News & Event
When The Helen L. Smith Scholarship Fund for Children and the Arts was created in 1994, no one imagined that more than 5,400 youth between the ages of six and twelve would have participated in art classes at The Delaplaine Arts Center to date. The Helen Smith Free Workshops for Kids are supported with grants from the fund, and one sign of its success and popularity is the waiting list of kids hoping to secure a spot.
Helen Smith, one of Frederick County’s renowned artists, was born in 1894 and would have celebrated her 125th birthday on January 21, 2019. Her 100th birthday was honored in 1994 with a luncheon and exhibit of her works, organized by the Community Foundation, Hood College, and numerous local organizations of which Helen was a member, and the fund to provide art scholarships for children was announced.
Helen attended Maryland Institute of Art on a scholarship her uncle discovered was available, which provided for one student from every county in Maryland to study. She graduated in 1916 and then taught art at Hood College for the next eight years. In a time when it was acceptable for women to be teachers but not entrepreneurs, Helen opened an art shop on North Market Street. An article in the January 21, 1994 edition of The Frederick News-Post quoted her as saying “It was very daring. I had my kiln I set up in my shop, and I painted right there.” Ten years later, Helen moved her business to what was then considered the “country” in Frederick County – Braddock Heights. Many said she wouldn’t survive, but her business thrived. Her reputation as an artist, including the painting of clock faces, silhouettes, plates, other dishware, family coats of arms, flowers, landscapes, animals, and portraits, even captured national attention at times, including Mamie Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, when he served as Vice-President of the United States.
Helen’s artistry is still in motion beyond her lifetime not only through the countless pieces of her art treasured by so many but through the workshops at the Delaplaine. The classes are taught by qualified instructors, and each class focuses on a specific artist, art movement, technique, or art period. It includes creative time for each student to make a piece of art using the lessons learned. A schedule of upcoming classes in 2019 includes yarn wall art, landscape drawing, experimental painting, and more. And while not every student ends up with an art career, youth who participated have later entered the Bettie Awards, the Delaplaine’s high school art contest, and other youth have come back to help with the workshops as interns or volunteers. Helen would be proud of this legacy.
You don’t have to be a renowned artist to create your own legacy. Simply wanting to do something to benefit others is enough. Scholarships supporting education at many levels, or grants helping organizations or causes important to you can happen through your own fund at the Community Foundation. Just like Helen, your legacy is unique to you.
Christmas in July has become a popular marketing theme in recent years. Store promotions, Hallmark Channel’s run of holiday movies throughout the month, and other deals and incentives to buy for the holidays now. One pair of our donors, however, have Christmas on their mind year-round, as their fund provides grants to many different organizations in Frederick County. Many of their grants have helped provide Christmas and holiday gifts to thousands of children, youth, and vulnerable adults.
The Mark and Susan Butt Saturday Mornings Fund was created by Mark and Susan in 2006 with funds from the sale of Mark’s book, Saturday Mornings. The book is a compilation of columns that Mark wrote over numerous years for The Frederick News-Post and is a humorous look at life and families. The Butts were already deeply ensconced in community activities, and because of this, they were aware of the many needs of Frederick County children. They decided that the money from book sales would benefit charitable causes and partnered with the Community Foundation to facilitate their dream.
Since 2006, more than $170,000 in grants has had a huge impact on thousands of lives right here at home. Many of those are children and youth who had presents to open on Christmas morning and in the holiday season. Grants to the Frederick County Department of Social Services (DSS) Foster Care and Adoption Unit, Glade Valley Community Services, Patty Pollatos Fund, and The Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs have enabled them to purchase toys, clothing, and gift cards that bring smiles to many faces during the holiday season. Other nonprofits have received grants that assisted with case manager salaries and rent/utility expenses (Advocates for Homeless Families, The Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs), grants for children without enough to eat on weekends (Blessings in a Backpack), summer programs for youth (SHIP News Horizons program), other educational programs for youth (Spring Ridge Elementary and Walkersville Middle School), and finally, support for those with special needs (Special Olympics, Frederick County program) and the arts (Frederick Arts Council/Sky Stage).
Since 2013, the Butts have also participated in the Community Foundation’s strategic funding partner program and through their fund, provided more than $70,000 for grants through The Children and Youth Strategic Initiatives Fund, and The Basic Human Needs Strategic Initiatives Fund. Grants supported programs that provided critical services for ensuring children were ready to learn at age 5, and for those who were newly homeless or precariously housed.
The Butts have a vision for their philanthropy, and with our help, as well as help from our grants committee and board of trustees who vet and approves all grants, they are making a difference in areas of need that are important to them.
