Recovery: Bill gives Parents ‘New Tool’ to Fight Child’s Addiction

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One more day without treatment for a person struggling with opioids — as a Maryland delegate, a recovery expert and parents of children mired in addiction have said — could be the difference between life and death.

A relatively recent spike in deaths related to the synthetic opioid fentanyl, its cousin carfentanil and ever-emerging variations of the two has emphasized the importance of getting addicts into treatment immediately, said Delegate Nic Kipke, R-Anne Arundel.

That’s why Kipke, the Maryland House minority leader, is sponsoring a bill granting parents of adults struggling with addiction more authority to act on their children’s behalf.

Fentanyl has overtaken heroin as the deadliest drug in Maryland. Statewide, deaths related to fentanyl surged from 192 over the first three quarters of 2015, to 1,173 fatalities over the same period in 2017 — a 510 percent increase, Maryland health department data show.

Carfentanil — a drug commonly used to sedate elephants — also continued its emergence. There were 57 carfentanil-related deaths statewide over the first nine months of 2017 compared to zero over the previous two years, according to the state health agency.

Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin; carfentanil is 5,000 times more potent than heroin, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Fentanyl “can be lethal in the 2-milligram range,” the DEA says, while the lethal range for carfentanil is uncertain, but minute.

Considering the potency of the drugs, which are often created in clandestine laboratories in China and Mexico, “this is a different kind of addiction, a different problem,” Kipke told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service.

His 2018 bill would allow parents or guardians of adult children — who must be dependent through health insurance — to involuntarily admit their child to an in-patient treatment facility. Kipke introduced then withdrew the same bill during the 2017 General Assembly session after the House Health and Government Operations Committee delivered an unfavorable report on it.

The person must “not be a minor,” must have “experienced a drug overdose” and have “health insurance coverage as a dependent under the individual’s parent’s” plan, according to a fiscal and policy note for the 2017 bill.

“What I’m seeking to do is provide parents of children who are still dependent … an opportunity to interrupt their child’s addiction,” Kipke said.

The Maryland State Medical Society, MedChi, agrees with Kipke that the scale of the opioid epidemic warrants new tools, said Gene Ransom, the organization’s chief executive officer.

“Given that we’re in a crisis,” Ransom said, there needs to be more options to get people into
treatment. “Giving parents another tool to help solve the problem is a no-brainer.”

Survivors’ perspectives

Carin Miller, president and co-founder of Maryland Heroin Awareness Advocates, said that her oldest son started using then abusing Percocet — a common opioid painkiller — in his early 20s, developing an addiction before turning to heroin.

“It was frustrating and heartbreaking when you see your son so sick and gray and on death’s door,” she said. “As a mother, when your child is sick or hurt … you always work your hardest to make them better.”

“But when they’re addicted,” Miller said, “you can’t.”

Kipke is concerned for many of his constituents, many of whom have asked him for a tool to help their children, he said.

This year there were 108 opioid-related overdoses in Anne Arundel County through Feb. 8, compared to 113 through the same date a year prior, according to county police data.

But 18 of the 108 overdoses resulted in death — a 100 percent increase over the nine fatalities through the same date in 2017.

Over the first nine months of 2017, the county recorded 145 fatal opioid-related overdoses, a 12 percent increase over January-September of 2016, state data show.

A non-fatal overdose can be an important opportunity for intervention, experts say, but in Maryland and other states, those who are hospitalized because of overdoses can sign themselves out.

“If somebody who needs Narcan because they just overdosed, they need to be committed,” Miller said.

Narcan is a brand name of the overdose-reversing opioid antagonist, naloxone. All first responders in Maryland are equipped with a form of the life-saving drug, which comes in a nasal spray form.

Miller, a Frederick County, Maryland, resident said these kind of tools weren’t available to her as a mother throughout her son’s struggle with addiction. Had involuntary admission been an option, Miller said she “most certainly would have” utilized the authority to admit her son.

“I would’ve done anything in the world to save my son,” she added.

