Fairfax Now Leads Montgomery In High School Graduation Rate — Montgomery’s across-the-Potomac rival surpassed it in terms of high school graduation rates among the 50 largest school jurisdictions in the country. Fairfax has a graduation rate of 85 percent, good for No. 1 on the list, according to a report from Education Week. Montgomery County and Baltimore County are tied for second on the list with a rate of 84 percent. Montgomery has topped the list the last four years. [The Gazette]
Metro Tests Out New Fare Gates — For now, the new fare gates are confined to the basement of the transit agency’s headquarters. On Wednesday, members of a riders advisory group tested out the gates, which are prototypes from vendors vying for the contract. The gates will be able to take payment from a smartphone, key fob or credit card. Metro is expected to pick a vendor in July. [Washington Post]
County Advertising Its Version Of The Peace Corps — Montgomery Corps, a group of five volunteer positions based on the model of the Peace Corps, is seeking people to help host and coordinate outreach, volunteer events and services from each of the county’s Regional Service Centers. Members will get a $1,000 stipend per month. Nonprofit A Wider Circle will administer the program. [Idealist]
Flickr photo by ehpien
For more than 20 years, the Friends of Chevy Chase Circle has worked with the National Park Service to keep Chevy Chase’s gateway to the nation’s capital stocked with tulips and looking like an inviting park.
Now, as three prominent members of the group move on and maintenance appears to arrive less frequently, the Friends of Chevy Chase Circle is looking for a new batch of Chevy Chase residents to take up the cause. If not, the nonprofit that started in 1991 and raised more than $25,000 for improvements to the Circle might be dissolved.
“We feel it’s important to get some young blood who sees the park as we saw it 20 years ago, as a gateway to Washington and a source of pride for Chevy Chase,” said Friends of Chevy Chase President Barbara Price, who is moving into the District soon. “The idea was the Park Service was going to maintain it with additional monthly maintenance. That has diminished, even before sequestration. We need some new people to take on a new phase of stewardship.”
In the late 80′s and early 90′s, Price and other members of the group got donations from the Chevy Chase Land Company and other area businesses to pay for new plantings. They had a foundry in Canada produce a new fountainhead for the fountain in the middle of the Circle, which before was just a single spout of water shooting up into the air.
Under the auspices of the Chevy Chase Historical Society, the Friends of Chevy Chase Circle formed as its own nonprofit organization in 1991 and entered an Adopt a Park agreement with the National Park Service. It worked with a landscape architect from the Park Service, raised money for a new irrigation system and helped clean up the space.
Each year, it funds a new planting of about 2,000 tulips.
Price said lately, maintenance agreed upon with the Parks Service has been less frequent, and the Circle is reverting back to its pre-1991 days of neglect. The benches, for example, are in disrepair.
“It is kind of a slovenly accumulation of unkempt management,” Price said. “And it’s going to be worse than it looks now.”
With two other frequent members of the Friends group retiring from civic activities, Price is looking for someone to take over the group. The response so far has been quick. Price said two Chevy Chase residents called her on Tuesday morning, just after it was posted on a community listserv.
If you would like to speak with Price about the Friends of Chevy Chase Circle, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett today announced Bethesda philanthropist Carol Trawick will be one of nine honorees at the 2013 Montgomery Serves awards at Imagination Stage on Monday, April 29.
Trawick, who helped lead the creation of the Bethesda Urban Partnership in the early 90′s and who lends her name to the Trawick Prize art competition at BUP’s Gallery B, is one of three winners of the Roscoe R. Nix Distinguished Community Leadership Award, named for the former County Councilmember and County Executive.
Odessa Shannon, who as special assistant to former Montgomery County Executive Charles Gilchrist became the first woman to hold that policy-making position, and MCPS Spanish educator Teresa Rios Wright will also be honored, according to the press release:
During and after an extraordinarily successful business career, Trawick – cofounder with her husband of the Jim and Carol Trawick Foundation – has devoted her time, talent and resources to serving others and promoting the arts.
Other honorees include Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services advocate Marcine Goodloe and Joyce Siegel, who helped fight for the revitalization of Potomac’s historically black Scotland neighborhood. Alfredo Colina Iturralde, MedImmune in Gaithersburg and Walter Reed medical tech Robert Zagorski were selected for special volunteer accomplishments.
The event is free and scheduled for 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Imagination Stage (4908 Auburn Ave.)
Photo via Bethesda Urban Partnership
On Saturday, April 6 from 9 a.m. to noon, the Rock Creek Conservancy’s Extreme Cleanup will task volunteers with cleaning the streams, tributaries and parks connected to Rock Creek and the neighborhoods near Rock Creek where trash originates. More than 50 locations, included a few in Chevy Chase, Kensington and Garrett Park, are available.
The fifth annual cleanup effort will happen along the entire length of the 33-mile stream, which stretches from Laytonsville all the way down to the Potomac near Georgetown.