What areas of need are important to you? Where can you make a difference? Every grant is significant, no matter its size. Every fund generating grants to worthy causes in Frederick County, even if one per year, helps improve someone’s life.
Spring is here, and no one knows that better than Frederick County farmers. There’s much to do to prepare for crop planting, orchard pruning, spring births of animals, equipment repairs, and much more. While it may not seem so, Frederick County is still 55 percent agricultural with 1,300 farms and more than 181,500 acres of farmland.
Even with this amount of farmland, many children who live here aren’t exposed to farming and agriculture. They don’t know where their food originates, or how fruit and vegetables are grown. They aren’t aware of the economic value that agriculture provides within the county or the environmental issues that agricultural professionals face.
Enter Frank and Bess Gladhill. Owners of a farm located in Monrovia since 1950, they are well-known in Frederick County agricultural circles not only as successful farmers but as people who have given back to the community in countless ways. They wanted children to learn about agriculture and farming, so in 1998, they established The Franklin and Bess Gladhill Fund for Agriculture Education specifically to provide agriculture-related opportunities to students attending Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS). The grants are part of an FCPS program called “Gifts for Education,” and what a gift this has been. More than $92,000 has helped bring a myriad of programs and benefits to students at all age levels.
Grants from the fund have allowed hundreds of children and youth to learn and experience what agriculture means. Pre-K students have enjoyed field trips to working farms, and through the “Growing Green with Worms” program, learned about composting. Elementary students from nearly every school in the county have visited a tree farm to learn about the interdependence of agriculture and economics, had access to the Agriculture in the Classroom Mobile Lab, the Mobile Agriscience Lab, and the Agricultural Products Lab. Other programs have included basic horse husbandry, creating a butterfly garden by researching the appropriate soil, plants and butterflies, hydroponics, and horticulture and landscape training. Several high schools benefitted from grants supporting their Future Farmer of America Clubs, helping them travel to national conventions and competitions.
Through their fund, Frank (now deceased) and Bess have truly given a gift of education. They have made a big difference in the lives of children and youth and promoted agriculture that is still so much a critical and integral part of our lives in Frederick County. Many children are going to remember their visit to a farm throughout their entire life. Some might even be inspired to have a career in or related to agriculture. We thank them for their vision and generosity.
There’s a story behind every fund created at the Community Foundation. Let’s start with one of the very first: the Smith Sisters, who created The Mary E. M. and Ruth E. Smith Scholarship Fund. They were dedicated schoolteachers and community volunteers who cared deeply about the children they taught and the community they lived in, and they left a legacy that’s benefited nearly 300 students pursuing education as a career.
If you attended Parkway Elementary in the 1940’s, 50’s, or first half of the 60’s, you’re not too old to remember these remarkable women. Mary and Ruth taught school for 42 and 44 years respectively. Mary was also an administrator, serving as principal of Parkway Elementary from 1940 to 1966. Early in her career, she spent 13 years as a “teaching principal” at Urbana Elementary, meaning she taught all seven grades and served as head administrator. Mary was the first teacher and principal in Frederick County to earn a master’s degree, and Ruth was the second elementary teacher to accomplish this.
In a June 1966 article by The Frederick News-Post covering Mary’s retirement, she said the key to a rewarding life is to identify with a cause that is bigger than yourself and then lose yourself in the cause. As devoted teachers, education was the cause to which Mary and Ruth “lost” themselves during their lifetime. After their lifetime, they wanted to help others be successful teachers and administrators. Through their fund, they have continued to support their cause and build their legacy.
Each year, approximately a dozen students receive a college scholarship from this fund that helps them pursue their dream of becoming a teacher and getting “lost in their cause” by positively influencing the lives of young learners. Some have returned to teach in Frederick County, but no matter where they’ve gone, the impact of Mary and Ruth’s scholarship has gone with them.
This fund also holds a significant place in the Community Foundation’s history, as it was the first large endowment fund to be managed by the board of trustees. It was originally established with Fredericktown Bank and Trust Company and then transferred in 1987, just one year after the Community Foundation was incorporated as a public charity. It is still one of the largest endowed scholarship funds under management and contributes significantly to the $1 million total of all scholarships presented annually.
What are the causes in which you can “lose” yourself? How can your efforts make a difference? What kind of legacy do you wish to leave? Only you know the answer to the first question. The Community Foundation can help you answer the others. You don’t have to be wealthy to create a lasting legacy. All you need is the desire to something meaningful with the resources you have.
