By TRACEY F. JOHNS Special to The Star Democrat Jun 3, 2020
EASTON — Fred Rogers — also known as Mister Rogers of television fame — said that when he was a boy and saw scary things in the news, his mother would say to him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Finding the helpers is just what many people and organizations are doing to support Talbot County nonprofits during the COVID-19 pandemic, as individuals volunteer to help with efforts and generous donors step up to support essential programs and services.
Talbot County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kelly Griffith said the school system has seen great support, including a student making N95 masks for local hospitals. She says the schools are grateful for volunteers Emily Moody and Megan Cook for their work with CarePacks, along with Easton Utilities for their outreach to help with hot spots, and the Academy Art Museum for providing art supplies for students.
“The St. Michaels Community Center is serving as the food hub for the Bay Hundred community during the coronavirus pandemic, which brought unexpected large, unbudgeted expenses to the nonprofit, including a $10,000 freezer,” said St. Michaels Community Center Director Trish Payne.
“My heart is warmed by our Board members and other donors and volunteers helping us serve community members in need,” Payne said. “From a bond bill match that will help make our building more usable and sound, along with the food hub donations, each of these acts of kindness will help make someone’s life better. On behalf of SMCC’s Advisory Board and staff, we are extremely grateful to our volunteers, donors, and friends whose generous and continuous support inspires us to serve the community whenever we are needed.”
Talbot Hospice Board Member Liz Freedlander said Talbot Hospice board members are paying for patient meals, and providing the meals through local caterers and restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative began through the leadership of Talbot Hospice Board Secretary Pat Roche and helps staff focus on patient care while supporting local businesses.
“We’ve had a couple of folks buy lunch for our Y staff, which has been really great,” said YMCA of the Chesapeake Group Executive Derek White. “We also had someone make masks for staff and the children enrolled in the program. Our (recent) food drive … filled about 12 barrels worth of food for the Maryland Food Bank from community members.”
Neighborhood Service Center Executive Director Marilyn Neal said NSC received an overwhelming community response during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Donations have increased through our faith-based community and both regular and new supporters,” Neal said. “Individuals are also having food shipped to our food pantry. These donations are critical to sustaining the households of low-income families, as well as those that have suffered job loss during this very difficult time.”
“We’ve had so many great people wrapping their arms around us,” said Talbot Interfaith Shelter Marketing and Development Director Jayme Dingler.
“One person, in particular, is Jen McCrea of Hill’s Cafe and Juice Bar, who, while trying to keep her own business afloat, has been providing weekly grocery boxes for the guests in our transitional housing program,” Dingler said.
“The other one is Tommy Cassidy at Subway on Marlboro Road,” she said. “He had to lay off his whole staff, and is running the store by himself, but didn’t let that deter him from donating his monthly dinner for the guests in our shelter facility.”
Rotary International District 7630 Governor Nominee and Rotary Club of Easton member Hugh Dawkins says Rotary clubs in Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore raised $35,000 over 10 days to provide personal protection equipment and food bank donations through the coordination of Disaster Aid USA. The funds provided more than 24,000 meals through local food banks and thousands of N95 and other PPE masks to area hospitals.
The Talbot Local Care Team, in partnership with Talbot County Emergency Management, recruited a volunteer pool to help with many different tasks throughout Talbot County. All tasks have been conducted in a way to safeguard the health of volunteers, with more information and sign-ups at talbotcovid19.org/volunteer/.