News & Event
Frederick County Gives column published in FNP - April 25, 2022
You might have noticed a lot of Earth loving going on over the last few days. Friday was Earth Day and the 2022 theme is "Invest in Our Planet." Frederick County offers a lot to invest in, with more than 140,000 acres of forest and serving as the watershed for multiple waterways including the Potomac and Monocacy Rivers. Just last year Frederick County was recognized as a state leader in sustainable practices for its commitment to reducing pollution and increasing smart energy practices among other things.
While April 22 is recognized as Earth Day, we all know that to make a difference, we have to make every day Earth Day. The Community Foundation is proud to partner with generous donors who are committed to supporting environmental and conservation efforts locally and throughout the region.
The Walter W. and Catharine Prentiss Plummer Endowment Fund has distributed more than $58,000 to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Potomac Conservancy since 2011. The fund supports conservation efforts within the Potomac River region, with an emphasis on the Monocacy River area in Frederick County.
In 2021 the funding provided support for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's local projects that are critical to water quality and those living downstream. Chesapeake Bay Foundation staff and volunteers have done several tree plantings on Frederick farms, helping to slow the flow of harmful pollutants into the sensitive waters of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Grants provided from this fund will have a long-term impact on the environmental health of Frederick County. A report from the Potomac Conservancy states “Funding from the Walter W. and Catharine Prentiss Plummer Endowment Fund … enabled Potomac Conservancy to engage in long-term sustainability planning to preserve the agricultural and rural heritage of communities and neighborhoods throughout Frederick County.”
Created in 2014, The Harry George and Dee Dolan Charitable Fund has distributed almost $120,000 to a range of local arts and historical preservation organizations, as well as gifts exceeding $21,000 to the Sierra Club Foundation. The Sierra Club Foundation’s mission is to promote efforts to educate and empower people to protect and improve the natural and human environment.
A field of interest fund allows a donor to designate a particular cause or issue for their charitable giving. The Community Foundation has several field of interest funds that support local environment and conservation activities and projects.
Earlier this year, The Parks Field of Interest Fund distributed just under $1,000 to the nonprofit organization Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts for an annual cleanup project of the Frederick Watershed Trails.
The Environmental Preservation Field of Interest Fund distributed more than $3,200 since 2015, including a 2019 grant to the Catoctin Forest Alliance for educational, hands-on learning center adaptations of recreational areas.
We are all responsible for taking care of this planet and our local environments. One way to make a difference is to get your hands dirty – volunteer in local clean ups, recycle, use energy efficiently, advocate for smart policies. Another way is to support local organizations that are making a difference. To learn more about the Community Foundation’s Environmental Preservation Field of Interest Fund, visit www.FrederickCountyGives.org/Environment.
Part of what makes Frederick County unique is that its home to a mix of charming small towns and Main Streets, rural farmlands, and bustling city centers. That level of diversity serves citizens well, but it also means there are different needs to be met in different parts of the county. The Community Foundation supports funds that focus on needs in all corners of Frederick County, including the thriving town of Brunswick.
Judge and Mrs. William Wenner were longtime Brunswick residents and were deeply involved in their community. Judge Wenner was chairman of the board of Maryland Blue Cross Blue Shield, chairman of the board of trustees at his alma mater, St. James School, and was a member of the Brunswick Rotary Club and Frederick Kiwanis Club. Lila Wenner served on the board of Frederick Memorial Hospital (now Frederick Health Hospital), was chairwoman of Heartly House, and was the first woman to serve as a director on the board of Farmers & Mechanics National Bank.
In 1993, Judge and Mrs. Wenner created The Brunswick Area Fund with the Community Foundation to support community services and projects in Brunswick. Most recently, the fund supported projects with A Mission of Mercy, the Brunswick High School Safe & Sane program, and the Brunswick High School Drama Boosters club for the spring musical and fall play.
Some needs are urgent. The Brunswick Emergency Relief Fund was established by Sandy Cox with her 2005 Wertheimer Fellow for Excellence in Volunteerism award to support the efforts of the Brunswick Ecumenical Assistance Committee on Needs, or BEACON. BEACON helps Brunswick area households with a range of supports including rent assistance, utility bills, and medical needs. During COVID BEACON benefitted from the Community Foundation’s emergency relief grants to directly support Brunswick area residents.
Edgar Virts was a former Frederick County commissioner and was active with organizations in the Brunswick area, including American Legion Post 96 and The New Hope United Methodist Church of Brunswick. The Edgar and Geraldine Virts Fund for New Hope United Methodist Church of Greater Brunswick has distributed more than $50,000 to support programs and projects in Brunswick.
