Many people use the end of one year to reflect on things they would like to accomplish in the coming year. What better resolution than to sow the seeds of peace in 2021?
Peace underscores much of the work that Rotary members do in improving their communities around the world. Rotary’s peacebuilding initiatives seek to create environments where lasting peace is possible. We do this by continually investing in sustainable and measurable peace programs throughout our communities and across the globe; by creating an extensive network of peacebuilders and community leaders dedicated to peace and conflict prevention; and by providing Rotarians with several avenues in which they can actively participate in peacebuilding processes within their communities.
We believe that if Rotarians and concerned citizens mobilize locally to create peace, change can happen globally. Here are 10 ways you can be an everyday peacebuilder. (Check out an expanded list here).
Seek out any Rotary Peace Fellows who live or work in your district and invite them to collaborate on your club’s next peacebuilding project – they can offer invaluable help on the planning and implementation of the peacebuilding project.
Check out the Rotary Peace Fellowship Alumni Association website, where you can access the Online Speaker Database to find peace fellows globally who can give a virtual presentation to your club.
We refuse to accept conflict as a way of life. Rotary projects provide training that fosters understanding and provides communities with the skills to resolve conflicts.
As a humanitarian organization, peace is a cornerstone of our mission. We believe when people work to create peace in their communities, that change can have a global effect.
By carrying out service projects and supporting peace fellowships and scholarships, our members take action to address the underlying causes of conflict, including poverty, discrimination, ethnic tension, lack of access to education, and unequal distribution of resources.
Our commitment to peacebuilding today answers new challenges: how we can make the greatest possible impact and how we can achieve our vision of lasting change. We are approaching the concept of peace with greater cohesion and inclusivity, broadening the scope of what we mean by peacebuilding, and finding more ways for people to get involved.
Rotary creates environments where peace can happen.
Rotary’s Four Roles in Promoting Peace
Rotary and its members are:
Practitioners: Our work fighting disease, providing clean water and sanitation, improving the health of mothers and children, supporting education, and growing local economies directly builds the optimal conditions for peaceful societies.
Educators: Our Rotary Peace Centers have trained over 1,300 peace fellows to become effective catalysts for peace through careers in government, education, and international organizations.
Mediators: Our members have negotiated humanitarian ceasefires in areas of conflict to allow polio vaccinators to reach children who are at risk.
Advocates: Our members have an integral role as respected, impartial participants during peace processes and in post-conflict reconstruction. We focus on creating communities and convening groups that are connected, inclusive, and resilient.
• Rebuilding Together is the nation's premier nonprofit community revitalization organization. There are 128 affiliates in 39 states.
• Rebuilding Together Howard County is the local affiliate. We are proud of our 28 year history of providing free home repairs to low income residents living in Howard County. We have repaired over 1050 homes free of charge in Howard County.
• Our mission is: Repairing homes, revitalizing communities, rebuilding lives.
• We have a thousand volunteers who do the work as well as contractors who provide pro bono or reduced cost services.
• When the Ellicott City floods of 2016 and 2018 hit, Rebuilding Together became a board member of the One EC Recovery Project and provided major repairs to 14 homes. Currently we are building from the ground up a home of a Ellicott City flood victim.
• As well as providing team builds where volunteers from the community and corporate world repair homes, we also supply Urgent Repairs and Handyman Services. In addition, we have a Community Revitalization Program and Safe and Healthy Housing Initiative.
In 2013, Rotary set out on its new grant model under the Future Vision Plan, in the hopes that the approach would enhance the scope, impact, and sustainability of humanitarian projects. More than six years later, and with over $460 million invested in almost 7,000 projects across the globe, Rotary is ready to augment these critical investments with a new grant type. Beginning January 2020, Rotary International is introducing a highly selective, competitive grant model that empowers Rotarians to implement large-scale, high impact projects with experienced partners.
In support of Rotary’s Action Plan, Rotary International’s Programs of Scale grants will award $2 million to one approved project each year that responds to a community-identified need. These projects will benefit a large number of people in a significant geographic area using a sustainable, evidence-based intervention with measurable outcomes and impact. Each grant will support, for three to five years, activities that align with one or more of Rotary’s areas of focus.
This is an exciting opportunity to complement the international service Rotarians already undertake with a larger grant investment over a longer time frame. Time and resources that will be dedicated to help deliver service in communities that will live on beyond project implementation. And by focusing on documenting the metrics of our good works, we get a clearer picture of results, and the good Rotary does around the world.
