Chesapeake Charities Seeks Nominations of the Best in Philanthropy


Chesapeake Charities is calling for nominations for the following prestigious awards: Philanthropist of the Year, Nonprofit of the Year and Volunteer of the Year. The awards will be presented at its annual Celebration of Charity luncheon on November 14, 2019 at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club in Stevensville. The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, August 23, 2019.

“Since this is our 15th anniversary, we want to honor truly exceptional individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to improve the communities we serve.  This is our opportunity to recognize and celebrate the very best in philanthropy,” commented Linda Kohler, Executive Director.

Chesapeake Charities is asking the community-at-large to submit nominations. Philanthropist of the Year will recognize an individual who has demonstrated outstanding generosity and community leadership. Volunteer of the Year will honor someone who has gone above and beyond in fulfilling their service role. Nonprofit of the Year will be presented to an organization that has consistently provided vital support to the community they serve. The Governor Larry Hogan Scholarship for cancer research will also be presented at the event.

Kim Umberger and Governor Hogan received awards from Linda Kohler at the 2016 Celebration of Charity luncheon.

The Celebration of Charity awards luncheon has become a hallmark for recognizing those who give in extraordinary measure.  In 2016, Governor Hogan was honored for the courage and leadership he displayed while waging a personal battle against cancer during his first year in office. In 2017, those on the front lines of the opioid crisis were recognized for their efforts to educate the public about opioid misuse and rehabilitate individuals recovering from addiction.  The 2017 honorees included Talbot Goes Purple, Farming for Hunger and the Samaritan House.  Last year, the event recognized The Wills Group, Mark Freestate, and the Light House Homeless Prevention Support Center for their efforts to lift Maryland families out of poverty.

The deadline to submit nominations is August 23, 2019 at 5:00 p.m.  Nomination forms can be obtained online at or by calling Chesapeake Charities at (410) 643-4020.  Nominees must be from one of the eight counties served by Chesapeake Charities: Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Charles, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot.

Chesapeake Charities is a community foundation located in Stevensville, Maryland that supports over
90 nonprofit funds that impact a range of charitable causes including animal welfare, arts, education, health and human services, and the environment. To date they have generated more than $25 million in investment and grant funding for charitable projects in eight counties: Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Charles, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot. For more information, contact Chesapeake Charities at (410) 643-4020 or, or visit Chesapeake Charities is accredited by the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations.

Mount Harmon Hosts Lotus Blossom Art & Nature Festival


Bring friends and family to come enjoy our annual Mount Harmon Lotus Blossom Art & Nature Festival, Saturday, August 10th from 10am – 4pm.  This will be a great day to visit Mount Harmon ~ an historic Tidewater plantation and 200-acre nature preserve, and enjoy nature-inspired artisans, crafts, and activities for all ages!  Visitors will enjoy a wide array of local Fine Artisan & Craft Vendors, Nature & Environmental Exhibitors, Live Blue Grass Music, Local Food & Beverage Vendors, Craft Activities for Kids, Plantation Wagon Rides to see the American Lotus Water Lilies, Colonial Re-enactors & Living History Demonstrations, Manor House Tours, and much more!

Local Food Trucks Crave and Maryland in a Can with Crab Cakes, Burgers & BBQ, Woodside Ice Cream, Crow Winery, Bayheads Brewing Company, and Live Bluegrass Music featuring High Lonesome & Blue, and the Mayo Family Band, plus the Scottish Highland Brigade, Hessian Tavern, and the National Park Service Chesapeake Roving Ranger & others. Contact for more information and to request press credentials. Proceeds benefit Mount Harmon, a scenic and historic treasure.

Admission: $5

FOMH Members & Children under 12: Free

Advance tickets or purchase upon entry.   410-275-8819

Mount Harmon, 600 Mount Harmon Road, Earleville, MD 21919

Mount Harmon Plantation, a scenic and historic treasure.