Pasadena, Maryland, native Rob Snead, 24, said he’s been clean for seven months after using and abusing drugs for a decade. He has overdosed.

“When you come to, you’re in withdrawal,” he said. “And the only thing you can think about is getting yourself in a position to get well again.”

Snead said that in the moment, addicts “don’t care about seeking the accurate help, they think about what they can do immediately to feel better.”

Snead described withdrawal from opioids as “overwhelming” and “a miserable state of being,” and said that often the quickest way to feel better was to score more drugs and to take them.

Treatment community divided

It’s been said that an addict must be ready for treatment in order for it to be successful, a notion Kipke acknowledged.

But that line of thinking could be outdated.

“If we continue to look at it like they’re not ready,” Miller said. “There are some that will never be ready.”

Dr. Sally Satel, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who works part time in a methadone clinic in Washington, said the idea that addicts must be ready for treatment is “so wrong,” and called it “one of the many cliches” surrounding the opioid crisis.

“Why do you think drug courts work?” she said.

But other addiction treatment experts have concerns about the practicality, effectiveness and safety of involuntary commitment.

“You really can’t force someone to participate in treatment if they don’t want to,” said Vickie Walters, executive director of the Baltimore-based REACH substance abuse treatment program at the Institutes for Behavior Resources.

Getting an assessment of a patient is always important, but that if that patient was forced, Walters said, “it’s tough to get good information.”

Howard Ashkin, president of the Maryland Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence, said he worries that involuntary commitment could lead to a litany of problems.

“I’ve never read anything that has borne out any good outcomes,” of forced treatment, Ashkin said. “I don’t envision good outcomes.”

Involuntary admission could make some of the adult children angrier, he said.

Ashkin said he worries that addicts will go along with the treatment, then go out to use again. But their tolerance will have diminished, he said, which increases the odds of overdose and possibly death.

Involuntary treatment programs, like drug court, Satel said, often work because it gives the individual a chance to take a step back to think about their situation and “internalize the values of the program.”

Involuntary admittance could lead the individual to resent the family member who mandated their admission, Ashkin said.

Ashkin and Walters said they aren’t convinced that it’s worth the risk. Addicts rarely recover successfully their first time through treatment, and about 40 percent to 60 percent relapse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Forcing an addict to get help could “leave a bad taste in (their) mouth about treatment,” discouraging them from seeking treatment in the future, Walters said.

Both Ashkin and Walters were concerned about whether treatment facilities around the state were capable of or ready to admit involuntarily committed patients.

“The court will only order this type of thing if there is a bed for the individual,” Kipke said.

“Are there enough beds? No,” the delegate said. But they’re becoming “increasingly available as this problem is getting support and funding from the government.”

Is this bill the answer?

More than 30 other states have enacted similar statutes that allow for the involuntary commitment of adults for substance abuse, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.

Massachusetts is one such state, and its “system has become an unintended mechanism for getting people into treatment,” said Leo Beletsky, associate professor of law and health sciences at the Northeastern University School of Law. In many ways the statute “was designed to be a system of last resort.”

Massachusetts has been using prisons as treatment facilities for those who are involuntarily committed, Beletsky said. Many of the patients’ treatment is un-medicated, increasing the risk for overdose and death after treatment, according to Beletsky.

The law professor said that putting somebody into treatment without their consent is “fundamentally un-American,” and that the Massachusetts policy “basically fails” from the perspective of health and civil liberties.

“Evaluating what other states have done was extensively considered and we’re open to any other suggestions as to how we could gain the support of the legislature to enact a reasonable policy, like this,” Kipke said.

Snead said that Kipke’s bill “has the potential to be very beneficial to people,” but that success varies depending on the individual — treatment works differently for everybody.

Self-described as stubborn, Snead said that for him, the decision to get clean had to come from within.

“I had to decide myself. I had to decide that I was done,” he said.

But, he said, he understands the standpoint behind his delegate’s bill, as “a lot of parents are losing their kids.”

Through her organization, Miller hosts family peer support groups in Frederick County. She’s heard many heart-wrenching stories, some from parents who weren’t able to save their children “from this dark path to death.”

