literary council logo
Founded over 50 years ago, the Charles County Literacy Council has a long history of helping people in the community achieve their personal and professional goals. Working one-on-one with their students, each volunteer tutor puts in a significant amount of time and dedication, and the rewards are many. We spoke to Sue Lateulere, Program Coordinator for the Council, who shared some particularly heartwarming stories in this week’s Friday Focus.

 

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

A: The CCLC provides free, one-on-one, confidential tutoring to adults in Charles County in reading, writing, basic math, English for those who speak it as a Second Language, as well as help preparing for the GED test or the ASVAB military entrance exam. Our volunteers strive to ensure that all adults have access to the quality education needed to fully realize their potential as individuals, parents and citizens.

Our volunteer tutors have all taken a nine hour training course that teaches them how to tutor adults; anyone can do it. If you can read, you can teach another adult to read!

 

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

A: There are many favorite moments – I’m sure each tutor could share several!  But here are a few:

During 2014, one of our Adult Learners was able to pass the ‘written’ driver’s license exam. This may not seem like a big accomplishment to most, but for those who cannot read, the driver’s test is a huge obstacle to furthering themselves and leading a productive life.

A young mother of two children worked with one of our tutors for many months on her math skills. The hard work paid off and she passed the GED test. With this new asset on her resume, within one month she was able to find a job near her home that would accommodate her family’s schedule.

A man in his late 50’s came to us, embarrassed that he could not read a menu at a restaurant. He had developed coping mechanisms over the years to get by: memorizing road signs, pretending to forget his glasses, feigning migraines. He has recently completed Level 3 of our “Beginning to Read” series and shed a few proud tears when presented with each of his completion certificates.

A man in his 60’s recently received his United States Citizenship after working with one of our tutors on the Citizenship requirements (reading, writing, conversing, U.S. history and social studies).  When asked how he felt after taking the Oath of Allegiance, he replied, “Free”.

We have assisted many young men and women from Charles County to pass the ASVAB entrance exam and become proud members of our Armed Forces.

 

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A:  As a small nonprofit, we face several challenges including the usual ones: funding and volunteer recruitment. But the challenge of most concern is getting the word out to those adults who need our services. The delicate nature of the services we offer limits the opportunities to engage and encourage prospective students in public settings. We rely heavily on recommendations from other agencies in the county to spread the word of our services.  But we also need the community to spread the word. There are many people in our local area who have never heard of the Charles County Literacy Council or know what we do, and we celebrated our 50th Anniversary this year!

 

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Yes! Our next Volunteer Tutor Training Workshop will be held on September 12, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. in LaPlata. There are four hours of online videos and prep questions that must be completed prior to the workshop. For more information or to register, call the CCLC office at 301-934-6488, or check out our website www.charlescountyliteracy.org Fees for the upcoming workshop have been waived.

 

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A:  Encourage a student. Become a volunteer tutor. Make a donation.

 

ACCOKEEK logo
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.

 

 

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 2014 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: 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.

 

calvert marine
If you’re looking for a fun, educational way to spend a day, visit the Calvert Marine Museum in Calvert County. Founded in 1970, the museum hosts exhibits and activities for children and adults of all ages. For this week’s Friday Focus, we talked with the Museum’s Marketing and Public Relations coordinator, Traci Cimini, who shared some of her favorite moments and gave us a sneak preview of the upcoming Patuxent River Appreciation Days event.

 

 

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

A. The Calvert Marine Museum (CMM), located in Solomons, is a regional museum with heavy visitation from Maryland, Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia and the Delmarva Peninsula on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. A sampling of our attendance in 2011 showed visitors from 50 states and 34 foreign countries. We enjoy an average annual visitation of over 75,000 guests from around the world.

At the waterfront Calvert Marine Museum, see where the local maritime and environmental history of Southern Maryland comes to life. Explore two of Maryland’s original lighthouses; come touch twenty million year-old fossils taken from Calvert Cliffs; or take a ride aboard the Wm. B. Tennison, a 110 year-old log-built bugeye. See skates and rays swim, touch a horseshoe crab or diamondback terrapin and watch our river otter at play. Stroll the marsh walk and spy water snakes, great blue heron, osprey and hermit crabs in their natural habitat. Shop in the Museum Store for gifts that will delight visitors of all ages, and become a museum member and get a discount every day!

Education is a primary focus for the museum and we provide programs for all ages, from toddlers to seniors. We offer school programs, offsite outreach, distance learning, summer camps and formal/informal programming around our three themes: regional paleontology, estuarine life of the tidal Patuxent River and adjacent Chesapeake Bay and the maritime history of these waters. We are a research museum, renowned for documented discoveries in Miocene paleontology and publications on local history based on original research.

The museum has remained a cultural anchor in the community for 45 years, and is assisted in its governance by a voluntary board of 15 community leaders approved and appointed by the Calvert County Commissioners. CMM is fully accredited by the American Association of Museums, earning reaccreditation for the third time in 2009.

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

A: Seeing the wonder on a child’s face as they touch a diamondback terrapin; watching a World War II vet in our maritime exhibit talk about the amphibious training base where he was stationed in 1942 as a young man; taking teenagers who have lived here all their lives but never been out on the water out in our skipjack, the Dee of St. Mary’s; hearing a six year-old tell his mom, “This is the best place in the world!”

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: There is so much we want to do to reach our community and to share the riches of the Calvert Marine Museum. Juggling staff time, limited space and shrinking budgets to accomplish everything will always be a challenge.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Patuxent River Appreciation Days (PRAD) is almost here! The longest running festival in Southern Maryland, PRAD is in its 38th year, and always takes place Columbus Day weekend:  October 10 and 11 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.  The event is sponsored by the Calvert County Commissioners. Admission is free and complimentary parking is available.

Activities include an arts and craft show with over fifty artists, local food vendors and two music stages hosting live performances. Children can build their own toy boats, ride a pony and feed a goat.  The whole family can enjoy free cruises aboard the Wm. B. Tennison and Dee of St. Mary’s, or take a self-propelled ride in the boat basin in a canoe or our newly-christened paddle boat.

Over 40 nonprofit groups will be on hand with exhibits, demonstrations, displays and educational activities about green products, recycling, oyster farming, native plants, wildlife, restoration efforts, live animals and more.

On Saturday, local wineries offer wine tastings, and a wonderful array of fall produce, potted mums, honey and homemade jellies/jams and lavender products will be available for sale.

Visit the Museum Store book fair tent on both days to visit local adult and children’s authors, including Janie Suss, Elaine Allen, Kelli Nash, Peter Vogt, Eugene Meyer, Richard LaMotte, Jennifer Keats Curtis and more, made possible by Schiffer Publishing. This is a perfect opportunity to find a new favorite book and/or personalize a book for a special holiday gift.

Not to be missed on Sunday is the annual PRAD Parade with a one mile route along Solomons Island Road, beginning at 2:00 p.m.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: You can get involved by becoming a member. As a member, you are eligible to volunteer, or join one of our clubs. This is an opportunity to meet new people, make new friends, learn new things and be a part of a great volunteer family as you serve your local community. For over 40 years, volunteers have been an integral part of the museum. From its founding in 1970 by volunteers, to the “unpaid” staff of today, this institution could not function without them. With over 400 volunteers, CMM is able to offer many educational and engaging programs to our visitors.