First Survivor Summit Held at Echo Hill Outdoor School


For the first time, Echo Hill Outdoor School partnered with Survivor Summit this July to offer intensive week long outdoor experiences for cancer survivors. Hosted in collaboration with the Cancer Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the program brought 8 survivors ranging from 18-24 years old into the woods and out on the water, challenging their comfort zones and supporting adventures in the Chesapeake environment.

Survivor Summit, founded in 2011, was created to help cancer survivors overcome challenges, be inspired and form lifelong relationships through adventures in the outdoors. Past Survivor Summits have invited survivors and their supporters to several trips to Mt. Kilimanjaro, where 100% of participants summited the mountain and raised over $500k toward cancer survivorship along the way. The new Echo Hill Outdoor School program is entirely at sea level but focuses on providing similar ways to break down barriers and help participants experience the wonder of the outdoors.

“The survivors on this trip have already scaled so many mountains in their lives,” says Dr. Matt King, whose family created Survivor Summit and who accompanied the survivors on their week at Echo Hill Outdoor School. “Echo Hill pushes the survivor’s boundaries and provides challenges that test their resolve while building confidence—they are the motivators, storytellers, and leaders of the adventure for Survivor Summit.”

Survivor participant Amir Neyazi, 24, agrees. Watching his friends wading chest-high through the swamp, and scrambling over a thick mud flat as they head for a rinse in the Chesapeake Bay, Neyazi says he likes getting out of his comfort zone. “Once you go into the swamp,” Neyazi says, “Nothing matters. You just go all in.”

Neyazi joined seven other survivors, some in active treatment, some in remission, for a week on Echo Hill Outdoor School’s zipline and adventure course, workboat fleet and extensive Bay woodlands and swamps. Joined by Dr. King and two psychosocial staff from the Cancer Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, they were led through on-the-water experiences, forest hikes and swamp walks by Echo Hill Outdoor School’s instructor/naturalists in the pilot program.

Betsy McCown, associate director at Echo Hill Outdoor School, was thrilled at the week’s success. “We’ve had a tradition here at Echo Hill of working with children and adults who might not have a chance to experience the outdoors because of physical challenges, like the Echo Hill Outdoor School Heart Camp. It was our honor to partner with Survivor Summit and continue that tradition. It’s been an incredible week for all of us and I think the participants feel the same way.”

Echo Hill Outdoor School was established in 1972 in Kent County, Maryland.Today, more than 6,700 students and teachers from public and private schools annually visit EHOS School in our residential outdoor education programs, adventure programs, camps and day programs from March through mid-December. For more information, go to or call 410-348-5880.

Transportation Options Remains focus for United Way of Kent County


The United Way of Kent County has been working on solutions to impact areas of need in Kent County.  Transportation access has been identified as a need that impacts many. 

The United Way of Kent County, under the leadership of the Board, partnered with Chesapeake Charities to provide a Comprehensive Needs Assessment to identify areas in the community where needs are not being adequately met.  Affordable transportation access was one of four areas identified. Based on the assessment, The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) was identified to develop the “Technical Workforce Transportation Action Plan” for the United Way.  The CTAA’s report, “Addressing Workforce Transportation Challenges in Kent County” was published in the Community Transportation Reader on April 01, 2019 by Alex King, one of the staff who visited Chestertown.   The CTAA met with over ten different Kent County stakeholder groups to identify key transportation barriers and opportunities in workforce related transportation access in the county.

The CTAA Report finds Kent County residents are challenged in transportation alternatives, “many of Kent County’s community members have to travel significant distance to access services, employment, or resources either within the small city of Chestertown, or outside of the county in larger urban centers, as far away as Annapolis or even into Delaware. Reaching these destinations can be a struggle for those who lack access to a vehicle, as transportation options are distant and infrequent.”  The report further quantifies that, “Nearly 31 percent of Kent County residents qualify as members of Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) families. And, while the County is experiencing an increasing supply of living wage jobs and community development, there is a gap in accessibility between these jobs and local residents.” 

