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Providing comprehensive behavioral health services and recovery support, Walden 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 us.



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, 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 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 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!

Q: Do you have any upcoming events?

A: On Friday, September 18 at 7:00 PM Walden will be hosting our Second Annual Fundraiser! Starlit Night: Shining A Light On Hope at the Olde Breton Inn. This will be a fun-filled evening with wonderful food and entertainment. Tickets are $85 per person or $150 per couple. Donations appreciated. Please call Christine at 301-997-1300 x 889. We hope to see you there!

SOMD logo
With the school year officially started, many students may find themselves thinking ahead to college and their futures. This week's Friday Focus organization, the Southern Maryland College Access Network (SoMD CAN) is dedicated to helping students of all ages and their parents navigate the often complicated processes of college preparation, application and financing. Founder Sonia K. Wagner gave us an in-depth look at the important work her organization does in the community.



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

A: Since 2006, SoMD CAN has provided multiple programs (now serving grades K thru 12) which focus on aspiring college-bound students and their families. We assist in their navigation and understanding of the college selection, application and financing process to attain a higher education. SoMD CAN programs include elementary school workshops for parents/guardians, middle and high school ‘in school’ curriculum-based programs, community outreach seminars pertaining to financing higher education and personalized financial aid application assistance. SoMD CAN also developed and manages the local scholarships application compilation for students and community scholarship providers.

SoMD CAN administers in-school programming for minority, low-to-modest income and first generation college-bound students maintaining a 2.5 or better GPA in Calvert County, Maryland. Students are oftentimes referred by school administration and self-select into the SoMD CAN programs, thus increasing our reach to students across the entire school system.

SoMD CAN is celebrating 10 years in Calvert County and has initiated several new programs for the 2015-16 Academic Year, thus making us an organization able to engage the entire K – 12 student/family community.

The I CAN program is a new initiative being piloted in several CCPS elementary schools which will deliver a presentation/workshop to engage parents/guardians in the fundamentals of financing a higher education. SoMD CAN will partner with the Calvert County Council of PTAs on this initiative to engage parents/guardians. We expect to reach 120 adults through the I CAN initiative.

The You CAN program is in its 4th year, engaging a cohort of 8th grade students matching the SoMD CAN Mission statement demographic. The You CAN curriculum is delivered monthly at Calvert Middle School and Southern Middle School. Included in the You CAN program is a parent/guardian component, where we engage through several newsletters and a seminar with the topic of early awareness of higher education attainment being central to the discussion. You CAN served 56 underserved 8th grade students in the 2014-15 Academic Year.

Another new initiative for 2015-16 is the We CAN program, delivered to 9th and 10th grade students in the four public high schools in Calvert County. Much like You CAN, We CAN will be delivered through a monthly, curriculum-based, volunteer-led program. The business community will be engaged to become SoMD CAN Mentors, trained to deliver the curriculum and under the supervision of the Site School’s SoMD CAN Pre-College Advisor. We expect, in our pilot year for We CAN, to reach at least 80 students within the targeted cohort criteria.

The origin of SoMD CAN programming, developed to educate, motivate, and engage our targeted cohort of students, is our Junior and Senior High School program. SoMD CAN consists of a two-year curriculum, delivered in-school on a weekly basis. Services and resources delivered through the curriculum and community outreach are college selection, college application, managing the financial aid application process, applying for grants and scholarships, study skills, college coping skills, and more. Our cohort of students numbered 251 in the 2014-15 Academic Year.

In addition to the in-school programs, SoMD CAN hosts the Financial Aid Night workshops for students and their families at each of the four public high schools and the Calverton School, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Line by Line workshop, and a presentation focused on understanding College Financial Aid Award Letters and Student Loans. We provide a “FAFSA Day” at each high school, allowing students and families time to meet one-on-one to complete the Federal form for Financial Aid with our professional staff. SoMD CAN hosts “College Goal Sunday”, a national initiative which assists students and families in completing the FAFSA.

SoMD CAN partners with the Calvert Library, College of Southern Maryland, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and End Hunger of Calvert County’s Calvert Ca$h Program to increase the FAFSA completion rate among high school seniors in our region. We draw families from the Tri-County region to this event, generally held in early February. We served 400 individuals through these events.