Brunswick’s Boy Scout Troop 277 has been developing youths since 1915. The Brunswick Boy Scout Troop 277 Fund was founded by Robert Ward with his 2007 Wertheimer Fellow for Excellence in Volunteerism award to support the troop’s camperships and troop materials.
When Linda C. Moser, a devoted member of The New Hope United Methodist Church, passed away, her sister Shirley Barker created a fund in her honor. Linda cared deeply about the church and its congregation, and the fund that honors her memory will benefit the church for generations to come. The Linda C. Moser Memorial Fund has distributed almost $13,000 to support the operations and mission of The New Hope United Methodist Church.
The Community Foundation holds other funds and scholarships that support Brunswick area residents. While Brunswick might be considered a small town with a little more than 7,000 residents, its spirit is big, with generous donors who have committed to its well-being for generations to come.
Known as the “gateway to the mountains,” the town of Thurmont is alive with activity. A small town with a big heart, residents can be found cheering on the Catoctin Cougars at a Friday night football game, learning something new at the Thurmont Historical Society or celebrating fall at the annual Catoctin Colorfest. Many folks have lived in Thurmont their entire lives and some have turned their love for the town into a legacy of giving back to the community. The Community Foundation of Frederick County is proud to partner with donors who want to impact Thurmont for generations to come.
Susan K. Favorite was born and raised in Thurmont, and she still lives there today. In 2011, she was recognized with a Community Foundation Wertheimer Fellow for Excellence in Volunteerism award. She was honored for selfless volunteerism on behalf of organizations and programs including the Thurmont Lions Club, Thurmont Make a Difference Day and the Thurmont Teacher of the Year Program.
With her award, Susan founded The Make a Difference in Thurmont Fund. Over the last few years, the fund has supported programs at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, the Thurmont Historical Society, the Frederick County Public Library and the TLC Foundation.
“The area is family – people I know since childhood still live here,” Favorite said. “To me, Thurmont means home.”
Favorite said her parents instilled a lifelong sense of ethics in her and her siblings that includes working hard, fulfilling commitments, and giving back. “This fund helps me to live up to that life ethic,” she said.
Betty Brown and her husband John owned Browns’ Jewelry and Gift Shop in Thurmont for 29 years. A member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Betty was dedicated to the mission and work of the St. John’s Christian Preschool. A teacher and later a board member at the preschool, Betty spent 36 years ensuring that children in the community received a quality educational experience. In 2002, Betty founded The Betty L. Brown Endowment Fund for St. John’s Christian Preschool of Thurmont.
At the time the fund was created, Betty said, “Having an endowment fund in my name is an honor. I believe in the educational values provided to the students of St. John's Christian Preschool. That I can be associated with such a good cause and help children obtain a quality education is equally rewarding.”
In addition to funds that support grants to nonprofits, the Community Foundation also holds funds that provide scholarships for Thurmont-area students. Calvin Sayler was a business leader and philanthropist - he owned the Claire Frock Company of Thurmont for 30 years and participated in organizations like the Thurmont Lions Club, The Catoctin Medical Association and the Francis Scott Key Investment Club while also supporting local youth athletic and agricultural programs.
Sayler created The Catoctin High School Youth Fund in 1994 to support programs and scholarships for Catoctin High School students. The fund has been making a difference in the lives of Thurmont area youth for almost 30 years.
The Community Foundation is proud to partner with donors across Frederick County who want to have a lasting impact. Together we can do amazing things.
“Thurmont is a wonderful place,” Susan Favorite said. “I love that I can, in a small way, help to keep it wonderful and make it better for all who are fortunate enough to live here.”
Five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and 50 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias worldwide. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, by 2050, the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s is projected to rise to nearly 14 million. To raise awareness and support for the disease that has impacted millions of individuals and families, June has been named Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month by the Alzheimer’s Association.
Addressing the need in our own community, The Community Foundation of Frederick County has several component funds that provide support for Alzheimer’s therapies and services. Thanks to our generous donors who created these funds, since 2004, the Community Foundation has distributed more than $450,000 for Alzheimer’s services, treatment, therapies, and training for healthcare professionals.
One of these donors, Edgar Virts, was well-known in the community for his tireless commitment to helping those living with Alzheimer’s disease. In 1997, he established The Geraldine Virts and Jack Brady Memorial Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders with the Community Foundation in memory of his late wife and former coach. The fund’s purpose is to support Homewood at Crumland Farms for its services for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Grants from the fund are used for direct nursing care and support of complementary treatments, therapies, and visitors. To date, the fund has distributed more than $378,000 in grants in support of these services.
