Marvin Kalb spent 30 years as an award-winning reporter for CBS and NBC News. He
has authored or coauthored nine nonfiction books. His most recent book, Haunting Legacy:Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama,
presents a history of presidential decision-making on one crucial issue: in light of the
Vietnam debacle, under what circumstances should the United States go to war?
Elliott Holt’s first novel, You Are One of Them, was chosen by Amazon as one of the 10
best books for the month of June. Begun as a short story, written in graduate school,
this novel was inspired by Samantha Smith the American girl who became famous for
writing a letter to Yuri Andropov asking for peace in 1982. The setting is 1980s
Washington and 1990s Moscow and deals with the power of allegience, the mysteries of
friendship, and the nature of truth.
Ron Culberson’s Do It Well. Make It Fun, is based on his belief that life is a series of
processes. Every process has steps, each step has the potential to be improved and
made more fun. As the recent president of the National Speakers Association he is a
nationally recognized expert on the benefits of humor and laughter.
Our Executive Director/CEO, Jean Austin and Deborah Vornbrock, Director of Development, recently attended a workshop entitled “Beyond Poverty:Brain Inspired Ways to Understand and Respond to Poverty“. One of the many vital take home messages of the workshop was that children of poverty have significantly different brains. The good news is that their brains CAN change for the better, and Saint Martin’s Ministries works diligently to make that change possible for the many children that we serve!
Saint Martin’s is grateful for the help from Sudlersville Middle School 8th grade students. On September 26, a group of 8th grade students spent the morning volunteering and providing much needed help with various jobs. The Sudlersville students have been coming to Saint Martin’s for a number of years. The time that the spend helping satisfies the hours required as part of their service learning curriculum. They will come again in October and November. We welcome groups of volunteers to help in the food pantry, thrift store and house.
The Arts Dinner and Auction – Under the Big Top – was a wonderful evening filled with exceptional art and good friends. A special thank you goes to the Dinner Committee for all of their creative efforts and just plain hard work. The event is an important fundraiser for Saint Martin’s Ministries and has a direct impact on the level of services we are able to provide to those who come to us for help. This was our most successful year ever.
The Dinner Committee, Saint Martin’s Staff and all of those who are helped by Saint Martin’s offer our sincere thanks to all who attended or supported the event.
The Board of Directors of Saint Martin’s Ministries is pleased to announce two changes in leadership. Effective immediately, Jean Austin assumes the new position of President/Chief Executive Officer. Sister Patricia Gamgort steps into the new position of Executive Director, Emerita.
Jean Austin has been with the Ministries since 2010, serving as the Director of Operations. As Chief Executive Officer she will assume overall direction for the ministries and report directly to the Board. Her career includes work in outreach education, and experience with non-profit organizations in both Philadelphia and the Eastern shore.
Sister Patricia Gamgort has been a part of the leadership for the Ministries since its beginning in 1983. In her new position as Executive Director, Emerita, she will provide counsel to the new Chief Executive and continue to stay in touch with the Ministries supporters.
Saint Martin’s Ministries helps low income mid-shore families meet basic needs of food, clothing and housing. In its 30th year in Ridgely, MD, the ministries is a non-denominational, non-profit organization. Saint Martin’s House, a 2 year residential program, helps women and their children transition from homelessness to stability. Saint Martin’s receives support from United Way and United Fund. Visit www.stmartinsministries.org for more information.
For the seventh time in the past ten months, Saint Martin’s emergency food program served more than 300 families this month. About 2/3 of these families have school age children who will soon be losing the extra nutrition and calories provided by school breakfast and lunch programs.
In Caroline County, more than 2000 school students participate in the reduced price school lunch program. Only two agencies in the county offered summer food service to school age children in 2012. Summer feeding last year reached only 277 students.
The overall poverty rate in Caroline County is 14.9%, with a childhood poverty rate of 12.1%.
Sponsor a food drive to help Saint Martin’s add extra family friendly foods to our food boxes during the summer months. Check our Food Donation Policy for the list of family friendly foods we’d like to have.
