This column in Attraction, by Amelia Blades Steward, visits the faces of those who have benefited from the generous and tireless work of the nonprofits on the Mid Shore or are one of the organizations giving back in unique ways to better our world. She has been a freelance writer in our community for over 20 years and offers a glimpse into the lives of residents on the Mid Shore whom she has met along the way.
There is a new license plate available to Maryland residents boasting a handsome Chesapeake Bay skipjack. The project is sponsored by the Tilghman Area Youth Association (TAYA), which is enriching the lives of Tilghman area youth by connecting them to each other, their families, and their community.
Krista Paquin, President of TAYA, was inspired by the Bryan Brothers Foundation crab license plate and sought the help of its founder Jeff Weller who had done the plate several years ago to fund the Bryan Brothers Foundation scholarship program. The organization settled on the image of the Skipjack and the definitive letters for the license plate as “HJ,” which stands for Historic Skipjack, Maryland’s state boat. Local artist Laura Robb designed the artwork.
“We hope residents will help support the Tilghman Youth and their families while showing their Maryland pride with the new plate, which features the state boat, the Chesapeake Bay Skipjack. Funds raised through the license plate will benefit the Tilghman Area Youth Association’s Scholarship Awards Program and enable the organization to increase the award of scholarships given to Tilghman area students. We are excited to enable the dreams of our Tilghman youth. Scholarships are awarded to deserving undergraduate students furthering their education at accredited two-year or four-year colleges, as well as accredited technical schools,” comments Krista.
TAYA’s programs include the Tilghman After School Kids (TASK) program, now in its 20th year, and benefiting elementary school children attending Tilghman Elementary School. According to Ginny Cornwell, TAYA Founder and Emeritus, the remoteness of Tilghman Island and having both parents now working in many families has not allowed children from Tilghman to travel up the road as often to participate in after-school activities.
She recalls, “Almost the whole school enrolled in the program when we opened 20 years ago, illustrating the interest and the need for such a program in our community.” Initial funding for the after-school program came from the Talbot County Health Department and Ginny partnered with Talbot County Public Schools to offer the program at Tilghman Elementary. Today this program is enabled by the generous support of organizations such as the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, the United Fund, Talbot Family Network, Talbot County Government, Christmas in St. Michaels, the Women and Girls Fund, Talbot Arts, and Talbot Optimists.
Ginny adds, “We currently have eight second-generation Tilghman Islanders attending this program, which is amazing and demonstrates the long-term benefit to our local community.”
In January, TAYA started a new enrichment program for middle-schoolers called Future Pathways Program whereby the participants have the opportunity to learn a new trade or hobby each month. Students work alongside a qualified instructor, learn about career readiness, and earn service-learning hours by giving back to the community. A grant through Talbot County from the American Rescue Plan Act helped TAYA start its middle school program.
In March, TAYA opened its Heart & Hope Resale Shop located in the Tilghman Post Office building in Tilghman. The shop is an outgrowth of the TAYA resale booth at the Tilghman Little Big Market. The shop offers affordable household goods to residents and visitors and all proceeds will be used by TAYA to serve the youth and families of Tilghman. Email email@example.com or call 301-789-8695 to schedule a drop-off appointment of items to donate. TAYA will continue to have its resale booth at Little Big Market, which opens on April 30 and will be open from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Tilghman Wharf on the last Sunday of the month through September.
On September 30, TAYA will also be hosting an auction fundraiser from 5 to 8 p.m. at historic Mains Gate at Langdon in Sherwood to benefit its programming. The event will feature the auction of license plates #2 through #10 as well as a variety of other exciting items. Call Ginny Cornwell at 443-786-0761 to sponsor the event or donate an auction item.
To purchase a TAYA Historic Skipjack license plate, instructions and the application are provided at tighmanyouth.org. Send a completed application, along with the $50 application fee, to TAYA Historic Skipjacks Plate, P.O. Box 66, Tilghman, Maryland 21671. To pay the application fee online via PayPal, click the Donate button on the tilghmanyouth.org website and include your name and “Historic Skipjacks” license plate in the donation notes. Residents can also purchase a Tilghman Island plate frame to go around the license plate at the Heart and Hope Resale shop.