Miller’s son is alive, but she lost him for the six years of his life that were “hijacked by heroin.” Now, she said, he lives in another state, away from temptation and connections back home.

He’s “a good man who has a bad disease,” she said.

She supports Kipke’s bill because she doesn’t want other parents to feel like she did, “Like you’re a failure as a mother because you can’t make (your child) better.”

By Alex Mann

Opioids–What to Do?

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Tim Dove, Rachel Goss, and Rani Gutting on the panel at the Community Opioid Crisis Forum at Washington College on 25 January 2018 from 1:00-4:00 pm.

A panel discussion Thursday, Jan. 25 at Washington College’s Hynson Lounge brought together some of the key players in the effort to combat the opioid crisis.

Organized by WCTR radio, the panel included Tim Dove, the Local Addictions Authority for Kent County Behavioral Health, Peer Recovery Specialists Rachel Goss and Rani Gutting, Jen Moore of the Local Management Board, Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino, Police Chief Adrian Baker, and Ginger Gregg of the Kent County Office of Emergency Services. Leslie Sea, general manager of WCTR was the moderator.

Sea opened proceedings by introducing Chrissy Chisholm, executive director of Foundations of Recovery and a recovering addict. Chisholm told how she had become an addict in her early teens on Long Island, ending up in treatment for the first time at age 15. “I had no intention of staying sober,” she said, recounting how she was jailed, expelled from school, and kept relapsing despite all efforts. At age 23, she was still living in her parents’ basement, trying to get through college. She was “barely functioning,” she said. One night, driving in pouring rain to try to get drugs, she ran off the road and crashed. She woke up in the wreck, with airbags deployed, going through DTs. The police put her in the hospital, charged with driving under the influence.  This was the turning point for Chrissy.

Chrissy Chisholm, founder and executive director of Foundations of Recovery and a recovering addict

Finally, Chisholm said, she turned her life over to God and began getting better. She stayed away from her old friends and stayed sober. Moving to Kent County, she began to put her life back together and decided to do what she could to help others do the same. Realizing that recovery is a lifelong process, she opened Foundations of Recovery and Mission House – so others in recovery can support and encourage each other. “I’m tired of watching people die,” she said; “I want to be part of the solution.”

Sea said the opioid crisis has two prongs, street drugs like heroin and prescription pain-killers. She called attention to the sign near the corner of Washington Avenue and Morgnec Road listing the number of overdoses and deaths; “We want it always to be at zero,” she said. She then turned the microphone over to Dove.

Dove said the word that resonated in describing the opioid crisis is “insidious,” especially in terms of its effect on families. “You can’t erase the trauma” of overdoses or multiple trips to the emergency room. He cited the Maryland overdose statistics for 2016, the last year for which there are complete records for the state; 2089 overdose deaths were recorded, he said. That’s the equivalent of all the passengers and crew of five Boeing 747 airliners dying in crashes in one year – and that story would dominate headlines if it occurred in the state. But it is swept under the carpet because of the stigma of overdoses, he said. “We need to work to create sympathy” for the victims of the opioid epidemic – to treat it as a public health issue.

Heroin has been a problem for decades, but it was “a dirty word until it hit the middle class,” often as a result of built-up tolerance to prescription painkillers. When prescriptions for the legal painkillers run out, or the cost gets out of reach, many patients begin to turn to street drugs like heroin to manage the pain. Some of them have a genetic susceptibility to becoming addicts, he said. And that’s when they find themselves dealing with the risk of overdoses. The big killer, he said, is fentanyl, which drug cartels intentionally add to heroin to increase its potency – but which is 100 times more potent than morphine. Carfentanil, another opioid, is10,000 times more potent than morphine.  So it does not take much to overdose.  The amount that would normally just get you high now will kill you.

Tim Dove, Local Addictions Authority for Kent County Behavioral Health 

Dove told about the benefits of Narcan, an easily administered nasal spray that can reverse the effects of overdoses. It’s like a miracle, everyone agreed–almost instantly restoring the person to sobriety.  Those who were unconscious, barely breathing, are suddenly conscious and breathing normally again.

