Spy Eye: Fired Up! Academy Art Museum’s Crafts Show Opens on Friday


Your first minutes at this weekend’s vibrant 2017 Academy Craft Show – Fired Up will give you even more proof of the delightful revitalization of the Shore’s own Academy Art Museum.  This regional jewel is becoming a ‘destination museum’ because of its exhibits, its creativity and its first-class events like the prestigious, juried, annual Craft Show happening October 20-22 in Easton.

Half the 70 artists are ‘new to this show’ for 2017. “That keeps us so fresh,” says Holly Fine, Museum Board member, artist, and 2017 Craft Show Chair. “The entire Shore should be proud,” she adds, “that so many nationally recognized artists ask to be invited into our show.”  This year, the applicant pool was twice as large as the show itself.  The large pool results from outreach by Fine and her team to high-caliber artists, aided by the Show’s growing reputation that now – apparently – travels alone and can sometimes get there first: “A number of artists,” Fine says, “are now finding us.”

The Academy Craft Show has grown in significance in its 20 years:  The 2017 show has more total artists than ever, more exhibits than ever, more artists-new-to-the-show than ever and more artists applying than ever and even a larger wait-list than ever.  And the Show’s public Raffle of artworks donated by show artists has more high-end artworks to win, than ever.

A teapot by ceramicist Lucy Dierks.

The 2017 artists hail from 18 states, coast to coast, including Maryland.  “So many,” Holly Fine says, “are at the top of their game, and certainly give us the ‘WOW factor’.”

The word “honored” signals they are talking about internationally celebrated ceramicist Bennett Bean who returns with his wisdom and quick humor to be the 2017 Academy Craft Show Honorary Chair and Visionary

Artist for all three days.  The phrase “real legend” signals that they are talking about the return of Mary Jackson herself, the MacArthur Fellow who preserved the Gullah tradition of weaving exquisite sweet-grass baskets.  And they say “thrilled” rightfully about so many other artists invited again, like J.J. Reichert who imagines and makes one-of-a-kind handbags that other people just, can’t.

And “exciting” is the word for every ‘new-to-show’ artist: Vermont goldsmith Jacob Albee combines gems and slices of meteorite – yes, meteorite – into pins, rings, wearable things men and women will happily attach to themselves.  Geoffrey Roth of Sedona styles ‘statement watches’ for men and women, timepieces of such immaculate precision that his work is deemed “watch engineering.”  Laurie Olefson makes sure you can actually use her “Optical Art,” her playful, pretty, eyeglass frames, through connections with actual Opticians.

Paul Willsea blows swirling colored luminous glass forms that will own the wall on which they will hang.  Designer Andrea Geer’s unique clothing gracefully floats on you while being completely cutting-edge.  Lucy Dierks’ ceramics mimic nature, hoping you’ll hear the clay birds perched on her teapots and vases.  Maryland’s Mea Rhee turns her clay vessels into the sweet bell-shape of Korean traditional dress and also turns an endearing pottery-salute to Asia’s elephants. 

Glass by glass blower Paul Willsea.

And this year, Shore businesses and neighbors set records as more than ever stepped up to sponsor the Craft Show and through it, the Museum; dozens of Shore businesses, starting with Easton Utilities, Ameriprise International and PURE Insurance.  “These businesses do not have to do this,” Fine says, “but they genuinely understand the critical role of art in a community’s overall health.” Fine also says the public should thank them: “We put every one of the sponsor names on the Craft Show website and encourage the public to take a look and learn who the good guys are.” However, she adds, “Support is never a spectator sport: Everyone can support the arts, this time while having real fun with the Craft Show.” “Every purchase of one Party ticket,” says Fine, “and one Show admission ticket, every Raffle ticket, helps the arts and yes, it matters.”

All 70 artists will be at all events on all three days at the Academy Art Museum in Easton.  The Preview Party with the Artists is Friday, October 20 from 6 to 9 p.m. “The party is elegant and fun,” says Fine. “There will be artists, oysters, libation stations, all to the music of Kentavius Jones.”

