How can your heart not melt looking into the eyes of a sweet dog or cat? The St. Mary’s Animal Welfare League gives animals in need care, medical attention, a home and more before they are adopted into a loving family. They avidly work to educate the public on the proper way to care for an animal, responsibility and control of the pet population. Speaking with President, Katie Werner in this week’s Friday Focus we learned SMAWL’s great need for foster families as well as how one person can truly make a difference in the eye of an animal. Let’s give them some love.

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

We specialize in the rescue, care and placement of abused, neglected and homeless companion animals.  Our animals are vaccinated, microchipped, spayed or neutered and receive medical treatment before being placed in carefully selected homes.  In addition, we strive to educate the community in areas of humane education and responsible pet ownership, as well as helping to control the pet overpopulation in our area by promoting the spaying and neutering of all companion animals.  We have been able to do this through a generous grant we receive annually from The Snyder Foundation for Animals.  This allows us to provide grants to members of the community to spay or neuter their pets.  We also hold vaccination clinics in partnership with the St. Mary’s County Health Department monthly from March through November (at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds on the second Monday of the month between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.); we currently offer rabies vaccinations ($15.00), distemper vaccinations ($10.00) and microchipping ($30.00).  We hold adoption events at the Petco in California every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and our Cat Castle Rescue Center in Callaway is open every Saturday between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.  Our long-term goal is to have a shelter in St. Mary’s County.

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

There are so many. One of my first volunteer experiences with SMAWL was helping assess and adopt animals left homeless by Hurricane Katrina.  More recently is the rescue of Percy, a 5 year old Bichon, who was rescued after his owner went into hospice care and the living conditions and abuse he suffered was brought to SMAWL's attention.  The desire for human companionship Percy demonstrated, even amidst the evidence of extreme neglect and psychological trauma, shocked the SMAWL rescue team. Percy is now an integral member of a family who provides him with loving care. Below is a picture of Percy on the day he came to us and a picture of Percy today.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

Our biggest challenge is raising money to pay for all we do. Veterinary care for our animals is the biggest expense we have.  When an animal comes to us we don’t necessarily know what health issues he or she may have.  Another challenge we face is having families to foster both dogs and cats.  Most of our animals are in foster homes so the number of animals we save is limited to the number of foster homes that we have.  SMAWL pays for the veterinary care of our animals and our foster families provide loving homes, training and socialization.

dog
Q: Are there any upcoming
events?

  • 02/17/2017 – Open Ukulele Nite at Cool Beanz Coffee in Charlotte Hall from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. Admission is free but they are asking for donations to SMAWL.
  • 03/11/2017 – Quarter Auction Fundraiser at St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. Doors open at 5:00 p.m.
  • 03/13/2017 – Vaccination Clinic at St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
  • 04/09/2017 – ArtsPark Cherry Blossom Festival. SMAWL will be participating with a pet parade and other activities
  • 04/10/2017 - Vaccination Clinic at St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
  • 05/08/2017 - Vaccination Clinic at St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
  • 06/12/2017 - Vaccination Clinic at St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
  • 06/25/2017 – Basket Bingo Fundraiser at Hollywood Fire Department
  • 07/12/2017 - Vaccination Clinic at St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
  • 08/05/2017 – Concert at Summerseat
  • 08/07/2017 - Vaccination Clinic at St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
  • 09/11/2017 - Vaccination Clinic at St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
  • 10/09/2017 - Vaccination Clinic at St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
  • 10/21/2017 – SMAWL Rescue Fun Run 5K & Trail Walk (Pets Welcome) in Historic St. Mary’s City
  • 11/13/2017 - Vaccination Clinic at St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

Additional information can be found on our website: www.smawl.org or our Facebook page.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

We have many volunteer opportunities. Fostering (both cats and dogs), taking care of our cats at Petco (the ones in the cubbies are ours), taking care of our cats at our Cat Castle Rescue Center in Callaway.  We also need volunteers to help with fundraising events, develop fundraising plans and to work with our dog and cat teams to support our mission.  Donations (both monetary and items such as food, litter, toys, cleaning supplies, flea/tick preventative, etc.) are always welcome. If you’re interested in volunteering with SMAWL you can contact us at info@smawl.org and we can work with you to find your niche and get you started.

chesapeake bay savers
Are you ready to help save the bay? The Chesapeake Bay Savers is a passion driven organization that puts efforts into restoring, protecting and educating people on the importance of their cause. Through their two entities, the Chesapeake BaySavers Foundation and the Chesapeake BaySavers Inc., they focus on a community outreach, hands-on approach to get people involved. In this week’s Friday Focus we reached out to Marisa Sames of Chesapeake BaySavers and discovered the value just one oyster has on the bay!