By continuing to create broad impact for Alzheimer’s support, in 2007, Mr. Virts established three funds with the Community Foundation: The Edgar and Geraldine Virts Fund for Copper Ridge Institute, The Edgar and Geraldine Virts Fund for Love Care and Concern Organization, Inc., and The Martha Murphy Virts Fund for St. Joseph’s Ministries, Inc. The funds all provide support for Alzheimer’s services, including complementary therapies and training for healthcare professionals. In total, the three funds have distributed nearly $70,000 in grants.
Other donors have also turned to the Community Foundation to ensure support for Alzheimer’s services in the community. In 2015, in memory of her husband, and in honor of their life together, Jeannette Shoemaker established The H. Reese and Jeannette K. Shoemaker Charitable Fund with the Community Foundation, which provides support for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Western Maryland activities supporting patients, their families, and caregivers. The fund has provided more than $4,000 in grants to support these services. In 2010, Karen Lee Waters and Joy Stanley Ellis established The Thomas F. Waters Memorial Fund, which provided more than $2,000 in support of Alzheimer’s Association services.
The Community Foundation is fortunate to have donors who are committed to helping those in our community living with Alzheimer’s disease. Their generosity and vision for the future ensure that this support will be in our community for generations to come as the number of Alzheimer’s cases is projected to increase.
Photo caption: From left, Betsy Day, Community Foundation president and CEO, Edgar Virts, and Barbara Pilgram Reynolds, former Alzheimer’s Association of Western Maryland executive director, pictured in 2009.
To say Claire McCardell was a trailblazer would be an understatement. When many women stayed home, McCardell worked a job; when most looked to Paris for fashion trends, she created her own; when a clothing brand wanted to use her style, she insisted the label include her name.
Credited with inventing American sportswear, the designs McCardell created in the 1930s, 40s and 50s continue to influence fashion today. In 1999, Life named McCardell one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century. The Community Foundation is proud to have played a role in keeping the spirit of this amazing woman alive right here in Frederick.
McCardell was born and raised in Frederick, and after her untimely death at the age of 52, she was buried in the family plot at Mount Olivet Cemetery. But during the years in between, she was busy traveling the world, influencing fashion, and making a statement about clothing that is both sensible and stylish.
In 2019, Linda Moran, chair of the Frederick Art Club's Claire McCardell Project Steering Committee, worked with the Community Foundation to create The Claire McCardell Project Fund. The purpose of the fund was "to support the Frederick Art Club to create a public representation of Claire McCardell, world renowned fashion designer, in the form of a bronze statue and ceramic contextual plaques." In addition to a larger-than-life bronze sculpture of McCardell, the project included an exhibit that tells the story of McCardell's extraordinary career and an elegant garden.
"One of the exciting things was everyone we approached wanted to be a part of it," Moran said. "We had great support and we also have people who were really eager to share in it and be a part of it, not only with their funds, but with donating their time to be a part of it. It was very exciting to have something that was such a feel-good community effort."
Many people are familiar with the Community Foundation's permanent funds - where the original gift is invested and the investment return supports the charitable purpose defined by the donor. The Claire McCardell Project Fund was a pass through fund - meaning all the gifts, as well as the investment return, are used for the fund's charitable intent. While a pass through fund does not create the legacy of giving in perpetuity that an endowed fund does, it does serve an important role in helping an organization complete a project, often of great benefit to the community.
A pass through fund also offers the organizer access to the Community Foundation’s expertise gained over decades of managing funds. While the organizer focuses on fundraising and project management, the Community Foundation handles the processing and tracking of incoming gifts and outgoing expenditures.
Moran said that collaborating with the Community Foundation made an ambitious project more manageable. The sculpture, located at the east end of Carroll Creek Linear Park, was unveiled this past October.
"We were so grateful to learn that the Community Foundation had a pass through fund and they could manage the acceptance of money so people could make a tax free donation, and that they would then track all of that and take care of paying all the bills," Moran said. "I cannot say enough for how responsive the Community Foundation was."
April is National Volunteer Month and Frederick County is fortunate that thousands of people volunteer their time, talent, expertise and energy to improve the lives of others in our community. According to a 2018 report on volunteering in the United States, 1.7 million Marylanders volunteer each year, providing 181.9 million hours of service, with an economic value of more than $4.3 billion. This column is dedicated to the many volunteers in Frederick County, specifically those who help the Community Foundation carry out its mission in ways that are "For Good. Forever. For Frederick County."
