- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
May Day looked a lot like Christmas for 23 Charles County charities when the county commissioners voted to award them a total of $900,000 in grants. Another 12 applications were rejected.
Groups were judged on criteria including accountability and sustainability, said Earle Knapp, chairman of the Grants Advisory Panel that makes recommendations about county awards to nonprofits. The commissioners unanimously voted to accept its recommendations.
Commissioner Debra M. Davis (D) asked about funding for the Charles County Master Gardeners, which was not on the list. The group, affiliated with the University of Maryland Extension, “applied five years ago and we turned them down because planting flowers not making fun of it is not what we’re about. And they haven’t applied since,” Knapp said.
Davis thanked the six panel members for doing the “tedious work” of scrutinizing the applications.
“There’s a lot of people pulling at your apron strings, especially in these times,” Davis said.
Among three new applicants to be approved was Point of Change Jail and Street Ministry in La Plata, which aims to prevent recidivism among those incarcerated and people who have been released from jail. Its $30,000 in grant money will be used for its Reflections program, which offers classes in everything from first aid to parenting to computer skills to former inmates or people otherwise entangled with the judicial system, founder John A. Lewis said.
“What we want to do, we are trying our best to reduce criminal recidivism by offering programs to individuals that are at risk of incarceration and those that are re-entering society from incarceration,” Lewis said. “For example, there is a class called Dysfunctional Thinking. This class, we believe, is really, really important. … It measures risk. Many people feel like, ‘I’m either going to work at McDonald’s or sell drugs.’ We’re trying to help them rationalize and measure risk and change that mentality: ‘It’s either work at McDonald’s or be a vice president of a bank.”
Point of Change received only half of the money it asked for, but Lewis didn’t mind.
“Let me just tell you like this: When you write these grants, you never think you’re going to get any of it,” he said.
Health Partners, a Waldorf free clinic, didn’t get anything this year. Not receiving the requested $75,000 from county government will be a blow, especially to a mobile dental program the clinic runs for schoolchildren, said Kermit “Kit” Wright, president of the board of directors.
Health Partners would have used two-thirds of the grant to continue the program, which pays a dental hygienist to perform basic dental work once a month at four county elementary schools, Wright said. The remaining $25,000 would have been used for medical care, but some of the deficit could be made up by prevailing on volunteers to help more, Wright said. But the part-time dental hygienist is paid, so the group must find the money elsewhere if the program is to continue.
“We will go out and start pounding the bushes to replace the money, but that was the thing that most impacts us. It was funded last year. We know we have a very good program,” he said.
Three new applicants were funded this year, which might have left less money in the pot for Health Partners, he speculated.
“They’re not a tested agency as far as funding from the county goes. That’s what I’m trying to point out,” he said of Lions Camp Merrick, which was awarded $50,000. “I can’t say anything bad about these organizations. I’m just strictly pointing out that the two new organizations got big bucks,” while Health Partners, which received $12,500 last year, has been cut off.
Besides Lions Camp Merrick and Point of Change, the Alzheimers Association National Capital Area received $2,500 as a new applicant, while the Western Charles County Community Association, which aims to help poor people in the Nanjemoy area, was given $18,500 this year after being rejected last year.
Future Next Corp., a White Plains-based group that provides academic enrichment to children who are generally poor or lower middle class, was among six new applicants to be turned down. Founder Nicole M. Thomas wondered whether her charity was rejected because it isn’t limited to the poorest of the poor.
She noted that many working parents still are having trouble. Without free programs, their kids might still spend a lot of time alone, giving them chances to get into trouble.
“They need support as well. That they’re working doesn’t mean they are graduates of college. They are faced with the same circumstances as most of us: financial issues, multiple children in the household, single parents. I don’t know if that factored in … or if it’s just a matter of helping [only] poor, poor students,” she said.
Without the grant, the group will cancel a planned summer course in robotics and engineering and might have to cut other programs as well, Thomas said.
“We won’t let this stop us. I’m going to continue on to fight for these kids. They are totally good kids.”
The commissioners also approved $38,000 for four organizations whose efforts might attract tourists, including $13,000 for the Mattawoman Creek Art Center and $8,930 for the Indian Head Center for the Arts, again following the panel’s recommendations.
Winners and losers
Grant recipientsAlzheimers Association National Capital Area
Arc of Southern Maryland
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington
Center for Abused Persons
Center for Children
Children’s Aid Society
Christmas in April — Charles County
Cooperative Ministry on Aging
Hospice of Charles County
Humane Society of Charles County
LifeStyles of Maryland
Lions Camp MerrickCharles County Literacy Council
Maryland Foundation for Quality Healthcare
Melwood Horticultural Training Center
Point of Change Jail and Street Ministry
Spring Dell CenterTri-County Youth Services Bureau
United Way of Charles County
Western Charles County Community Association
Tri-County Community Action Committee
Charles County Arts Alliance
Indian Head Center for the Arts
Mattawoman Creek Art Center
Best Buddies Maryland
Future Next Corp.Handicapped & Retarded Citizens Inc.
Health PartnersJude House
NAMI Southern Maryland
New Community Development Corp.
Robin Tyler Foundation
Southern Maryland Center for Family Advocacy
The Promise Resource Center
Wayside Food BankWill Be Designated Driver
College of Southern Maryland Foundation
Friends of Chapman State Park
Southern Maryland Carousel Group