The Heartstrong Foundation focuses on raising funding and awareness around congenital heart defects. 1 in 100 babies are born with a heart defect, and it is the number 1 birth defect. Life with congenital heart defects (CHD) does not exist without intervention, most often open heart surgery within the first few months of life. It takes a lot of strength to be living with or be affected by CHD and our foundation draws so much inspiration from the families that don’t let circumstances dictate what they get out of life
The foundation focuses on the positive steps that are being taken in the CHD community. All of our fundraising goes to CHD research and family support, as well as educating the public about CHD. Our big event is coming up in September; the Feet for Beats 5K and 1-mile walk.
Our hope is to make a difference in the CHD community by contributing to the positive influences for these families.
The Heartstrong Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that is happy to accept tax-deductible donations to the extent allowed by law. The EIN is 82-1962070.
OTHER WAYS TO GIVE:
You can contibute to Heartstrong through Amazon Smile. A portion of your purchase will go to Heartstrong, and will incur no additional cost to you!
You can mail checks (made out to Heartstrong Foundation) to: Heartstrong Foundation, 10153 Maxine Street, Ellicott City, 21042
A native of South Burlington, Vermont, I love to fish, hike, cook, sketch, garden, bake, juggle, puzzle, putter and tinker. I aspire to renew my scuba certification and open a breakfast joint one day. I like taking the long route and stopping along the way. I’ve never regretted climbing a mountain or walking in a downpour.
Journalism takes you places you’d never expect. After I graduated from Stanford University, I moved to Boston and lived in a scrappy house of rabblerousers while I covered the Cambridge, Mass., City Council for the Sunday Boston Globe. My first full-time journalism job took me to the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, Massachusetts, then the Associated Press in Boston, where in the crucible of reporting on 9/11, I met my wife, Audie Cornish. In 2005, we moved to Nashville, where I covered Tennessee and the South for the New York Times and other publications, then reported on state government for the Tennessean. We moved to Washington, DC, in 2009, where I’ve lived ever since. I earned an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction from Goucher College in 2014, and was a 2015 fellow with the Alicia Patterson Foundation. Hellfire Boys is my first book.
Established in 1971 in Howard County, Humanim is a non-profit organization supporting and economically empowering individuals through the areas of human services, youth transitional services, workforce development and social enterprise. Our organization was founded on the belief that every human being has potential and that work is transformative, with the goal of creating economic equity for individuals with disabilities and socio-economic challenges.
Judi Olinger, Vice President for Development Disabilities at Humanim and iHomes, President & CEO
Judi Olinger is the Vice President for Development Disabilities at Humanim, as well as the President & CEO for iHomes, Inc. (a Howard County private non-profit community housing development organization established by Humanim to provide affordable housing options to individuals with disabilities). Judi has over 30 years of experience providing services to individuals with disabilities. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a two-year certificate from the University of Maryland in “The Development and Financing of Affordable Housing”, and most recently obtained her certification in Health Care Compliance. She is a graduate of Leadership Baltimore County (class of 2000) and Leadership Maryland (class of 2013). In addition, Judi is a national surveyor for the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Most recently, Judi was appointed by the Howard County Council to the Commission for Transitional Youth with Disabilities.
Diana Ellis, Vice President of Advancement at Humanim
Diana is the Vice President of Advancement at Humanim. Diana has over 14 years of experience in nonprofits and fundraising. Born and raised in Romania, Diana earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and MBA from the University of Charleston (Charleston, WV). She is a graduate of Leadership Maryland (class of 2017). Diana is currently involved with the Program Committee of Leadership Maryland, Executive Forum at the Center Club, and the Program Committee of Women In Business at the Center Club.
Do you love to read? I’ve been surprised to learn that not everybody does, and in fact, for many its a chore. But for me, reading has always been a big part of my life. Nowadays I read almost exclusively for entertainment (the years of reading investment research certainly don’t count) and I divide my reading time into “serious reading” and “fun” reading. In fact, over the years I’ve offered book reviews here at Ready, Fire, Aim when I found something I thought was particularly relevant to Rotary.