There are many people who give generously to many organizations throughout their lifetime. They faithfully support one or more nonprofits representing causes they believe in, or they establish a fund with the Community Foundation that will provide grant distributions to these nonprofits each year. Often, people we meet with are concerned about what happens to these gifts after their lifetime. How can the organizations they’ve loved and supported still benefit once they are no longer here to write a check?
Meet Elmira B. Cook. Mrs. Cook was a long-time annual supporter of Frederick Rescue Mission, a nonprofit which serves the homeless and working poor in Frederick County and helps those with substance use disorder. As she advanced in age, she was concerned about the Frederick Rescue Mission missing out on her annual support after her death. Mrs. Cook met with the Community Foundation and learned there was a way to continue to help, in perpetuity. In 2000, she created The Elmira B. Cook Endowment Fund for the Frederick Rescue Mission. The first grant from the fund was given in 2001, and every year this grant to Frederick Rescue Mission carries out Mrs. Cook’s charitable goal of supporting this worthy organization.
We work with many donors who have the same concern as Elmira and decide to create funds that reflect their unique charitable goals. Another example is The Vince and Guelda Imirie Fund. It was founded in 2005 by Mrs. Imirie to support six different entities annually: Frederick Memorial Hospital, Kline Hospice House, Mental Health Association of Frederick County, The Norine Haas Mental Health Scholarship Fund, Glade United Church of Christ, and the Community Foundation. Rather than create the fund using cash, she used appreciated real estate and worked with the Community Foundation’s Holding Company to transfer the net proceeds to the fund. Mrs. Imirie deemed this transaction “a very worthy project that will long serve the charitable causes my late husband and I supported together.”
Some donors set-up testamentary funds, meaning that the fund isn’t active now, but will receive money from their estate and become an active grant and/or scholarship fund after their lifetime. The Linwood T. Offutt Fund for The Frederick County 4-H Camp Center, established in 2017, provides an annual grant to support Camp Center programs and activities. The purpose of the fund was defined by Mr. Offutt before his death and honors his lifelong career as a farmer and his devotion to agriculture education for youth. It also reflects his active memberships in many agricultural organizations in Frederick County.
Mrs. Cook, Mrs. Imirie, and Mr. Offutt have all passed away, but their legacy and impact within our community continue through their funds. Creating the funds, or the framework for a fund during their lifetime provided them great peace of mind that their charitable goals would continue to be carried out. We are honored to make these dreams come true, forever.
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.
Did you know that Frederick County is one of the fastest growing counties in Maryland? Because of this, it is undergoing important demographic and social changes not only because of growth but also because of its role as a commuter suburb of the surrounding metropolitan areas.
This change affects all of us and brings more attention to pressing human needs in our community. In 2011, the Community Foundation and a group of sponsors commissioned the first Frederick County Human Needs Assessment. We wanted a solid, unbiased assessment to guide our grantmaking, and from that, we’ve been strategically focused on providing grants to organizations addressing health care, school-readiness, and homelessness. Last year, we commissioned another county-wide human needs assessment to update the 2011 study (again, via a third-party, unbiased source) to see if and how the most pressing areas of human need had changed. The data has just been released, showing that the most pressing needs have changed, but the needs from 2011 still exist and are contributing factors to the current issues. In this update, supporting families with children, preparing for an aging population, and responding to substance use disorder have risen to the top.
What happens now? First, the 2018 data will be used by local nonprofits and government agencies as they review their programs and build new ones, and it will assist them in applying for grants from many funding sources. Second, the data will help the Community Foundation continue to do meaningful strategic grantmaking with a focus on the areas of greatest need. Our advocacy, leadership, collaboration, and education within the community will continue as we work with our nonprofit and government partners to create positive change within the newly identified areas.
An exciting new component of the 2018 Human Needs Assessment is the “visualization tool.” This online, interactive, dynamic tool allows users to examine important local, state, and national trends over the prior 20 years related to human needs in Frederick County. It’s based on the aggregation of many different official sources of demographics and statistics, including information from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Census/American Community Survey. The visualization tool will continue to be updated as new data becomes available.
The complete 2018 Human Needs Assessment Report, executive summary, and the visualization tool can be accessed through our website at www.FrederickCountyGives.org/NeedsReport. I urge you to look at all the information available. The human needs discussed here pose significant challenges that will require broad community participation and support to secure Frederick County’s future.
A huge thank you to our co-sponsors of the 2018 report: Ausherman Family Foundation, The Joseph D. Baker Fund, Delaplaine Foundation, Frederick County Government, The Robert C. and Jane E. Ladner Charitable Fund, Helen J. Sirini Foundation, and United Way of Frederick County. Their generosity made possible the significant expansion of effort of this project.
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