Here are some tips for doing a quick food drive:
Think of a group that you belong to that would be interested. The group can be any thing you want – your golf buddies, your church, your bridge club, your 10 best friends, people you work with.
Share some of the information in this article to help people understand the need.
Select no more than 2-3 foods from the list. Peanut butter and jelly is always a good combination, or Mac’n cheese or low sugar cereal. Folks like to have a choice, so that’s why I say select 2-3 items from the list.
A drive can be as simple as everyone in the group decides to bring the items to the next get together. Or as big as you think you can handle!
Decide how your group wants to publicize the drive – a flyer, information in the newsletter or church bulletin.
Establish a collection place/time/location. Have boxes for the items to be placed in. Decorate the boxes if you want to – pictures of the food or pictures of children work really well.
Be sure to time limit the effort – a weekend, two meetings – whatever is appropriate for the group.
Let us know when you want to bring the food to Saint Martin’s so we can get a good picture!
If this all sounds like too much to do – here’s another easy way to help: Click on Donate Online on our web site. Be sure to say emergency food, or summer food or just FOOD, in the purpose line on the donation screen.
There’s a bright new check-out counter at Saint Martin’s Barn thrift store!
Many thanks to Steve Hovland and his business partner Bob Thomas who donated their time and skills to construct the handsome and spacious counter. Bob, Steve, and Gina Hovland are pictured in the first attempt to bring the new counter into the Barn. The main doorway proved to be a little too narrow and the shrubs at the door restricted the ability to turn the counter.
Our Barn has many doors and the team was able to bring in the base and counter top via another entrance (well, they also had to take off the screen door, interior door and doorframe trim). Bob and Steve’s professional skills were apparent as they calmly talked about options and Steve’s refusal to cut the base in half.
The new counter provides space for two cash registers, a change that will reduce the long lines on Wednesday evenings. The cash registers are also an improvement in the Thrift store. Prices are programmed into the registers and voucher sales are also entered. This has reduced the work effort at check-out and increased the accuracy of the sales and voucher records.
Ashley Blaine, our intern from Minnesota, served as the cash register guru. Ashley worked with Odette Boyce-Galvez, Barn Manager, to streamline the price lists, program the price codes and conducted all the training. We will miss Ashley’s quiet competence when she returns to Minnesota later this month. Olga Hernandez, our main cashier is very happy she no longer needs to record the voucher sales manually.
Olga, Odette and Ashley are pictured smiling happily about the new counter and the Thrift shop’s new look.
Successful women — residents, children and speaker Kathy Norman
Saint Martin’s House residents enjoyed two programs this month featuring successful women. The first, a house dinner, hosted by Board members Margie Palazzolo and Suzanne Gregory and their husbands, featured three former Saint Martin’s House residents. Each woman shared the story of how they (and their children) came to the house and made changes to achieve more productive lives. These invited guests offered sage advice to current residents. As one former resident stated, “Saint Martin’s gave me a second chance at life, and I took it.”
In the on-going series of “Successful Women” community members are invited to tell their stories to provide role models and inspiration to current House residents. Kathy Norman, owner of The Cleaners, a local cleaning business is the most recent speaker. Kathy not only shared her story, but also spoke on dependency and the mentality of being a victim. Some of the previous speakers include attorney Anne Ogletree, realtor Dawn Lednum, and Fresh Start founder/director Tori Brummel. The speakers offer encouragement to the residents by sharing their life stories and describing the hurdles they may have overcome to become a success.
If you were moved by Beth’s talk or if you missed the Authors’ Luncheon this past Saturday, here’s the talk given by a special resident, Beth, about her life and how it has changed since she came to Saint Martin’s House.
Beth with her daughter, Lilyanna
I’d like to start off telling you a little bit about where I came from to where I’m at now in my life.
I came from walking the streets, homeless, selling everything I had, which didn’t amount to much, just what little self-respect, dignity, and morals I still had left just to get that next high.