Narcan works on all the opioids, including fentanyl. However, if fentanyl has been used, the recovery may last only a minute or two before the person relapses.  In these cases, Dove said, several doses of Narcan may be necessary, sometimes as many as four or five doses of Narcan.  This is one of the reasons why everyone should call 911 right away when trying to help a comatose person who has overdosed. If the first dose is not sufficient, emergency personnel should already be on the way and they will have more Narcan and other first aid equipment and treatments that may be needed.

Narcan is being distributed to local law enforcement and emergency response personnel and has already saved many overdose victims locally. Dove said anyone wanting training in how to use Narcan can contact him at the Whitsitt Center. It is now available at many local pharmacies.

Recovery is an attainable goal, he said, with a number of treatment facilities in the local area. Many people in respected roles and occupations are in recovery, he said.  All someone needs to do is ask for help. If they’re in the emergency room, they’ll be referred to the Whitsitt Center. He noted the availability of Vivitrol, an opioid antagonist drug that works for a month at a time, attaching to the opioid receptors in the body and preventing the person from getting high; at the end of the month, the patient needs to get another shot. This allows the patient to work on the psychological aspects of recovery. It is being used in the Kent County Detention Center and is available from three private treatment centers in the county.

Chief Adrian Baker of the Chestertown police and Ginger Gregg, emergency planner for Kent County

Ginger Gregg said that 911 teams responding to overdoses first administer Narcan, then deliver the patient to the emergency room, and then, if the patient is willing, take them to Whitsitt Center. But the patient must be willing to go to the hospital, she said. The paramedics will provide information about recovery, but they cannot take the patient in for treatment against their will.

Trish McGee, speaking from the audience, asked how accurate the numbers reported on the sign at the Morgnec Road intersection are. She said the community needs accurate numbers to respond effectively to the crisis. “Getting real numbers is part of removing the stigma,” she said

Dove said it’s difficult to get accurate numbers because different agencies are responding to overdoses. He said the number of patients transported to the hospital is the statistic he places most weight on. But the hospital doesn’t test for which substance is responsible for an overdose, so it’s not always clear whether a patient has been using heroin, fentanyl, or something else. Also, if a local person experiences an overdose somewhere out of the jurisdiction, that isn’t reported.

Gutting said Narcan is saving lives; many of the overdoses would result in deaths without it, she said. She said there were six overdoses the previous week, and she suspected all were caused by fentanyl.

Chief Baker said his department had looked into liability issues before issuing Narcan to officers. Once he was satisfied there would be no problem, he had his officers trained — it took about half an hour. “They were saving lives within a week,” he said.

Mayor Cerino said prescription opioids are a key ingredient of the epidemic. He said he was given an opioid after knee surgery and knows the relief it provided. He said he understands how legal drugs can lead to addiction. As mayor, he said, he is concerned about how addiction leads to crime sprees as addicts need to finance their habits. A few individuals can have a big effect in a small town like Chestertown, he said.

Baker said Chestertown’s reputation as a safe place ironically makes crime easier because people are negligent about locking doors or taking other safety measures. He said a spree of burglaries and break-ins last year was the result of a small number of addicts trying to find cash or things they could sell to get drugs.

Jen Moore of the Local Management Board

Jen Moore said that most clients in recovery programs have been in active addiction for 20 years, while a normal course of treatment lasts only 28 days. Some of those arrested for narcotics-related crimes “relapse before they even get out of jail,” she said. There’s a better chance if they go through long-term treatment. “they need two or three years of recovery programs and treatment to have a chance to get out of it. We need to close the gap between jail and the treatment center,” she said.

Dove said the different local agencies are meeting monthly on the first Wednesday of the month to deal with the epidemic. The meeting, which is open to all, is at the Kent County Commissioners hearing room at 400 High St., at 7:30 a.m.

