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Occupying a 95-acre piece of land along the Patuxent River, Sotterley Plantation is one of Southern Maryland’s well-known historical landmarks. This week, we spoke with Sotterley’s executive director, Nancy Easterling, who shared with us some information about the plantation itself, as well as a sneak peek of some upcoming events.

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

A: Sotterley Plantation is a National Historic Landmark and one of the oldest museums of its kind in the United States, with a history dating back to the turn of the 18th century.  Many people have called Sotterley home over these many years.  Some came here to prosper; others worked the land, either for wages or under bondage.   Sotterley today consists of almost 100 acres of breathtaking beauty on the Patuxent River that includes over six miles of nature trails, Colonial Revival Gardens and over 20 historic buildings.  Visitors to Sotterley enjoy a wide range of programming, including award winning education programs, acclaimed heritage tours and a variety of entertaining and interesting special events for guests of all ages.  This jewel of Southern Maryland represents three centuries of our state’s and country’s history, and has become an integral part of the cultural landscape of our region.  Historic Sotterley, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) public charity with a mission to preserve, research and interpret Sotterley Plantation’s diverse cultures and environments, and to serve the world as an educational, cultural and community resource.

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

A: Making history come alive is what Sotterley strives for with every tour and every education program.  Seeing the “A-Hah!” moment on a student or visitor’s face is the greatest reward for any or our teachers or interpreters.  A wonderful moment for the Sotterley staff was hearing about what happened at one of the local eighth grade graduation ceremonies.  A few students were allowed to stand up and tell the audience about their favorite memory during middle school and their 8th grade year. One particular student actually told the audience that her very favorite memory was her field trip to Sotterley when she learned about what life was like for those who had been enslaved.  We had made the stories real for her.  Touching the lives of students and giving them memories that will not only last a lifetime but will help to shape them and the way they think is what we hope to achieve each and every day.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: For Sotterley and for any non-profit in our current economic climate, adequate funding is always the biggest challenge we face.  Sotterley raises all of its funding through memberships, sponsorships, special events, site rental, grants and other donations.  It is reliant on the support of a generous community that understands its mission and the importance of not only preserving the site for future generation, but continuing to provide such a wonderful resource to our community.  We are simply not able to build into our budget all of the maintenance, preservation or conservation efforts needed, but we instead try to accomplish these important efforts through donations or grants whenever possible.  Our hope is to one day have a larger and more sustainable base of operational funding, ensuring that we can always preserve Sotterley’s stories and our shared history for the future.

Q: How can people really help?

A: There are so many ways to help and support Sotterley!  Becoming a member is one of the easiest - our members are the bedrock of our financial support, and we try to provide our members with special ways to experience the site and its programming.  We also invite everyone to make history and volunteer!  Sotterley volunteers are simply the best, and no matter how much time you have to give or your area of interest, there is a place for you in the Sotterley family: from helping the Garden Guild, becoming an Interpreter or Guide, working in our Museum Shop, helping with the Hospitality team, or just coming to support our special events.  Monetary donations are of course critical, but in-kind donations of goods and services  are invaluable to Sotterley as well, and range from donations of serviceable equipment (from lawn mowers to golf carts to computer printers – the list is endless!) to the time and talents of professionals in our community.  There are no donations too big or small to be of help, and we offer our heartfelt gratitude to all those willing to support our site!

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

A: Working at a non-profit is one of the most rewarding jobs you will ever have, even though the pay will almost always be limited and often the hours long.  To serve a cause or mission that you believe in, however, is a incalculable joy, and you have the opportunity to work alongside people every day who truly care and who are dedicated to giving back and making a difference in our community.

Q: What events do you have coming up?

A: There is so much to do at Sotterley Plantation in the months ahead!  First of all, our Riverside WineFest at Sotterley is just around the corner on October 5th and 6th from noon until 6pm each day! With over 20 Maryland wineries boasting award-winning wines, live music, artisan vendors, food and beer vendors, demonstrations at the “Buy Local Café”, mini tours of the Plantation House and tours of the Slave Cabin and Colonial Revival Gardens, and fun children’s activities, there is something for everyone!  A mere two weeks later we begin our Ghosts of Sotterley tours which will be held on October 18, 19, 24, 25 & 26.  Ghostly St. Mary's County "spirits" don't take it lying down as they make unsavory alliances to make and supply big city backrooms during the Great Depression in 1933. All new for 2013, this year’s spooky dramatic production will even be going into the woods!   Tickets may be purchased on-line, and advance reservations are required.  And that’s not all!  There will be two more wonderful and FREE speaker series events this fall plus our Legends and Lore Tours, and then right around the corner will be our holiday events: Sotterley Holiday Candlelight (and Members’ Night), Family Plantation Christmas, and all new - Sotterley Christmas Traditions Tours.  Remember that by simply coming and having a great time, you support Sotterley and its mission at the same time.  Truly a win-win for all!  We hope to see you soon!


