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Family, faith, friends, violets, poetry and coffee are just a few of the things that were important to Viola Marie Robinson, pictured. As Mrs. Robinson aged, her mobility decreased, and she progressed from using a cane to using a walker and then a wheelchair. She never wanted to be a burden on anyone, and one day received a gift of a scooter, which restored her mobility and independence. “My wheels are my wings,” she told her daughter Jeannie. Mrs. Robinson frequently “drove” to the drugstore not far from where she lived, buying cards that she loved to send.
After Mrs. Robinson’s passing in 2003, her daughter and son-in-law, Jeannie and Jack Brunk, decided to create a fund in her memory to help seniors who need assistance to stay independent and in their homes. To date, The Viola Marie Robinson Give Them Wings Fund has helped local nonprofits and government agencies provide dozens of seniors with lift chairs, stair lifts and lift repairs, wheelchair ramps, portable showers, walk-in tubs, hearing aids, eyeglasses, dentures, utility payments, medical supplies and prescriptions, and even a stove and refrigerator. “Mom would love that we are helping other people maintain their independence,” said Mrs. Brunk. “She found such joy in the little things in life and was able to continue doing those little things because her independence was extended with the help of the scooter.”
Numerous nonprofits and county agencies have worked with the Community Foundation to secure grants from this fund to help seniors. Recently, the Frederick County Department of Human Services (DHS) Senior Care Program made a grant request. This department works with seniors who are 65 years or older and moderately to severely disabled with limited income. The client’s stair glide in their home was not working, resulting in loss of family and socialization time due to their inability to access the second floor. The grant made the repair possible and helped return some of the client’s independence. “The Community Foundation is quick in responding to these needs,” said Leslie Hagerty, senior care case manager, from DHS. “Without their help, Senior Care Program clients would not be able to acquire things like ramps, lift chairs, and stair glides which greatly improve the quality of their lives.”
Habitat for Humanity of Frederick County’s A Brush With Kindness program provides home repairs to local home owners who cannot afford them, with 80 percent of the applications received from seniors. A local couple needed bathroom plumbing and water damage repairs, grab bars, and more. Habitat for Humanity was able to have all the repairs handled, including critical repairs to floor joists and subflooring, and with a recent Viola May Robinson Fund grant, a tub cut was made to their combination tub/shower. The tub cut allows the couple step-in access, reducing the risk of falling.
The “Give Them Wings” Fund, as it’s fondly referred to, will be assisting those who need it for many years to come. With more than $76,000 in grants since 2006, the Brunks are committed to helping seniors maintain their independence and stay in their homes as long as possible. “We want seniors to know there is help for those who need it,” said Mr. and Mrs. Brunk. “We are doing a little bit to pay it forward, in the spirit of Mom’s loving and generous nature.”
Each year, the Community Foundation recognizes several people from Frederick County who are selfless in their contributions of time, energy and talents because they want to make a difference in the lives of others. We are pleased to announce the 2019 Wertheimer Fellows for Excellence in Volunteerism who will be honored on November 21, 2019, at our 33rd Annual Report to the Community.
The awards are made possible by a bequest from the late Janis Miller Wertheimer, a well-known Frederick businesswoman and prolific volunteer whose legacy of giving continues through The Janis Miller Wertheimer Endowment Fund with the Community Foundation.
Each Wertheimer Fellow receives $25,000 from The Janis Miller Wertheimer Endowment Fund. They choose to add this money to an existing Community Foundation fund or use it to create a new fund. The Wertheimer Fund also provides a $2,000 grant to a nonprofit of choice by the Youth in Action honoree.
Dr. Peter Kremers, 2019 Wertheimer Fellow for Excellence in Volunteerism, is the man behind Color on the Creek and Sailing Into the Winter Solstice. The beautiful blooming water plants that line Carroll Creek and the elaborately decorated and lighted boats in the winter months are becoming legendary.
Frustrated by the unattractive algae growth in the water along Carroll Creek linear park, Dr. Kremers researched ways to limit its growth. A test garden in the Creek was successful, and in 2013, he and 100 volunteers installed more than 1,000 plants. Now, there are more than 4,000 plants and thousands of people, both residents and tourists, enjoy the color and the clean water.
Dr. Kremers started building decorative boats, sponsored by local businesses, to add color in the winter months. Each year, the public is encouraged to vote for their favorite boat and raise money for community nonprofits.
