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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.



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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Author and HoCo resident Chris Emery visits

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. 

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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 150th anniversary 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

His website is www.TapsBugler.com and FaceBook page is www.facebook.com/tapsbugler.jari/

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Gina Kazimir of Pets on Wheels stops by

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.

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Amanda Hof of Howard County Tourism is our guest

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.

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The Wings for Val Foundation was founded in memory of LT Valerie Cappealere Delaney, a Navy fighter pilot who perished during a training mission on March 11, 2013 at the age of 26 years old. At her funeral, what started as a simple idea by a few of her friends to leave their pilot’s wings with Val at Arlington turned into an enormous response from nearly 200 fellow female aviators from all over the world. This inspired Val’s family to start the Wings for Val Foundation as a way to carry on Val’s legacy. We provide scholarships to women pursuing careers in aviation and hope to inspire young girls to spread their own wings in any career field using stories of Val and of all the women aviators who gave their wings.


To promote and support women pursuing careers in aviation, and to inspire future generations of female leaders to spread their wings and let their dreams take flight!


Women will become empowered leaders who reach forward for mentorship, who reach back to support and inspire those behind them, and who rise above adversity with the mindset to “Adapt and Overcome.” Just like the V-shaped flight formation of birds and jets, women can fly further when they fly together.
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Dr. Porter has a love and enthusiasm for the ocean that is evident in his career and free time.  His talk, The Ocean in Service to Mankind, will focus on the history of knowledge of the ocean, how we measure it, how we use it, what it provides to us, and what the future holds for it.

Dr. Porter’s degrees include a BS from University of MD in physics, an MS from MIT in Physical Oceanography, and a PhD in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics for Catholic University of America.   He has worked at NOAA for ten years and at The Johns Hopkins University - Applied Physics Laboratory for 30 years.  He has written scores of papers, given hundreds of talks, and co-authored a book on oceanography [He also wrote a children’s book].   He has sailed the seas, navigated under the water, flown over it with instrumented aircraft, and observed the ocean with satellites.  He has swum in all the major oceans of earth and loves to sail.   He loves sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm of the ocean with all who will listen.

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A self described "Nature Girl", Doris will entertain you with stories of beekeeping in Howard County, raising monarch butterflies, and a few "bee rescues" as she hopes to entice you to increase your intake of Vitamin N (for nature). 

Doris is the Vice President at Gerald Walsh CPA, LLC, where she is Strategic Planning Partner with her husband, Gerry--the CPA. Managing the accounting and staffing functions, as well as day to day management of the practice, is an “encore career” for Doris--quite a departure from her previous roles, including Professional Development at the Restaurant Association of Maryland. 

Holding a Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland in Ornamental Horticulture, she is a nature girl and loves being outdoors. Doris is a long-time member and frequent speaker for the Howard County Beekeepers Association (as well as a Bee Ambassador). she also serves as the Director of Membership for The Business Women's Network of Howard County. Doris has 2 grown children: a son who is a Stage Manager, and daughter who works is a Job Developer for the Arc of Howard County.

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Sue Ellen Shafley talks about Camp Attaway

Camp Attaway is a three-week summer day camp program for children with emotional and behavioral disorders. Held in Howard County, Maryland, the Camp offers a variety of activities designed to ensure a safe, therapeutic, and most importantly, a fun-filled days for children, as well as a weekly support and education group for their parents. Activities include: swimming, sports-lite, cooperative games, rock climbing, arts & crafts, nature and drama. Camp Attaway creates a safe environment with a 2:1 ratio of campers to staff at all times.

Camp Attaway has partnered with the Howard County Public School System. Many thanks to Board of Education Vice Chairwoman Ellen Flynn Giles for being an advocate and in helping to facilitate Attaway securing a spacious centrally located lovely home in Columbia at Jeffers Hill Elementary. Camp Attaway is thrilled to once again return to Jeffers Hill Elementary where Principal Patricia Shifflett, Vice Principal Brian Vanisko, and staff welcomed them home. There are many perks to being located at Jeffers Hill Elementary, but walking to the pool is at the top of the list for Attaway campers!