Raffle items this year are worth more than $75 each; most are worth many times that.  Yet Raffle tickets are only $5 each, and five tickets bundle for $20. They can be bought online at AcademyCraftShow.com.

Check out one more “first-ever,” AcademyCraftShow.com, the new, information-packed website.  Every 2017 artist is there, illustrated, profiled, and linked.  The donated Raffle artworks are there.  So are the names of the business and citizen sponsors who deserve public thanks.  And the links are active for everyone to buy their Admission, Raffle and Preview Party tickets online.

To be there, go here for all information and online ticket sales: AcademyCraftShow.com.BOX

The 2017 Academy Craft Show – Fired Up! The Academy Art Museum, 106 South Street, in Easton, Maryland

Preview Party with the Artists, Friday, October 20, 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets: $100 each and include complimentary show admission ticket and Raffle TicketShow Admission tickets for Saturday, October 21, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 22 from 10 a.m.  to 4 p.m.  Tickets: Museum members $10 each; Non-members $12 each. To celebrate the Show’s 20th year: ONE ADMISSION TICKET IS GOOD FOR BOTH DAYS OF THE SHOW! Academy Craft Show Raffle TicketsTickets: $5 per ticket OR Five-ticket bundle for $20. No limit on ticket purchases.


The Heart of It by Amelia Blades Steward (Part One)


Seven years ago, in the summer of 2010, English Tong was driving home from college in Arizona to Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She always tried to stay with friends and family whenever she could while road tripping. She wanted to split the drive into at least two days so she asked her parents if they knew anyone between Colorado and Maryland. English’s father had a suggestion, but not one she could have imagined.

Pictured left to right are the Tong children: Hunter Tong, Chloe Tong, and English Tong

Seventeen years earlier, English, her sister Chloe, and her parents, Rodney and Elizabeth Tong of Royal Oak, lost their brother and son, Hunter Tong, age two and one half, to an unexpected death. Hunter’s parents chose to donate Hunter’s organs. English’s father was suggesting that English stop in Topeka, Kansas on her way home and meet the family whose son received Hunter’s heart.

In honor of the 24th anniversary of her brother’s death, English wanted to tell the story of her meeting the young man who got her brother’s heart– Casey Artzer. She writes in her blog entry of March 9, 2017 for Sniglet Writings, “This is not a story of how my brother died, but of the life he brought after his death. I can only imagine how difficult it would have been for my parents to not only decide to donate his heart, but continue contact with the recipient’s family still to this day.”

Once English’s blog was published, Casey and his mother, read it and discussed it. Casey said he was ready to meet the whole family and reached out to them to set up a meeting this June at the Tong’s home.

Pictured is a painting of Hunter’s shoes done by artists Wendy Van Nest.

Elizabeth Tong states, “For me, meeting Casey has to be emotionally assimilated, it has even affected me physically. We received letters from each of Casey’s parents on the first anniversary of Hunter’s death, but I was unable to respond to them for seven years. After that, we have kept in touch at Christmas time through Christmas cards and notes, but we haven’t really talked.”

The Tong’s story begins on the night of Rodney Tong’s 40th birthday party in 1993. Hunter played long and hard with all the children in attendance at the birthday party. After Hunter woke up at 7 a.m. the next morning a little fussy, Rodney recalls rocking him back to sleep. At mid-morning, Elizabeth decided to wake him up and he was limp in her arms. Once at Memorial Hospital in Easton, the decision was made to fly him to Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC where Hunter was placed in intensive care. At this point, Rodney and Elizabeth both knew Hunter’s condition was serious, but they didn’t know what was wrong.

Rodney recalls, “On Sunday his brain scan was normal, but doctors were treating him for seizures and trying to figure the cause of the problem. Monday, the doctors discovered that Hunter’s brain was swelling and things had turned for the worse. At that point, the doctors told us that the damage to Hunter’s brain would most likely be fatal.”

