The Women & Girls Fund of the Mid-Shore has announced Chrissy Aull, of Queenstown, and Beth Brewster, of Denton, are the 2022 recipients of the Women & Girls Fund and Sheryl V. Kerr Awards, respectively.
“Our annual awards are special because they shine a spotlight on individuals, often unsung heroes, who are making a difference in our communities. We want the recipients to know their inspiring work, either personal or professional, is recognized, valued, and improving the lives of Mid-Shore women and girls,” said Kathy Deoudes, president of the Women & Girls Fund Board of Directors.
Chrissy Aull received the 2022 Women & Girls Fund Award for her efforts in co-founding the Wye River Upper School (WRUS) to educate bright high school students with learning differences. Based on a shared personal need for an appropriate high school experience for their young adult sons, she and co-founder Patricia McGlannan, of Tilghman, opened the school in 2002 with nine students, three teachers, and two staff members on the campus of Chesapeake College.
Establishing the school was not without challenges, and Beth Spurry, former WRUS board member and current Women & Girls Fund board member, recalled, “At every point in the founding and development of WRUS, when it appeared there was ‘no way this will work’, Chrissy did impossible things through her positive attitude and compassion. She never took no for an answer. It’s a remarkable story and look where the school is now!”
Wye River Upper School grew to 57 students from as many as nine Maryland counties and Delaware while Mrs. Aull’s served as Founding Head of School from 2002 until her retirement in 2020. The school offers a wide range of curricular options, including an impressive digital and mechanical tools space, and extra-curricular offerings including interscholastic sports, theatre, and off-campus experiential learning.
In 2010 the school purchased the Centreville Maryland National Guard Armory as its permanent campus. Mrs. Aull led a successful capital campaign to raise over $5 million dollars to complete a total renovation of the historic structure. During her tenure, the school awarded an average of $150,000 annual financial aid to enable deserving students to attend.
The Women & Girls Fund Award was established by the board in 2004 to recognize a community member who, through their body of professional work or volunteer experience, exemplifies the Fund’s mission. The shared traits among recipients are vision, integrity, compassion, and generosity of time and talent, which demonstrates a commitment to improving the lives and opportunities of women, girls, and families. This award is publicized in all five counties, and nominations are accepted from the public.
Previous recipients of the award are the following women of distinction: Lois S. Duffey, Harriet S. Critchlow, Sandra W. King, Maria Boria, M.D., Sr. Patricia Gamgort, OSB, Tracy Davenport, Sandra Redd, Sara Jane Davidson, The Hon. Karen Murphy Jensen, Kathleen Francis, Maureen Jacobs, Janet Pfeffer, Joy Price, Nancy Wilson, Mary Lou McAllister, Diana Mautz, Kathy Weaver, Ellen Rajacich, Susan Stockman, Krista Pettit, Carlene Wilson, and Julie Lowe.
Beth Brewster received the 2022 Sheryl V. Kerr Award for her accomplishments as the driving force at the Chesapeake Culinary Center (CCC) in Denton, which she founded in 2005. The center’s focus is on job training, youth education, and economic development in Caroline County, critical issues in the area Mrs. Brewster recognized needed to be addressed.
In partnership with the Caroline County Public Schools, Town of Denton, Caroline County Government, and other organizations, CCC undertook the rehabilitation of the original Caroline County high school building, built in 1901.
The old building has been retrofitted with classrooms, training kitchens, and a retail store featuring local products. The building lends itself to be a community kitchen incubator for farmers to create added value products and promote small food-based businesses entrepreneurship. It also houses the Caroline Career and Technology Center’s culinary arts class allowing high school students to gain a job skill as well as a variety of community programs.
For many years, Mrs. Brewster has offered “The Dinner Party”, an after-school program for at-risk students, and “Cooking Matters”, a program to teach lower income families how to cook and shop on a budget. She leads “Farm to Freezer”, an in-house project capable of preserving up 20,000 pounds of local produce to serve all year.
Caroline Curbside Market is CCC’s newest project. A specially outfitted van – “Sho Go Mobile” – follows a busy weekday schedule traveling to food scarce areas of Caroline County to bring residents with mostly local fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat at deeply discounted prices.
Mrs. Brewster’s tireless efforts at CCC – in addition to her “day job” as Caroline County Public School’s Supervisor of Food Services – have earned her town, county, state, and national awards. She is legendary for her vision and innovation. Says Women & Girls Fund board member, Kathy Bosin, “Beth is one of the brightest stars on Delmarva.”
Established in 2015 with a grant from the Grayce B. Kerr Fund, the Sheryl V. Kerr Award can be given to an individual or organization. Recipients are identified and selected through an internal board review process that recognizes exceptional community outreach or work that aligns with strategic goals of the Women & Girls Fund. The late Shery Kerr, a philanthropist and vice-president of the Grayce B. Kerr Fund, was a proponent of women empowering women, which is hallmark of the Sheryl V. Kerr Award.
Previous distinguished recipients of the award are Maria D’Arcy, Estela Ramirez, Cheryl Hughes, Robbin Hill, Debbye Jackson, Peggy and John Ford, and Leslie Bishop.
For further information or to download a 2023 Women & Girls Fund Award nomination form, visit www.womenandgirlsfund.org or call 410-770-8347.