But lately I’ve found something even more fun than reading. And that is discussing the books I’ve read with others who also love to read. I’ve learned that these discussions tend to be informed, rational, interesting, educational, and an absolute hoot. And guess who I’ve been discussing these books with? That’s right, the Rotarians in our new Rotary Book Club. [Full disclosure: We haven’t come up with a pithy name for the club yet so we seem to be sticking with the endlessly creative name of “book club.”] I did a little research to see if Rotary International has a book club fellowship, since literacy is pretty big on our collective “to-do” list, but I didn’t see one on the list.
If you Google book clubs, or ask the many millions of folks who belong to a book club, you will find that there are endless ways of organizing your club. Don’t feel obligated to do it our way, but just in case you’re interested, here’s how we set up ours:
We meet once a month on the first Tuesday of the month. This implies we are reading twelve books during the year. The meetings are hosted by yours truly at my home with participants gathering around 6:30PM. Discussions usually go from 7PM to 9PM.
We currently have ten official members in the club, but usually get six or seven attendees for any one meeting. Our Rotary club has 50 members or so and even though we are constantly asking others to join us, for the rest of the club a monthly reading assignment just isn’t their cup of tea. We think ten is a good number to manage a robust conversation. ( I have been reliably informed that if we changed the club to the “bourbon and book club,” membership would soar.) If you have more interest in your club you might want to split up the groups somehow. I leave that to you.
Each member gets to recommend a book when it’s his or her turn. Other book clubs decide on books in a much more democratic fashion with members voting on each month’s reading selection. For us, so far at least, it’s worked that a member recommends the book with the proviso that they’ve already read it. If the group hates the book (it hasn’t happened yet) it may be that the member’s choice of books next time around will be more carefully vetted. Anyway, we think this reduces the risk of reading a clunker book because everyone is time constrained and our book reading time is precious.
So far the book list has been very eclectic and I think we are getting a little more ambitious in our book selections as we’ve gone along. Our first four books were nonfiction but the last two were fiction, or at least historical fiction. So far we’ve read:
Hidden Figures, The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly
The Gatekeepers, How the White House chiefs of Staff Define every Presidency; by Chris Whipple.
Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart, Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now, by Dr. Gordon Livingston
Factfulness, Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – And Why Things Are Better Than You Think, by Hans Rosling,
Beneath a Scarlett Sky, by Mark Sullivan, A story about a forgotten hero of the Italian resistance during World War II.
And our current reading assignment – Educated, by Tara Westover
The person who recommends the book leads the discussion. That usually entails asking the group questions about the book. Everyone has their own style as discussion leader, but we’ve found it’s a pretty easy job because everyone is eager to join in and share their views. The conversation is wonderful!
Snacks in the form of a bottle of white, a bottle of red, and a 12-pack of beer, along with inexpensive munchies, are provided by the person who is “on deck” with the next month’s book.
So that’s pretty much it. If you are looking for a creative way to stimulate fellowship in your Rotary Club, to be able to offer another option to new members to get engaged with Rotary, and to actually do something to promote the 5th part of the Four Way Test (Have Fun!….but you knew that), then I highly recommend you start a book club in your Rotary Club.
Happy reading everyone and even happier fellowship!
Back in the day Rotary membership was a prized position for business owners in most communities in the United States. Membership was so competitive that Rotary rules limited the number of members from any one industry or profession (Rotary calls them “classifications”) in order to ensure that Rotary club membership included a broad and diversified exposure to the business community. To be a Rotary club president was to be at the very top of the business pyramid, both socially and economically, and only the true titans of industry were awarded the position. Business owners fully understood the value of Rotary membership in terms of prestige, public image, and networking. Perhaps more importantly, it allowed them to be a meaningful part of the solution to many issues and concerns in their local community.
Today things are different. Both Rotary International and business leaders have challenges with public image. Rotary is often lumped together with all of the other “old fashioned” fraternal organizations where the image of community service is somehow linked to wearing the lodge hat of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes last seen in the Flintstones. Business owners wrongly believe that the time commitment required for Rotary membership is inflexible, onerous, and consequently not feasible for busy executives. They don’t understand the value proposition that was so important to previous generations of business owners.
However, business leaders struggle with their own image challenge. In a world of ever increasing income inequality, and where the public perception of “one percenters” is becoming more negative on a daily basis, being a business owner is often lumped in with ugly connotations of being disinterested and disconnected with the local community. The “old fashioned” notion of corporate responsibility to local citizens is being replaced by the perception that businesses only care about shareholder value.
It’s time that Rotary and business reconnect for all the right reasons which, ironically, are the same reasons membership was so popular with businesses years ago.