Pictured is a painting by Nancy Tankersley of Elizabeth Tong with Hunter.

Elizabeth desperately clung to the words “most likely,” but not for long as the doctor in attendance that afternoon only shook his head and looked away when she tried to convince him that it was only “most likely,” in other words not fatal yet, leaving her the slightest glimmer of hope. Elizabeth remembers, “I can only assume, that was their way of gently giving us the real news, that Hunter was dying and there was nothing that could be done.”

At that point, shock took over, the kind of shock that consumes a person facing the worst kind of news. Elizabeth likens it to a time release capsule, allowing reality in only so often and only in amounts one can take. This shock allowed Elizabeth and Rodney to put one foot in front of the other and later to broach the subject of organ donation. As soon as it was raised, the wheels of donation were immediately set into motion.

The family had to wait from Monday through Wednesday for the drugs to get out of Hunter’s system in order for the doctors to pronounce him dead. This gave English and other family members and friends time to come to Washington to say good-bye. The doctors never were able to tell the Tongs the cause of Hunter’s death.

When asked whether she needed a medical explanation for what caused Hunter’s death, Elizabeth comments about her son, “I don’t need a name for what happened to Hunter. Hunter came and did what he was supposed to do and left us very gently.” She adds thoughtfully, “It’s been a good thing to transplant his organs – it’s something beneficial coming out of something so horrific. A piece of him went on.”

On March 10, 1993, Hunter Tong died. The next day, Casey Artzer from Kansas, got a new heart.

Lisa Colaianni, Donor Family Advocate with The Washington Regional Transplant Community, who met the Tongs after the donation and who has become a family friend, comments, “I can’t imagine trying to think of others while going through such a tragedy as the Tongs experienced. Twenty-one people die every day needing an organ transplant. They gave the ultimate gift of life to another boy and that provided them with hope in their despair. Today, we have a 25-year old who is alive because of Hunter’s donation.”

Pictured is Hunter doing what he loved to do most, snuggling with his sister Chloe

For sisters Chloe and English, the memories are scant of their brother Hunter. English can only remember bits and pieces of Hunter, so for her, Casey makes him real. Family videos of Hunter following English around and mimicking her actions prove the special bond they had. Chloe was only four months old when Hunter died. According to Elizabeth, however, Chloe and Hunter had a special connection as well. He proudly announced to everyone who called, “new baby,” referring to his new little sister. He constantly wanted to be next to her and touching her.
Chloe comments, “I had questions about Hunter as I grew up. I identified with qualities of him as I grew up, always trying to help my dad do things a boy would do because he had lost a son.”

Rodney recalls the rich relationship he had with his son, if only for a short time. He states, “I was able to spend quality time with him because I was doing carpentry work at the time. He loved to be with me on jobs. He had work boots to wear when he went with me. I have a memory of building a railing on our steps and Hunter figured out at age two what screws went into what holes. He would pick up tools and ask what they were.”

He adds, “He loved mechanical things – cars, back hoes, and mechanic shops. He loved being with me when I was doing things and adored being with my father, who was a builder by trade.

He made toys for Hunter out of scraps of wood and fixed things.”
Elizabeth recalls Hunter as being very attached to family and not wanting to leave his mom to go to preschool. She states, “He would always say about doing new things, ‘When mine gets older.’”

English writes in her blog about meeting Casey,

“The family asked me to meet them at his high school, where he would be performing in his school band, playing the saxophone. I remember being really picky about what I wore (a striped grey and green sweater, black skinny jeans) and trying really hard to focus on my driving over there. I walked into an empty entrance way to the school, more nervous than I had ever been in my life. Having no idea where I was supposed to go, I started to panic a bit, when a short, blonde, friendly face came racing up to me, wrapping her arms around me. His mother had been waiting for my arrival outside of the auditorium, and all of a sudden I was surrounded with so many enthusiastic greetings and smiles and hugs from his older sister and father.

Pictured is a painting by Tankersley of Rodney Tong with Hunter.

