News & Event
As a community, we continue to hear about accidents and deaths related to drunk driving. It is especially sobering when you know people who have lost family or friends this way. When a person’s life is cut short, it’s incredibly difficult to find comfort or offer comfort to those left behind. Some people turn their grief into preventative action, so others never experience the same loss.
One example of loss turned into action is The Garrett R. Petronchak Memorial Fund. Garrett lost his life in an alcohol-related accident in 1995. A graduate of Walkersville High School, he was enrolled in his second year at Frederick Community College. His death sent his mother, Peggy Waxter, on a mission to educate others about the dangers of drinking and driving. Her first step was to establish a fund at the Community Foundation for scholarships to graduating high school seniors and grants to nonprofits. The scholarship criteria included that students must be involved in substance dependence prevention programs and grants would support programs relating to the enforcement of underage drinking laws. The fund provides a way to fundraise and accept contributions that are tax-deductible.
Mrs. Waxter decided to organize a community run to raise money for the fund, and The Garrett’s 5K Run was established in 1996. She, along with family and friends, worked tirelessly for ten years to organize the race, with as many as 600 runners participating. Mrs. Waxter also partnered with Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) for ten years to talk with high school students throughout the county about drinking and driving. Since 1998, more than 18 scholarships have been presented, totaling more than $35,000 in post-secondary educational support. Also, she shared her story by speaking at Frederick County Victim Impact Panels - a court-mandated requirement when a person was charged with DUI.
Since education is Mrs. Waxter’s focus, she recommends grants to Frederick Community College’s Police Science program to assist those studying law enforcement. Grants have provided books to police cadets enrolled in the program, to ensure they have the most up-to-date material available. GoPro cameras were purchased as additional training tools. In 2016 and 2017, grants to Frederick Community College Foundation supported the purchase of two Drunk Busters Pedal Karts and impairment goggles for the Police Science program. The Maryland State Police and Frederick City Police are using the Karts and goggles for community outreach to let people experience what it is like to drink under the influence and have reached hundreds in the community as a result. Additional grants from the fund in 2018 provided the Maryland State Police with three new Preliminary Breath Testers and other classroom equipment that demonstrates how alcohol affects the body and increases drunk driving risks.
How have these scholarships and grants impacted the community? Mrs. Waxter says she has created awareness of the devastation that impaired driving can cause. The FCPS high school students she spoke with were shocked when she described the horrendous car accident that took Garrett’s life. When presenting a scholarship in Garrett’s name to a student, she makes sure they know about the poor decision Garrett made to ride with an intoxicated driver, and that earning their college degree and being successful is important to her because Garrett would never finish college. She also says the grants have brought the message to a higher level, as the Drunk Buster Kart simulations have reached hundreds of people. “Knowledge is power, and the more information people have about driving under the influence will hopefully save lives,” said Mrs. Waxter.
Community spirit abounds in Frederick County. This is a place where volunteerism and generosity are front and center, and our community benefits greatly from these gifts. The Women’s Giving Circle of Frederick County has all these components plus one more: a passion for improving self-sufficiency for women and those who depend on them.
Comprised mostly of women, the organization has granted more than $1.6 million since 2007 to local nonprofits in support of programs that help improve the emotional, educational, financial, and physical well-being of women of all ages who are in challenging situations. Some grants assist with emergencies, and other grants help women obtain an education that will allow them to pursue professional employment, have safe and adequate childcare, obtain transportation, get physical and mental health services, and more.
Every story has a beginning, and the story of the Women’s Giving Circle began in 2005 when Karlys Kline, a well-known community volunteer, wanted to help women and their children in Frederick County who were struggling. She convened a group of friends and business associates and partnered with the Community Foundation to create a fund from which grants could be made. “I wanted a way to reach out to women in the community who were experiencing obstacles in life that could be improved by support from women who had the resources to offer,” said Ms. Kline.
Her idea was greeted with great enthusiasm, and the organization began with 45 members who pledged $1,000 a year for three consecutive years. In 2007, the first grants, totaling $70,000, were presented to nine nonprofits. Each year, the total grant amount from The Women’s Giving Circle of Frederick County Fund and the number of nonprofits benefiting has grown, and recently in June, grants totaled $210,000 – an amount that has tripled since 2007. The number of nonprofits receiving grants annually has nearly tripled, reaching 24.
“It takes courage to ask for help. But bit by bit, those in need asked and our members answered,” said Ms. Kline. “Our generous community has helped the Women’s Giving Circle grow to more than 370 members, and it continues to thrive because we come from a place of respect, encouragement, and value for our fellow women in Frederick County. We are privileged to extend a helping hand and change the direction of many lives, in positive ways.”
It’s impossible to know how many lives have been touched and made better through the Women’s Giving Circle. Its success proves that one idea from one person can grow beyond expectations when the spirit, volunteerism, generosity, and passion of many come together for a common cause.
For more information about the Women’s Giving Circle of Frederick County, or to join, visit www.FrederickWGC.org.
