community foundation logo
Guided by a vision to make Southern Maryland “the best place to live and give”, the Community Foundation of Southern Maryland is a driving philanthropic force in Charles County. Incorporated in 2005, the Foundation provides advice on all types of giving and uses its in-depth knowledge of the community’s needs to help direct funds to a multitude of organizations. We talked with the Foundation’s executive director, Gretchen Hardman, for an inside look at the Foundation’s work and what visitors to the upcoming Annual Potomac Waterfowl Festival can expect this year!

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

A: The Community Foundation of Southern Maryland is an autonomous 501 (c)(3) tax exempt public charity created by and for the people of Southern Maryland. We are made up of charitable funds (endowed or non-endowed) established by many donors, which are used to provide grants to nonprofits and scholarships to students.

We are literally the community’s foundation. Individuals, families, corporations and other nonprofits use us to create custom-made charitable funds to do any number of things: to memorialize or honor a loved one; to use in lieu of a private foundation; to establish a scholarship fund that supports local schools and schools across the US; to support their church or local high school or elementary school; to create a giving circle with friends who want to focus on a certain area of interest; to create a legacy in their family’s name that will always and forever be tied to good works in our community; or to simply receive a tax deduction.

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

A: We have several favorite moments, as we get to provide grants to folks who need it most! Some of our favorite moments include:

  • Providing over $500,000 in grants from our charitable funds back to the community since our first fund was created in 2008.
  • Connecting out-of-state donors to charitable causes in Southern Maryland by providing over $50,000 in grants to nonprofits representing the tri-county area.
  • Advocating for donors through the passage of Endow Maryland – a 25% tax credit for folks who give to an endowment at their local community foundation in Maryland.
  • Affirming our commitment to financial security, transparency and accountability by receiving an accreditation from the National Standards Board at the Council on Foundations which serves as a blueprint for internal development and provides benchmarks for external assessment. We were required to document our policies in donor services, investment management, grant making and administration. Our accreditation states that our grant making includes an open, competitive process designed to address the changing needs of our community.
  • The one-time fund established by FBLA high school students called BLiNG (Business Leaders Interested N’ Giving) to support youth-related nonprofits.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Our biggest challenge at this point is getting the word out about the Community Foundation. We would like to be able to get in front of civic groups, nonprofit boards, folks who are creating their wills and families to introduce them to the Community Foundation of Southern Maryland and encourage them to create endowments for our community for the future.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: The weekend of May 23 and 24, our 8th Annual Potomac River Waterfowl Festival will take place at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds. The purpose is to promote arts, culture and our heritage by inviting decoy carvers and wildlife artists to exhibit and sell their wares. We have the finest decoy carvers, wildlife artists and local crafters joining us for this year’s event. Folks can shop for decoys, wildlife and related art; barter at the Buy, Sell and Swap tables; dust off their decoys and bring them in for free appraisals and identifications; register for the Bourbon and Rye Tastings; reserve a bluebird box to build; participate in the Duck and Goose Calling Contest and Clinic for all ages; sign up for the Wine and Design painting class; and for carvers, register decoys in the Working Decoy Competition. To find out more, visit www.cfsomd.org.

Friday, May 23, from 6 to 9 p.m., we will hold our Cattails and Cocktails Dinner and Auction. Tickets to the event are $75.00 and must be purchased in advance. Enjoy fresh-from-the-farm food to your table and our seasonally inspired menu, wine, beer and beverages. Shop and barter from artists and collectors or bid on unique auction items.

Join us on Saturday, May 24 for the festival. The Decoy and Art Auction will take place at 8:00 a.m., and the festival opens at 10 a.m. Admission is $5.00.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: The Community Foundation offers many ways for folks to get involved and since we are fairly new, we have many opportunities for people to establish committees and contribute new ideas to set a foundation for the future. Those interested in getting involved can

  • Join our Board of Directors
  • Join a committee – Grants, Development, Investment and Finance & Administration
  • Help with special events – Kickball Tournament, Waterfowl Festival or Philanthropy Day Luncheon
  • Establish a Charitable Fund/Giving Circle at the Foundation
  • Volunteer at the office and help with administrative duties

smawl logo
The St. Mary's Animal Welfare League helps cats, dogs and horses by providing veterinary, fostering and adoption services. This week, we spoke with Katie 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 an animal find their “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 smawl@yahoo.com, or visit www.smawl.org.