I know now I had someone watching over me, cuz there are more times than I can count, I shouldn’t have lived. What led me to those streets started off pretty early in life. My father was very abusive, mentally and physically, and as soon as my mom finally got away from him when I was about 11 I got with a guy who was exactly like him. I stayed with this guy another 13 years. It’s kind of sad to say, but I’m kinda glad he beat me as bad as he did that last time or I might still be with him today!
I arrived at Saint Martin’s House August 10th of 2o11. I had nothing, no self-respect, dignity, hope, or faith. I had just gotten out of my first rehab facility, and I didn’t care where I went when my time was up there as long as it was far away from my home of Cecil County. I went to the Whitsitt Center in Chestertown and I am so grateful to them for showing me that I could have another, better way of life.
My main reason for wanting to be accepted into the Saint Martin’s House program was that you could bring your children with you. Even though my 3 month old baby girl Lilyana had been placed in foster care at just 6 weeks old, I was hoping I would get her back alot sooner than if I went to any other kind halfway house.
When I walked through that door for the very first time, I had no idea just how greatly my life was about to change for the better. I’ve done more things in the past 18 months here than I’ve done in my entire life.
I’m here to tell you, it wasn’t easy by any means.
One of the hardest parts of all of this was missing my daughter’s first year of life, her first steps, her first words, I mean I had visits with her that gradually increased over that year, even when I was in rehab but I knew it was the best for her, because I wasn’t able to take care of her like I should yet. I had to get myself together first. And all thanks to Saint Martins house and meetings I was able to do that!
Jack, a Saint Martin’s House volunteer driver, and Beth
I had no idea how extremely difficult those first few months after getting her back were going to be I basically had to learn how to be a mother to a one year old. I had all this anxiety filling up in me about my childhood and how I never wanted any of that to happen to her and basically started parenting her out of fear and guilt from being away from her for so long. I was so sure that if she left my sight even if only for a minute, something bad would happen to her. Also getting her back meant having to apply for help thru social services to get her basic essentials such as diapers, etc. That required me to volunteer 20 hrs a week until I could find a paying job so that meant having to put Lily into daycare. I was almost to the point of just quitting and not doing that but thanks to listening to the staff’s experiences here and the other mothers and hearing how difficult it was for them also helped me to find a great daycare for her. Then I had to find a volunteer position and taking a suggestion from a volunteer driver here at the house I applied at the local humane society. I was less than thrilled about doing it at first but it’s turned out to be the most rewarding job I’ve ever had! And after volunteering there 2 months they hired me on as a full time employee!
I never imagined myself working with animals, but now I wouldn’t trade it for anything !!! Lilyana loves visiting my work & petting the animals also. I’m now going to college at Chesapeake (which I never expected to do) and I believe I’ve found my purpose in life, to help other addicts and alcoholics by being an Addictions Counselor. By using everything I’ve been thru in my life to hopefully help someone else. I have all the experience necessary i just need the education and now i’m doing it! I never thought I was smart enough to go to college or ever even wanted to go, but Lilyana is my motivation. I want nothing but the best for her and how can I expect her to follow her dreams and get her education if mommy isn’t?
I’ve gotten to learn how to be the best mother I possibly can through parenting classes, staff here, and the other mothers. I now have permanent custody of Lilyana & actually got her back for good 2 months sooner than expected by Social Services.
Recently, I have gotten my own vehicle thru the Vehicles for Change program, which is something I never expected to have. It feels awesome. It might not be a brand new car but it’s brand new to me, and the absolute best part about having a car now is being able to take Lilyana different places to play and the library. I had never gotten to take her anywhere – just me and her since she had been born.
But most importantly, my greatest accomplishment besides lily of course is having been clean and sober over 18 months now since July 4, 2011 when I went into Whitsitt. Not only is it independence day, it’s my independence day !!!
And I’ve finally learned how to live life on life’s terms, all thanks to this program and all of the staff members here who have supported me and helped me tremendously along the way!
I am finally truly happy for the first time in my 29 years, so I just want to say to follow your dreams! There is no limit to what you can accomplish if you want it bad enough !!!