The CTAA report identified actionable items that are now being addressed through a Transportation Task Force, Chaired by Mr. Wilson and the United Way.  The Transportation Task Force includes area service providers, employers and local and state government representatives. The CTAA Report notes, “Despite the existence of a number of providers, many community residents view the current system as fragmented and failing to meet the needs of county residents. This is largely due to a lack of awareness around available options, the fact that existing fixed-route service runs at times that often do not align with community needs (workforce or otherwise), and the rural nature of the community means that often residents are challenged in accessing fixed route pick up locations. As a result, both potential employees and county employers face challenges around aspects like covering third shift workers and reaching rotating job sites.”  

The Transportation Task Force is working on actionable items that include: a transportation survey for the county residents to identify local demand; a marketing effort to highlight public transportation options; and opportunities to cooperate and expand the existing bus routes and ridership with employers, workers and those who would support using the system over their personal cars.  The Upper Shore Region (Kent, Talbot and Caroline Counties) is due for a Transit Development Plan in 2020 by the State of Maryland, to assess the transportation needs for the Region. The Transportation Task Force is working in advance of this study to provide a foundation for understanding the complex challenges for rural public access transportation for residents, and to improve their access to employment opportunities in the region.

United Way of Kent County Planned Giving Kick-Off


United Way of Kent County (UWKC) is pleased to announce the establishment of an Endowment Fund with a goal of $2,500,000.  While they have been successful in our annual fundraising over their 62 year history of helping Kent County residents, the Board would like to supplement this with sustaining gifts. When achieved, the annual distributions from this endowment will both offset their operating expenses and provide greater allocations to their Member Agencies.

Glenn L. Wilson, UWKC President, states:

“Through major gifts, bequests, and charitable gift annuities, the generous people in Kent County can help us do even more to assist our many neighbors in need here. Our recent Community Needs Assessment points to Affordable Transportation and Generational Poverty need gaps that we would like to address beyond what we are doing today.  A Planned Gift to United Way of Kent County allows donors to perpetuate their support to the community, and to benefit generations to come.”

If you would like to learn more about UWKCs endowment options, please visit their website ( or call Beth Everett, Executive Director (410-778-3195).

United Way of Kent County is a 501(c)3nonprofit organization in good standing with the State of Maryland.

Mid-Shore Community Foundation Announces New Board Members


Mid-Shore Community Foundation announces the election of six new members to its Board of Directors. The newly elected Board members are Bill Christopher, Joseph (Joe) Holt, John Lewis, Rebecca (Becky) Loukides, Jenny Rhodes and Tracey Tyler.

Mid-Shore Community Foundation President, Buck Duncan, announced, “I am pleased to welcome our new directors and I thank each of them for their time, support and guidance.”

Bill Christopher, President/CEO of the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce, has led the Chamber since December 2015.  Prior to joining the Chamber Bill was a Senior Vice President at McKesson Corporation where he led multiple development divisions during his 17 years with the Company.  Before joining McKesson, he was the CIO for a large health care organization in the Mid-Atlantic region and before that a Consulting Manager for Arthur Andersen & Company. 

Joe Holt is the Director of Institutional Giving at Washington College.  Prior to Washington College, he served for five years in the Reagan Administration, serving in the Office of Presidential Personnel at the White House and as Special Assistant to the U.S. Commissioner of Social Security. After leaving government service, he served as Coordinator of Advising and Testing at Chesapeake College and then returned to his alma mater (Washington College).

Mr. Holt has served on the Boards of Chester River Craft and Art, the Schooner Sultana Project, and the Kent County United Way.  He currently serves as Co-Chair of the Artisans Committee for the annual Chestertown Tea Party Festival and as an appointee of Governor Larry Hogan to represent higher education on the P-20 Leadership Council of Maryland.

John Lewis, The Gunston School’s eighth Head of School, is committed to supporting and strengthening the educational infrastructure of the Mid-Shore.  Prior to Gunston, he served as English Department Chair, Director of Studies, and Head of Upper School at Ranney School in New Jersey. His experience also includes several years as a teacher and administrator working in international schools in Singapore and Ecuador, where he was one of the founding faculty members of the Colegio Menor San Francisco de Quito.  