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 very special foster home that had a very special cat, Dutchess, who helped Martha adjust to her new home. Within half an hour of her arrival, Dutchess had introduced herself and was taking Martha on a tour of the house. She showed her where all of the water bowls were and the family set one up on the bathroom floor for Martha since she seemed to like that area. Dutchess decided they were sleeping together on the sofa that first night, so that was where they spent the night. Martha had a nightmare and was whimpering and of course her assistant came to get her foster mom and she calmed down when she was held. Martha likes to snuggle against her foster mom with Dutchess against her. The family gated off the bathroom for Martha so that she had a larger area to stay in while they are at work; Dutchess can hop the gate. 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 Pet Valu in Leonardtown, the Tractor Supply Co in Hollywood and Pepper’s Pet Pantry in Solomon’s. In May we have our Annual Animal Fair, which is a fun-filled day for families and pets with many activities for everyone – one of the most popular of which is the “Woof-It Down” Contest (a “pie” eating contest where dogs and their humans compete).

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. Membership fees are:

$35.00 – Individual

$50.00 – Family

$50.00 – Business

$250.00 – Lifetime

$500.00 – Business Lifetime

• 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.

beach chair on lawn
This week’s Friday Focus takes us to Faulkner, Maryland, and the Loyola on the Potomac retreat house. Located on 253 acres of scenic riverfront property, the retreat offers a quiet refuge for personal prayer and reflection for people of all faiths. We caught up with Jim Palmer, Director of the retreat house, who talked with us about how his organization impacts the lives of those it serves.

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

A: Loyola on the Potomac is a Retreat House (in the Roman Catholic tradition) that was founded by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and opened in 1958. Loyola is situated on a bluff overlooking the Potomac River. There are 235 acres of woodlands laced with numerous paths for all to enjoy. With its woods, riverfront beach and spectacular sunsets over the Potomac, Loyola has offered thousands of retreatants the opportunity and means of experiencing the joy and serenity of God’s presence.

The retreat house welcomes men and women of all faiths and backgrounds. Programs include Ignatian weekend retreats, mid-week retreats, private and directed retreats and personal days of prayer and reflection. Additionally, we collaborate with schools, social service agencies, volunteer organizations and other Church ministries to provide the opportunity for retreatants to come aside and rest awhile.

The Loyola experience affords our retreatants the opportunity to be conscious of God’s action in their lives and in the world, to deepen their faith, and to renew their commitment to justice.

Retreat programs sponsored by Loyola are conducted in the spirit of prayerful silence, inviting our guests to truly become aware of the presence of God in our world and in their lives. Our facility space is also utilized by local churches, social service organizations and schools who sponsor their own retreat programs.

The main house offers two chapels, comfortable lounges and sitting rooms and 70 individual bedrooms (each with a half bath). In addition, we have one large conference room and six small meeting rooms, a small fitness room, music room and bookstore. Internet access is available in our main retreat house.

Our property also houses Huckleberry House, a historic home that is used by visiting Jesuits and as an overflow space for larger retreats. We also have a lovely Hermitage on the property which features 2 bedrooms, 2 full baths, a full kitchen, living room, prayer room and screened in porch. Our grounds feature well marked hiking trails and two outdoor Stations of the Cross pathways for prayer.

Loyola on the Potomac is also the home of St. Inigoes Youth Camp, an outdoor camping area equipped with a spacious bath/shower facility, two-story barn for group activities and worship, a dining pavilion, fire pit and amphitheater.

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

A: At the end of our Ignatian Weekend Retreats we hold a session entitled “The Gathering of Graces” during which time the retreatants share what has happened in their lives during the course of their retreat. Every session becomes a favorite moment as I become aware of the amazing transformation retreatants experience by the grace of our loving God.

Another favorite moment that gets repeated several times throughout the year is the gratitude expressed by our retreatants who participate in our partnership retreats. Loyola is blessed to be able to partner with the Ignatian Spirituality Project to offer retreats for homeless men and women; Damien Ministries to provide retreats for men and women living with HIV/AIDS; and the San Miguel School, an independent Catholic middle school that provides education to disadvantaged Latino boys in Washington, D.C. It is often overwhelming to hear these retreatants, both young and old, express what their time at Loyola has meant in their lives.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Funding! Like most nonprofits, the fees we collect from our retreatants do not cover the cost of the services we offer. And so, we engage in fund raising campaigns and rely on our benefactors to keep our doors open and ensure that the work and ministry of the retreat house thrives.