The Rotary Club of Columbia Patuxent is offering Howard County businesses a new opportunity for corporate membership. The goal is to make membership affordable, flexible, and valuable to a Howard County business that wants to make a positive impact locally and Internationally by serving others in need. For many businesses, the CEO and other top executives will want to add Rotary membership to their resume, for the simple reason that they need to know the needs of the community if they are to serve it well, and because Rotary is the traditional organization to build business networks while doing community service. Since 1905 this recipe of service and networking has been a proven method of growing a business as well as enjoying the personal benefits of serving others.
Another way to take advantage of Rotary membership is to offer it to young professionals in your organization. Rotary provides invaluable opportunities for taking on leadership roles for ambitious young executives. And Rotary membership provides networking opportunities for future business leaders. Young business professionals can also find valuable role models and mentors in the local Rotary club, something that is so valuable that it’s hard to assign it a dollar value. In short, the “perk” of Rotary membership shows your young executives that you care about their business and personal growth.
The secret to our corporate membership is this: up to four members of a local business or other organization can join as full members but three of the four members pay significantly discounted dues of only $150 per year. The business typically pays the dues for Rotary membership. The arrangement works well for our Rotary club as we get to meet four members of a local business and consider them full members of our club. And the arrangement is terrific for a local business in Howard County because:
1) Any of the four members can attend a meeting or all four are welcome, adding temendous flexibility and reducing the time commitment of membership.
2) The price of membership is a fraction of the cost compared to all four executives paying full membership dues.
3) The business is well represented in the community and can participate in projects that they help design if they choose.
4) Executives get to meet and befriend other business leaders in the club, expanding their understanding of community needs and wants.
5) The networking opportunities in Rotary lead to important business contacts that can result in profitable business ventures in the future.
6) There is the personal benefit of knowing that you are helping others who may not have the means to help themselves.
Why not learn more about today’s Rotary? The Rotary Club of Columbia Patuxent meets on Friday mornings at 7:30AM at the Interfaith Center across from Wilde Lake HS. Be our guest for breakfast. Or, feel free to contact Membership Chair, Sandy Harriman, at 301-775-2853 or email at email@example.com.
Gilchrist is a nationally recognized, nonprofit leader in serious illness and end-of-life care. We provide counseling, support and care to people at every stage of serious illness, so they may live life to the fullest. Furthermore, we are deeply committed to giving people the clear information and loving support they need to make informed choices about their care.
Since 1996, the name ‘Gilchrist’ has become synonymous with quality, compassion, and leadership.
Our vision: We are deeply committed to giving people the clear information and loving support they need to make informed choices about their care.
Aging and Serious Illness
Since 1900, average life expectancy has increased from 47 to 78 years old.
The number of Americans over age 85 will more than double by 2030.
By 2050, people over 65 will outnumber people under 18 for the first time in history.
Need for Exceptional Care and Resources for Caregivers
To address the need for increased serious illness care in Central Maryland, Gilchrist has expanded beyond hospice, to provide comprehensive and coordinated care to people at every stage of serious illness.
Three main programs: Gilchrist Counseling & Support, Gilchrist Elder Medical Care and Gilchrist Hospice Care.
We offer a wide range of services, from early diagnosis through the end of life. Our staff; physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, hospice aides, social workers, music therapists, chaplains and volunteers find their work is not a job, but a calling.
In Howard County, we are caring for your friends, neighbors and family members. We provide medical care, psychosocial and volunteer support for 1,000 patients annually and grief counseling for over 800 patient families and community clients. We have served over 3,000 patients at Gilchrist Center Howard County since opening in 2011.
Gilchrist is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving anyone in need of care, regardless of ability to pay.
The Columbia Pro Cantare is a mixed chorus of over 100 volunteer singers which seeks to present the finest choral music to a growing regional audience.
Columbia Pro Cantare is a nationally recognized mixed chorus of auditioned volunteer singers based in Howard County which seeks to present the finest choral literature in concerts of high artistic quality to a growing regional audience. It aspires to provide enriching musical experiences for musicians and non-musicians alike
Since the Spring of 1977, the Columbia Pro Cantare has delighted Howard County and metro area audiences with its concerts of music ranging from the classics of opera, oratorio, and the concert stage to American and European folk and spiritual music. Founded by Director Frances Motyca Dawson, as a professionally trained volunteer chorus to sing nine times with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at its Howard County concerts and to bring high quality musical experiences to local audiences with its own independent performances, CPC has more than fulfilled its purpose over the thirty-six years.
