Chesapeake Charities Awards Luncheon Spotlights Opioid Crisis

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Talbot County Sheriff Joe Gamble receives Chesapeake Charities Volunteer of the Year award from Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, with wife Mary Gamble and son, Josh Gamble.

Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford recognized the outstanding work being done to combat the heroin, opioid and fentanyl crisis, including that of Talbot County Sheriff Joe Gamble, at Chesapeake Charities’ packed awards luncheon last month in Stevensville.

Sheriff Gamble was honored as Volunteer of the Year for his tireless commitment to prevention and education efforts in Talbot County. Accepting the award, Gamble talked about the shock of learning that high school students he had once coached had become heroin addicts, and the desperate parents who asked him for help. Realizing the need for prevention, he inspired his community to take action, starting the “Talbot Goes Purple” campaign with Talbot Rotary to raise awareness in the schools about the dangers of prescription opioids. “Every business, every family that we approached for help has been impacted by this epidemic,” Gamble said.

Joe Gamble talks about “Talbot Goes Purple” at Celebration of Charity awards luncheon.

More than 190 people from the Eastern Shore, Anne Arundel and Calvert counties listened to stories of heartbreak and hope in the heroin and opioid epidemic. “This crisis is on everyone’s mind,” said Chesapeake Charities Executive Director Linda Kohler. “We thought it made sense to use our annual event as a kind of forum for the community to focus on solutions and share a message of encouragement and inspiration.” This was the 2nd annual Celebration of Charity event hosted by Chesapeake Charities.

The event program also included tributes to Bernie Fowler, Jr., founder of Farming4Hunger, as Philanthropist of the Year, and Samaritan House of Annapolis as Nonprofit of the Year. Fowler, who employs and trains former addicts and inmates to grow food and feed the hungry, was inspired to do something because of his painful experience with his daughter’s heroin addiction.

Mike Goldfaden, Executive Director of Samaritan House, heads up the men’s 25-bed long term residential recovery program. Goldfaden said there is at least a 30-day waiting list to get into Samaritan House and talked about their plans for doubling the size of the facility in 2018.

Keynote speaker Lisa Hillman told the story of her family’s experience with her son’s drug addiction and recovery. She advised families of addicts to tell someone about the problem and consider joining Al-Anon. Hillman pointed out critical areas for change: longer treatment times for addicts, more transitional housing to move addicts back into society, earlier education about addiction at the 5th, 6th and 7th grade levels

Chesapeake Charities Board Chair Audrey Scott announced that Chesapeake Charities has established The First Responders Fund to support heroin and opioid emergency response efforts for local fire, police, emergency and medical personnel. Provisions will include equipment, supplies and training needed to protect first responders. For more information about the fund or to apply for funding, contact info@chesapeakecharities.org.

A community foundation located in Stevensville, Chesapeake Charities supports a wide range of charitable causes including arts, education, health and human services, animal welfare, and the environment. All of its 85 component funds have a common cause – a passion for making a difference in their communities. Chesapeake Charities serves organizations in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Charles, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties. They have invested more than $9 million in the Chesapeake Bay region since 2005.

For more information, contact Chesapeake Charities at (410) 643-4020 or info@chesapeakecharities.org, or visit their website. Chesapeake Charities is accredited by the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations.

(Photo credits: Executive Office of the Governor, Joe Andrucyk)

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