Representatives from 17 Mid-Shore non-profits will accept checks totaling $49,318 from the Women and Girls Fund’s 19th annual grants program. That will bring the Fund’s overall grant total since 2003 to $731,870 to 101 unique Mid-Shore non-profits whose programs benefit women and girls in one or more of the five Mid-Shore counties of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot.
The grants will go to three new organizations and 10 nonprofits that have been awarded Women & Girls Fund grants at least once before. New this year are the MAC, Inc, and Pine Street Committee, both in Dorchester County and Kent Attainable Housing in Kent County.
Other grant recipients are: CASA of Caroline, Compass Regional Hospice, Critchlow Adkins Children’s Centers, For All Seasons, Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence, Partners in Care/Community for Life, Pickering Creek Audubon Center and Talbot Community Connections and The Ladies of Nia.
“The Women & Girls Fund is so grateful to all of our donors who enable us to support these wonderful organizations and individuals. And we are in awe of our grantees and honorees as they work tirelessly to improve and enhance the lives of women and girls in our communities,” said Women & Girls Fund President, Kathy Deoudes.
In addition to distributing the grant checks, the Fund will present two annual awards and one new award.
The Women & Girls Fund Award for 2021 will be presented to Julie Lowe, Executive Director of Talbot Interfaith Shelter – a homeless shelter and transitional housing program in Easton.
Julie led Talbot Interfaith Shelter from a volunteer-run effort that moved people, cots and supplies from one church to another every few weeks, to a larger and more stable organization. Talbot Interfaith Shelter opened its first permanent shelter in 2014 in a former bed and breakfast called Easton’s Promise, in Easton’s historic district. Helping more people for longer periods of time gave staff a more complete picture of the challenges that guests were facing. This prompted them to create the S4 Program aimed at addressing the root causes of poverty and homelessness and facilitating sustainable change, rather than simply providing a temporary reprieve.
Julie believes that every human’s purpose on this planet is to “love our neighbors, and that means to help one another through the difficult challenges of this life. I couldn’t imagine anything much more difficult and demoralizing than not being able to maintain a roof over my head and food to eat, and having people look down on me for being in that situation. I am both proud and humbled to be a part of helping people to overcome their challenges and build successful lives. It is my passion and my calling,” she said.
Previous recipients of this award are 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, Maureen Jacobs, Janet Pfeffer, Joy Price, the late Nancy Wilson, Mary Lou McAllister, Diana Mautz, Kathy Weaver, Ellen Rajacich, Susan Stockman, Krista Pettit and Carlene Wilson.
The 2021 recipient of the Sheryl V. Kerr Award is Leslie Bishop, founder of Dorchester County’s MidShore Meals til Monday. After raising two sons and having a career in residential, interior design, Leslie and her husband re-located to Cambridge, MD from the Washington, DC area in 2016. This was to be their retirement home, spending time enjoying their grandchildren and working on restoration and renovations to their Victorian home in Cambridge.
In 2017, Leslie first learned about the backpack program “Care Packs” feeding hungry students on weekends in Talbot County, and discovered that no similar program existed in Dorchester County. Leslie contacted the Dorchester County Public School Information Officer and was asked to prepare weekend bags of food for 25 students at Vienna Elementary School. By April 2017, Leslie was preparing and delivering about 35 bags each week to Vienna Elementary. Three years later, during the height of the Covid -19 Pandemic, MidShore Meals til Monday was packing and distributing over 1,100 bags of food each week. Currently, this all-volunteer organization, comprised of over 150 people eager to help feed hungry children and their families; has provided food to students attending every school in Dorchester County.
Previous recipients of the Sheryl V. Kerr Award are Maria D’Arcy, Estela Ramirez, Cheryl Hughes, Robbin Hill, the late Debbye Jackson, and Peggy and the late John Ford.
The Women & Girls Fund created a special award this year to address our region’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Board unanimously agreed that the award would be named “2020 Champion.” It will be presented to Chief Executive Officer Beth Anne Langrell and the staff of For All Seasons, Inc. for their heroic response to the pandemic, serving our community with life-saving behavioral health and rape crisis services. For All Seasons is the largest licensed behavioral health and rape crisis center serving the five counties of the Mid-Shore without regard to one’s ability to pay.
The Women & Girls Fund eagerly anticipates a day in the future when it will be safe to once again bring hundreds of people together for an annual luncheon to distribute grant checks and celebrate the annual awardees.