The first time I ever saw, in person, the man carrying my brother’s heart, was on that stage with a saxophone. If I remember correctly, he performed last, with a large group of other seniors.

After the show, we moved out into the lobby, waiting for him, and his younger sister, to join us. So many people approached and introduced themselves to me, commenting on how amazing this was and that I needed a camera crew following me. All I could think about was how I was going to react to shaking his hand, looking him in the eye, and hearing his voice. The poor guy was probably more overwhelmed than I, so I tried not to scare him by bursting into tears or wrapping my arms around him too tightly. He was just so sweet, soft, and obviously nervous, for good reason.

Once finished, the family took me to dinner. There were quite a few people with us, so it was a large group. I remember eating some kind of chicken wrap and stumbling over questions I had for him about his life and interests. One thing I definitely remember is never wanting the night to end, as it had given me a high I had never felt before, nor since.”

While the family members’ reactions have each been different, each family member is approaching the June 13 meeting of Casey with great anticipation. The week Casey and his family are here, the Tongs are planning a musical gathering with friends because of Casey’s own musical interests. English recalls her memory of Casey, stating, “Casey is a quiet and reserved person.

He is into alternative things like our family – a more liberal person, I think, and one who thinks outside of the box.”

Elizabeth adds, “I have thought about a bit of our son coming home. I haven’t wrapped my head around that yet. All of us want it to be as gentle and natural as possible for Casey. We want him to get to know us and for our meeting to be as organic as possible.”

For Chloe, who perhaps knew Hunter the least, but who had a special bond with her brother, comments, “I have always wanted to meet Casey. I was angry I hadn’t met him sooner. It’s so cool that it is such a major organ that was transplanted from my brother.”

Rodney tries to grasp the upcoming meeting, stating “Our son is dead but he’s not – his major organ is still beating. I want to hear his heartbeat when I meet Casey. I want to put my ear next to his heart.”

Lisa states, “It is highly unusual to have a meeting between a donor family and a recipient 24 years later. Most meetings like this happen within the first five years of the transplant.” She adds, “What I love about this story is the sibling side of it, which is not told that often. The fact that English met the recipient and then wrote the blog, which went everywhere, and ultimately reached the family, is very unique.” She adds, “The Tongs understood from the very beginning the importance of telling their story so that others may register to become donors.”

At the end of her blog, English writes, “Oh, and one last little detail, the one I tend to leave out and only recently revealed to my parents. The last song he and his band played that night on the stage where I first saw him? My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion.”

To read English Tong’s blog, visit http://snigletwritings.blogspot.com/2017/03/the-tornado-going-on-outside.html?spref=fb. For information about making the decision to be an organ donor, visit Washington Regional Transplant Community’s website at www.beadonor.org.

Families Still Face Struggles of Homelessness After Mid-Shore Shelter Season Ends


His cane, whittled from an old tree limb, is a reminder of his recent struggles. Carl, a guest at Havens Ministries Cold Weather Emergency Shelter at Kent Island Methodist Church in Chester, found the limb while living as a homeless man in Queen Anne’s County this past fall.

Carl, comments, “I was living outdoors for several months before I went to Haven Ministries shelter in December. They are helping me now with temporary housing until I can get a place of my own again.”

Although Haven Ministries Cold Weather Emergency Shelter at Kent Island Methodist Church in Chester has closed for the season, the needs of the homeless individuals and families in Queen Anne’s County will continue to cry out to be met over the next seven months of this off-season for many rural shelters.

Sandi Wiscott, Director of Operations and Case Management at Haven Ministries works diligently throughout the shelter season, which runs from December 1through April each year, to connect each guest to jobs and community programs. Many guests are able to move on to safe and affordable housing.  If necessary, Haven Ministries continues to work with clients after the shelter closes for the season.

Wiscott adds, “In Carl’s case, we are trying to find housing for him, but affordable housing is limited in the county.  We sometimes need to manage other issues in our clients’ lives, like Social Security, medical issues, and transportation.”

