Women & Girls Fund to Distribute Annual Grants

The Women & Girls Fund is set to distribute its annual grants totaling more than $56,000. Representatives from 15 Mid-Shore non-profits will receive grants totaling $56,513. This brings the Fund’s overall grant total to $682,552, awarded to 99 organizations whose programs benefit women and girls in one or more of the five counties across the Mid-Shore.

Since 2003, the Fund has given out the grants at its Annual Grants & Awards Luncheon the last Monday in April. This year, however, to help mitigate community transmission of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, grant checks will be mailed to the recipients, and the event will be re-scheduled.

The organizations receiving grants are: Community Mediation Upper Shore; Compass Regional Hospice; Delmarva Community Services; For All Seasons; Girls on the Run Chesapeake; Great New Hope Church and Ministries; Haven Ministries; Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s; Maryland Community for LifeTM – Talbot; Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence; MidShore Meals til Monday; Soroptimist International of Talbot; Talbot Interfaith Shelter; Talbot Mentors; and Tilghman Area Youth Association.

The grants will support services and programs provided by these organizations, such as: homelessness; mental, physical, and emotional needs; personal safety; parity; and, continuity in education, including physical, emotional, and educational development for all ages.

The Fund has also selected the recipients of its two annual awards, the Women & Girls Fund Award and the Sheryl V. Kerr Award.

The Women & Girls Fund Award for 2020 will be presented to Carlene Wilson of Kent County. The award honors a community member who has demonstrated leadership, vision, integrity, compassion, and generosity in their efforts to improve the lives of women and girls.

The Fund first heard of Carlene during grant application review process when she was nominated by a grant reader for her “tireless efforts in providing meals, love, and guidance to children who reside at the Baywood Village apartment complex in Fairlee.”  She took it upon herself, and at her own expense, to provide children with breakfast and lunch during the summer months and breakfast during the school year. On average, Carlene feeds 20 children each day. She has partnered with Community Mediation of the Upper Shore (CMUS) to enhance her summertime efforts and, last year, reached 30 children and 10 parents at her Back to School Carnival. This year she is hoping to expand her program and provide even more for these children.

Carlene Wilson “is a ‘boots on the ground’ type of woman,” says Kathy Deoudes, Board President. “I think of her almost every day and, that due to her efforts, there are over 20 children in our community each day that are not going hungry. Carlene’s personal contributions go above and beyond and make her truly worthy of receiving this award.”

Previous recipients of this award include the following women of distinction: the late Lois S. Duffey, the late Harriet S Critchlow, Sandra W. King, Maria Boria, M.D., Sr. Patricia Gamgort, OSB, Tracy Davenport, Sandra Redd, Sara Jane Davidson, The Hon. Karen Murphy Jensen, Kathleen Francis, the late Maureen Jacobs, Janet Pfeffer, Joy Price, the late Nancy Wilson, Mary Lou McAllister, Diana Mautz, Kathy Weaver, Ellen Rajacich, Susan Stockman, and Krista Pettit.

The recipients of the 2020 Sheryl V. Kerr Award are John and Peggy Ford. The award recognizes community members for empowering and improving the lives of women and girls. The Women & Girls Fund board voted to make this award in early January, and a board officer went to the Fords that very day to inform them in person. Unfortunately, John Ford subsequently passed away on February 4.

Peggy Ford, a community educator and volunteer extraordinaire began her teaching career in Baltimore City and then came to the Shore in 1977 as a special education teacher at the Benedictine School, and subsequently taught in the Talbot County public schools until she retired in 2014. Along the way, she supported summer youth employment, worked with at-risk girls from Tilghman, led anti-discrimination studies, and supported “Girls Are People Too.” In her personal volunteerism, she’s been involved with Big Brothers, Big Sisters board , the Foster Care review board, Festival of Trees, Talbot Arts Council as President of the Board, Care Packs, CASA as a valued advocate , Character Counts, founding member of Continuum Dance, St. Vincent de Paul, and Talbot Hospice just to name a few! She has made an impact on women and girls for generations to come.

John Ford taught literature, poetry, Shakespeare, American history, civil history, and short stories as a founding member of the Academy for Lifelong Learning at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, where he worked as Operations Manager for several decades until his retirement in June 2019. He served on the boards of Historic Cemeteries of Easton and Easton’s Affordable Housing Board and was a member of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society. He was also president of the board of the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center and president of the Easton Town Council for many years. John was a key founder and president of the Chesapeake Forum, a newly formed adult education organization in Easton. He leaves a legacy of service and love of community, and Peggy continues to carry on their good works.

Board member Karen Kaludis says it best, “You have heard of power couples, well, John and Peggy Ford are the empowering couple of the Mid-Shore. Through their many years of dedicated service to the people in the Mid-Shore they have empowered women and children to excel and succeed and to thrive.”

Previous recipients of the Sheryl V. Kerr Award are Maria D’Arcy, Estela Ramirez, Cheryl Hughes, Robbin Hill, and Debbye Jackson. For more information about the Women & Girls Fund, and to learn when the Grants & Awards Luncheon has been re-scheduled, call 410-770-8347, email info@womenandgirlsfund.org or visit www.womenandgirlsfund.org.

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