Mr. Lewis is a member of the Centreville Rotary and is on the boards of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s County and the YMCA of Queen Anne’s County.  He is currently President of the board for the Association of Maryland and DC Schools, where he formerly served as chair of the Accreditation Committee. 

Becky Loukides had a long career with the Caroline County Health Department, serving as the Director of the Caroline Counseling Center (outpatient drug and alcohol program), before her retirement in 2012.

Ms. Loukides previously served on the Board of Care Health of Shore Health System and on the Board of Education.  She currently serves as President of the Local Management Board and serves on the boards of The Caroline Foundation, Choptank Health and Channel Marker.  Becky is also an active member of Denton Rotary.

Jenny Rhodes is the Senior Agent, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources for the University of Maryland Extension Queen Anne’s County.  She also owns and operates Deerfield Farms, LLC., a family poultry and irrigated grain farm with her two sons Chris and Ryan Rhodes.  

Ms. Rhodes serves as the past President of the Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc., past President of the Maryland Association of County Agriculture Agents and past member of the Maryland Agriculture Commission.  She currently holds leadership positions in the following organizations: State FSA Committee, MidAtlantic Farm Credit, Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc., Queen Anne’s County Farm Bureau, Queen Anne’s Soil Conservation District, Maryland Farm Bureau, Delmarva Land & Litter Challenge, Compass Regional Hospice and serves as the Governor’s appointee to the Regulatory Reform Commission.

Tracy Tyler is a value driven leader who is passionate about helping others succeed. In 2018, Tracy founded TiLT Business Advisors, LLC to help businesses, executives, and executive teams enhance their performance, accelerate growth, and successfully navigate transitions. Prior to founding TiLT, Tracy served as President/CEO of Cambridge International, leading a small metal conveyor belt producer into one of the world’s largest and most profitable.  

Mid-Shore Community Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors, consisting of 30 individuals from throughout the Mid-Shore Region.  All members are volunteers and together they represent a diverse range of knowledge and experience. The Foundation’s Fiscal Year 2020 Officers and Directors are as follows.  Officers: Moorhead Vermilye (Board Chair), Alice Ryan (Vice Chair), David Nagel (Treasurer) and Brett Summers (Secretary); Caroline County Directors: Susan Chaffinch, Clem Hathaway, Becky Loukides, Fil Morrison; Dorchester County Directors:  Bill Brooks, Bill Christopher, David Deluca, Sandy McAllister, John McGinnis and Tracy Tyler; Kent County Directors: Jean Anthony, Kirk Helfenbein, Joe Holt, Charles Lerner and Arraminta Ware; Queen Anne’s County Directors: Kathleen Deoudes, Mark Freestate, Heather Guerieri, John Lewis and Jenny Rhodes; Talbot County Directors:  Ed Allen, Joe Anthony, Stuart Bounds, Ken Kozel, Peggy Rennels and Richard Scobey.


Public Service Commission Can Overrule Local Government, Court Says


The Maryland Court of Appeals reaffirmed on Tuesday that the Maryland Public Service Commission is the final arbiter on the location and approval of solar projects larger than two megawatts—and can preempt local jurisdictions after giving “due consideration” to local zoning ordinances and comprehensive plans.

The ruling cites the historical “intent” of the Maryland General Assembly in passing public utilities law as well as recent amendments enacted in 2017 that reinforced the PSC’s  “decision-making” authority.

The court affirmed that it has always upheld the broad powers of the PSC given to it in statute by the legislature “to execute its principal duty of assuring adequate electrical service statewide.”

And while the court recognized local government as a partner in the decision process, “the ultimate decision-maker is the PSC, not the local government or local zoning board.”

The court did, however, note the PSC’s obligation to consider local land use laws when approving applications for solar projects that require a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity.

Local zoning laws are “nevertheless a statutory factor requiring due consideration by the PSC in rendering its ultimate decision,” the ruling said.

The recent court ruling comes from a case in Washington County where local residents fought Perennial Solar, LLC ‘s application in late 2015 for a variance to build an 86-acre solar farm near the village of Cearfoss.