Haven Ministries Street outreach is ongoing throughout the off-season. An average of 20 individuals and families are helped monthly through the Street Outreach Program. One client comments, “(Haven Ministries) Case Manager helped me access their case management services without judging me.”

This was the case for Carl who once was had a steady job as a mechanic and truck driver. After difficulties with his family, Carl found himself homeless and broken.  He states, “I never thought this would happen to me. I always made good money and had nice things.”

Carl spent nearly four months without the comforts of home – sometimes living in makeshift cardboard shelters, sleeping under pine trees, and eventually finding a lean-to on a property in the county. The nights were cold. He would get a shower once a week if he could at a local truck stop for $7.

Carl reflects, “I was wary of going to a shelter. I always thought of it as a place you didn’t want to be – keeping your boots on your chest and everything in your pockets.” He adds, “If it hadn’t been for Sandi Wiscott, I probably wouldn’t be here talking to you. They saved my life – they clothed me and fed me. I have gained about 35 pounds. She has helped me deal with my medical issues and helped me get eye glasses.  I hadn’t been to a doctor in 20 or more years. Now I realize my health is more important than anything.”

Carl suffers from circulation issues, COPD, skin cancer and has retina issues with his eyes. He needs transportation to get to doctor appointments and even needed someone to change dressings following his skin cancer surgeries. Sandi never walked away from him. He adds, “I have never met anyone like Sandi.”

In addition to finding solace at the shelter, Carl made friends with others there, referring to them now as his new family.

Between December 2015 and April 2016, 23 men, women, and children were served at the shelter. Over 140 dinners were prepared for every guest and volunteer who donated their time. To date, there are over 336 shelter volunteers who help at Haven Ministries.

In addition to providing food, shelter and clothing, Haven Ministries helps to heal the broken who come through its doors. For Carl, Haven Ministries gave him back his faith. He states, “They asked me if I would like to go to church. I said yes, realizing I had missed it. Being at the shelter brought my belief back. I was not a holy man and hadn’t talked to the Lord in 30 years. Now, I talk to him every day.”

Haven Ministries is currently diligently working towards establishing a permanent shelter location for year-round services and a home to be used for transitional housing.

On Sunday, May 15 at 3 p.m. Haven Ministries will sponsor a Luncheon Tea at Christ Church, 830 Romancoke Road in Stevensville. The cost is $35 per ticket. To purchase a ticket or for more information about the shelter and Haven Ministries Emergency Food Pantry or Daily Thread Thrift Store, visit haven-ministries.org or call Executive Director Krista Pettit at 410-739-4363.

Profiles of the Mid-Shore’s Homeless: Providing Hope in Queen Anne’s County


Editor’s note: These profiles by Easton-based author Amy Steward spotlight four unique cases of homelessness on the Mid-Shore that have turned out positively with the Haven Ministries in Stevensville, MD. This faith-based nonprofit has served Queen Anne’s County for eleven years providing quality programs that address housing, hunger and clothing for those who have become shipwrecked in a sea storm of economic recession and bad luck.  


When Marie, a 63-year old woman of Queen Anne’s County, lost her job in April 2012, it didn’t seem like things could possibly get any worse. But, they did. She soon fell behind in her rent, facing eviction. In October 2012, the unthinkable happened and she was involved in a single car accident, sending her to Shock Trauma. She was both physically and emotionally broken. Suffering from an injured vertebrae and a radial fracture, she struggled to move in a body and boot cast. A friend took her in after she got out of Shock Trauma to help care for her. A few weeks later, while recuperating, she learned from a routine Pap smear that she had uterine and cervical cancer.

Marie was discharged from the hospital, following her cancer surgery, with no insurance to pay for a rehabilitation placement, no family to care for her, and ultimately, no place to go since her eviction notice had arrived. A hospital social worker referred her to a shelter in her community, Haven Ministries in Stevensville, MD, where Marie could go following her surgery – a place that turned Marie’s life around.