With his award, Dr. Kremers has created The Color on the Creek Fund to support the ongoing development of the water garden and boat display.
Ronald “Ron” Layman, Sr., 2019 Wertheimer Fellow for Excellence in Volunteerism, is passionate about Boy Scouting. After high school and time in the United States Marine Corps, Ron became the Scoutmaster for Troop 274 in 1980 and led this Troop for 34 years. He has mentored no less than 112 young men (including his two sons) in Frederick County to become Eagle Scouts. In addition, he has served on the Catoctin Mountain Boy Scout District Committee for 11 years and the Francis Scott Key District Committee. He is the visionary, administrator and caretaker of the 210-acre Walkersville, Maryland property used to host thousands of Boy and Girl Scouts and their activities. Ron has also served on memorial and design committees for veteran monuments in Memorial Park and is a 50-year member of the Shangri-La Marine Corps League Detachment.
Ron is described as someone who “through visionary leadership, physical labor, collaborative committee ventures, or simply his concern for the welfare of our youth, is a vital force impacting and improving our community.” With his award, Ron has established The Ron Layman Family Fund to provide grants to a variety of local nonprofits.
Leila Ghaffari, 2019 Wertheimer Youth in Action honoree, is a senior at Urbana High School and is enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program. From 2014 through 2018, she participated in United Way’s Summer Serve program and Leadership Week, an intense program about Frederick County government, history, the business community, educational system, and nonprofits. Through contacts she made during Leadership Week, Leila was accepted as a volunteer intern in the Office of the Mayor, City of Frederick and represented the City at Youth Advisory Council meetings and demonstrated excellent leadership among her peers.
In addition, Leila sings with the Frederick Children’s Chorus and has been a member since the third grade. From summer camp counseling to promoting Chorus events to small administrative tasks, she has earned the respect of her peers and adults by her motivation to help.
Leila is described as dedicated, focused, and kind. With her award, she is providing a grant to United Way of Frederick County, with support to Heartly House, and a grant to Frederick Children’s Chorus.
Grantmaking is a large part of the Community Foundation’s role. In FY2019 (July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019), $5 million was invested into our community through grants to local nonprofits, and other organizations such as civic and faith-based groups. Grants are both competitive and designated, meaning that some grants are created through a competitive application process, and other grants are “designated” by the donor specifically to support an organization or cause, and are provided annually. Our ability to do this starts with generous donors who want to make a difference and who use the Community Foundation as their conduit for their charitable giving.
Grantmaking is a process that comes with a variety of rewards and challenges. I recently talked with Dr. Amaris Little, Community Foundation trustee and grant committee chairperson, to get her perspective about our competitive grantmaking. Dr. Little has been a member of the grant committee since 2014 and has served as chairperson since 2017.
Reviewing competitive grant applications is the most complicated part of the process. “We see what great need there is in Frederick County, and we’re challenged to make difficult choices between many compelling grant applications and funding one program or another,” Dr. Little said. “We’re fortunate that our grant committee volunteers have a broad range of experience and expertise, which helps bridge the information gap. In addition, the number of applications increases each year, requesting larger dollar amounts. More organizations than ever before are relying on the Community Foundation for funding, and our board has stepped up and approved money from our reserve funds when needed.”
Our grantmaking process has evolved with the time, Dr. Little says. Technology has brought great advances in software and has helped streamline the review process and rating system dramatically. “The rating system is really important because it helps us answer the question about the request fitting the purpose of the fund providing the money,” she said. “Then, the group discussion and the perspectives shared help the committee determine how much impact a grant supporting one program or another can make for the benefit of the community.”
Our staff constantly reviews the grant process, and I asked Dr. Little what she thinks is unique about our grantmaking. “The Community Foundation has its finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the community and what’s coming up. We do our homework so that we can anticipate needs. We’re not stuck in one place doing the same things the same way every year.”
Finally, I asked Dr. Little what advice she would offer for organizations seeking grants, and what she believes that donors should know. “We want to fund great programs, so the content provided in the application is really important. Sometimes that’s all the information we have towards making the decision,” Dr. Little said regarding organizations that apply. “Attend the grant information sessions provided and learn how to make your application stronger.”
“Donors should know that there are many people involved in the grantmaking decision process,” Dr. Little went on to say. “The grant committee members invest a huge amount of time to ensure we make the best decisions and that the Community Foundation is a good steward of their charitable dollars because we all care about what’s happening in our community.”