The Washington County Board of Zoning Appeals approved the application, ruling that the project conformed to the comprehensive plan.  Residents soon petitioned the Washington County Circuit Court to kill the project because it would blight the rural landscape.

But Perennial filed a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the circuit court on the grounds that state law gave the PSC final authority under the state’s Public Utilities Article, passed by the Maryland General Assembly, to approve the placement of solar energy generating systems. The circuit court agreed.

The Washington County Commissioners and a group of citizens appealed to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, which sided with the circuit court in affirming the state’s preemptive authority.

The Washington Commissioners brought the case to Maryland Court of Appeals in late 2018 on the grounds that the General Assembly had “prescribed a role for local government” through local planning and zoning that was not preempted by the PSC.

But the appeals court sided with Perennial, citing case law, the 2017 amendments to public utilities article, and bills that failed in the General Assembly to allow for greater local control.

“Our holding that the General Assembly’s intent to preempt local comprehensive planning and zoning on matters related to the ultimate siting and construction of generating stations is bolstered by the recent amendments to the statute, as well as our consideration of the proposed bills, which were rejected,” the court said.

“If the General Assembly intended to change the existing law, it certainly had the opportunity to do so,” the court said.

The recent ruling received a cool response from Queen Anne’s Conservation Association Executive Director Jay Falstad, who highlighted the PCS’s obligation to local jurisdictions in the ruling.

“Given everything we’ve heard about the great importance of allowing land-use decisions to be made by the Counties rather than by the State, we’re somewhat surprised that the Court of Appeals has ruled unanimously that it’s the State, not the Counties, that will decide where in a County any big solar project is to be located,” Falstad wrote in an email to the Spy. ”But the Court is very careful to emphasize many times over that the PSC is legally required to listen to the County’s views and to give “due consideration” to how the County treats solar projects in its comprehensive plan and zoning regulations.  So, as an environmental organization that strongly supports solar projects when they are built in the right places, we at QACA will go on working at both levels, state and local, for good decision-making about solar in Queen Anne’s County and its neighbors.”

Though disappointed with the ruling, the Kent Conservation Alliance, through its attorney Chris Drummond, said the PSC over the past few years has actually been more proactive in working with local communities on renewable energy projects.

“The Kent and Queen Anne’s County Commissioners are surely disappointed with the Court of Appeals decision,” Drummond wrote in an email to the Spy. “However, the attitude among state agencies regarding local land use and zoning concerns seems to have changed in the past few years. Now, the state agencies that provide information and recommendations to the Public Service Commission actively seek local input and include those concerns in reports to the PSC. Recently, solar applications have been approved by the PSC with conditions that require compliance with local site plan and landscaping requirements. We will work to make sure that the state agencies continue to take local concerns and land use regulations seriously.”

Drummond filed an amicus brief in support of the Washington County Commissioners.

Maryland Association of Counties said the decision was a disappointment but said the organization would “continue to advocate for a county voice in the decision-making process” and that the 2017 legislation did not sideline local governments in the approval process.

“The court’s decision reiterated important parts of state law that require the Commission to give due consideration to the position of a local government on an energy generation projects,” said Les Knapp, chief policy counsel for MACo in an email to the Spy.

But the attorney representing the Washington County citizens group, William Wantz, was not as optimistic and said Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore would soon feel the encroachment of solar farms.

“The availability of farmland at reasonable cost will periodically result in a disproportionate concentration of solar farms displacing agriculture in Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore, where rural land prices are cheap.”


Crazy Days Ahead! July 25 Through July 27


Downtown Chestertown’s annual shopping bonanza, Crazy Days, is right around the corner. The sidewalk sale begins on Thursday, July 25 and runs through Saturday, July 27, with many stores carrying the specials into Sunday.  This mid summer tradition is sponsored by the Downtown Chestertown Association.

Great deals can be found on everything from men’s and women’s designer fashions, children’s clothing and toys, jewelry, home décor, kitchen must-haves, wine and cheese, books, art supplies, and even musical instruments.  There is plenty for the younger ones:  free face painting Thursday 10 am to noon, Friday 10 am – 1pm and Saturday 11 am to 2 pm.  Kent County Parks and Rec will be offering games in Fountain Park during the day on Friday.  The Lockbriar Ice Cream Cart will be in town Friday and Saturday.