Rachel Goss noted that there is a focus on reducing the stigma of addiction and offering support.  “We need to talk about it, get the message out to teachers and coaches” and other role models to stop it before it starts. “I met a lot of great people in recovery,” she said.

Moore said it’s far too easy for young people to get drugs. “Doctors will automatically prescribe if you tell them the right symptoms,” she said. “A lot of kids have figured it out before ninth grade.”  They know exactly what “symptoms” to tell the doctor in order to get the drug they want.  And then they tell other kids what to say in order for them to get drugs, too.

Goss said young people are exposed to drugs before they’ve developed coping skills to deal with the problems they face. She said she started using drugs and alcohol when she was 12. “The scare stories didn’t work, I tried it and it felt good, so I kept it up.”

Cerino agreed that it’s far too easy to obtain drugs. “You can order them on a cell phone.” He said it should be more difficult, at least requiring the buyer to talk to somebody.

Dr. Ben Kohl of Eastern Shore Psychological Services said from the audience that the availability of Vivitrol allows recovery on an outpatient basis. The good news is that insurance programs usually cover the drug, allowing patients to do rehab with less chance of relapses. “The whole community needs to support recovery,” he said. Jobs and housing need to be available for those in recovery. “We understand the brain a lot better, and how addiction and recovery work,” he said. “We need to emphasize the disease model” and remove the stigma from recovery, he said.

Maryland’s Good Samaritan law protects those helping an overdose victim or calling to report an overdose.

An audience member asked whether the recovery programs emphasize the spiritual dimensions of the process.

Dove said most rehab programs are built around the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step model, which is spiritually based. “There are many ways to find a spiritual path to recovery. There’s no wrong way — just get there,” he said.

Goss said that many churches support those in recovery.  The various recovery programs and personnel also refer users and their families to resources in churches and many spiritually-inspired or based programs.  “We know what’s out there and we offer it,” Goss said.

Gregg said Gov. Larry Hogan’s declaration that an opioid crisis existed in the state “opened up resources.” She said it “let us treat not just addicts but their families.” She gave as an example the van the county has acquired.  The van contains a mockup of a young person’s bedroom showing places an addict could hide drugs and other clues a parent could use to start a conversation about drug use. The van will be on exhibit at numerous community events in 2018.  Only those over 18 are allowed in, so it doesn’t give ideas to teens. She said anyone interested in having the trailer come to an event should call the sheriff’s office.

Moore said several projects are in progress to help raise public awareness of the crisis. Among them, she mentioned a state website,  BeforeItsTooLateMD.org, with resources for patients, families, medical professionals, and others. There is also a 24-hour crisis hotline, 1-800-422-0009, that anyone can call anonymously for help for themselves or another.

Leslie Sea and Brian Moore, owners and operators of WCTR radio in Chestertown, organized the Opioid Crisis Forum

Maryland’s Good Samaritan law protects those helping an overdose victim or calling 911 about an overdose.

Drug Education Kit at the opioid forum had a display of drugs and various drug paraphernalia.

 

 

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Local Drug and Alcohol Council Unveils Heroin Education Trailer

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Inside the “Heroin Van” — a replica of a teenage drug user’s bedroom

On Wednesday, Jan. 3, the Kent County Local Drug and Alcohol Council unveiled “a new initiative in an effort to create awareness, education, and treatment intervention opportunities for folks dealing with substance abuse issues.” This new program involves a traveling “teenager’s bedroom on wheels.”   This bedroom on wheels will provide an educational opportunity for parents. Staff will use the van to show parents what to look for and to let them know about other resources to assist people with substance abuse problems– especially opioid related.

​The 7’ x 14’ trailer was purchased by the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff John Price said, “The trailer was purchased using seized drug related funds. It is our hope that this will help educate families and provide a unique way to deliver resources throughout Kent County for people who need help dealing with substance abuse.” Sheriff Price also recognized Warden Herb Dennis of the Kent County Detention Center and Director Wayne Darrell and Ginger Gregg from the Office of Emergency Services for their help with the project.

Volunteers and staff associated with the Kent County LDAC at the unveiling of the new van on Wed. Jan 3.