In January 2013, Haven Ministries took Marie in, initially in their overnight shelter at Kent Island Methodist Church. For the month, she stayed at the shelter overnight at the church and during the day attended Stevensville Senior Center. On weekends when the shelter was closed, Haven Ministries found her a safe place to stay, as she was still weak and using a walker from her car accident. Marie recalls, “I had nothing but the hospital clothes I left in. My things had been placed in storage when I was evicted and I had no way of getting anything while in the hospital. Haven Ministries provided me with clothes from their Thrift Shop when I arrived and a safe place to stay. They looked after me. It took a lot of their time to help me. I am so thankful for what they did.”

Haven Ministries Case Manager, Sandi Wiscott, was with Marie every step of the way, making sure she got to her chemotherapy and radiation appointments, doctor appointments, and even helped her get her Social Security Disability so that she could eventually find her own housing.

Marie adds, “Sandi helped me a lot. Everything had crashed in on me. At one point, I was depressed and suicidal. I believe if it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t be here today.

Things began to get better for Marie. After finishing her chemotherapy and radiation treatments, she moved into Haven Ministries’ transitional house where she stayed until November 2013. Marie made use of Haven Ministries Food Pantry and began to regain her strength. During these months, Sandi helped Marie get her life together and to eventually secure senior disability housing in Centreville. Haven Ministries even helped her with the furniture she needed for her new apartment.

Today, Marie is two years cancer free. She is in fairly good health, living in her apartment in Centreville. She is still active in the Stevensville Senior Center and also the Grasonville Senior Center, where she calls Bingo. She comments, “I am thankful to God and all the people he put in my life to guide me and get me through all of this.”


Six months ago, Heidi, age 34 from Queen Anne’s County, fell behind with her car and rent
payments and almost lost everything. Her partner and the father of her children had gotten involved with the wrong crowd and made some poor choices, leaving Heidi alone to care for her three children who were under the age of 10.

While in Haven Ministries Thrift Shop in Stevensville, MD, Heidi learned that she could get assistance during this difficult time. Heidi recalls, “Haven Ministries really showed me the light. Their case manager, Sandi Wiscott, helped me access their case management services without judging me. They helped to support me so that I could still be a mom to my children.”

Heidi used Haven Ministries Food Pantry, which provided her family with fresh produce, donated by local farmers – something that surprised and delighted her. Sandi helped her contact different churches in Queen Anne’s County to help her with her back rent, as well as to provide gas money, diapers, toiletries, and cleaning supplies until she could get on her feet.

She comments, “It warmed my heart to see how much Haven Ministries is helping everyone. I didn’t expect that strangers cared enough to understand my story and would help me in the ways that they did. I can’t put into words how this has made my personal faith grow. The Lord really does carry you when you are alone. I am so thankful.”

Because of Haven Ministries, Heidi was also able to get information to support her in parenting her children. She is now ready to pursue a career that will enable her to support her family. She comments, “I knew going through this that I needed to help myself. They helped me gain insight into myself, to set goals, and to take my own initiative in setting my future path. I am currently working on finding some career training.”

She adds, “Taking care of my children motivates me to look toward the future again.”


Like most of us, Mary, age 56 of Centreville, had a good job as an instructional assistant in the schools. She got hurt on the job in 2002 and could no longer work. This led to her becoming disabled and requiring assistance to just make ends meet. She recalls using Haven Ministries Food Pantry soon after they opened and has been using it ever since to help feed the two adults who live with her, along with her 10-year old grandchild. She even has extra to share with her housebound 81-year old mother.

Mary comments, “It has been a blessing to me and my family to have the Food Pantry.”
Since the Food Pantry receives fresh fruits and vegetables seasonally from area farmers, the quality of the food has offered Mary and her family healthy choices. She used the cabbages, potatoes and onions in the winter months and now is getting corn, watermelon and cantaloupe – items which wouldn’t be affordable for her on her disability check. She adds, “You have choices at the Food Pantry. They have staples like tea bags and ketchup, as well as poultry and ham, drinks and even freeze pops for the kids.”

