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Here is an offer for St. Mary’s County residents toiling away at home on the next great American novel, that award-winning short story or their first attempts at nonfiction. Why not join a writers group and get some advice, a sounding board and enjoy some camaraderie with others interested in the craft?

“Writing is such a solitary pursuit,” said Nancy Smay of Callaway. “But it’s something that can really benefit from a community.”

Smay, a technical writer who also writes under the pen name Delancey Stewart, is leading the effort to start a local chapter of the Maryland Writers Association, a nonprofit organization designed to promote the art, business and craft of writing. An organizational meeting for the potential new chapter will be held Thursday, Feb. 28, at 6:30 p.m. in Meeting Room A of the Lexington Park library.

“It is sort of an interest-gathering event,” Smay said.

If enough interest is shown at the Feb. 28 meeting, a St. Mary’s County chapter of the MWA could be formed and join active chapters in Annapolis, Baltimore and Carroll, Howard and Montgomery counties. Area writers or even wanna-be writers could join the new chapter for $40 a year. The MWA provides chapter members with resources, writing workshops, readings, newsletter, literary contests, reduced rates at an annual writing conference and venues to promote recently published material.

“I am looking forward to organizing a variety of events for local writers and authors, whether they are interested in fiction, nonfiction or business writing,” Smay said in a statement. “A community, like that offered by the MWA, brings people with like interests together for readings, promotions, workshops and social gatherings.”

For more about MWA, see www.marylandwriters.org. With questions about the Feb. 28 informational meeting, email Smay at nancysmay@gmail.com.

Free tax preparation offered

Beginning this month, IRS/AARP-certified tax counselors will provide free tax preparation and electronic filing for low- to moderate-income taxpayers in St. Mary’s County. This service is for personal returns only, no out-of-state returns or returns involving farms, businesses, rental properties or partnerships.

Taxpayers must have proof of Social Security number and picture identification. In addition, they are asked to bring to their appointment a copy of last year’s return and all income and tax-related information, including names, Social Security numbers and birth dates for all persons who will be listed on the return.

Call 301-884-8370 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to schedule an appointment at a nearby site or visit the walk-in site at the McKay’s Shopping Center on Great Mills Road (under the Virtuous Woman Hair Salon sign). Hours for the McKay’s site are Mondays 9 a.m. to noon, Tuesdays and Thursdays 3 to 7 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. No appointment is required at this site.

Preschool registration to open

Honey MacCallum Christian Preschool, located at Patuxent Presbyterian Church in California, will hold registration for the 2013-2014 school year beginning Monday, Feb. 11, at 9 a.m. for current families and Patuxent Presbyterian church members. Registration for new families will begin Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 9 a.m. The preschool offers programs for children ages 2 through prekindergarten. For a tour of the school or for more information, call Teressa Holland at 301-863-8600 or email tholland@honeymaccallum.com.

Museum to host annual Bugeye Ball

The Calvert Marine Museum is hosting its annual Bugeye Ball on Saturday, Feb. 9, at the museum. This event includes approximately 300 guests each year and raises funds to support the museum’s preservation and education efforts.

The theme for this year’s event will feature the exotic cuisines of the Pacific Rim — Hong Kong, Japan and Seoul. There will be gaming tables, live music from the Big Money Band and dishes from Ken’s Creative Kitchen. Ticket holders receive $10,000 in chips to try their luck at the poker, craps and roulette tables to win chances for prizes. This year, winners could take home an iPad Mini, jewelry from Blair’s Jewelers, a selection of premium wines from Port of Call Liquors, original art from Tim Schierer, a catered dinner for 10 in your home or a four-night stay at the Cove Point Lighthouse.

The drawing of the raffle winner is a highlight of the evening. This year’s prize is a trip for two to San Francisco. The winner will receive $2,000 toward airfare and will stay in a suite at the Hotel Triton, near the gates of Chinatown. Just 500 chances will be sold for $50 each, and the winner of the trip does not need to be present at the ball to win.

Last year, the Bugeye Ball raised more than $25,000 in support of the Cove Point Lighthouse preservation project. That funding helped the site open its doors for vacation rentals in September. Tickets for this year’s event are $150 each and can be purchased online at www.calvertmarinemuseum.com. Sponsorships for the event are also available and include event tickets, table naming opportunities and post event recognition. For additional sponsorship information, call Vanessa Gill at 410-326-2042, ext. 18.

Volunteers needed at Sotterley

The Sotterley Garden Guild is in need of volunteers. The public is invited to attend the 2013 kickoff meeting on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 9 a.m. in the Sotterley Customs Warehouse.

Many types of volunteers are needed. Help is needed working in Sotterley’s Colonial Revival garden, which is also a good way for master dardeners to obtain additional required hours for certifications. Crafters are also needed to create items for purchase at various annual events. Detail-oriented types with strong organizational skills are also needed to assist the guild.