SoMD CAN is the developer and managing agency of the Calvert Local Scholarships Application (CLSA) Clearinghouse. This common local scholarships application is in its 7th year and lists over 50 local scholarship providers. The CLSA Clearinghouse is a community service project, initiated by our founding member Sonia K. Wagner, which facilitates the ability of students to apply to multiple scholarships by completing one common application. The CLSA Clearinghouse allows local scholarship providers to draw from a larger, more diverse applicant pool. In 2015, the CLSA had 195 applicants, 48 local scholarship providers, approximately 88 scholarship recipients who received over $135,000 in local scholarship dollars. The SoMD CAN Educational Grant has been awarded to 36 students for a total of $30,600, in privately donated dollars, since 2007.

SoMD CAN believes that fulfilling our goal of increasing the college rate of Calvert’s high school graduates builds a highly skilled local workforce, thus improving the economic well-being of Calvert County and beyond.

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

A: Graduate testimonials:

SOMD CAN has made significant contributions to my success over the years. As a student at Patuxent High School (PHS), we would meet up with the CEO Ms. Wagner bi-weekly to talk about our plans for college. She encouraged us to apply to some of the best schools in the country. As a result of this, I was accepted into Penn State University and Drexel University. After being accepted, my next step was finding funding to attend these schools. SOMD CAN also assisted with this by going over the FAFSA application process in detail. She explained terminology such as Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and the importance of submitting the application before the deadline to achieve the maximum amount of aid. Although I wasn't able to attend these prestigious schools, I was able to attend Morgan State University.

"During my college summers, SOMD CAN's CEO Ms. Wagner also reached out to me to help with obtaining an internship. She informed me about local internships in Southern Maryland. Moreover, using her connections, she also got me in touch with a manager at Dominion Cove Point to assist with getting me an internship. SOMD CAN's support has been invaluable over the years. I am very appreciative of the organization and its founder, Ms. Wagner. I am now a Morgan State University graduate. I graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering in 2012. I've been working as a DOD contractor for over 2 years. Additionally, I’m working on my master's in information systems and expect to graduate next spring 2016. I owe a lot of my success to SOMD CAN. SOMD CAN has been very supportive of my continued success over the years.” -- Jonathan Torney, Patuxent High School, Grad 2007

“It is an honor and privilege to share my testimony of how the Southern Maryland College Access Network impacted my life. In the fall of 2006, I embarked on a journey with this organization to prepare myself for college, but I was unaware that they would also fortify me with the skills necessary to establish my career, enhance my ability to leverage resources, and re-focus my talents to better execute plans of action. The success of the programs system became evident after receiving my first acceptance letter with a $65,000 scholarship towards my first two years. Initially, I was a bit overwhelmed. One part of me saw the figures; it was a lot of money. My family’s household brought in a modest income, and having a twin sister, I knew my parents could not afford to send us both to college at the same time. The other part of me recognized that the school’s curriculum didn’t grasp the content I was looking for to catapult my career.

“It was during this time of indecisiveness when I observed the servant leadership and commitment from the advisors in the program. They emphasized to me the importance of vision, planning, and commitment. They challenged me to continue using their system and I would find the scholarship money to attend the college of my choice. It was after that mentorship that I turned down my first scholarship. That summer, I applied the take-away from my first year in the program to secure an internship with the Naval Air Systems Command. I showcased my talents and abilities, just as I was advised to do in my scholarship and college applications. I cultivated my relationships with engineers, scientists, and leadership within NAVAIR, and upon my summer debriefing I was offered a full-scholarship to attend Morgan State University. I now serve as an engineer supporting the Naval Air Systems Command full time. Although many have played a role in the success I have had in my life thus far, I owe the launching of my career, choice of my education, and much of my early professional development to the Southern Maryland College Access Network. My hope is to one day help the future leaders of our country, as this organization does each and every day.” –Nathaniel L. Scott, Jr., Electrical Engineer, Naval Air Systems Command

Q: What is your biggest challenge?  

A: Fundraising. We serve anywhere between 800--1,000 individuals each year for the past 10 years. Our funding stream has remained static, and we have lost substantial funding in this Academic Year 2015-16.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Yes, we provide the Financial Aid Nights across the county, have introduced the I CAN program which brings Financial Aid and College Funding Early Awareness to parents with Elementary aged students, and several community/church based workshops. Below is the schedule for our Financial Aid Nights and supporting workshops.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: We have a new initiative that will be piloted at Calvert High School this academic year called “We CAN”. A Community Volunteer Advisor works with the SoMD CAN Pre-College Advisor to lead 9th and 10th grade underserved students through the beginning process of college awareness. We hope to have all four high schools on board for AY 2016-2017, needing 4 Community Volunteer Advisors.