The trailer made its public debut in the parking lot of the Kent County office building at 400 High Street. After a meeting of the Local Drug and Alcohol Council in the County Commissioners’ meeting room, members were given a chance to view the trailer, which at first glance appears to be an innocent replica of a teenager’s bedroom. But on closer inspection, many “ordinary” objects are revealed as hiding places for drugs or drug paraphernalia.

Gregg said the trailer will be open to adults (over age 18) only, so as to avoid giving young people ideas about ways to cover up drug use. For the same reason, she asked the Spy not to publish details of the hiding places in the bedroom.  We can note, however, that despite the road sign on the bedroom wall, there is no Interstate 420.  There were originally plans to build a by-pass around Atlanta, GA, off Interstate 20 that would have been called I-420, but it was never built and has been officially canceled.  The term 420 has been a code word for smoking marijuana since the early 1970s.  It supposedly refers to the the time 4:20 pm after school when kids would meet to smoke.  Other stories offer different origins for the term, but whatever the source, young people have been buying — or stealing — road signs with the number 420 for years.  It’s appearance on a teen’s bedroom wall does not, of course, prove drug use but it is an indication that the teen is aware of drug slang.  This sign was just one of many “clues” in the van.

​The trailer will travel around the county where staff will show it to people, while explaining what to look for.  There will also be informational pamphlets that parents can take home with contact information on other resources for help on substance abuse. Gregg said the LDAC plans to bring the bedroom on wheels to community events such as Chestertown Tea Party and Galena Dogwood Festival and to schools and churches to spread awareness. Organizations wishing to schedule a visit should call Ginger Gregg at 410-778-7472 or Sheriff Price at 410-778-2279. Every effort will be made to accommodate requests.

According to Price there were 18 verified opioid overdoses, including one death, in Kent county in 2017.  However, he said, not all overdoses are reported, so this is a conservative number.

Gregg said, “We are working hard to deliver the needed awareness and resources for our communities throughout Kent County. Please call us!”

A side view of the heroin van

The rear of the heroin van, with a list of sponsors

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)

St. Martin’s Ministries – Lighting the Way

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Lighthouses by Dick Swanson displayed in his workshop. Both are included in the auction.

The 12th annual Arts Dinner Dance and Auction to benefit St. Martin’s Ministries (SMM) will be held Friday, Oct. 13 in the Chesapeake Room of Rock Hall firehouse. Works by more than two dozen artists will be available for bidding.

This year’s theme is “America the Beautiful, From Sea to Shining Sea.” To highlight the theme, this year’s featured artist, master wood craftsman Dick Swanson has created six replicas of classic lighthouses from all over the country. Each lighthouse, in addition to being a finely detailed work of art, contains several internal compartments suitable for storing jewelry, keys, or other small items. To get a preview of all six models, check out the front window of the Finishing Touch in Chestertown, where they will be on display until the day of the event.

Dick Swanson in his workshop shows book with photograph of the lighthouse that one of his is modeled on.

In addition to raising money for a very worthwhile charity, the dinner and auction is a lot of fun with good food, good conversation, and good art. The evening begins with cocktails and the silent auction at 6:00 pm.  As you stroll the Chesapeake Room in Rock Hall, you can examine the lighthouses up close along with the other works of art and decide what you might want to bid on. Maybe you’d prefer to bid on one of the glamorous get-aways for an exciting trip to the city or a relaxing weekend in the country.  Dinner is at 7:30 pm followed by dessert and a few after-dinner remarks by the staff and leaders of St Martin’s Ministries as they share stories of the work and progress in the past year.  Then the live auction will begin about 8:45 pm when you can defend your bid against your friends who would try to take home just the item you want the most – unless you can top their bid!  At 9:15, the dance begins with music by DJ Marc McCallum. His special program of musical selections entitled Dancing through the Decades provides both lively and romantic dancing to the oldies while it brings back all those memories!  At 10:00 pm, it’s time to check out and collect your winnings. It’s a lot of fun, and all in all, a wonderful evening.  Many people come back year after year.  Each year’s dinner has a different theme and a new featured artist. And all proceeds support St. Martin’s Ministries’ work with women and children. There is more information on St. Martin’s Ministries below.

