easton Middle School and Easton High School, is the Executive Director ~ Crashbox Theatre Company, and works tirelessly to develop relationships in New York that transfer to direct opportunities for local youth.

The latest partnership brings Brian Michael Hoffman from the SEUSICAL Off-Broadway show, loaded with experience from touring nationally with ANNIE, and Internationally with HERCULES, THE MUSE-ICAL. He even served on the film team for ANNIE and THE WIZ LIVE with Sony Studios and NBC’s PETER PAN LIVE. Hoffman specializes in Character Voices and Improv, while teaching expertexpert technique for acting for live audiences. Having his attention on our youth opens doors for the future.

Vitanovec attracts the experts due to his earned reputation in New York City as a serious talent developer and show producer and director. He holds a master’s degree in theatre production and has directed over thirty-three productions. He further contributes to our community by acting at Church Hill Theatre, Hugh Gregory Gallagher Theatre, Tred Avon Players and the St. Michael’s Community Center

The Spy sits down with Ricky  and Kelly Bonnette, the volunteer president of Crashbox, for an exclusive on what to expect this summer for our young actors and actresses.

As they say in theatre, the show must go on!

This video is approximately two minutes in length. Find out more about Crashbox please go here.

2017 BAAM Festival Draws Crowd

This year’s Building African American Minds (BAAM) Fest at Idlewild Park in Easton celebrated the organization’s success in helping African American males become productive, confident citizens through positive academic, social, emotional, and spiritual experiences as children and young men. 

Pictured left to right are Dietrick Johnson and Daqwan Johnson, winners of the 2017 BAAM Fest Basketball Tournament.

BAAM has a community garden project this year designed to promote a healthy, vibrant community and to educate all ages on growing healthy food. Every Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m., at the corner of Jowite and Moton Street in Easton, there will be community volunteer days to work on the garden. In collaboration with BAAM, Dock Street Foundation is supporting the project. For further information on the Garden Volunteer Days, contact Aleya at 410-989-3536.  For further information about BAAM, contact Debbi Short at 410-714-3838.

BAAM’s partners include the Talbot Department of Social Services, University of MD Extension -Talbot 4 H, Maryland Coalition of Families, Choices for Life, AKA sorority, Imagination Library, TriLife Christian Center, Chesapeake College, Academy Art Museum, YMCA, NAACP, Talbot Mentors and the Town of Easton.

Talbot Historical Socierty Project Rewind: Finding Pony Tails

Do we have any pony lover followers? Maybe you have Mrs. G. W. Barnes riding school memories to share? This Talbot Historical Society H. Robins Hollyday photo’s database information states the photo was taken at the Rest near Easton, Maryland? Maybe a five year old would have ridden the little pony on the right!

Contact: Cathy Hill cvhill@atlanticbb.net to share your old photos. Comment, Like our page and join THS!

“Long Walk Home” Update by Robert Messick

Editor’s note: Robert Messick has elected to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail this year to raise awareness and funds for benefit Talbot Interfaith Shelter in Easton. This is his first report from the trail.

I started my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail (AT) on April 15th at Springer Mountain, Georgia, and have now been gone for a month. I’ve hiked close to 300 miles and crossed from Georgia into North Carolina and criss-crossed Tennessee and North Carolina throughout the Great Smoky Mountains before leap-frogging from Hot Springs, NC, to Damascus, VA, to meet my partner Lynda and my two children for a brief visit.

I hiked most of those miles with a group of hikers I met while waiting for the shuttle ride from the Atlanta MARTA North Spring Station to Hiker Hostel, Dahlonega, GA. It was a fun, diverse group, representing Germany, Maryland, Kansas, and Washington State; yet we all shared a common love for hiking and the outdoors.

Adam, a 10-year veteran of the Bureau of Land Management “Hot Shot” forest fire fighting crew stationed in South Dakota, Alaska, and Nevada, was accustomed to carrying a 62 pound backpack with all his forest fire fighting gear and transporting a 90 pound water pump with the help of a crew member. I was shocked to later learn from our co-hiker Rebekah that Adam unexpectedly left the trail after hiking for three weeks and flew back home to Kansas because, as he said, “hiking the AT was too much like work.” By that point, the group had disbanded, with the remaining hikers going at their separate pace.