Every day, non-profit organizations are hard at work in the community. With the Walk to End Alzheimer’s coming up this weekend, we caught up with Cindy Schelhorn, Communications Director for the National Capital Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, who talked to us about how her organization raises both funds and awareness, and how you can join the movement to stop Alzheimer’s disease.

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

A: The Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s.

The National Capital Area Chapter is one of more than 70 chapters serving communities across the United States. Our Chapter serves five counties in Maryland, including Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s, 11 counties in Virginia and the District of Columbia. Our Chapter’s main office is located in Fairfax, VA. Earlier this month, we opened our new Southern Maryland office in White Plains.

 We provide a number of programs and services to help those facing the daily challenges of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, including those with the disease, their caregivers and their families. Our free, professionally staffed 24/7 Helpline (1.800.272.3900) offers information, resources, advice and support round the clock. The Association’s web site - www.alz.org – offers valuable information, including a Caregiver Center that features sections on early-stage, middle-stage and late-stage caregiving. Free online tools are available to help caregivers create customized action plans and access information and local resources.

Our support groups provide a place to share valuable information, caregiving tips and concerns throughout the Alzheimer's journey. We have two groups currently meeting in Southern Maryland and are working on starting more. Alzheimer’s Association ALZConnected®, www.alzconnected.org, is the first dedicated online social networking community for anyone impacted by Alzheimer’s and provides a safe place for people to connect with others for sharing, questions, solutions and support.

Free education workshops on Alzheimer’s disease, its warning signs, legal and financial planning and caregiving in the early, middle and late stages of the disease are offered throughout the community and are available online at www.alz.org for those not able to attend in person.

As the largest non-profit funder of Alzheimer's research, the Association is committed to accelerating progress of new treatments, preventions and ultimately, a cure. Through our partnerships and funded projects, we have been part of every major research advancement over the past 30 years.

The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voice for Alzheimer's disease advocacy, fighting for critical Alzheimer's research, prevention and care initiatives at the state and federal level. We diligently work to make Alzheimer’s a national priority.

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

A: In 2010, thousands of people across the country made their voices heard on Capitol Hill that it was time to make Alzheimer’s a national priority. Through online advocacy efforts and phone calls to Congress, people affected by Alzheimer’s told their federal elected officials that it was time to create a national plan to address this growing crisis. And they were heard! In December 2010, Congress voted unanimously to pass the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), which was then signed into law by President Obama. In October 2011, more than 130 town halls were held in communities across America – including one here in Southern Maryland – so that Americans could submit their thoughts and input on what should go into our country’s first-ever National Alzheimer’s Plan. The first draft of the Plan was released in May 2012. The passing of NAPA marked the largest legislative victory in many years for the Alzheimer's cause. It would not have happened without the hard work and support of people in our community who made their voices heard on this important issue.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: We see two challenges: awareness and funding. Let’s talk about awareness first. There is a great deal of stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s and dementia. The 2012 World Alzheimer’s Report noted that one in four people with dementia hide their diagnosis from others because of the stigma surrounding the disease. A similar percentage of caregivers report that they face negative reactions from family members and friends. This is a frightening disease, so people don’t want to accept that it could be happening to them. This fear can lead to denial both from the person experiencing memory loss and from their family. The Alzheimer’s Association has a list of 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's. We encourage anyone who is concerned or experiencing any of the signs to see a doctor. Early diagnosis will give them a chance to seek treatment and plan for the future. We also encourage people to contact the Association as soon as possible so that we can offer them the information, resources and support they are going to need.

Funding is another challenge. Alzheimer’s disease is the most expensive disease in our country today. It also is the only cause of death among the top 10 causes in America without a way to prevent it, cure it or even slow its progression. In 2013, the direct costs of caring for those with Alzheimer's to American society will total an estimated $203 billion, including $142 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. Total payments for health care, long-term care and hospice for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias are projected to increase from $203 billion in 2013 to $1.2 trillion in 2050 (in current dollars). This dramatic rise includes a 500% increase in combined Medicare and Medicaid spending. Nearly 30% of people with Alzheimer's and other dementias are on both Medicare and Medicaid, compared to 11% of individuals without these conditions. In spite of these costs, Alzheimer’s is dramatically underfunded compared to other diseases. The federal government spends close to $6 billion a year on cancer research, and more than $3 billion a year on HIV/AIDS research; yet only $450 million on Alzheimer’s research. Deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 68% between 2000 and 2010, while deaths from other major diseases, including the number one cause of death (heart disease), decreased. We know research investments in the other conditions are paying off. This proven approach should be applied to Alzheimer’s.

