The American Red Cross provides a variety of services that help prevent and ease human suffering in times of an emergency through the generosity of donors and volunteers. Wouldn’t you love to help save a life? With American Red Cross you could take a CPR or first aid class, donate blood or funds, or even volunteer your time. This week’s Friday Focus we caught up with Jason Marshall, Executive Director of American Red Cross Southern Maryland Chapter, and discovered just how many services the American Red Cross provides and what upcoming events we could get involved with this year!

 

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

A: The American Red Cross of Southern Maryland serves Anne Arundel, St. Mary’s, Calvert, and Charles Counties. Our lines of service include emergency disaster assistance, service to the armed forces, health and safety classes, blood donations, volunteer opportunities and so much more.

 

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

A: We recently conducted a Home Fire Campaign canvassing event in Annapolis and Edgewater. The campaign is designed to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25% through the installation of free smoke alarms for homes needing them and through educational efforts highlighting home fire safety and evacuation plans. We had roughly 60 volunteers join us, along with the fire department and go door-to-door in these neighborhoods meeting with the residents and installing free smoke detectors and handing out educational materials.

 

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: The biggest challenge we face is explaining the wide array of services the Red Cross provides. Most people know us for collecting blood and responding to large-scale disasters like flood and hurricanes, but many people don’t know that we work closely with the military to verify emergency communications, provide volunteers at VA Centers and Military Treatment Facilities or that we provide trainings on things like CPR and First Aid.

 

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: We are planning on conducting two more Home Fire Campaign canvassing events in February and March (Charles and St. Mary’s counties). Additional information about these two events will be posted on redcross.org/somd as it becomes available. We also host a number of preparedness, health and safety trainings in the area. People can search for classes near them by visiting redcross.org and clicking “Training and Certification.”

 

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: Those interested can contact our Volunteer Specialist, Gloria Coliton, via email at Gloria.coliton@redcross.org or via phone at 410-627-5369. We have a wide variety of volunteer opportunities throughout the Southern Maryland Chapter territory. Additional information is posted on the Southern Maryland Chapter website (redcross.org/somd) and the Southern Maryland Chapter Facebook page (search American Red Cross of Southern Maryland).

 

children's aid society
The “Season of giving” is over but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to think of those in need all year long. The Charles County Children’s Aid Society, founded in 1934, provides for the basic needs of local families. This week we caught up with Children’s Aid Executive Director, Danielle Ryan, who shared her scoop of what they do and how we as a community can support this inspiring organization!

 

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

A: Children’s Aid has been serving residents of Charles County for over 80 years. Our goal is to help ease the burdens many families in the county may have when it comes to providing basic life necessities to their families. We are a food pantry and clothing closet; and also offer a variety of items depending on what is donated. These things include baby items, personal hygiene items and household items. Children’s Aid also offers support to families during different holidays. We have a School Supplies Distribution, during which we distribute 1,500 filled book bags to children going to Charles County Public Schools. We have a Christmas program called Christmas Toy Connection in which we partner with Charles County Department of Social Services and help 1,122 families provide Christmas gifts to their children. We also distribute Easter Baskets and Thanksgiving Baskets.

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

A: Personally for me working our two major events, School Supplies Distribution and Christmas Toy Connection, have been my favorite moments with the organization. I have been a part of these events for the last four years, this past year being my first as Director. Every year I am amazed at the incredible people I have met. Whether they were clients who were just over come with gratitude for receiving the service or they were volunteers who have donated their time to help us work the events, I have met a lot of very special people that I will not forget.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: The biggest challenge our organization, like other non-profits in the area face is funding.

Whether that funding comes from actual monetary assistance or by the donations of goods.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: The next event we have scheduled at this time is our Annual Coach and Michael Kors Bingo on March 6 at the American Legion in LaPlata. You can refer to our website, www.childrens-aid-society.org to find out more information.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: People can get involved with Children’s Aid in a couple of ways. We take volunteers in our warehouse and office on a daily basis, we also need volunteers for all of our projects throughout the year. Our organization survives off of donations, whether they are physical items or monetary donations. We accept gently used and new items so that we can distribute them back out into the community.

To find out more information on volunteering, donating or any other questions, people can visit our website, give us a call at 301-645-1561 or send us an email at info@childrens-aid-society.org


At 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!

 

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 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: 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.

 

forever free books logo
Winter is a great time to sit by the fire and read a captivating book. And wouldn’t it be great to help someone else do this too? This week’s Friday Focus features Forever Free Books, an organization dedicated to providing literacy programs and books to underprivileged children in the community. We spoke to Tanya Barnett, founder of Forever Free Books and learned how inspiring it truly is bringing joy to a child through a simple book.

 

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

A: Forever Free Books, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was founded in 2014 with the sole purpose of providing books to all children but especially to those in low-income areas in the Tri-County area, Prince George’s County and Washington, DC.

Our mission is to increase the reading and comprehension skills of disadvantaged children by conducting literacy events and distributing free books in their communities. Our vision is to provide a bookmobile in addition to promoting reading programs that highlight the benefits of reading and literacy in partnership with libraries and other community organizations. Through partnerships with these groups, as well as with parents, churches and schools, we hope to decrease the achievement gap between high-income and low-income families.

 

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

A: Our favorite moment was when we were able to send 150 books to an all-girls orphanage in India. The picture we received of them holding their books, brought tears to our eyes. It was the first time any of those girls ever owned a book.

 

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Our biggest challenge is finding committed volunteers and board members who get our mission. We are a hands-on organization that is extremely small. We need board members who are actively engaged in fulfilling the mission. This takes fundraising to cover the cost of books, storage of the books, insurance for the books as well as the cost to host literacy events. We are hopeful that in 2016, we will onboard highly energetic people who love literacy and love children. Retirees are WELCOMED!

 

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: We are partnered with The Better Family for the Tots to Teens Expo in April at the Washington Convention Center. We will be hosting a reading lounge, where we will be conducting story time and giving away free books to over 12,000 families. We also partnered with TLL Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. in our Books, Boys, N’Cuts barbershop literacy program. In the spring, we will be visiting local barbershops in the Tri-County area to read stories, provide snacks and of course, FREE books to all the boys there.

 

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: We desperately need help with fundraising and securing venues for our FREE reading events. People can visit our website ForeverFreeBooks.com to see us in action or they can email me at Tanya@foreverfreebooks.org.