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

Chesapeake BaySavers Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focuses on restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay through education, community outreach and hands-on environmental work. Chesapeake BaySavers, Inc., a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization focuses on preserving, protecting and promoting the health of the Chesapeake Bay through legislative efforts, with an emphasis on legislation that affects oysters.

In the past year we have formed numerous partnerships with local organizations, removed invasive species to prepare for restoration and storm water management projects, passed laws and regulation on oyster harvesting and to stop poaching, sponsored University of Baltimore’s Law Review Symposium “Can Law Save the Chesapeake Bay”, created a water monitoring initiative along Spa Creek in Annapolis and much more.

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

My favorite moments with BaySavers are the educational workshops we do. We have partaken in the PASA Earth Day events, the EcoFEST that was held during the Spa Creek Clean Water PaddleFEST, have sponsored the Annapolis Maritime Museum’s Chesapeake Champions Program and have spoken to people of all ages about the Chesapeake Bay and how they can make a difference.

These are my favorite activities because the first step to making a difference is by educating individuals about who we are, what we do and why it’s important we do what we do. I love talking and teaching people about the Chesapeake Bay and about our native oyster population as well as educating them on the how and why we are working so hard to restore them. Fun fact, a single adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons a day! When you inform people of this, and better yet show them in person how quickly oysters filter water, they suddenly realize how important it is to bring back our oyster population and they become just as passionate as myself and my team.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge for the Chesapeake BaySavers is funding. We have accomplished a lot since our inception but without our dedicated team and supporters we would not be able to continue our important work to restore the Chesapeake Bay for future generations to come.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

We will be holding the Chesapeake BaySavers 5th Annual Golf Tournament on Friday, May 12th, 2017. The event will be held at the Queenstown Harbor Golf Course in Queenstown, MD. You can find more information about registering to play, sponsorship opportunities, and other ways to make our event a success at: http://www.chesapeakebaysavers.org/

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

People can get involved in various different ways! We are looking for interns to work with us on our everyday tasks, volunteers to come out and help make our events run smoothly and successfully, we are also looking for new individuals for join our Board of Directors. If interested, you can contact Marisa Sames at baysavers@gmail.com for more information.

Do you have an interest in helping someone learn to read or write? The Charles County Literacy Council is an organization dedicated to serving individuals who need support in learning to read, write and basic math. They provide tutoring services and programs to help adults obtain GED’s, pass required exams, obtain a job or degree and more. Through their passion and commitment they have impacted so many individuals, families and our society as a whole by breaking the cycle of poverty and helping those who want to, achieve success. In this week’s Friday Focus we spoke to Susan Petroff, Outreach & Development Coordinator, Charles County Literacy Council and discovered how we can lend a hand to help them!

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

The Charles County Literacy Council (CCLC) provides free, one-on-one adult literacy tutoring to ensure that all adults living in Charles County have access to the quality education needed to fully realize their potential as individuals, parents and citizens. For 53 years, CCLC has provided tutoring to adults in the areas of reading, writing and basic math.

Since its inception in 1964, the Charles County Literacy Council (CCLC) has helped thousands of adults, most of whom go on to obtain their GED’s, drivers licenses, pass their military entrance exams, become U.S citizens, obtain better paying jobs, even go on to obtain college degrees. These accomplishments enable adult learners to break their families’ cycle of poverty and become productive members of the Charles County workforce.

Volunteer tutors are from all walks of life and are trained in the internationally recognized Laubach Way to Reading, facilitated by the national organization ProLiteracy, to ensure that each student receives the quality tutoring they need. Each tutor spends from one to three hours each week helping their adult learners reach their particular literacy goals.  All text books and learning materials are provided at no cost.