Q: How can people really help/get involved?

A: Our new campaign “Do a little big thing to end Alzheimer’s” encourages people to join the cause in one of several ways: 1) learn the facts and help raise awareness; 2) get the help you need; 3) become an advocate and make your voice heard; 4) make a donation to support research and programs and 5) participate in an event, like Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Visit www.alz.org or call us at 800.272.3900 to find out more about what you can do to make a difference in the fight against Alzheimer’s.

Q: What is the Walk to End Alzheimers? (What is the history, who participates, etc.)

A: The Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® is the nation’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, this inspiring event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to reclaim the future for millions.

The Walk was started in 1989 as the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk®. In 2011, the Association made a decision to rebrand the event name to Walk to End Alzheimer’s to reinforce the purpose of the event. Southern Maryland has hosted our Walks for many years, and the community has rallied to make them a success. In 2012, more than 1,000 people representing 106 teams participated in our Walks in Solomons and in Waldorf, raising $133,556. This Saturday, we will hold Walks at Asbury-Solomons and at the Regency Furniture Stadium. People can register online at www.alz.org/nca. They also can register on Saturday morning. Participants will learn more about Alzheimer's disease, advocacy opportunities, clinical trial enrollment, the Association's support programs and services and will join in a meaningful tribute ceremony to honor those affected by Alzheimer's. We invite everyone in the community who cares about this disease to join us. Together, we can end Alzheimer’s — the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death. Start a team. Join a team. The end of Alzheimer’s starts with you!

History comes alive at the Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum in this week’s Friday Focus! We talked with Anne Starkweather, the Executive Administrator for the Friends of Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum, who shared with us details about the museum, information about upcoming events and described how the museum brings history to life for the children and students in the community.

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

A: The Friends of Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum (JPPM) is a non-profit organization that raises funds to help support the archaeology, history, heritage and environmental education projects, programs and events at JPPM. Without the support of the Friends, JPPM would not be able to offer free or low cost community events such as Children’s Day on the Farm, the 1812 Fair and Reenactment, the Wade In and countless other programs and events.

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

A: Being a witness to children and families enjoying themselves while learning at JPPM are the best moments. These moments happen at every one of our events and programs. For example, during Children’s Day on the Farm, we invite families to come learn about Maryland’s rural heritage. The event is free. In addition to hands-on activities, petting zoos, and tractor rides, a full lineup of kid’s entertainment is available throughout the day. The excitement of the crowd during the various puppet shows and musical acts is priceless and a true testament to the valuable community service the park and museum offers.

JPPM regularly works with Huntingtown High School students on various projects. The students, with the assistance of JPPM staff, have created three cell phone audio tours for the park grounds and more recently created a temporary exhibit that was on display at the Calvert Library Prince Frederick. Being a part of this collaboration, where young people are able to demonstrate their talents and get excited about history and museums, is a wonderful experience.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: As a non-profit organization, the biggest challenge we face is raising money. We would love to support even more programs and projects at JPPM. Unfortunately, we sometimes are unable to support the park and museum as broadly as we would like. Fundraising can be a challenge in an area with so many worthy organizations competing for assistance.

Q: How can people really help/get involved?

A: The easiest way to help and get involved is to become a member of The Friends of JPPM. There are various membership levels available to individuals and families. Donations and volunteer contributions are also always welcome, as are sponsorship opportunities for our annual fundraising event, the Affair at Point Farm, held each September.

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

A: Getting involved as a volunteer or intern can be a great way to get your foot in the door and learn more about various opportunities in the non-profit field.

Q: Are there any upcoming events at the museum?

A: The Affair at Point Farm, the Friends of JPPM’s annual fundraising dinner and auction, takes place on Saturday, September 14 from 6-9:30pm. Tickets are $60/person and information is available by calling Anne Starkweather at 410-586-8515 or astarkweather@mdp.state.md.us.

Two weeks later, on Saturday, September 28, JPPM is holding the 1812 Fair and Reenactment and Tavern Night. The 1812 Fair and Reenactment, held from 10am-5pm, is a living history event allowing guests to step back in time and experience life as it was in the early 1800s. Battle demonstrations, live music, hands-on crafts, dancing, fencing, food and drinks make this event one that truly has something for everyone to enjoy. Following the day’s festivities, Tavern Night is The Friend’s of JPPM’s take on Happy Hour 1812 style! Food and beverages are available for purchase and live period music will be featured. Tickets for the 1812 Fair and Reenactment are $3/person or $10/car (Free for Friends of JPPM). Tickets for Tavern Night are $10/person or $8/Friends of JPPM members and those in period attire.