Lighthouses shown in their original setting.

In addition to Swanson, contributing artists include Marjorie Aronson, Evie Baskin, Jayne Hurt Bellows, Paul Bramble, Robyn Burckhart, Nora Carey, John Carey, Laura Cline, David B. Giffort, Charlotte Guscht, Pegret Harrison, Lynn Hilfiker, Mary Averill James, Jonathan King, Marlayn King, David Lyon, Joyce Murrin, K. Chrisgtine O’Neill, David O’Neill, Mary Pritchard, Marcy Dunn Ramsey, Lani Seikaly, Lolli sherry, Linda Sims, Nancy R. Thomas and Dennis Young. While the emphasis is on beautiful and unique works of art, there are also other items available for bidding at the silent auction.

All the lighthouses are currently being displayed in the window of Finishing Touch on High Street in Chestertown, just across from Fountain Park.

Tickets for the SMM Arts Dinner and Auction are $110. To make reservations, go to the Mid-Shore Foundation’s website.  You can also make donations at the site to help SMM in their work with women and children and in the process become an official St. Martin’s Ministries Angel, Archangel, Seraphim, or you can join the Heavenly Chorus, each for various levels of donations.

Three of the six lighthouses that up for auction at the St. Martin’s Ministries’ arts Dinner and Auction on Friday, October 13.

Those who would like to bid on a lighthouse but cannot attend the dinner on Oct 13, can submit a bid by email to Anne Donaghy at Donaghy.Ja@gmail.com. Include the word LIGHTHOSE in the subject line of your email.  Then in the text, give your name, telephone, email address, and the name and number of the Lighthouse you’re bidding on, plus the amount of your bid. There is a minimum bid of $150 for a lighthouse. (So bid high if you can’t be there during the auction to raise your bid as needed!) A few days before the dinner, someone will call to verify your bid and request credit card information.  Should you win, you will be notified the next day. Credit cards will not be charged unless your bid wins. This information is also on a sign in the Finishing Touch window.

Saint Martin’s Ministries

Saint Martin’s Ministries began in 1973, when The Benedictine Sisters of Ridgely founded St. Martin’s Barn – an outreach ministry to Christ’s poor. The Barn provided food, clothing and limited funds for preventing evictions and electricity cutoffs. Ten years later, June, 1983, Saint Martin’s House became a reality – a transitional residence which seeks to empower homeless women and children to work towards self-sufficiency in a safe and stable environment.

Today Saint Martin’s House in Ridgely provides up to 2 years of transitional housing for single women and women with children. The program also provides appropriate support services to persons who are homeless or who are close to homelessness. The transition is to help them be more self-sufficient so they can move towards living on their own. The ministry also provides clothing, emergency food, eviction prevention assistance and utility assistance for those in need. St. Martin’s Ministries administers the Rental Assistance program for Caroline County.

For example, in one recent year, SMM reported that the residences had housed 29 persons, 15 women and 14 children.  They came from all over the Mid-Shore.  This amounted to 7,368 bed-nights valued at $92, 100.  In another year, SMM housed 14 women and 44 children for a total 4,685 bed-nights.  With careful administration and efficient volunteers, the cost per person has run around $40 per day.

The St. Martin’s Barn program provides emergency food and clothing. In one year, they distributed 3, 672 food packages, averaging over 300 per month.  The same year, SMM provided over $100,00 to save 171 families from eviction.

In order to keep these services going – to help more women and children –  SMM runs several other fund raisers in addition to the annual Arts Dinner and Auction,. They just finished their 2nd annual golf tournament and also hold an Authors’ Luncheon in the spring.  SMM has been awarded over $150,000 in government grants.  Altogether, St. Martin’s Ministries has been a life-changing and life-saving influence in the lives of hundreds of women and children over the years.

SMM is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

You can be a part of this.

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