Inspired by Jim Rouse's vision of Columbia as a place where people could grow and find expression for their artistic talents, Frances Dawson has built a choral group described by the Baltimore Sun as "one of the elite choirs in Maryland" and by the American Record Guide as one of the choral groups that are the "musical hubs of their communities." Not only has the Pro Cantare performed vocal and choral compositions from the 10th to the 21st centuries, but it has presented concerts devoted to the music of such diverse cultures as Polish, Swedish, Czech, Hungarian, Irish, Jewish, Latin-American, American popular, folk and classical, and - especially in three European concert tours, the final concert of the 2001-2002 season, and the 2009 Tribute to Paul Robeson - African American. In addition, CPC has performed 14 world premiers, (12 of which were commissioned works of Maryland composers) and 16 U.S. premieres of primarily East European works of outstanding quality from lesser known composers. Most of these latter were retrieved from Czech archives through Mrs. Dawson's efforts both before and after the fall of communism. On October 28, 1998, the Columbia Pro Cantare was privileged to present a concert of Czech music featuring the Jazz Mass of composer Karel Ružicka at the Washington National Cathedral to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Czechoslovakia in 1918.
CPC has given more than 12 free or benefit concerts in its lifetime. These range from one of its first concerts, which benefited St. John's Catholic Congregation (11/77) and the opening of Baltimore's Harborplace (7/80), to two Polish concerts which brought attention to the imposition of martial law in Poland (1982, 1983). Pro Cantare also helped celebrate Columbia's 20th birthday with the Hail Columbia concert at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in 1987 for which local non-profits received all the income from the tickets they sold. That concert featured Jim Rouse's premier as a performer, when he narrated Aaron Copland's A Lincoln Portrait. The chorus also sang at Howard County's 1990 Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration, the 1997 Naturalization Ceremony, the 2002 Howard County remembrance of 9/11, held at Centennial Park. In 1997, the CPC was featured in the inaugural concert of its home venue, The Jim Rouse Theatre, and on June 15, 2007, a group of 55 members of the Pro Cantare joined the Minnesota Dance Theatre in a much-praised, captivating staged production of Carmina Burana for The Columbia Festival of the Arts.
In addition to giving concerts at home, the Columbia Pro Cantare has performed in or near Washington D.C. (Kennedy Center, National City Christian Church, National Cathedral, National Presbyterian Church), and in Baltimore (Harborplace, Kraushaar Auditorium, Christ Lutheran Church, Holy Rosary Church, 2nd Presbyterian Church, Memorial Episcopal Church, Church of the Redeemer). In all, the Columbia Pro Cantare has thrilled more than 100,000 audience members and introduced them to some of the finest music composed in the western world.
Martin Schwartz of Vehicles for Change explains their program of taking donated cars and rehabbing them for low-income families. Vehicles for Change Inc. (VFC) empowers families with financial challenges to achieve economic and personal independence through car ownership and technical training.
The Rotary Club of Columbia Patuxent, along with many of the individual Rotarian's in the club, is a generous sponsor of the new documentary, Dare To Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication.
The movie was written and produced by club member, Ken Solow, and directed and edited by Ilana Bittner, wife of club member, Dave Bittner, at Pixel Workshop. At this Friday's meeting we will view an 18-minute excerpt of the film and get a chance to preview this highly praised full-length documentary about Rotary history. We should have ordered some popcorn for breakfast! It's movie time!!
"Rotary leaders pursued a grand vision and eventually overcame all obstacles in setting Rotary on a course that, thirty years later, is set to achieve the most incredible public health victory the world has ever seen."
If our speaker today looks familiar, that’s because she was a CNN correspondent for 18 years where she covered beats including the White House, Capitol Hill, Pentagon and aviation and won numerous awards for her work reporting on Hurricane Katrina. Kathleen grew up on the Gulf Coast and wrote a best-selling award-winning book about the recovery of her hometown called Rising from Katrina: How My Mississippi Hometown Lost It All and Found What Mattered. She is a longtime Howard County resident and is here today to tell us about her latest endeavor – the nonprofit LeadersLink that has created a supportive network of disaster veterans who help communities prevent, prepare for and recover from catastrophes. Last but not least, Kathleen is a Paul Harris Fellow and was a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar in Dijon, France.