Mary explains that she was raised with both parents working full-time and never thought she would need assistance from a food pantry. She states, “A lot of people have pride and won’t seek out assistance like this. I had to do this and it has been a blessing to me both financially and spiritually. The people at Haven Ministries don’t look down on you or judge you. They have deep love for the people they serve.”

Mary equates the love she receives from Haven Ministries with the love she felt for the kids she worked with in the schools. She adds, “The people are so nice at Haven Ministries. They are concerned about us like I was concerned about the kids who I cared for. We leave their every time with a smile on our faces.”

Facing hip surgery in the near future, Mary has had to give up volunteering for the Food Pantry, something she enjoyed. She hopes after her recovery to work in Haven Ministries Thrift Shop, which has helped her as well. The Thrift Shop offers household items, like sheets and towels, and even slightly-used appliances. Mary states, “I want to give back because they have been so good to me and my family.”


Three years ago, Barry, age 57 and disabled, sold everything he had to move to Florida from Maryland to be with his partner. When things didn’t work out in Florida, he returned to his family in Queen Anne’s County, broke and unable to care for himself. Living from couch to couch at the homes of friends and family, he found himself homeless with nowhere to turn in November 2014. At that point, he had even lost his lifelong companion, his dog. Through the recommendation of a church in Centreville, Barry sought out help from Haven Ministries.
He recalls, “The weather was turning colder and I could no longer stay with friends or family. Haven Ministries provided me with a warm place to stay and good food to eat. They truly cared for me.”

Barry was able to stay at the shelter through April 2015. During this time, he received case management services to help him start saving money for a vehicle and look for affordable housing options in the county. He comments, “While living on the street, I couldn’t save money to get a vehicle or a place to live. I couldn’t seem to get on my feet again.”

In addition to the assistance staff provided, Barry found the shelter was more than just a roof over his head. He enjoyed the camaraderie of the other residents and the staff. He even learned to play dominoes while he was there – something he had never learned before. He adds, “The staff was so nice. They treated me well and I felt like I had a family again. I realized while living with the other people in the shelter that anyone can become homeless and fall on hard times. No one is immune to it.”

Today, Barry has been able to buy a vehicle and is living on a boat. He is on a waiting list for affordable housing, which he hopes will work out soon. He concludes, “Coming to Haven Ministries was the best thing I could have done to get my life back together. Because it is still hard to make ends meet, I am still using Haven Ministries Food Pantry and Thrift Store. That has really helped me. Everything is good now.”

For more information please go to Haven Ministries

Kirsh Sculpture Selected for MD Art at College Park Exhibition

Jan Kirsh, Artichoke, Bonded marble with hand-painted acrylic, 10” x 14.5” x 10” (Photo Credit: Stephen Cherry)

Jan Kirsh, Artichoke, Bonded marble with hand-painted acrylic, 10” x 14.5” x 10” (Photo Credit: Stephen Cherry)

Jan Kirsh’s Artichoke has been selected for inclusion in a national juried exhibition opening June 25, 2014 at The Art Gallery, University of Maryland, College Park. The show, organized by Maryland Federation of Art (MFA), features 2- and 3-dimensional art by Maryland residents and MFA members. Kirsh was one of 107 artists selected out of nearly 700 applicants.

Kirsh, whose art made its debut in 2008, is also known for her work as a landscape designer. Her sculptures feature vibrant fruits and vegetables which can be displayed indoors or out. Kirsh notes, “My work provides opportunities for me to pay homage to nature and to appreciate the beauty of familiar forms. It also reminds me to not take life too seriously, to enjoy the whimsy in the day to day.”

MD Art @ College Park runs June 25 to August 2, 2014. A reception will be held July 11, from 6 to 8 PM, with awards presented at 7 PM. The Art Gallery is open 12 to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday (closed July 2 through July 5). The gallery is located at 1202 Art Sociology Building, University of Maryland, College Park, 20742. Ann Shafer, Curator of the Baltimore Museum of Art, will serve as juror for the show.