On Saturday, April 13 from 9 a.m. to noon, the Montgomery County Road Runners Club will do a Rock Creek Trail Cleanup that includes the Matthew Henson Trail and feeder paths as well as dry feeder streams, roadways and playgrounds.
On Saturday, April 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Montgomery Parks wants volunteers for its Cabin John Trail Workday. Work typically includes repairing eroded tread surfaces, fixing drainage issues and building new trails and bridges. For more information, call 301-495-2504.
For more Earth Day events, visit Montgomery County’s Earth Day 2013 page.
Photo via Montgomery Parks
Close to 70 guest readers gathered at Chevy Chase’s Rock Creek Forest Elementary School Thursday morning to read and to emphasize the importance of reading to some of the school’s 600 students.
The sixth annual “Reading Rocks” event began when University of Maryland track coach Andrew Valmon, whose kids go to the school, asked former principal David Chia how his track athletes could volunteer.
Chia came up with the concept of the team members reading to the students, so they could ask college students about their favorite school subjects growing up.
“He asked to please have your student-athletes come to our school and read to our students so they will know there is such a thing as a college student and there is an expectation that they should think, ‘Oh, I can go to college, too,’” said Rock Creek Forest reading specialist Carla Register.
Valmon made the event mandatory and it’s grown. Today, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, County Executive Isiah Leggett, County Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Hans Riemer and Phil Andrews as well as a number of County Board of Education members, parents and former staff took turns reading to students.
“We felt that mixing the athletes with people in the community was a great way to get the kids excited,” Valmon said. “They talk about their experiences growing up and how they read. We felt like this was a way to give back. The parents do so much to keep this going.”
Rock Creek Forest will be moving to the Radnor Center over the summer for a year and a half as the existing building is demolished and rebuilt.
Principal Jennifer Lowndes said the school has a number of students for whom emphasizing the importance of reading is important. The school has an English Academy and Spanish Immersion program.
The two-day schedule includes a concert on Sunday, Jan. 20 at the Music Center at Strathmore (5301 Tuckerman Lane) and a “Day of Service” on Monday, Jan. 21 with an annual program at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center (5701 Marinelli Rd.) from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
The Strathmore musical celebration, set for 3 p.m., will feature music and dance acts and the announcement of the 2013 recipients of the Children of the Dream, Humanitarian and Literary Arts Awards.
Tickets are free but must be reserved through the Strathmore’s website, via phone at 301-581-5100 or at the Strathmore box office.
The service day will include a number of indoor projects at the Hotel and Conference Center, including card decoration for troops, peanut butter and jelly sandwich making for local shelters, making fleece blankets for Montgomery Hospice and packing snow day boxes for meals on Wheels.
All the projects are approved for MCPS Student Service Learning hours. Montgomery County is asking all interested volunteers to sign up in advance.
Flickr photo by alvesfamily
Contact the Village office for more information or to volunteer.
January—American Red Cross Babysitting Course (ages 11 +): Course for potential babysitters that teaches basic childcare techniques and first aid.
February—Movie Night (all ages): Families enjoy a movie shown on the big screen in the Village Hall along with snacks and drinks.
March—Saint Patrick’s Day Party (toddler age): A green party to celebrate St. Patty’s Day with green goodies and crafts.
April—Earth Day Event (elementary school age): Respect for Mother Earth starts at a young age. Kids will plant an herb garden that they can take home and watch grow.
May—Parents’ Night Out (all ages): Parents’ Night Out: Parents get the evening off while their kids enjoy crafts and entertainment in the care of babysitters at the Village Hall.
June—Backpack Donation & Ice Cream Social—(elementary school age): Celebrate the end of the school year by donating your lightly used backpacks and unused school supplies while enjoying an ice cream party with all the ‘fixins. Backpacks and school supplies will be donated to local kids in need.
September—Welcome Back BBQ at the Large Oliver St. Triangle Park (all ages): An event the whole family can enjoy., with entertainment, food and activities for the family to celebrate the return to school.
*Seasonal Food Drive will Run October through December*: Bring canned and other non-perishable food items to all Village events from October through December. Donations will be provided to a local food bank.
October—Costume Swap (all ages): Kids can exchange gently used Halloween costumes.
November/December—Gingerbread House Workshop (all ages): A local Gingerbread House building expert, will teach families how to construct their own house. Each family will get their very own Gingerbread House to take home for the holidays.
The program, which began in 1997 and was named in honor of philanthropists Julius and Dorothy Lazarus, has led to more than 43,000 hours of community service.
The program will accept 15 B-CC sophomores and juniors who will become Lazarus fellows by attending seminars, participating in leadership training and developing a 200-hour community service project over the summer, “to make something happen that might not happen without the initiative of the Fellow.”