Jörg, one of the nicest persons you could hope to meet, was a German hiking machine and ultimately left me in the dust with his fast pace. I struggled to catch up with him, but only did so after accepting a 6-mile ride from Garenflo Gap to Hot Springs, NC, to warm up my bones from the snow and freezing rain and to ease the pain in my knees.

The first 273 miles were accomplished in 22 days, which included three “zeros” where I simply rested (one at Fontana Dam and two at Gatlinburg). The relatively fast early pace and a wrenched knee from a fall on the very steep, muddy and slippery approach to Fontana Dam, led to my recurring knee problems. I am now forced to go at a slower pace.

Notwithstanding my knee problems, my greatest surprise and pleasure on the AT has been in discovering how friendly, good-natured, and helpful hikers and people in hiker towns are. I’m also amazed at how diverse the AT hiker community is. I’ve met people from all over the United States, plus Canada, Germany, Belgium, England, Crimea, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, to name a few. And it’s very interesting to learn about all the adventures and fabulous places these hikers have experienced.

In my next installment, I will discuss a divergence between some of my goals, proclaimed in my introductory article, and my actual experiences on the AT.

Kids and Books: 2nd Chesapeake Book Festival Set for June 17

On Saturday, June 17, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., in the Easton branch of the Talbot County Free Library, thirty-two of the country’s best authors and illustrators will be featured at the second annual Chesapeake Children’s Book Festival. The Festival is a one-day, rain or shine, free event that celebrates children, community, and literacy. Festival-goers have the opportunity to meet award-winning, best-selling, multi-talented authors and illustrators as they share their stories and love of children.

The Festival will feature live music, a blacksmith working his forge, make-a- book, an exhibit of Easton High School student art, free food and drink, sign up for the Imagination Library, a plant and seed exchange, a “Build Your Own Home” activity, a photo prop house children can have their picture taken in, and more. Several of the authors will give readings from their work.

The Festival will also serve as the kick-off event for the Talbot County Free Library’s summer reading program. Each child who signs up for the summer reading program will receive a voucher good for a free book from one of the Festival’s authors (while supplies last). The child gets to pick the book of their choice and have the author sign it. Studies have shown that children who read during the summer avoid significant drops in their reading skills and return to school in the fall better prepared than those that haven’t been reading.

In keeping with the theme of this year’s summer reading program—“Build a Better World”—the library is partnering with Habitat for Humanity Choptank on the project. Every time a child in the summer reading program reads a book, a donation will be made to Habitat for Humanity Choptank.

“We live in a community that loves books, children, and our library, “said Dana Newman, director of the Talbot County Free Library. “The Chesapeake Children’s Book Festival connects all three while creating a magical day of readings that gives attendees the opportunity to meet the fascinating people who write and illustrate books for children.”

“We are grateful to have such a talented and accomplished group of authors,” added Timothy Young, chair of the event. “Many of the participating authors and illustrators have earned spots on best-selling and best-of-the-year lists. Several of our authors have written more than 20 children’s books. We will have writers who have contributed to the New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, CBS, and The New Yorker. Festival authorRoxie Munro’s artwork has graced the covers of fourteen different issues of The New Yorker. All of our authors and illustrators have inspired children to connect with their love of books.”

Though authors will be coming to Easton from as far away as Kentucky and Rhode Island to participate in the Festival, Young will be one of several local authors also featured. Young is the author and illustrator of eight children’s books, including The Angry Little Puffin and I Hate Picture Books. Barbara Lockhart is an Eastern Shore writer and recipient of two individual artist awards in fiction from the Maryland State Arts Council. Lockhart’s Rambling Raft and Once a Pony Time at Chincoteague were written in collaboration with her daughter, Lynn Lockhart, who also illustrated the books. Lockhart’s Mosey’s Field was illustrated by Easton resident Heather Crow. Laura Rankin has been a children’s book author and illustrator since the tender age of five. Her professional career in the field began 28 years ago with The Handmade Alphabet, inspired by her older stepson who is deaf. Fluffy and Baron, Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie, Swan Harbor, and My Turn followed.

For a full listing of all the authors participating in this year’s Festival, please visit www.chesapeakechildrensbookfestival.com.


Shore Leadership Class Meets at Wye River Upper School

The 2017 Shore Leadership class met at Wye River Upper School in Queen Anne’s County on May 24th for the first of 7 sessions.  Two students from Wye River Upper School greeted and welcomed the class to the completely renovated Centreville National Guard Barracks which Wye River now calls home.