Sue Ann Shafley, Camp Attaway’s first Executive Director, has a background in non-profit management, special education, law, and commercial real estate. Ms. Shafley is exceptionally well-suited to lead Camp Attaway in this time of growth in our organization. Ms. Shafley, a Howard County resident, recognizes the need for Camp Attaway’s resources to be more available to more children and their families as well as to the professional community. She will focus her efforts on expanding programming and procuring a permanent site for the Camp.

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Rachel Beebe is a Sustainability Project Manager in Howard County Government. In this role, she manages the residential stormwater programs, as well as some outreach and education programs. She is the Mitigation Co-Chair for the Maryland Association of Floodplain and Stormwater Managers, on the Advisory Committee of the Watershed Stewards Academy, and is involved with many other community groups.

The Howard County Office of Community Sustainability has begun to implement a pilot program, CleanScapes Communities, with new features to encourage Best Management Practice (BMP) implementation across a broader segment of its residential population. OCS has received high levels of interest from County residents in the geographic pilot area. This program minimizes barriers to entry, especially financial and technical, to residents who might have been deterred from participating in the County’s existing residential program, CleanScapes. Thanks to a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the County is able this program to low-income residents free of charge; according to market research, low-income populations are very unlikely to install stormwater BMPs. The geographic pilot area was carefully selected to provide the highest chance of success to the pilot, so that the methodology of the program could be more accurately tested without interference from other factors.

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This Week Allan Kittleman Stops By!

Allan H. Kittleman was elected Nov. 4, 2014 to serve as Howard County’s 9th County Executive. From 2004 to 2014, Kittleman had served in the Maryland General Assembly as the Senator representing District 9. From 1998 to 2004, Kittleman represented Council District 5 on the Howard County Council.

Kittleman was a partner with Herwig & Humphreys, LLP before serving as Of Counsel at Godwin, Erlandson, Vernon & Daney, where his practice concentrated on representing employers in worker’s compensation matters.

During his tenure in the Maryland General Assembly, Kittleman was known as a bipartisan, independent leader and tireless advocate for many legislative causes, including strengthening Maryland public schools, stimulating economic growth and increasing transparency in government. He demonstrated particular dedication to legislative matters involving civil rights, fairness and equity. 

Improving the delivery of human services, closing the education gap and rebuilding aging infrastructure are among Kittleman’s top priorities as Howard County Executive. He has focused efforts on the revitalization of older communities, including the Long Reach and Oakland Mills village centers and sections of the Rt. 1 corridor. He is committed to open and transparent government, launching the county’s first open data portal and holding regular town hall meetings and roundtable discussions to gather public input on various issues.

Spurring economic development, encouraging businesses to expand or relocate to the County and maintaining a healthy tax base continue to be top priorities. Kittleman believes county government can provide top-notch services without burdening residents with unnecessary fees and tax increases, Howard County’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in the state and its commercial occupancy rates among the highest.

Kittleman is a Howard County native, who attended county schools, graduating from Atholton High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a J.D. with honors from the University of Maryland Law School.

He and his wife Robin live in West Friendship. They have four children – Haley, Mary, Robby and James.  

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Greg Fitchitt of Howard Hughes talks about the proposed TIF (tax incentive financing) for Columbia's downtown.

Greg joined The Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) as Vice President, Development in 2013, and in 2014 relocated to Maryland to focus on the development of Downtown Columbia. Before joining HHC, Greg completed nine shopping center redevelopments as a developer for Westfield on the west coast, including leading the development efforts for Westfield UTC in La Jolla, CA. In 2008 he obtained entitlements for a $1.0 billion mixed-use revitalization of the shopping center, and completed the $180 million first phase in 2012. The UTC project was awarded a Gold level rating for sustainability by the USGBC under the LEED-ND pilot program, the first regional shopping center to achieve such a rating. Together the Westfield projects completed under Greg’s direction represented over $530 million in investment.

Greg holds a BA in Philosophy from Pomona College and an MBA from UCLA.  In addition to his professional activities, Greg served for ten years on the boards of non-profit affordable housing developers in California. He currently serves as president of the Downtown Columbia Partnership and on the Howard County Chamber of Commerce board. Greg lives in Ellicott City with his wife Cristiane and their two young children.

