vconnections logo
Are you a veteran living in Southern Maryland? Or a family member of a veteran living in Southern Maryland? VConnections was created to help meet the needs of veterans living in Southern Maryland communities by assisting them with the services and resources needed to provide a flawless transition back into their communities. VConnections focuses on areas of education, health and wellness and benefits and claims. They help veterans and their families build relationships, get involved in outreach programs, educate them on the many benefits and services available and much more. For this week’s Friday Focus we caught up with Bill Buffington, Chief Executive Officer of VConnections, and learned about their exciting weekly events and some of their favorite moments captured on YouTube!

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

 A: VConnections, Inc. is a registered, tax exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. The organization was formed with a clear goal of connecting Southern Maryland veterans and their families with available resources within the tri-counties. We provide these connections by

  • Being mobile, visible and available for veterans and their families
  • Partnering with local, state and Federal resources
  • Advocating the concerns and needs of Southern Maryland veterans and their families

Our goal is to provide high quality assistance to aid in the stabilization of under-served veterans and their dependents living in rural communities regardless of race, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability or political beliefs.

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

A: When assisting our Southern Maryland Heroes, everyday that we can assist, support and even the visits with our homebound Veterans become favorite moments. We at VConnections believe that “A Veterans Day Is Every Day” not just November 11th. Please see the following YouTube links on a couple of our favorite moments - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Rx1tooydro & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laGiDnv6t2M.

 Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: As a non-profit, VConnections faces many challenges such as

  • Funding Support to assist in achieving our mission and goals
  • Developing Partnerships that provide results oriented solutions for our Veterans and Families
  • Municipality, State and Federal Support

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: You can find all events on our website at VConnections and also http://facebook.com/VConnections.

  • The VConnections Women Veterans Coffee Break – Sponsored by Chick-Fil-a – Every Friday – From 9AM-10:30AM – At the La Plata Chick-Fil-a
  • The VConections Veterans Coffee Break – Sponsored by Chick-Fil-a – Every Monday – From 9AM-10:30AM – At the La Plata Chick-Fil-a and Every Wednesday – From 9AM-10:30AM – At the Waldorf Chick-Fil-a
  • For All Veterans and Immediate Family we offer Free Fishing Adventure Outings from Goose Bay, We offer Golf Clinics and this fall we are adding bowling, wellness and fitness support.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: To contact us please review the following information

VConnections, Inc.

10665 Stanhaven Place, Suite 300

White Plains, MD 20695

301-861-3383

http://vconnections.org

http://facebook.com/VConnections

 


Bay Community Support Services (Bay-CSS) is a terrific organization that dedicates their time and resources to providing living services, care and opportunities for people with disabilities. Bay Community Support Services is able to provide the assistance people with disabilities need, while still giving them independence they desire. Community Bank of the Chesapeake recently had the honor of assisting Bay-CSS on “Day of Caring” with some of their group home landscaping and got to see first-hand the wonderful service they provide. After speaking to Brandy Blackstone, Communications Manager at Bay Community Support Services, we learned about one of their favorite moments and their upcoming golf tournament!

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

A: Bay Community Support Services (Bay-CSS) is an area provider that supports individuals with disabilities to live and work successfully in their community. Our services are customized to the individual’s personal needs and include residential support both in the individual’s home and in group home settings, vocational support including supportive employment and job coaching, day activity programs, transportation, nursing care and much more. We serve individuals from young adults who are transitioning out of the school system to older adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities including Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Autism and a wide range of physical disabilities.

