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Providing comprehensive behavioral health services and recovery support, Walden Sierra has been a powerful force for good in the community since 1973. This week, we spoke with Walden’s Christine Timmerman, who shared her organization’s story with Friday Focus.

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

A: For over 40 years, Walden has been at the forefront of behavioral health in the Southern Maryland Region. Since 1973, we have continued to grow and evolve to meet the changing needs of individuals and families, all while working hard to improve the overall health of our surrounding community. Our comprehensive array of services is designed to provide clients with the help they need, when they need it. Our mission at Walden Sierra is to contribute to the well-being of the Southern Maryland community: "Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow". Walden's vision is to consistently provide the best behavioral health treatment and recovery support services to Southern Maryland.

The name Walden was inspired by the work of Henry David Thoreau. St. Mary’s County has been home to Walden since 1973. Walden is a local, community based 501(c)(3) nonprofit CARF (Commission for Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) accredited organization, with six different locations in Southern Maryland.

Central to our programming is our 24 hour local crisis hotline, 301-863-6661. This hotline is one of the oldest local, professionally staffed hotlines in operation in the United States. From the hotline, Walden is able to help individual community members and better understand unmet community needs. We have used this information to build our programming as a response to community needs.

Walden has received several excellence awards over the years. Some of these awards include: the Sunshine Peace Award, the NAMI Social Impact Award, and the Better With Less Award. We take great pride in what we do to help the community here at Walden Sierra, and we couldn't do what we do without the support of our community partners, leadership team, and management team.

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

A: Walden's favorite moments are when someone in need of our services has been given the resources and support to achieve the utmost care that Walden can provide for them. Each year, we provide our community with an Annual Report informing Southern Maryland of the impact that Walden Sierra has had on the community, and the resources that we have provided to those in need of services. The Annual Report highlights our mission statement, provides our location information, the services Walden provides, and the amount of increased clients we have provided services to. In 2014, Walden Sierra received 13,634 calls to our 24-hour hotline, there was a 150% increase in clients receiving recovery support through Walden Sierra: Cove location in California, MD, and we received many testimonials and feedback about the experiences our clients receive at our facilities throughout the year. Here are just a few:

“Walden is a very welcoming and open-hearted place. Treated each other like family and had an ear open at all times.”    — Anonymous 

“All the staff have been incredible on my long road to recovery. They have not given up on me.” — Anonymous 

“I am very happy with the treatment I have enjoyed and learned a lot by coming here. I feel stronger about the way I feel and how I'm control everything. My body and mind are more clear. The staff have been fun and have shown me so much. Thank you. I am grateful for the opportunity of a lifetime. There is no other treatment program I could have asked for to help me succeed.” — Anonymous

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: WAYS TO DONATE - Financial Donations

Every dollar makes a tremendous difference and is greatly appreciated. We rely on donations from individuals, groups, and businesses as well as foundation grants to help us keep our underfunded programs going.  As a result, individuals and families can access many of our services regardless of their ability to afford them. Donations can be directed to a particular Walden program.  The majority of the general donations we receive go toward off-setting the costs of our crisis and emergency services and our services for vulnerable populations. All donations can be claimed for tax benefit. Donors are welcome to contact us to ask for a tour or to speak with a Walden staff member about our current needs and projects.  Thank you for supporting Walden!


When circumstances force a dog owner to give up his or her canine companion, the Golden Retriever Rescue of Southern Maryland is there to help find a new, loving home for the dog. The Rescue takes in around 50 dogs each year, depending on caring foster families to provide temporary homes for them until they can be adopted. We spoke with Pat Johnson, Founder and President of this St. Mary’s County-based 501(c)(3) organization for this week’s Friday Focus interview.

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

A: Golden Retriever Rescue is a local organization that takes in golden retrievers at Tri County Animal Shelter or from owners who can no longer take care of their dog due to relocation, illness, death, lack of time or resources.

In addition, we are a resource to local dog owners providing information about nutrition, behavior, health, training, etc. via our website, blog, Facebook page, newsletter and at local events.

