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Strength. Confidence. Leadership. These are the characteristics that the Southern Maryland Young Marine organization strives to instill in girls and boys from 8 – 18. They work to provide a positive impact on America’s future through developing programs, education and a healthy environment for today’s youth to participate in together. In this week’s Friday Focus, we caught up with Unit Commander, Rob Willis, to learn all about Southern Maryland Young Marines and how they are making a difference in the lives of America’s youth. Southern Maryland Young Marines, provides a great opportunity to volunteer, or introduce your child into an organization that prepares them for adulthood.

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

A: The Young Marines strengthens the lives of America’s youth by teaching the importance of self-confidence, academic achievement, honoring our veterans, good citizenship, community service and living a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral and physical development of its members. The program focuses on character building and leadership and promotes a lifestyle that is conducive to being productive members of society.

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

A: Our organization is committed to the Young Marine Core values of Leadership, Discipline and Teamwork. Our commitment to these values has resulted in the unit completing over 5,000 hours of community service hours since our inception.  Additionally, every member of our unit maintains proficiency in Drug Demand Reduction Training throughout the year.  Many of our leaders also serve as role models and peer-advisors in their schools and communities.

Our Program prides itself on letting the Young Marines actually lead. The Registered Adults serve s coaches and mentors, but it is the Young Marines who do all of the planning, scheduling and execution of Drill meetings, Community Service Events, Encampments and trips. Some of our Young Marines have even served on Division-Level staffs, earning high praise from Division leaders!

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: As an organization that includes young men and women ages 8-18, we are challenged to continually look for activities that appeal to members in various age groups. Our Young Marines and Adult Staff do a great job of making training relevant to each Young Marine, regardless of age and experience.

 Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: This is an extremely busy time of the year for us. Our unit will commit approximately 100 hours of service to veterans over Veteran’s Day.  As we close out the year, we will be actively involved in Toys for Tots collection and distribution in St. Mary’s and Calvert County.  You will definitely see us around!

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: For more information on getting involved with the Young Marines, visit Southern Maryland Young Marines, contact Mr. Willis at 240-577-1489 or email somdyoungmarines@gmail.com.

Leadership of Southern Maryland is an organization that puts its heart and dedication into ensuring that the people of today can become tomorrow’s leaders. It encompasses Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s County to prepare our leaders to speak on the communities behalf, including a range of issues and challenges our counties are facing throughout the year. Leadership of Southern Maryland works on finding solutions to these issues and working together to achieve community success. In this week’s Friday Focus we spoke to Helen Mattingly Wernecke, Executive Director of Leadership of Southern Maryland and learned all about their upcoming events to get involved in.

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

A:  Leadership Southern Maryland (LSM) is an organization dedicated to building a cadre of informed regional leaders from Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties, prepared to address common issues and bring long-term benefits to their neighbors and communities within the Southern Maryland region.

LSM takes these executives through a nine-month educational journey where a different theme and its challenges are discussed each month – education, economic & workforce development, defense & industry, public safety, health care, housing & human services, multiculturalism & diversity and energy & environment.

LSM also hosts a four-day Teen Leadership Academy, which is designed to teach and develop leadership skills in a hands-on, experiential program with workshops and visits to meet with regional leaders in their workplaces throughout Southern Maryland. Topics taught are characteristics of good leadership, leadership in the public safety arena, state leadership and foundational leadership to take forward.

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

A: As the Executive Director, my favorite moments are when I attend various civic meetings throughout the region, look around the audience and realize alumni make up a good portion of the citizens. It warms my heart to know they’re fulfilling Leadership of Southern Maryland’s mission by engaging in community issues and being a part of the solution(s).

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Reintroducing ourselves and our mission each year in attracting a new pool of applicants. As we near our 10-year anniversary (in 2018), we feel like while we have created a noteworthy brand in the Southern Maryland region, we are constantly having to reintroduce that brand to the region due to the high volume of personnel transition/growth in this area.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

 A: Class of 2017 embarked on their educational journey in mid-September. The next learning sessions are Economic & Workforce Development hosted in Charles County and Education hosted in Calvert County. These two days are followed by a dinner hosted by the board of directors at RADM (USN Retired) & Mrs. Bert Johnston’s home.  They graciously open their home to the incoming class members and their spouses so folks can bond a bit more in a personal setting. In November, the class takes a behind-the-scenes tour of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station to hear from test pilots, communications and maintenance personnel and the vice admiral on the successes and challenges facing our Navy.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: Informational Breakfast for the Class of 2018 will begin January 9, 2017.  There will be two informational breakfasts in all three counties so there are six opportunities to learn about the program expectations and how to apply. If you have further questions, please reach out to the Executive Director, Helen Mattingly Wernecke, at helen@leadershipsomd.org or 240-725-5469.