It also includes support from a who’s who list of Bethesda organizations, including the Bethesda Kiwanis Club, Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rotary, the Lerch, Early and Brewer law firm, the Jim and Carol Trawick Foundation, Bethesda Urban Partnership, Honest Tea, Bethesda Magazine and the Strathmore Hall Arts Center.
Last year’s program included visits to many of those organizations and a graduation ceremony in September.
For more information, visit the program’s website.
With Montgomery County’s senior population on the rise, so is the number of “senior villages,” organizations of volunteers that provide in-home visits, rides to the doctor office, help with chores and a host of other services to those who wish to age in their homes.
On Monday, the Washington Area Villages Exchange (WAVE) came to the Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center for its quarterly meeting.
Hanne Caraher, 75, was in the audience, listening to an attorney describe the steps necessary to create a non-profit Senior Village. Caraher lives in Bethesda, in a residential neighborhood off Old Georgetown Road where she senses there’s a need.
“It’s kind of an established neighborhood. We don’t have many new families moving in so people are aging around me,” Caraher said. “I’ve lived here since 1961. That’s my good luck and many people haven’t moved either.”
The desire of seniors to age in their homes is almost universal, said Miriam Kelty, who helped create the “Neighbors Assisting Neighbors” program about five years ago in the Bannockburn neighborhood.
“We know that older people would prefer to stay in their own homes, or at least their own communities,” said Kelty, who helped start the organization after retiring from the National Institute On Aging. “We also know that physical, social and intellectual activity are very critical to aging well.”
The Bannockburn program is all volunteers and requires no fee or membership. Seniors can ask for help with transportation, household chores and equipment loans and can attend a monthly educational event on things such as container gardening, digital photography or even “tough conversations that you need to have with your children.”
The nearby Burning Tree Village has operated since about the same time, providing many of the same services to seniors in the neighborhood of 450 households.
Montgomery County has the most seniors in the state, according to the county’s Division of Aging and Disability Services, a number that has grown by 130 percent from 1980 to 2010 thanks in part to the “silver tsunami” of baby boomers aging into retirement.
“We really see a neighborhood as an extended family,” said Burning Tree Village Board member Nancy Aronson. “These days people don’t often live near their family. I have a daugther in Hawaii, a son in Connecticut. It’s hard for people even if they have children nearby. But we provide people who are happy and willing and available to help.”
Caraher’s project is just beginning. She’s hoping to find interested members to form a steering committee soon.
“We want to support a good quality of life,” Kelty said, “a satisfying quality of life that we know from the data people want by staying in their own homes.”
As part of Montgomery County’s annual Community Service Day, at least seven organizations are holding Bethesda area volunteer events the week of Oct. 22 to Oct. 28.
The projects include cleaning up and “putting away” parts of the baseball park at Shirley Povich Field, a painting project at the headquarters of a healthcare nonprofit and invasive weed removal at McCrillis Gardens.
Many of the projects are still looking for volunteers and county officials in charge of the event are encouraging residents to create their own.
The Shirley Povich Field project includes taking down signs, gardening and helping staff of the Bethesda Community Baseball Club that runs the summer league Big Train baseball team prepare the park for winter.
The rest of the projects, including links and descriptions are after the jump:
A trio of local organizations got together last weekend to provide medical services to medically vulnerable and homeless without other access to them.
The Sathya Sai Baba Center of South Bethesda, homelessness prevention nonprofit Bethesda Cares and host Bethesda Presbyterian Church joined Saturday to sponsor a medical camp and triage for 33 patients.
Twenty of the 33 were homeless, 13 lived in homes and 20 had no insurance, according to Sathya Sai Center President Siva Sreeni.
Health care professionals included two triage doctors, two internal medicine specialists, an ophthalmologist, dentist, stress reduction expert and doctors to register and check-out patients.
All but five patients received eye exams and all but four got dental exams.
The Sathya Sai Baba Center practices a mix of Hindu and Muslim beliefs from the teachings of Indian guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The Bethesda Presbyterian Church, in conjunction with Bethesda Cares, holds a lunch for the homeless every Saturday that feeds an average of 40 people.
By last official count, there were 72 chronically homeless people from Friendship Heights to the White Flint Metro station.
Photos courtesy of Sanjay Mandhan via Bethesda Cares
The Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP) is looking for 100 volunteers to help set up tents, serve drinks and help drivers park during this year’s Taste of Bethesda, slated for Oct. 6.
The annual event typically draws 40,000 to Bethesda according to BUP, the Montgomery County-sponsored nonprofit that maintains and markets Downtown Bethesda.
BUP will again shut down Norfolk, Fairmont, St. Elmo, Cordell and Del Ray Avenues in Woodmont Triangle for the 23rd annual Taste, which it runs in conjunction with the “Come Back to Bethesda” classic car show and Bethesda Chevy Chase Rescue Squad open house.
Last year’s rainy Taste of Bethesda drew between 15,000 and 18,000 to sample food from about 60 restaurants.
Flickr pool photo by k9rescue