Ho ho ho from Frederick County!
From your telescope at the North Pole, I am sure that you can see the many good things happening in Frederick County. I know that you and your elves have been scrutinizing your lists, checking them twice, and figuring out who has been naughty and nice. Yes, we anxiously await your annual trip to Frederick County!
I hope our donors are on your list as being “nice.” Without their support, the Community Foundation can’t provide grants and scholarships, so please bring them something special that thanks them for providing more than $6 million in these areas in fiscal 2019. And, if you have something in your sack that is heart-warming, please consider leaving gifts for our Cornerstone Society members in recognition of their remembering the Community Foundation or one of its funds in their estate plans.
I would be surprised if you found anyone in Frederick County to put on your “naughty” list, except maybe the people who drive the wrong way on Church Street in front of our office. However, I don’t think they are naughty; they are just disoriented or confused with our one-way streets. Or maybe they are so happy eating their cupcakes from our neighborhood cupcakery or the fudge, ice cream, and doughnut stores on our street corners that they lose their sense of direction. I will be sure to leave some of their special treats for you and the reindeer on the 24th.
I know a letter to you is supposed to ask for something. Here are a few things that would make my heart sing, such as:
· Help us continue to make progress in raising money for our Forever Frederick County campaign. This money will go towards building an endowment fund that will provide grants now for Frederick County’s greatest needs, such as our aging population, families with children, and responding to substance use disorder, and then the greatest needs that arise in the future.
· Encourage all Frederick County residents who are pursuing a post-secondary education to apply for our scholarships. The application will be available on our website from March 1st through March 31st. Speaking of scholarships, our Scholarship Committee is currently accepting applications for volunteers. Maybe you could let everyone know about this as you travel during the holidays?
· Give everyone who is struggling a peaceful heart during the holiday and in the coming year. Our nonprofits work hard to bring health, harmony, and happiness to all the residents of Frederick County, so please include their volunteers and staff in your gifts as well.
Thank you for reading my letter and thank you for all your gifts – the ones from the past years, the ones that you will leave this year, and the ones that will come to us in the future. Most importantly, thank you for all the donors who are and will help ensure that Frederick County is forever. Ho ho ho! A happy holiday to all!
FREDERICK, MD – July 12, 2019: From July 15, 2019 through August 15, 2019, students in grades 6 through 12 may apply for financial aid scholarships to attend fall and winter 2019 athletic and sports activities or athletic camps. The scholarships are funded by The Dustin and Courtney Muse Memorial Fund, one of more than 700 component funds of The Community Foundation of Frederick County.
The application and details of all requirements may be accessed through the Community Foundation’s website at www.ScholarshipsFrederickCounty.com. Scholarships will support participation fees only, and payment will be made directly to the youth athletic organization and/or as a reimbursement to the parent/guardian with proof of payment. Applicants must be a Frederick County resident and have a minimum 3.0 grade point average. The application must be submitted through the Community Foundation’s online scholarship system no later than 11:59 p.m. on August 15, 2019.
FREDERICK, MD – November 26, 2019: Family was one of the most important things in life to Cecil and Charlotte Holter and to honor their lives, The Cecil K. Holter, Jr. and Charlotte S. Holter Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established with The Community Foundation of Frederick County. The fund becomes one of more than 720 funds under management.
Created by sons C. Kurt Holter and G. Eric Holter, the fund will provide scholarships to Frederick County Public Schools students with financial need attending Frederick Community College, Hood College, or Mount St. Mary’s University. Preference will be given, but not limited to graduates of Governor Thomas Johnson High School.
The Holters were life-long residents of Frederick County. Mr. Holter's career in agriculture and agri-business included employment on the office staff of Farmers Cooperative Association. Mr. Holter later returned to Holterholm Farms to become a partner with his father, Cecil Sr. and his brother Richard. He also served on the board of directors of the cooperative for several years in various board positions including board president. Mrs. Holter was an educator. After graduating from Hood College she taught in the Frederick County Public School system and then served as librarian at several locations. While working full-time as librarian at Governor Thomas Johnson High School during the day, Mrs. Holter attended evening classes and earned her Master’s Degree in Library Science from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. She finished her professional career as County Supervisor of Media Services with Frederick County Board of Education. They were both active members of Christ Reformed Church in Middletown, Maryland, for over 50 years. Through the fund, the Holter’s sons have created a legacy that speaks to their parent's love of family, commitment to education, and devotion to children and youth.
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