Each year, the dollar amount of grants and scholarships has grown, and this investment into bettering Frederick County and its citizens exceeds $58 million.
Frederick County’s needs are much different now than in 1986. As one of Maryland’s fastest-growing counties, we have and will continue to undergo important demographic and social changes, spurred by our role as a commuter suburb to metropolitan areas.
The Community Foundation is committed to remaining a progressive influence for positive change. This means constantly seeking new and powerful ways to create impact by examining what we’ve been doing and then planning for the future. Our board of trustees has determined we need to be nimble and flexible, and most importantly, proactive to the needs of our community.
We’ve just announced our “Forever Frederick County” campaign. This is an effort to raise $20 million or more to build an unrestricted endowment fund that will provide grants toward Frederick County’s greatest needs now, in the future, and forever.
What do you want Frederick County to look like in 10, 20, and 50 years from now? We don’t know what the greatest needs will be going forward, but through our 2011 and 2018 Frederick County Human Needs Assessment studies, we know what they are now. Even in the short window from 2011 to 2018, needs have changed. The latest study identified supporting families with children, preparing for an aging population, and responding to substance use disorder as the areas of greatest need. We are preparing, with help from the newly created Forever Frederick County endowment initiative, to grant money to programs in these areas. However, we are focused on ensuring that the endowment will grow and provide grants to the needs identified by new studies in the future.
You can help. You can be a part of this movement. You can be an influence for change. You can be a leader by stepping forward to help ensure that Frederick County is forever. Please visit our “Forever Frederick County” web page at www.ForeverFrederickCounty.org and watch our video.
FREDERICK, MD – July 12, 2017: The Sgt. David J. Smith Memorial Fund, one of more than 679 funds managed by The Community Foundation of Frederick County, recently provided a $15,404 grant to Operation Second Chance for an all-terrain power chair to help Sgt. Ryan Major, an Army veteran. Sgt. Major suffered severe head trauma and lost both legs and several fingers in 2006 while with the 3rd Armored Division in Ramadi, Iraq from an IED explosion. His positive attitude helped him recover from his injuries, and he competed in the 2016 DoD Warrior Games and the Invictus Games, both competitive sporting events for wounded and injured service members and veterans. To make a gift to The Sgt. David J. Smith Memorial Fund, visit www.FrederickCountyGives.org/davidjsmith. Pictured, from left: John Jones, fund representative, Sgt. Major, and Mary Jane McWilliams, fund representative.
In this holiday season, some families, friends, and co-workers have “Secret Santa” exchanges where holiday gifts are given anonymously. Each person has the name of another person in the group and provides a gift for them. It’s a fun way to celebrate the season and make memories.
Based on the “Secret Santa” idea, a donor came to us in 2010 and said he wanted to create a fund to provide small grants that would help people with special situations. He knew that small obstacles sometimes reduced the quality of life, and other aspects of life would improve ten-fold if the smaller obstacle could be overcome. This donor also knew the Community Foundation often received requests of this kind but didn’t always have grant money available.
The Secret Santa Fund was born. Early in its life, the Community Foundation received a request from Citizens Care & Rehabilitation Center. A resident needed new tires on her power wheelchair. Her insurance would not cover the cost, and she could not pay out of pocket. The power wheelchair was her only means to be independent, navigate the facility, and participate in resident activities. The grant was made, and this resident was again enjoying life.
Several grants have been requested by SOAR Frederick County (Supporting Older Adults through Resources, Inc.). SOAR’s mission is to assist older adults in Frederick County to help meet their essential needs confidentially and respectfully. A Frederick resident undergoing treatment at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore needed reliable, regular transportation. A Secret Santa grant helped purchase a car. Another Frederick County resident had no functioning appliances in his home and was living on prepared foods. His wife was receiving care in a nursing home, and his income was very limited. The Secret Santa Fund assisted with a grant that purchased gently used appliances and a grocery gift card to help stock the refrigerator and freezer with food. Another grant request from SOAR helped an elderly man who was deaf replace an old computer that stopped working. The computer was his only way of communicating with the outside world, schedule appointments, and more. A replacement computer ended his isolation and depression.
Other grants from the fund include helping another Frederick County senior with power chair repairs, and a church that purchased gift cards for its Angel Tree program at Christmas so that six children would have Christmas gifts.
Recently, grants from The Secret Santa Fund have supported The Federated Charities Rapid Response Program. This program’s purpose of assisting residents who are experiencing hardships with a small grant that could positively change their situation aligns with the purpose of the fund. To date, grants have helped with gas gift cards so that medical appointments could be kept, groceries, medical equipment, gift cards for clothing at Goodwill and Select Seconds, utility bills, and more.
While gift-giving for most of us takes place in a concentrated time frame at the end of the year, The Secret Santa Fund gives throughout the year. The situations that were improved with grants from the fund made a huge difference in the lives of those who benefited. The donor’s vision in setting up the fund to provide a “hand-up” to those needing assistance is a wonderful example of giving and creating great impact within Frederick County.