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

A: My favorite moment is when we were contacted by a local vet who was concerned about a litter of golden retriever puppies who had been exposed to the deadly parvo virus. The owner could not afford the treatment for the puppies, and some had died.

We did not hesitate to bring the puppies into rescue where they were quarantined and treated at the vet's office. A temporary or "foster" family then cared for each puppy until a “fur-ever”, or adoptive family was carefully screened. Pups were all placed with loving families and are all healthy and happy now.

We are a small rescue and most of our goldens are adopted locally, so we were able to watch the pups grow and become beautiful adult goldens.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Golden Retrievers are an expensive breed to own. They have been referred to as "lovable lemons", as over 60% die of cancer. They also have a tendency towards orthopedic problems and allergies.

Golden Retrievers often come to rescue with expensive medical problems that the rescue pays to treat, so fundraising is a big effort.

We also often need loving, temporary homes for golden retrievers until they are adopted.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: We are hosting a lecture/discussion/potluck this Saturday at the Charlotte Hall Library from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. The topic is “Helping your Fearful Dog”. Admission is free for members; $5 for non members.

Our annual meeting in on Saturday, February 28th at the Charlotte Hall Library from 1130 to 1 pm. RVSP is necessary to contact@goldenretrieverrescueofsouthernmaryland.org

We also have activities such as dog park meet ups, beach blast and hikes where you can bring your dog.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization? 

A: For more information about joining Golden Retriever Rescue of Southern Maryland call 855-477-3728 or contact@goldenretrieverrescueofsouthernmaryland.org. Annual membership is $30 per family.

In the summer of 2013, Community Bank of the Chesapeake kicked off a brand new blog series called “Friday Focus”. The goal of the series was simple: to help boost awareness for the many nonprofit organizations hard at work in our communities.

After a year and a half, and over fifty interviews, we wanted to take a moment to thank the organizations we have featured for the work that they do. Every one of these organizations fills a special role in the community; from helping families in need with  food, shelter and clothing to providing opportunities for cultural enrichment to protecting our lands and natural resources.

The New Year is a time for resolutions, and there’s no better time to make a new commitment to getting out and getting involved! This year, consider joining or supporting one of these organizations; there are so many ways that your time and talent can help. And don’t forget to check our blog on Fridays as we continue to get the inside scoop on new nonprofits throughout 2015!

A Community That Shares (ACTS)

Accokeek Foundation

Adult Day Care of Calvert County

Alzheimer’s Association

Annmarie Garden & Sculpture Center

American Red Cross

Barstow Acres Children’s Center

Belle Grove Plantation

Calvert Hospice

Humane Society of Calvert County

Calvert Nature Society

Calvert Library Foundation

Cedar Lane Senior Living Facility

Center for Children

The Center for Life Enrichment

Children’s Aid Society

Charles Regional Medical Center Foundation

Charles County Holiday Trail

Charles County Dive Rescue Company 13

Christmas in April—St. Mary’s County

Christmas in April—Calvert County

Conservancy for Charles County

Dahlgren Heritage Museum

Fairy Godmother Project

Greenwell Foundation

Historic St. Mary’s City

Humane Society of Charles County

Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum

King George YMCA

Lifestyles of Maryland

Mattawoman Creek Art Center

Nonprofit Institute at CSM

Point Lookout Lighthouse Preservation Society

Project Echo

Rappahannock Community Foundation

Rappahannock Goodwill Industries

Rappahannock YMCA

Southern Maryland Food Bank

Southern Maryland Mission of Mercy

Southern Maryland Animal Welfare League (SMAWL)

Sotterley Foundation

St. Mary’s Museum Division

The Arc of Southern Maryland

The Community Foundation of Southern Maryland

Toys for Tots King George

Toys for Tots Calvert

United Way of Calvert County

United Way of Charles County United Way of Rappahannock

Vacations for Vets

Windows of Strength, Limited

Zonta Club of Charles County

Do you know of an organization that would make a great Friday Focus feature? Contact Monica Meinert at meinertm@cbtc.com or 240-427-1048 for more information about the blog series.