Artist Jan Kirsh. (Photo Credit: Stephen Cherry)

Artist Jan Kirsh. (Photo Credit: Stephen Cherry)

Local Writer and Renowned Structural Engineer Write New Book


Renowned structural engineer, educator, and mentor Charles H. Thornton, PhD PE of Easton and local writer Amy Blades Steward of Easton recently co-authored a new book that was released this month entitled, Charles H. Thornton: A Life of Elegant Solutions.

Pictured is the cover of the new book, Charles H. Thornton: A Life of Elegant Solutions, which is now available through Amazon. The book was written by renowned structural engineer Charles H. Thornton and local writer Amy Blades Steward. The book cover was designed by local ACE Mentor Program participant Conner Dorbin of Easton and graphic designer Deirdre Devlin Kelly of Easton.

Pictured is the cover of the new book, Charles H. Thornton: A Life of Elegant Solutions, which is now available through Amazon. The book was written by renowned structural engineer Charles H. Thornton and local writer Amy Blades Steward. The book cover was designed by local ACE Mentor Program participant Conner Dorbin of Easton and graphic designer Deirdre Devlin Kelly of Easton.

Dr. Thornton was a founding principal and former chairman of the structural engineering company Thornton Tomasetti. Over the last 30 years, he has engineered some the world’s tallest and most innovative structures through “disruptive innovation.” He has been an adjunct professor at The Cooper Union, Pratt Institute, Manhattan College, Princeton University, and Catholic University. He founded the ACE Mentor Program, a nationwide non-profit organization offering guidance and training in architecture, construction and engineering to more than 40,000 inner city high school students in 106 cities across the United States. Talbot County high school students participate in the program.

He comments, “After being featured by Jane Pauley on the monthly NBC TODAY Show, “Your Life Calling” for the ACE Mentor Program and reading Jane’s own autobiography, entitled Skywriting: a Life Out of the Blue, I realized it was time to write my memoir.”

The next step was to find a writer to help Thornton get his words on paper. Steward, who in 2007 founded Steward Writing and Communications, a public relations firm in Easton, MD, has written non-fiction articles for national, regional, and local publications for over 30 years. Thornton comments about Steward, a lifelong storyteller, “Amy was the stimulus who got me revved up to start my book. She took the time to really interest herself in my life and has made the production of this book her ‘Elegant Solution.’”

The memoir about Thornton’s life is a guide for professionals seeking to succeed in business, young engineers moving up the company ladder, graduate students facing a master’s or PhD thesis, college students coping with the rigors of an engineering program, and high school students looking toward college and a career. His 15-Steps to Success help business owners to plan and reach higher goals. His mantra – “Passion, Persistence, and Flexibility” – has transcended all aspects of his career and personal life. His story inspires others to pursue their life’s passion and seek their own elegant solutions to the challenges life presents – and to have fun along the way.

The memoir’s cover features an image of Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, one of the world’s tallest buildings designed by Thornton and completed in 1996, and includes an image of Thornton with a group of ACE students. It was designed by graphic designer Deirdre Devlin Kelly of Easton and Conner Dorbin of Easton, Amy’s son and a 12th grader at Easton High School in the school’s graphic arts completer program and a participant in the ACE Mentor Program.

Proceeds from the book will go to the ACE Mentor Program to grow its scholarships for high school students. To date, ACE has awarded more than $14 million in scholarships to students nationwide.

Thornton lives in Easton with his wife Carolyn. Steward lives in Easton with her husband, Eric, and children Conner and Andrew. Charles H. Thornton: A Life of Elegant Solutions is available through Amazon at alifeofelegantsolutions.com.

Thornton and Steward are holding book signings at Vintage Books on Dover Street in Easton, MD on Friday, May 2 from 6 to 8 p.m. and at The News Center in Easton, MD on Saturday, June 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Friday, May 30 at 7 p.m., they will lecture about the book and hold a book signing at the Academy Art Museum. For further information, contact Amy Steward at 410-829-0436.