If you’re interested in supporting this fund, tax-deductible contributions are accepted at www.FrederickCountyGives.org/SecretSanta.
Black Philanthropy Month was created in August 2011 by Dr. Jackie Bouvier-Copeland and the Pan-African Women’s Philanthropy Network. It is a global celebration of African-descent giving and is recognized by the United Nations as part of its Declaration of 2011 as the International Year for People of African descent. Its goal is universal: to promote the power of giving to transform lives.
The Community Foundation holds several funds that are transforming lives through the generosity of local Black philanthropists. The George and Ruth Dredden Scholarship Fund was created in 2007 with their Wertheimer Fellow for Excellence in Volunteerism Award. The Dreddens chose to carry on their legacy of selfless service by helping students attend college and achieve their academic goals. Since 2010, when the first scholarship was presented from their fund, ten students have benefitted. Countless more will benefit in the coming years because of the Dredden family’s commitment to the fund and their belief in higher education.
The Kenneth W. Parker – Class of ’55 Scholarship Fund, is another example. This fund was created in 2006 through a merger of two funds with similar goals of assisting with post-secondary education: The Kenneth W. Parker Meritorious Scholarship Fund and The Lincoln High School Class of ’55 Scholarship Fund. Mr. Parker has been an active donor to the fund as well as a participant in the scholar selection process that recommends scholarships to the Community Foundation’s board. Since 2002, more than 30 students have benefited with scholarships that helped with the expense of college or trade and technical school classes.
In 2012, Dr. Earlene Thornton (the first African-American female to have served on the Frederick County Board of Education) wanted to help students with post-secondary education and established The Earlene H. and Henry J. Sr. Thornton Fund for Educational Professionals. Dr. Thornton was interested in helping people achieve not only college-level education but also certificates and licensures that would advance careers. Also, she knew that grants were needed to support special projects enhancing the regular school curriculum. Four students have received scholarships to date.
The Dr. Ulysses G. Bourne, Sr. Memorial Fund is another example of philanthropy that is impacting Frederick County. Established in 1996 by Dr. Blanche Bourne-Tyree, and added to through husband Chris Tyree’s estate, the fund provides scholarships for students pursuing careers in medicine or health care-related fields. During their lifetime, the Tyree’s generosity has helped dozens of students studying in the medical and health care fields.
These are stories that highlight just some of the funds created by Black philanthropists and how their generosity of giving is transforming lives in Frederick County. We are honored to work with them and others every day.
April is the official month for recognizing the contributions, talents, time, energy, and resourcefulness of the millions of volunteers who contribute in countless ways to society. National Volunteer Week began in 1974 when President Richard Nixon established it via executive order. In 1989, President George H. W. Bush designated April as National Volunteer Month as part of the 1000 Points of Light Campaign. It’s estimated that 63 million Americans give volunteer hours, which equates to billions of hours and billions of dollars in economic impact.
Today’s column is dedicated to the thousands of volunteers who are giving back in Frederick County. More specifically, it’s dedicated to the hundreds who help the Community Foundation carry out its mission of “For Good. Forever. For Frederick County.”
There are more than 160 people who have served or are currently serving as trustees on the Community Foundation’s board since 1986 when the organization was founded. The average term length is six years, the board meets monthly, attends Community Foundation sponsored events, and represents the Community Foundation at other meetings and functions throughout the county. Every trustee also serves on one or more committees which means additional meetings, preparation, and “homework” to research, review, or follow-up on some aspect of the committee’s work.
Our committees have, as of our FY2018 Committee listing in our annual report, 185 positions, as some people serve on multiple committees. Our largest committee is the Scholarship Committee, where between 80 and 100 people give between 10 and 20 hours each spring to review the more than 1,300 scholarship applications received in March. This is truly a labor of love as each application is reviewed by at least three people in the decision-making process. (Each committee member doesn’t review all 1,300 applications – these are divided up, but some committee members might be reviewing and scoring between 25 and 50 applications.) The Grants Committee, while smaller in number, also contributes countless hours to review grant applications in our impact and strategic grant cycles – another daunting task when the dollar amount of grant requests always exceeds the amount of money available.
Other committees, such as the Development, Governance, Audit, Investment, Human Resources, Marketing, Professional Advisor, Real Estate, Trusts and Estates, and Strategic Planning, require great volunteer power to keep the wheels of the Community Foundation in motion.
There are also volunteers who are not part of a committee. These are the good folks who help stuff envelopes, make phone calls, assist in setting up for events, file name badges, and a whole list of other chores. We are so grateful for this help, as it frees up the staff for other work.
Have you considered adding to your legacy by volunteering? There are many opportunities in Frederick County that can make a difference, from mentoring youth, helping people learn the English language, serving meals to those in need, and much more. Volunteering is powerful – it brings people together for causes they have in common, and studies cite the mental and physical health benefits.
As you consider your volunteer legacy, here’s a message to every Community Foundation volunteer and every volunteer in Frederick County: thank you. Your efforts do not go unnoticed, your passion is contagious, and the impact for good that you create is priceless.
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