United Way of Kent County (UWKC) hosted an appreciation breakfast for 17 volunteers on Friday, April 28 at Heron Point in Chestertown. Seventeen partner agencies submitted nominations of their “Volunteer of the Year” to receive recognition: Roberta Brown, American Red Cross, Edwin Pickering, Boy Scouts of America, Linwood Lively, Character Counts, James Brown, Community Food Pantry, George Corey, Easter Seals, Sara and David Quinn, Echo Hill Outdoor School, Jennifer Wayne, Kent Association of Riding Therapy, Beverly Birkmire, Kent County CARES, Bridget Mahoney, Esq., Mid-Shore Pro Bono, Martha Bliss, Rock Hall Yacht Club Sailing School, Pam Vogel, Rebuilding Together, Alpha Chi Omega (AXO) Washington College, Abigail Collins, Emma Russell-Doda, Lauryn Konieczka, Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence, Laura Chamberlin, Samaritan Group, Connie Schroth and Madhu Sidhu, Open Doors Partners in Education, Cinda Pittcock, Compass Regional Hospice.
In addition, the Chesapeake Bank and Trust Co. was awarded the “Business Partner of the Year”. The award was accepted by bank President Bob Altieri, who is a Board member of United Way Kent County. Guest speaker, Ron Fithian, Chair of the Kent County Commissioners, congratulated those cited and described economic initiatives being considered. He brought up the continuing challenge of lack of transportation options in Kent County, saying the Commissioners are evaluating the feasibility of acquiring small wheelchair-accessible vans that could provide door-to-door “on demand” service. The United Way and others have advocated for such a service.
Long time UWKC Board member and key organizer of the event Carol Droge read brief descriptions of each volunteer’s work, with Board President Delia Shoge presenting certificates. Highlights were Linwood Lovely who has been a volunteer Character Coach for Character Counts for over 17 years. Laura Chamberlin, a volunteer with the Samaritan Group whose dedication with a core group of volunteers provided critical staffing of Kent County’s only emergency winter shelter, and Martha Bliss who crafts bags, totes, and useful items for RHYC Sailing School using “retired” sails whose profits benefit the sailing school.
Photo: Front row, left to right; back row, left to right: Abigail Collins (Mid Shore Council Family Violence, MSCFV), Cinda Pittcock (Compass Regional Health), Emma Russell-Doda and Lauryn Konieczka (MSCFV). Madhu Sidhu and Connie Schroth (Open Doors Partners in Education), Beverly Birkmire (Kent County Cares Foundation) Sara and David Quinn (Echo Hill Outdoor School), Jennifer Wayne (Kent Association of Riding Therapy), Edwin Pickering (Boy Scouts – Del-Mar-Va Council), Linwood Lively (Character Counts), Martha Bliss (Rock Hall Sailing Scholarship Program), Bridget Mahoney, Esq. (Mid-Shore Pro Bono), Laura Chamberlin (Samaritan Group).
In closing remarks, Executive Director Hope Clark thanked all of the agencies for their collective impact on our community, and listed examples of impressive accomplishments from participating organizations. For example, UWKC funds supported Mid Shore Pro Bono (MSPB) to provide an attorney at rent court weekly where tenants were able to obtain same day representation, as well as assistance with Family law issues, Elder Law issues, record expungement, and consumer debt issues. For All Seasons provides our ‘in school mental health program’ and in 2022, UWKC funds represented roughly 242 sessions in financial assistance for trauma-certified behavioral health services to uninsured and underinsured Kent County residents.
UWKC Funds also allowed the Kent County Cares Foundation to obtain a documentation system for case tracking to continue to make forward progress in obtaining accreditation, supported a therapist to be trained in Parent Child Interaction Therapy, and in partnership with the Baltimore Child Abuse Center facilitated forensic interview peer reviews to enhance and develop forensic interviewers’ skills with Kent County Child Advocacy Center.
United Way supports agencies who assist Kent County residents in UWKC’s three impact areas: Education, Financial Stability, and Health and is committed to programs and activities that are free of racial or ethnic discrimination. UWKC endeavors to provide and maintain an environment that fosters respect among all members of the community.
Now that government funds made available from the pandemic have been depleted, organizations urgently need contributions to continue vital services. Donations to UWKC may be made at any time via the website unitedwayofkentcounty.org or by mail to United Way of Kent County, P.O. Box 594, Chestertown, MD 21620.