Kathleen Koch of LeadersLink explains their program of bringing together leaders who have faced natural disasters to share their experiences. She'll discuss Mississippi Gulf Coast hometown's destruction by Hurricane Katrina and Rotary's great work in the recovery and how both inspired her to start the nonprofit LeadersLink. Learn how important it is for communities to share what they learn when they experience disasters so that other areas are better prepared and able to recover more quickly when the worst happens. Also hear about their role after the Ellicott City flash flood and other work during the widespread 2017 disasters.
Mission: HC DrugFree provides resources and education on prevention, treatment, recovery, health and wellness to help Howard County residents develop knowledge and skills to understand and address behavioral health (substance use and mental health) disorders.
Vision: Howard County is a special place to live and to raise a family. To keep it special and to combat the rising dangers of substances and other behavioral health disorders, HC DrugFree provides resources and education on prevention, treatment, recovery and wellness to assist Howard County residents. By partnering and providing outreach with the local schools, community organizations, governmental entities and businesses, we offer up-to-date information and resources on the misuse, abuse and dependence of illegal substances and medications through our website and social media, speakers, educators and professionals. HC DrugFree is the premier organization in Howard County that not only provides education, awareness and prevention to individuals, and families, but is on the forefront in organizing Drug Take-Back events, conducting informational programs for students and families, providing secure receptacles for medications, and other innovative methods to help our county’s citizens have the tools to live a healthy life.
History: In 1995, staff at Oakland Mills High School (OMHS) in Columbia, MD organized to respond to the alarming number of teens using illegal substances such as tobacco, alcohol and other drugs as well as truancy, violence, weapons, and gangs. As this initiative expanded from OMHS to additional schools across Howard County, it became known as the Eastern Coalition Against Substance Abuse. As the coalition grew and became more demanding of school staff time and resources, HC DrugFree, a nonprofit was formed.In March of 2004, HC DrugFree, Inc. was incorporated and in October 2014, was awarded 501(c)(3) nonprofit status by the IRS. HC DrugFree continues to work closely with the Howard County Public School System, the PTA Council of Howard County,the Parent Teacher Student Associations, and other community, state and national partners.
On a recent weekday, Robbie Furman sat in the lobby of the Cross Creek building at the Charlestown retirement community with a suitcase that he guessed weighs about 10 or 20 pounds. As a health insurance resource manager for Erickson Advantage, a branch of parent company Erickson Living, which operates the Catonsville center, Furman spends his days meeting with residents about their healthcare options.
His suitcase isn't packed with insurance literature. Inside, there are about 500 balloons in an assortment of colors, shapes and sizes. When he's not talking insurance, he uses his balloons to deliver cheer to the seniors. He's worked for Erickson Living for about a year and has been spending time at Charlestown for about a month.
Now, he's starting to be known across the 110-care campus as "the balloon guy." Balloon art has been a hobby of Furman's for more than 25 years. He started by volunteering at events, then created his own business in 2000. He said he traveled to 37 countries in five continents to take part in parties, television work and classes.
"I find the most passion in making balloons for people who enjoy them," he said. "I'm in a much happier place doing what I do."Furman, 45, who lives in Baltimore, caught the balloon-making bug when he was 7 and saw a balloon artist in action. When he was about 19 — and his aspiration was long forgotten, he was working at a bookstore when he saw a book on how to make balloon animals. It rekindled his childhood dream.
Now 45, he's been blowing and twisting balloons ever since. The craft has always been a novelty, he said. At the time, there were 10 colors of balloons to choose from. Now, with more colors, shapes and sizes, there are hundreds of options, he said. "It was like a 360," he said. "This is my destiny." He enjoys the art form because even to this day, there are no rules, he said.
He compares the art of balloon making to music. Songs are based on a set of notes. Furman uses a combination of five basic twists to make each of his creations.
"Anybody with a desire to learn how to make balloons can make every one of these designs," he said, pointing to tables in the lobby with some ducks, a bear, a monkey in a tree and a fruit basket on them, all made out of balloons. "All of these designs use basic, basic, techniques but brought together in a way that's easy to make."
And unlike most temporary art forms, the final products are something that is meant to be kept, lasting a couple of weeks, he said. At Charlestown, he'll use the balloons to teach residents and help with fundraisers and events.
When Patti Santoni, the director of philanthropy at Charlestown, saw that Furman made the balloon ducks, she enlisted him to make some for the community's annual Lucky Duck Race fundraiser, in its second year.
