The Southern Maryland Mission of Mercy is part of a national initiative to improve the dental health of those without insurance by holding free two-day dental clinics. The clinics provide services ranging from preventative dentistry and cleanings to restorative fillings and extractions. The last clinic held in Southern Maryland took place in June 2012 at Chopticon High School. Led by Dr. Garner Morgan and a team of local dental professionals and volunteers, the organization was able to provide dental services to around 900 people. We caught up with Jean Wathen, a representative from the organization, who gave us more information on the next free clinic, scheduled for July 18 and 19 of this year!

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

A: Southern Maryland Mission of Mercy is a free adult dental clinic provided by volunteer dental professionals and volunteer staff of several hundred people. Dental services for adult patients include:

• Preventive dentistry and cleaning
• Nutritional counseling
• Restorative fillings
• Extractions

All dental services are provided by licensed dentists and hygienists, mostly from Maryland. Mission of Mercy was launched by Virginia Dental Health Foundation in 2000. Over 50 MOM projects are hosted in Virginia, and are now spreading elsewhere.

The first local MOM for Maryland's Charles, St. Mary’s, and Calvert Counties was held in June 2012 at Chopticon High School in St. Mary’s County.

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

A: Seeing people smile for the first time in a very long time. When you are not ashamed of your teeth, you have much more self-esteem in life.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Our biggest challenge is fundraising; the cost is $80,000 to $100,000 for the two-day clinic.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: The next Southern Maryland Mission of Mercy (SMMOM) will be held on July 18th and 19th at North Point High School in Charles County.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: This clinic is made possible by volunteers. Upwards of 400 community volunteers are needed as well as 200 dentists, dental assistants, hygienists, oral surgeons, physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and dental students.

Community volunteers do not need any special dental or medical training in order to participate. We need help with security, parking, volunteer and patient registration, meals, escorting, and more. 

Community Bank of the Chesapeake proudly supports Southern Maryland Mission of Mercy through our annual Casual for a Cause Program!


Along the Potomac River just across from the historic Mount Vernon plantation sits Piscataway Park, a 5,000-acre span of natural landscape. The park is a product of a large-scale conservation effort begun in the 1950s, when rapid development threatened to
destroy the land. Today, the stewardship of the park is a joint effort between the National Park Service and the Accokeek Foundation, an organization dedicated to sharing the land and its heritage with visitors. This week’s Friday Focus is a conversation with Anjela Barnes, the Foundation’s Marketing Director, who shared some favorite moments and the Foundation’s plans for celebrating the bicentennial of the War of 1812!

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

A: The Accokeek Foundation’s mission is to cultivate passion for the natural and cultural heritage of Piscataway Park and commitment to stewardship and sustainability. We were founded in 1957 to protect the view from George Washington’s Mount Vernon as one of the nation’s first land trusts, and we continue land conservation efforts today to ensure continued protection of the viewshed and the working landscapes in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Through a partnership with the National Park Service, the Foundation uses Piscataway Park to interpret agriculture and environmental stewardship to its 20,000 annual visitors, including school youth, local residents, recreational enthusiasts and D.C. area tourists. The National Colonial Farm, a well known historic farm museum established in 1958, demonstrates Maryland agriculture during the 18th century, and has been the backdrop for hundreds of school tours each year. The Ecosystem Farm, a certified organic 8-acre farm, teaches visitors about sustainable food production using innovative growing techniques. It is the goal of the farm to demonstrate a compelling variety of possibilities that inspire people to want to grow while creating a thriving, engaged community.

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

A: There are so many favorite moments that it’s hard to choose just one, but I would say that the best moments come by way of the school tours offered to kids aged 13 or younger. Last fall, the organic farm we operate was host to a group of kids from D.C.’s Mundo Verde Public Charter School. The kids learned about what it’s like to be a farmer, where their food comes from and even helped to harvest carrots--a lot of carrots! For many of the kids, it is their first time visiting a farm, an experience quoted by one teacher as, “one they’ll never forget.”

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Because of recent federal budget cuts, including sequestration and the October shutdown, the Accokeek Foundation has been impacted by a decrease in federal funding. Support from private foundations and individuals help to provide the funds needed so we can maintain and provide an open space that is available daily and free for all to enjoy its beauty.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Yes. We’ve just launched a free monthly workshop series on Modern Homesteading which integrates classroom learning with practical, hands-on work on the farm. The series will be held on Sundays through the fall and will cover topics such as composting, permaculture design, kitchen gardening, canning and food preservation and seed saving. We are also in the midst of planning for a large public event on July 12. The event, “Celebrating with Pride on the Potomac”, commemorates the War of 1812 bicentennial with a visit to the Potomac by the Pride of Baltimore. The event will feature deck tours aboard the Pride, shore side captain talks about the life of a privateer, kayak tours by Atlantic Kayak Company, music and historic interpretation on the National Colonial Farm. Admission is $10 per person, and children 10 and under are free.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: There are many ways to get involved with the organization. Volunteering on a recurring basis is often the most rewarding way to get involved and give back by helping with the gardens, caring for heritage breed livestock, working the on-farm market or lending a hand during special events. Individuals and families can also join and become members of the Accokeek Foundation to support the natural and cultural heritage programs offered. Or simply visit, bring your family and friends, and enjoy the natural beauty of Piscataway Park, preserved and protected for generations to come.