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

A: This is our 25th Anniversary of serving individuals with disabilities and their families throughout Central and Southern Maryland (Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s Counties). There are so many success stories, but one that stands out the most is the success one of our individuals has achieved. The young man I am referring to is named Stephen. Stephen had just graduated from high school and came to us seeking support to help him find a job 25 years ago. Stephen had never had a job, had few skills and he wasn't sure what he wanted to do with his life. Stephen has cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability and there were few opportunities available for him. Even though his mom and dad were great, he knew he didn't want to live at home with them forever. Stephen and Bay-CSS gave it their best - looking at what Stephen wanted to do and finding him a series of jobs. He eventually found one that fit him at Giant Foods and he's now been there for 21 years. One success led to another and with supports from Bay-CSS, he even moved into his own apartment! Now, with only a few hours of support from Bay-CSS a week, Stephen is a contributing community participant. He is living a successful, challenging and self-fulfilling life - dating his girlfriend of two years, living on his own, working at a job he loves, and giving back by volunteering regularly with the local Boy Scouts Chapter. Bay-CSS is thrilled and honored to have been part of Stephen’s success story.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: One of the biggest challenges we face is the cost of transportation. We have an aging fleet of vehicles that we maintain. Bay-CSS is licensed by and receives partial funding from the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA), however, the funding our agency receives isn’t enough to cover the ever growing cost of the comprehensive programs and services we provide – particularly with purchasing new vehicles to supplement our aging fleet.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: To supplement the funding Bay-CSS receives from DDA, it is necessary for our agency to depend on generous donors and our own fundraising events. Our largest event of the year is coming up on September 12, 2016 – it’s our Annual Golf Tournament & Silent Auction that is being held at the beautiful Golf Club at South River in Edgewater, Maryland. We welcome support from wonderful organizations like yours. There are many great ways to show your support – there are many volunteer opportunities available, you can join us for a fun day of golf for a great cause, or you can become one of our valued donors or sponsors. Please visit the golf section of our site (https://www.baycss.org/golf.html) for more information or contact Brandy Blackstone at (301) 863-8870, ext. 322 or blackstoneb@baycss.org.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: Volunteers, donors and sponsors are always welcome. In addition to our Annual Golf Tournament, we have an Annual 5k/10k event that takes place in April in St. Mary’s County (the Annual Walk, Run & Roll), and we are always looking for volunteers to assist at any of our 12 residential group homes throughout Central and Southern Maryland. We are also now offering an Adopt a Group home program that allows organizations to sponsor one of our homes and help with the ongoing care of the home. These are all wonderful ways to support Bay-CSS’ and the individuals with disabilities whom we are proud to serve.

end hunger logo
“Right now over ten thousand families in Calvert County rely on local food pantries to provide their next meal. That’s one in nine of us.” Can you imagine having to scrape by to feed yourself, your family and even your children? “Nearly 50% of those who go without food are children.” End Hunger in Calvert County strives to change these statistics by providing solutions for those who are dependent to be self-sufficient. They partner with food organizations, create programs and give their services and resources to Ending Hunger in Calvert County. After speaking with End Hunger In Calvert County President, Jacqueline Miller, we learned some new interesting facts about Hunger in Calvert County, as well as ways we can all give back on a regular basis to this wonderful cause.

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

 A: End Hunger In Calvert County is a non-profit organization with the mission of ending hunger in Calvert County. Together with our 44 Partner Feeding Organizations (food pantries, mobile distribution sites and the Heart felt backpack program), we distribute over 1 MILLION pounds of food to 15,000 people in Calvert County every year.

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

A: Our favorite moment is when every food pantry in Calvert County officially partnered with End Hunger In Calvert County. It took us about 7 years to accomplish and now every food pantry in Calvert County is united and working as a team –an achievement not replicated anywhere else in the state of Maryland.

 Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Reminding people that Calvert County has a hunger problem. Calvert County is the 19th wealthiest county in the United States yet nearly 17% of our population relies on food pantry services. The hungry in Calvert County are not drug abusers, mentally ill, or the elderly. They are the working poor many holding multiple and/or fulltime jobs. It is easy to forget because the hungry in Calvert County often don’t look like the picture of hunger we may expect.

 Q: Are there any upcoming events?

Our next event is the Live Out Loud End Hunger Obstacle Trail Run on September 24! The Obstacle Run is a 2.5+ mile undertaking through mud-laden trails and obstacles, proven to excite anyone willing to accept the challenge. Participants have the option to run in the timed or family-friendly heats and afterwards enjoy our Post-Race Party! There will also be an Awards Ceremony to reward the fastest times in the competitive heats. For information on how to register, visit our website.

On April 29, 2017, we will have our annual Bike Ride where cyclists from all over the United States join us for a day of biking along the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. They pedal along the bay-front, marina, farmland and wineries while enjoying the company of friends who share their same passion for biking. Whether cyclists are new to the sport or are experienced riders, there are routes for everyone, ranging from 16 miles to a 63 mile metric century. Beginners can sign-up for our new rider route to cycle with a group and ride leader. More information about this event can be found at our website.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

There are a variety of opportunities for volunteers to get involved with End Hunger In Calvert County throughout the year. Many of our one-time opportunities revolve around seasonal events such as the Live Out Loud End Hunger Obstacle Run, End Hunger Bike Ride and Dragon Boat Festival. Our regular-basis volunteers support our programs, The End Hunger Warehouse and Calvert Cash Tax Assistance. For more information, email us at volunteer@endhungercalvert.org.

Upcoming Volunteer opportunities include

End Hunger Month - October

The Maryland General Assembly and Calvert County Board of County Commissioners officially declare October as End Hunger In Calvert County Month. Throughout the month local businesses, schools, and churches will host food drives across the county. Each year, the County-wide Food Drive brings in thousands of pounds of food, re-stocking the shelves of our Partner Food Pantries and feeding families in need.

Volunteers can be a part of feeding their community by participating. If any individuals, businesses, churches or other community organizations are interested in more information or hosting in a food drive, email End Hunger at info@endhungercalvert.org