"I always think balloons are uplifting, no matter what," she said. "When you see someone walking around with balloons, it brings a smile to people's faces. It brings out the kid in you." Before he left for the day, he made a few balloons for residents. "Now watch this," he said to resident Lois Smedley as he started to create. "This is where people go wondering what is that going to be." After a few more seconds of twisting, he attached some eye stickers to what he made and handed a teddy bear to her. "I like him," she said about the bear. What could be seen as a small gesture is one that can change someone's whole day, Furman said.
Chris Emery grew up on a farm in Howard County Maryland; he attended public schools, then earned his Bachelor's degree in Information Systems Management from the University of Maryland. Chris has more than 40 years of information technology experience, including 25 years with the federal government. He has been the head of software applications development, a Chief Enterprise Architect, and a Chief Information Officer.
From January 1986 until March 1994, Chris Emery had of one of the most unique positions in the U.S. government—he was an Usher in the White House.
The Ushers Office manages the White House Executive Residence where the nation’s first family lives. Only the 18th White House usher since 1891, Chris had the honor and privilege to serve presidential families for three years during the Reagan administration, four years for President H. W. Bush, and 14 months under President Clinton.
In his new book,White House Usher: Stories from the Inside, Emery recreates intimate White House happenings from an insider’s perspective. The reader will learn what it is like inside the White House and having daily interaction with the President and First Lady. Chris shares a variety of history, anecdotes, verbatim conversations with the President and world leaders. He also details what it was like being fired from the job he loved.
Of all the military bugle calls, none is so easily recognized or more apt to evoke emotion than the call Taps. The melody is both eloquent and haunting and the history of its origin is interesting and somewhat clouded in controversy. Jari Villanueva, nationally recognized Taps historian and bugler discusses the origin of the famous melody and how the call has become part of our American heritage.
Jari Villanueva retired from the United States Air Force where he spent 23 years with The USAF Band in Washington DC. Between 2008 and 2017, Villanueva worked for the Maryland Military Department, serving as the Director of Veterans Affairs, Maryland National Guard Honor Guard (MDNGHG) providing Military Funeral Honors to military veterans in Maryland.
He is considered the country’s foremost expert on military bugle calls, particularly the call of Taps which is sounded at military funerals. In 2012 he was involved with many events marking the 150thanniversary of the call culminating with a ceremony at Berkley Plantation in Charles City, VA where Taps was born. He is the author of the book, “Twenty-Four Notes That Taps Deep Emotions: The History of America’s Most Famous Bugle Call”
A Civil War historian and re-enactor, Villanueva is Artistic Director of the National Association for Civil War Brass Music, Inc., where he directs and leads The Federal City Brass Band and the 26th North Carolina Regimental Band, recreated regimental bands of the Civil War era. He also sounds bugle calls at many re-enactments. In addition, he has served as the music director for the National Civil War Field Music School where students learn to play fife, drum and bugle
This week, Gina Kazimir of Pets on Wheels talks about their therapy pet visits. Pets on Wheels is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that brings therapy animals to facilities across Maryland for friendly visits. Each year more than 175,000 people enjoy their Volunteer Teams’ visits at nearly 400 facilities and special events.
Pets on Wheels brings the joy of friendly pet therapy to people all over the state of Maryland. Regularly visiting nursing homes and hospitals to assisted living facilities, homeless and domestic violence shelters, veterans’ hospitals, libraries, schools, colleges, corporate campuses and more, Pets on Wheels volunteers improve lives and help lick loneliness one visit at a time.
The Howard County Office of Tourism and Promotion is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting all that is wonderful and unique about visiting and living in Howard County, Maryland. As the official destination marketing organization for Howard County, we are IT–the first and foremost source of information for people who want to know more about where to go and what to see and do in Howard County.
Our organization is primarily funded through a funding allocation from Howard County Government. We are governed by a Board of Directors and receive supplemental funding via partnership dues. We are an advocate for the tourism industry and offer exclusive promotional benefits to individuals and businesses interested in capturing a greater market share of the millions of dollars tourism generates. Our professional public relations and sales and marketing teams are ready to help as front-line resources to extend your business’s marketing reach both regionally and locally, as well as assist with your in-house promotional efforts.
Our members enjoy first-hand access to an extensive clientele base along with front-and-center promotional opportunities that set their business apart from the crowd. As a member, you have access to a wide array of products that can maximize your marketing efforts.