The morning session was facilitated by Dr. Joe Thomas on Leading with Strengths.  The class had completed the Strengths Finder assessment and used that information throughout the morning as they worked with Dr. Thomas.

After lunch, Ms. Chrissy Aull, founder and Executive Director of Wye River Upper School discussed the history of the school and why there is a need for schools like Wye River.  Three students shared their stories and talked about how their learning differences held them back at their other schools but that at Wye River their differences have become their strengths and have helped them to be successful.  The students and Ms. Aull gave the class a tour of the renovated campus. 

Dr. Jon Andes, Executive Director of the Eastern Shore of Maryland Education Consortium, spoke to the class about the State of Public Education in Maryland.  He shared the laws the govern Maryland public education and told the class that each year there is a deficit of more than 2000 qualified teachers in Maryland.  The Maryland colleges are not producing enough teachers and students are not enrolling to become teachers.  Neighboring states are also seeing a decline in their teacher education programs. He also shared that since 1986 the nine counties on the Eastern Shore have been part of the ESMEC consortium which gives them a bigger voice with the legislature and with the Maryland State Department of Education.

Later in the afternoon Marci Leach from Chesapeake College and Bryan Newton from Wor-Wic Community College led a discussion and game show which highlighted the role of Community Colleges in today’s world.  Deborah Urry, Executive Director of the Eastern Shore Higher Education Center shared information about the baccalaureate and graduate degrees offered at the Center which is located on the Chesapeake College Wye Mills Campus.

Throughout the day the class focused on how strengths can be used as a focus for leadership development.  The next session will be held in Caroline County in June and will deal with the topic of Rural Health Care.

Nice – YMCA of the Chesapeake Celebrates 64 Years

The YMCA of the Chesapeake held its 64th Annual Celebration at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Although it was a rainy night, the mood inside was uplifting and filled with excitement, inspired by the Y’s theme of “Magnify the Work of the Y”. Each speaker, award winner and over 260 guests were presented with the important work the Y engages in, invited to be a part of it, and encouraged to go out and tell our story.

Paul Berry, Y board member and retired news anchor, emceed the evening’s festivities. Dick Bodorff, YMCA Chief Volunteer Officer, shared three important numbers. “The YMCA of the Chesapeake has over 27,000 members, this year we awarded 1.2 million dollars in scholarship funds and 12,422 individuals were served through those scholarship funds by becoming members or participating in programs at the Y”. Robbie Gill spoke of the work we do at the Y. “We share and celebrate with each other, but we need to bring more people into the circle. How do we magnify the work of the Y? We need to share our stories.”

New programs were celebrated. Nick Papson and Nancy Norman-Van Schaik shared Pickleball, the game that can be played by any age and any ability. With over 250 pickleball players involved with the Y across the Shore, it is the YMCA of the Chesapeake’s fastest growing program. Nate Moore, Easton High School freshman, shared his experiences of Take the Helm, a new boat building program for teens in Easton. Take the Helm participants are building relationships and learning life skills while building a boat that is set to launch off of Easton Point on June 23. Wendy Palmer, new Operations Director for the Y on Washington Street in Easton, announced that an anonymous donor has given a matching gift to the Y on Washington. This person has pledged to match donations up to a total of $25,000, and can be used to invest in upgrading the facility. Kerry Foxwell, Director of Major Gifts, spoke of an anonymous donor who has an opportunity for the Y. “A gift of $100,000 has been donated and you are invited to take part in it. If you are a new donor, a current member of the Y, and your gift is at least $100 it will be matched up to $1,000”.

Dick Bodorff also specially recognized some of our outstanding volunteers. Tom Evans, Mark Welsh, Len Foxwell, David Nagel and Blenda Armistead were recognized for their outstanding service with the YMCA of the Chesapeake. Tyler Patton, YMCA board member shared his experience of becoming a volunteer. The timeline from his Y experiences as a child, to becoming a board member, to realizing he had some health goals to accomplish and finding true friends. The magical evening wound down with Paul Berry saying “I challenge you tonight, let’s go out there and magnify the work of the Y. Let’s get more people involved in this amazing charity and use it to strengthen the communities we are so fortunate to call home”.