Our main house is a large structure and is now more than 50 years old; the upkeep and renovations certainly bring many challenges to our staff, as well as take their toll on our budget.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

Crab Feast and Open House - September 7, 2014 from 2:00 – 5:00 at the Retreat House

Night of Honor Banquet & Auction - October 22, 2014 at 6:30 pm at the Greater Waldorf Jaycees

Christmas Saintly Tea - December 14, 2014 at 3:00 at the Retreat House

Loyola 5k River Run (and 1 mile walk) - June 20, 2015 at St. Inigoes Youth Camp

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: Individuals who would like to experience a retreat at Loyola can register on line at http://www.loyolaonthepotomac.com/

Groups and/or individuals that would like to do a community service or volunteer project on behalf of Loyola are invited to call our Development Director, Lisa White, at 301-392-0819.

Financial Donations to support our work and ministry can be made online or mailed directly to the retreat house. All donations made to Loyola on the Potomac are tax deductible to the full extend allowed by law.

dhm logoAt the foot of the Nice Bridge in King George, Virginia is the Dahlgren Heritage Museum. Overseen by the Dahlgren Heritage Foundation, the Museum’s 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,  dahlgrenmuseum.org; 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 late last year 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: Are there any upcoming events?

A: There are many! Join us for our second annual Fine Art and Memorabilia Auction at UMW/Dahlgren on Saturday, September 6. The preview begins at 5 p.m., with the auction starting at 5:30. Great bargains and great fun. The $25 tickets include refreshments and wine, and are available on our website, dahlgrenmuseum.org.

On Saturday, November 15, at the museum, we will offer a German Christmas Market from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. More details are on the website.

And every first Saturday (from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and third Saturday (from noon to 4 p.m.), the museum is open with free admission. Through October, a flea market will be set up in the parking area at those times. Check the website for special opening times as well.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: Become a member by going to dahlgrenmuseum.org, 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.

men working on house
In a true expression of neighbor helping neighbor, Christmas in April volunteers bring assistance to homeowners in need on their annual workday each spring. In 2013, the Calvert Count chapter of Christmas in April repaired a total of 34 homes, doing everything from cleaning gutters to roofing to landscaping. This week’s Friday Focus is a conversation with Bill Lloyd, President of Christmas in April*Calvert County, Inc.

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

A: Christmas in April*Calvert County, Inc., a United Way partner started in Calvert County in 1991, is a nonprofit, volunteer organization that repairs and improves the homes of low-income homeowners. Low-income homeowners, especially the elderly, disabled and families with children, are eligible to apply for Christmas in April services.  All repairs are paid for by Christmas in April.  Homeowners are not expected to pay for any services provided. Once a home is referred, a home visit is made by the House Selection Committee.  The Board ultimately makes the difficult determination as to whether the house meets the eligibility criteria, is in need and can be repaired by Christmas in April in one day. Homeowners and family members who are present and who are able-bodied are expected to work alongside volunteers on the Christmas in April work day, which is the last Saturday in April every year.

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

A: There are so many “moments” that happen on our workday. Just the look of happiness on homeowners’ faces on the workday is priceless. Imagine going five years without hot water, and then a group of strangers come to your home and not only fix your water heater but also landscape, remove trash and paint the inside of your house. I’m not sure who gets the most gratification, the homeowner or the volunteer. Our volunteers return every year!

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: We are always looking for more “house captains” that can lead a work crew in repairing the homes of our applicants. More donations are always welcome because we are a 100% volunteer organization, with all donations used to purchase supplies for the repairs of the homes. More donations would mean that we could repair more homes.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Yes, our application period is fast approaching. We only review applications during September and October, choosing and visiting the homes in November and assembling work crews in December. Applications received after October will have to wait until the following September to be considered. Applications are available on our website, at the office of aging, at the library, and at most churches. Homeowners that are interested in having their home worked on should have their application in during that time. A lot of work will need to be done before the workday including meeting the homeowner, ordering supplies and assembling work crews. The “work day” is always the last Saturday in April. The Board of Directors works yearlong preparing for that one day. Over 800 volunteers work on up to 32 homes each year.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: People who are interested in making donations or volunteering to work with us on our work day can print or email the relevant form from our website www.christmasinaprilcalvertcounty.org.