Shops will be open Friday night until 7 pm. For those who wish to grab something to eat while perusing the bargains, downtown restaurants will be offering “Crazy” food and drink specials. Oyster lovers – Scott Budden of Oyster Point Farms will be in town Friday from 5 -7 pm with his ‘buck a shuck.“ Check out the Downtown Chestertown Facebook page for more deals

Bring the whole family to Downtown Chestertown for a fun filled day – or weekend!

The parking is always free.

Retreat House at Hillsboro Sponsors Women’s Retreat


Linda Mastro

The Retreat House at Hillsboro is sponsoring its first overnight retreat program for women on Friday, September 27 to Sunday, September 29 at The Foehliage Retreat Center in Galena, Maryland. The theme of the retreat is “Seeing with the Eyes of the Heart,” inspired by the book Lost in Wonder: Rediscovering the Spiritual Art of Attentiveness by Esther de Waal. The retreat will provide women the time and space to focus on their personal spiritual needs and would benefit all, including mothers, teachers, caretakers, healthcare or hospice workers, and business leaders.

“This retreat is an opportunity for women to step away from their daily routines to rest, reflect and awaken the spirit,” says retreat facilitator Linda Mastro. “Participants will ponder questions that spark their imaginations and listen for guidance from the practice of paying attention.”

Check-in begins at 3pm on Friday, September 27, and the retreat opens with dinner and a short session to set the tone for the weekend. Saturday’s program will flow in and out of silence, with time for journaling, walking on the grounds, reflection, and conversation. The retreat will conclude on Sunday, September 29 with a morning worship service and brunch.

“All that you need to bring is your whole self, all of your senses, and a willingness to see where God may be leading you,” Mastro says. “Dress for comfort and time outdoors. Women of all faith traditions are welcome.”

The Retreat House at Hillsboro was established in 2014 as a place to share God’s abundant love in the world by holding a sacred, compassionate and inclusive space.  “The Retreat House is a precious sanctuary for all kinds of people who want to experience more hope and joy through a deeper spiritual life,” says director Francie Thayer.“We recognize that coming to Hillsboro isn’t always an option and we are delighted to be able to offer our programs beyond the boundaries of our property. The women’s retreat will be a wonderful way to move out into the world.”

Thayer adds, “Linda Mastro has led several programs at the Retreat House and we are so pleased to have her facilitate our first overnight program for women. Linda’s ability to listen, laugh and engage others in meaningful conversation will make this a delightful experience for the women who attend this retreat.”

The Foehliage Retreat Center is located in Kent County, Maryland. In this intimate facility, participants can enjoy the beauty of nature, the flowing Sassafras River, and glorious sunrises and sunsets. Hosts Gene and Suzanne Foehl exemplify hospitality with homemade meals, comfortable sleeping rooms, and an assortment of inside and outside spaces in which to rest, reflect and explore the retreat themes.

Retreat participation is limited to 15 women. Costs are $375 per person for a single room and $325 for a shared room. The fee includes two nights of lodging, five homemade meals, snacks, and all retreat materials.

To reserve your space at “Seeing with the Eyes of the Heart,” send an email to with your name and phone number and send a $100 deposit by July 15, 2019 to The Retreat House, P.O. Box 3, Hillsboro, MD 21641. Final payment will be due by August 15. For more information, call the Retreat House at (410) 364-7069. For more information about the Foehliage Retreat Center, visit

The Retreat House at Hillsboro is located on the grounds of St. Paul’s Church at 22005 Church Street, Hillsboro, Maryland, and is open for group retreats and meetings, individual hermitages, meditation and any who seek a spiritual connection. A traditional Chartres-style walking labyrinth is always open for walking and prayer. The Retreat House at Hillsboro is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Easton, MD. For more information, visit our website at or contact Francie Thayer, Director, at (410) 364-7069 or

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