Without the commitment of volunteers, the Community Foundation would not be able to support Frederick County at the level that it does - just last year funding $5.1 million in grants to local nonprofits and $1.8 million in scholarships to local students. Community Foundation volunteers donate their time and expertise on multiple committees, the largest being the Scholarship Committee.
The Scholarship Committee relies on the efforts of about 75 volunteers who give upwards of 20 hours in the spring to review more than 1,000 scholarship applications. The demanding work ensures that each application is reviewed with care and diligence in a process that includes donor participation and compliance with the IRS. The Grants Committee has fewer volunteers but also has a great impact, giving countless hours to review grant applications. These volunteers make difficult decisions knowing the need always exceeds the amount of funding available.
Veronica Lowe joined the Community Foundation as a trustee in 2019. She is one of more than 200 trustees that have helped build and steer the Community Foundation since its founding in 1986.
"I think volunteer opportunities shaped me when I was younger," Lowe said. "I became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and one of our mottos is 'supreme in service to all mankind' and I truly live that statement."
Ms. Lowe, who is the deputy director of labor relations for the Maryland Department of Transportation, said that she does a lot of volunteering through the sorority in an effort to make "whatever community we live in a better place."
She explained that she finds her work with the Community Foundation to be really rewarding, especially working on the Grants Committee.
"It's a lot of work, but I walk away every time feeling really good about what we're doing for the community, especially during COVID when all the money came in to help organizations," Ms. Lowe said. "You just feel good that you're giving your time to help other people."
Over the past 8 years, Taitia Elliott has spent time volunteering on both the Scholarship Committee and Grants Committee. She is now the Scholarship Committee chair.
"I truly enjoy the personal growth and learning aspect of [volunteering],” Ms. Elliott said. "Each season I get to read scholarship applications from students, many who have struggled or faced enormous challenges, yet persevered; and grant requests which are matched perfectly with donors who felt drawn to a cause."
Giving back is contagious and there are endless opportunities to volunteer all over Frederick County. The Mayo Clinic cites research suggesting there are health benefits to volunteering including improving physical and mental health, providing a sense of purpose and teaching valuable skills, and nurturing new and existing relationships.
If you already give your time and energy volunteering, thank you – please know that your efforts are noticed and appreciated. If volunteering isn't part of your life right now, maybe National Volunteer Month is the time to start looking at opportunities to get involved.
"Knowing there are so many people offering kindness makes me happy to find ways to do the same," Ms. Elliott concluded.
Taking up less than two square miles and with a population of just over 3,000 people, the historic town of Emmitsburg sits tucked into the mountains in northern Frederick County. While it’s generally not considered a bustling area, the town enjoys a strong sense of community. A commitment to the well-being of Emmitsburg and its residents can be seen in several funds created with The Community Foundation of Frederick County.
Robert “Bob” Rosensteel has lived in Emmitsburg for his entire life – nearly eight decades. He said he loves the peace and quiet that the small town provides, and he notes that its beauty is second to none with the mountains and fresh air. “It’s a nice town to raise a family,” he said.
Rosensteel, a retired business owner, created The “Tribute to a Friend” Scholarship Fund with the Community Foundation to help Emmitsburg students reach their educational goals. He said he turned to the Community Foundation because he wanted to have a positive impact in his immediate community, but he didn’t want to manage the money or the application for and awarding of scholarship monies.
“I had fundraised money to help people out, but I didn’t want to be involved in the day-to-day management of the project,” Rosensteel said.
The fund was created in memory of several people - David Copenhaver, Greg Hollinger, Tom and Sharon Topper, and Terry Myers - that Rosensteel said he was close friends with, and that he worked with at the fire company. He said they all died within a relatively short period of time and each loss was felt throughout the community.
The Emmitsburg Area Fund was founded by the Emmitsburg Area Business and Professional Association to support local charitable organizations and residents. Allen Knott has worked in Emmitsburg for 17 years and is currently the fund’s advisor.
“The Emmitsburg Area Business and Professional Association functions kind of like a service organization and they created the fund to do two things,” Knott explained. “The fund basically supports the Emmitsburg food bank and a scholarship fund for students in the 21727 zip code.”
In addition to funds created specifically to support Emmitsburg and its residents, the Community Foundation also provides grants for local projects and initiatives. The Women’s Giving Circle has supported a program at the Seton Center that provides dental work for low-income women and a strategic grant recently supported a Getting Ahead anti-poverty program.
Emmitsburg may be a quiet little town nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains, but its donors have shown a strong commitment to community through their philanthropic giving.
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