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

We have many inspirational stories to share, but this one is a good example of the kind of impact tutors are having on the lives of adults living in our County.

Charles County Literacy Council …. Changing Lives

two women at table

Meet CCLC Tutor Debora Storey (left) and Josian Karantassi (right)

Within 18 months of one-on-one tutoring Josian made great strides in her reading skills and her confidence level also jumped exponentially. She soon requested help in preparing for her citizenship test. Her first attempt was nearly successful. Her second attempt cinched it and she recently became a U.S. citizen on September 30th. Now, she is studying to get her driver’s license, complete religious studies so she can become a member in full standing with her Church and is making progress towards her GED.

“The experience we have shared is like no other I have experienced. I can’t wait to meet her young children, who are learning to speak English in their local school in their native country of Mali.” – Debora Storey, CCLC Tutor

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

More than one in ten people living in Charles County cannot read, write or do basic math above a third grade level. According to the Maryland Alliance for the Poor, there are currently more than 15,000 residents in Charles County reading at the lowest reading levels. Currently CCLC operates with a half-time program coordinator and 100 dedicated volunteers, who donate hundreds of hours of their time and energy each year to help others reach their literacy goals. Adult literacy programs nationwide are underfunded and Charles County, Maryland is no exception.

Right now, CCLC does not have the financial and human resources to adequately meet the literacy demands of Charles County. We have many more requests than tutors to help those in need. In November and December we launched a corporate fundraising campaign as well as a tutor drive in order to expand our services and meet the growing need in Charles County.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

We have a Tutor Training Workshop coming up in April. If anyone is interested in becoming a tutor and would like to attend the workshop, please contact Linda Heimpel at charlescountyliteracy@comcast.net.

If there are community events, where you think that the Literacy Council should exhibit or opportunities to speak at meetings, please contact Susan Petroff at petroff.susan@gmail.com.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

In addition to tutors, we need volunteers to host our tables at community events, and assist in our office, which is located in the United Way house on Rte.488 near La Plata.

center of help
The Center of Help, Inc., drives their resources into assisting Hispanic-Latinos and other immigrants socially, educationally and economically integrate into our culture, while not losing their values, customs and own beliefs. From helping someone learn to speak better English, or move higher up in a job, to hosting community events or giving financial advice, the Center of Help lends a hand. In this week’s Friday Focus, we spoke to Karen Cline, Executive Director, Center of Help, Inc. and learned all about their unique programs and services they offer.

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

The Center of Help exists to assist Hispanic-Latinos and other immigrants socially, educationally and economically in order to become contributive citizens in the Anne Arundel Community.

Our objectives include:

  • To provide conflict-resolution, translation, health, citizenship, education and employment services to Hispanic-Latinos and other immigrant families in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County
  • To inform and sensitize the community and local leaders on immigration and multicultural issues through establishing relationships
  • To advocate on behalf of the Hispanic-Latino community by representing their interests in cultural integration and English access

We were established in 2000 as a non-profit organization and have grown to serve approximately 3,000 clients per year with a variety of daily challenges ranging from translation to employment services and enrollment in Food Stamps and MD Health Connection.

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

It is most rewarding when we are able to impact our clients’ daily lives by assisting in bringing relief or resolution to their challenges.  One example was recently when we facilitated a meeting between an employer and long-time employee who does not fully understand English but he wanted his boss to know that he wanted to become a supervisor, receive a raise and take on more responsibility.  Both parties were able to communicate in their native language and then come to an agreement along with a plan for future employee and business success.  We may even begin teaching English onsite for the businesses’ non-English speakers.

 Q: What is your biggest challenge?

 Meeting needs of 3,000 clients with limited staff and funding

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

  • Cinco de Mayo, May 4th, at Sam’s on the Waterfront (tickets sold through Center of Help 1906 Forest Dr., 2B)
  • Noche Latina, Sept 8th, at Ram’s Head

 Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

  1. Like us on Facebook
  2. Attend events
  3. Make tax-deductible donations
  4. Volunteer: Leadership & Learning (kids), English classes, Citizenship class
  5. Attend programs: Citizenship recognition (June) and Hispanic Heritage Month Kickoff – Sept 17, 2017 6. Learn Spanish