SoMD CAN needs community members to be involved with some of the administrative responsibilities, such as a “Social Media / Marketing Volunteer”, a “Retention Advisor”, and a “Grant Writing Volunteer”.

The Calvert Local Scholarships Application Clearinghouse needs an individual or a company to champion the development of an automated system for students to an online method for applying to the 50 listed scholarships on the Calvert LSA.

This week’s Friday Focus takes us to Calvert County, where we had the opportunity to speak to Ruth Lake, the Executive Director of Adult Day Care of Calvert County. She and her staff work heard each day to provide an enriching and entertaining environment for the elderly members of their community.

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

A: Adult Day Care of Calvert County is a safe, structured day program of professional care, compassionate assistance, and community-based activities for frail elderly and disabled adults.  The program is designed to enhance the physical, social and emotional health of the participants, and provide some relief to caregivers.  The staff R.N. monitors individual health issues while supporting staff (with frequent help from volunteers) provide assistance, serve snacks and lunch, and lead activities.  Door-to-door transportation is provided within Calvert County.

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

A: My favorite story is about one of our participants.  Her daughter, who works full time, was becoming increasingly concerned about leaving her home alone after recent falls and signs of dementia.  After her daughter decided that adult day care was the best option for her, she was brought in for the intake meeting.  Her resistance, though not unusual, was escalated.  First, she would not get out of the car.  Then, when she finally did, she stood with her purse held tight, arm folded and shaking with anger at her daughter for bringing her to a strange place.  The best part of the story was that by the end of her first day, she (the resistant participant) was thanking everyone and looking forward to the next day.  Today, she gets upset when she has to miss a day at Adult Day Care of Calvert County.  She, a very social person, thrives in the community-based setting.  The daughter is very relieved to know that she is well cared for during the day.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: As an independent nonprofit organization, our biggest challenge in recent years has been funding.  Although we receive a grant from the state that enables us to offer a sliding scale fee for participants who are on a limited income, it, along with participant co-pays and fees, is not enough to cover program costs.  Adult Day Care of Calvert County depends on community support through philanthropic support, volunteerism, and spreading the word about our services.

Q: How can people really help?

A: Adult Day Care of Calvert County has opportunities for volunteers, monetary donations, and in-kind donations.  Volunteer opportunities range from student volunteers looking for service learning hours, to helping with fundraising and awareness, to community members willing to serve on the board of directors.  Donations can be made by visiting the center on the lower level of the health department building in Prince Frederick, or the website at www.adcofcalvertcounty.org .  Supporting fundraising events and campaigns is another way to help.  We also accept in-kind donations such as paper, plastic ware and supplies, as well as items to sell at our periodic yard sales.

Q: What advice can you give someone looking to work at a non-profit?

A: The rewards outweigh the compensation!  Sometimes starting out as a volunteer is a good way to determine if an organization is a good fit, and is a good way to gain experience for future non-profit (or for profit) endeavors.  If you care about community, are willing to embrace challenges, and wish to feel good about what you do, then working for a non-profit is a great career choice.

dive rescue
When disaster strikes on the water, Charles County Dive Rescue, Inc. is there to help by dispatching properly trained and equipped divers to assist in emergencies. The organization was founded in 1989, when medical advances in near-drowning resuscitation prompted a need for a specialized rescue team that could respond in those situations. Today, CCDR Company 13 is an independent emergency service agency that operates an in-house training program and maintains a fleet of dive and rescue boats and vehicles.  We talked with Chief William “Skeeter” Porter for this week’s Friday Focus, who gave us a look an inside look into the organization.

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

A: CCDR is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that operates with other public safety agencies for emergencies around water and ice.  Our mission is to serve the citizens of Charles County (as well as neighboring jurisdictions) by providing properly trained and equipped divers to assist in times of need. Further, we shall always strive to raise public conscience concerning safety around water and ice.

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

A: It’s hard to pick a ‘favorite’ moment when your service is most needed at times when people may be experiencing a horrible tragedy.  Suffice it to say we are fortunate to have dedicated members who volunteer their time, knowledge, and skills to help others in their time of need.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Many emergency operations on open water are difficult due to a lack of reliable information.  Distance is very hard to estimate over water.  Also, wind and currents create difficult contributing factors.  Alcohol is often a contributing factor to accidents, which also makes obtaining accurate information about an incident difficult.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: You can learn more about CCDR by visiting our website at www.ccdr.net.