In its three hundred year history, Belle Grove Plantation has stood witness to many of America’s greatest historic events and has hosted many famous and historical people. As the Plantation prepares for its first major fundraising event, a Blues Concert and Picnic Under the Stars on July 4, we caught up with representative Michelle Darnell for this week’s Friday Focus.

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

A: Belle Grove Plantation, the birthplace of President James Madison, located in King George County Virginia, is now the home of Belle Grove Plantation Bed & Breakfast. Our Southern Plantation was established in 1670 on the banks of the Rappahannock River. Belle Grove’s stately, historic mansion has four master suites with private baths and views of the river and plantation. Each room is named after a family that owned Belle Grove Plantation through its history, and each is decorated with period antiques to reflect the period that a particular family lived at Belle Grove. Gourmet breakfasts await you in our formal dining room or on the riverside balcony. Social hour at 5:00pm will allow you to relax as you watch the sunset on the river.

Built in 1791, this mansion offers the charm of Southern days gone by. Here you will find the elegant Southern wedding of your dreams or a peaceful retreat for corporate and social gatherings. With historic and local attractions within easy drives and award-winning vineyards just around the corner, Belle Grove Plantation makes a great place to come home to after a day of adventure.

Just 90 minutes from Washington DC or Baltimore, 50 minutes from Richmond and less than a half hour from Fredericksburg, Belle Grove Plantation is a hidden jewel of the Northern Neck.

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

A: This one is a hard one to answer. We have had so many special moments since we opened in August 2013 and even before we opened. I have to say that one that sticks out in my mind was a very special visit we helped arrange for a local descendant of one of the owners of Belle Grove. Over the years, no access had been given to the public to allow others to come and enjoy the beauty of Belle Grove and to touch the ground where many of the local families’ forefathers once walked.

We were contacted by the wife of one of these families before we opened to arrange a very special birthday surprise. The family was about to move far away and the husband, who was a direct decedent as well as the family historian, had driven by this plantation many times, longing to come back and see where his forefather once called home.

His wife and I made an appointment on his birthday for them to come to the plantation. This was just a day or two before they were to leave for good. She blindfolded him and drove him to the plantation. As she helped him out of the car, you could feel the excitement of seeing his reaction once he knew where he was. When she removed the blindfold, his jaw dropped and I could swear I saw tears in his eyes.

That time with him was not only helpful to us as we were building the past history to preserve, but it was one of the most special times we had as we walked this decedent through the same halls his forefather had walked years ago.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Like with any business or historic landmark, our biggest challenge is money and fundraising. Our historic home, despite being here since 1791 and our plantation, founded in 1670, are really not very well-known landmarks. Most people assume that President Madison was born at Montpelier and don’t realize that he was actually born here; we have been working hard to get the word out to others who, like us, want to preserve this important landmark.

Our biggest challenge right now is the restoration and preservation of our three 1720 outbuildings. Our Summer Kitchen, Ice House and Smokehouse are the oldest buildings on the property and stood here when James Madison drew his first breath. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has even told us how important they are. Structures like our Summer Kitchen, which is half kitchen and half slave quarters, just aren’t around anymore from this time period, and it kills us as we stand by watching boards pop loose and bricks fall in, all while we rush to raise the needed funds to stabilize them and to restore them.

Our hope is to restore these structures back to the 1720 time period, and to make the Summer Kitchen into a small museum. We would like to use the kitchen side of to house the artifacts we have already found and to tell the story of the history of this elegant Southern plantation.

We would also like to take the slave quarter side of the Summer Kitchen and turn it into a memorial to the enslaved people of Belle Grove Plantation. While the slave cemetery has long been lost, we do have many of the names of the enslaved people from the early 1700s to just after the Civil War. We have uncovered them through death records, wills and inventories. Our goal is to place a bronze plaque in the slave quarter side of the Summer Kitchen to give these very important members of the plantation a name—to let everyone know that they were here, too.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: On July 4, 2014, we will be having our first major fundraiser to help us restore, preserve and improve Belle Grove Plantation. This event will be a Blues Concert and Picnic Under the Stars at Belle Grove Plantation, starting at 6:00pm. We invite the public to bring their lawn chairs or blankets and come enjoy an evening of music, food and fun. There are no fireworks this year, but when you hear the voice of our main band, The Alexis P. Suter Band from New York, you won’t need fireworks—Alexis has a powerhouse voice that will not only excite you, but move you! We will also have an opening act, Mike Mallack from Maryland. His Southern-fried rock sound will make you swear that you are listening to and seeing Chris Daugherty.

Tickets are available through our online store or by calling us directly at 540-621-7340.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: There are many ways you can help make a difference at Belle Grove Plantation. We have volunteers that help us in so many ways. You can see our list of volunteers on our website under our “Employment” page.

If you can’t volunteer, you can help us by spreading the word. ‘Like’ our Facebook page and share it with your friends and family. Ask them to share it with their friends and family. Help us by taking some of our postcards or brochures to local businesses and encourage them to display them.

Help us with our fund raising efforts. Besides donating yourself, you can help us in our upcoming donation drive to raise the needed funds to get us to the next steps in restoring, preserving and improving Belle Grove Plantation.

Support our public events, tours and bed and breakfast accommodations. By coming and enjoying our events, you are not only have a great time with us, you are helping to provide funds we so desperately need!

For more information, visit www.bellegroveplantation.com or email information@bellegroveplantation.com.