Area women invited to dream

The Patuxent River Branch of the American Association of University Women has announced that Dare to Dream program applications are being accepted through April 15.

The grants are designed to enhance a woman’s personal growth, artistic skills, educational enrichment or community service. The grants can be used for creative ideas and projects. Past grants include establishing a website for a nonprofit, paying for supplies for community projects and providing fees for further professional certifications. The branch has awarded 28 Dare to Dream grants since 2007, totaling more than $6,000.

Women 18 or older living in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties are eligible for grants. They may request up to $300 to help them reach their goals. After applications are reviewed, the recipients will be notified by early May and will be honored at the branch’s annual meeting in Solomons in May.

To apply, send an email to paxriveraauw@gmail.com or see Dare to Dream information page and application on the branch website at www.aauw-paxriv.org.

BECA announces 2013 application schedule

The 2013 St. Mary’s County Common Scholarship Application is available for download at smcbeca.org. The deadline for submission is Friday, March 15.

The scholarship application features 39 different scholarships offered by local businesses, organizations and individuals. Last year, more than 100 local scholarships were awarded, worth approximately $250,000, through the Business, Education and Community Alliance, or BECA-administered, common scholarship application. BECA will host its fifth annual scholarship benefit on Friday, March 15, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Bowles Farm in Clements. This year’s theme will be a barn dance. Dress code is country casual attire. Dinner, auction and entertainment will be provided.

BECA will host the seventh annual scholarship awards event on Friday, May 17, from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center in Leonardtown.

BECA is a local nonprofit organization founded jointly in 1989 by the St. Mary’s County Chamber of Commerce and superintendent of schools. BECA’s was organized to bring together business and community leaders interested in working more closely with the local school system to improve student success. BECA has awarded one-time scholarships to St. Mary’s high school graduating seniors since 1995. To date, BECA has awarded about 170 scholarships, totaling close to $150,000. BECA also administers the St. Mary’s County Common Scholarship Application, allowing students to apply for numerous local scholarships using one application. Since its introduction in 2007, approximately $2 million in scholarships has been awarded through the common application.

To join BECA or for more information, visit smcbeca.org, call 240-257-2322, email smcbeca@gmail.com or mail to BECA, P.O. Box 153, Leonardtown, MD 20650.

Bachelor auction to benefit Wounded Warrior Project

3 Chicks Promotions LLC, an event-planning company and producers of the SOMD Women’s Show and Kids’ Expo, has announced that it will donate all proceeds from its bachelor auction at the expo to the Wounded Warrior Project, to assist service members who have been injured in the line of duty.

The SOMD Women’s Show will be held Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center in California.

As a part of the show, the bachelor auction charity event will start around noon and will “auction” a collection of eligible bachelors — including local firemen, emergency workers, military members, professional community members and a wounded warrior — and some date packages, all in the name of charity. Pre-event donations are currently be accepted at the SOMD Women’s Show website, www.somdexpos.com/charity-auction. For more information about the SOMD Women’s Show or bachelor auction, visit www.somdexpos.com, email info@somdexpos.com or call 240-317-5277.

Annual guide to feature clubs, organizations

Near the end of March, The Enterprise publishes an annual guide to St. Mary’s County. One section of the guide is a directory of local nonprofit groups and organizations that are active in St. Mary’s. Enterprise staff will be updating that information during the next several weeks.

Groups that have not been listed in the guide before, however, who would like to be included are encouraged to contact Shertina Mack at 301-862-2111 or email information about your group to scraton@somdnews.com. Groups that have been included in the past who want to alert The Enterprise to changes in their listing are also invited to contact the paper with their changes.

Boating safety course offered in La Plata

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Solomons Flotilla 23-2, will present a two-session Maryland Boating Safety Education course on March 23 and 30. The class will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a lunch break at noon. The class will be presented in the La Plata Town Police Department at 101 La Grange Ave.

Graduates of this course will receive the Maryland Boater Safety Education certificate. This certificate must be carried by any person born after July 1, 1972, while that person operates a registered vessel in Maryland waters. Students must attend both sessions and pass a final examination in order to obtain the certificate.

Topics covered will include introduction to boating terms, boating equipment, boat trailering, boat handling underway, navigation aids, boating emergencies, state boating laws, jet ski operation, water skiing regulations and hunting and fishing.

To preregister, contact Gary Smith at 410-326-8377 or fsope.232@hotmail.com. Course administration fee is $25.

Set up a singing Valentine

Celebrate Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, for that special person by having a barbershop quartet serenade them. For $40, a quartet from the Southern Maryland Sound Chorus will visit a home, church or place of business and perform a singing Valentine. Delivery by telephone is also available for $20 outside the Southern Maryland area.

To learn more, visit http://southernmarylandsound.com/. To order a singing valentine, call Ken Ritter at 301-481-8536.

scraton@somdnews.com