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.
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.
FREDERICK, MD – November 6, 2018: The Community Foundation of Frederick County welcomes five new members to its board of trustees: Gordon M. Cooley, Market Manager, First United Bank & Trust; Jean M. Joyce, CFP, Vice President, Wealth Management, Morgan Stanley; R. Sean McAdam, Director of IT Operations, Tessco; Darryn Naylin, Pharm D., Hillcrest Compounding Pharmacy; and Richard A. Pearrell, Vice President, Woodsboro Bank. “Our newest trustees bring a wealth of experience, knowledge, and expertise that will benefit the Community Foundation immensely,” said Elizabeth Y. Day, President and CEO. “It is a privilege and an honor to work with these community leaders.”
The Community Foundation of Frederick County, a public charity, was founded in 1986 by a group of community citizens as a conduit for donors to fulfill their charitable goals by establishing permanent funds that provide grants and scholarships to nonprofits and deserving students. To date, the Community Foundation has more than 700 funds that support health care, the arts, human service agencies, animal welfare groups, environmental organizations, faith-based organizations, educational institutions, scholarship programs, and other civic causes.
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