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Barbara Catlin, MAc., is the Founder and Executive Director of Bigger Conversation, Inc.  She created Bigger Conversations Caregiver Wellness Program to educate and support family caregivers, as a result of her experience as a hospice volunteer for more than 20 years.  Ms. Catlin has conducted 15 Caregiver Wellness Circles in Howard County since 2012.  She currently serves on the Howard County Commission on Aging and has served on the Howard County Board of Health.  She was on the faculty of the TAI Sophia Institute in Howard County for 15 years.  Ms. Catlin maintains an acupuncture and healing arts practice in Columbia, MD.  

Bigger Conversations Caregiver Wellness Program

Family caregivers are the backbone of our nations long-term health care system.  In Howard County, there are an estimated 56,000 family caregivers. Caregivers can quickly become overwhelmed, exhausted, and isolated.  These stressors can affect the health and well-being of the caregiver, the patient, and their families. 

Bigger Conversations developed the Caregiver Wellness Circles to educate and support family caregivers.  The goal of the Caregiver Wellness Circles is for caregivers to learn techniques for self-care, and to develop an individualize self-care plan, with the aid our Caregiver Wellness Workbook.© 

After completing the Caregiver Wellness Circles, most of caregivers report making changes in at least one health habit, including diet, sleep, and exercise; most report a lessened sense of isolation and increased compassion for their loved one.

Ten months later, a caregiver who is tending her husband since he had a stroke, reported: “I am still doing the practices you taught us in class.” 

Bigger Conversation relies on the generous financial support from foundations and other organizations, to provide the Caregiver Wellness Circles to family caregivers.

For more information, visit the website

http://biggerconversations.org/  or email: bconversations.org.

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Jessie Newburn Visits!

Jessie Newburn is an avid and long-standing advocate for healthy social media use in communities. She has created HoCoBlogs, a website and community of several hundred local bloggers; and TotallyHoco, Howard County’s most robust -- and certainly good-lookin’ -- online calendar. She has hosted dozens of parties for local bloggers, their readers and social media enthusiasts. And she is the initiating force behind Howard County’s vast list of local social media  hashtags.

She is currently the business development manager for Atigro, a digital marketing firm that provides better websites, enhanced SEO, mobile app development, reputation management and retargeted advertising. She occasionally drives for Uber and has recently published Uber Chronicles: Field Notes from the Front Seat, the first in a series. Oh, and she has a spare time business in the anti-aging field as well.

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Ned Tillman, environmentalist and author visits.

Author Ned Tillman believes very strongly that we only care for the places we love. He therefore shares his love for special places with the reader through fascinating stories of his travels throughout America. It is clear that he has made a difference with his life and the book inspires the ethic of personal responsibility as the only salvation there is for the natural world and the future of our children. He hosts a webpage that helps people learn ways to save the places they love at www.SavingThePlaces.com

Ned has enjoyed a long career in the environmental and energy industries, and now advises organizations on how to become more sustainable. He has served as chair of the County Environmental Sustainability Board, the County ten year General Plan, a state wide commission on alternative energy, and a regional land trust and nature center. He serves on the national board of the Izaak Walton League, The Maryland Science Center, and the Horizon Foundation. Ned received a BA from Franklin and Marshall College and a MS from Syracuse University in earth and environmental sciences. He has been on the staff of The Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland and president of Target Environmental, Columbia Technologies, and Sustainable Growth, LLC. He is currently on a speaking tour inspiring others to join in the battle to restore our waters, our forests, and our land.

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Folks from Kennedy Krieger Institute visit

Kennedy Krieger Institute is an internationally recognized institution dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with disorders of the brain, spinal cord, and musculoskeletal system. Did you know that Kennedy Krieger cares for more than 20,000 patients each year? They see patients from all 50 states and more than 90 countries.

Leslie Marsiglia is the Director of Individual Giving in the Office of Philanthropy at Kennedy Krieger Institute. Leslie has 25 years of experience in fundraising and has been with Kennedy for 2 ½ years. She has the pleasure of working with several departments, raising funds and awareness for them.  Those departments are the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, The Moser Center for Leukodystrophies and the Down syndrome Clinic & Research Center, as well as for our Kennedy Krieger schools.  She will provide an overview of Kennedy Krieger Institute for us today.

Dr. Beth Slomine is currently the co-director of the Center for Brain Injury Recovery and the director of training and neuropsychological rehabilitation services within the Department of Neuropsychology at Kennedy Krieger Institute. She is also an associate professor of psychiatry and associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Slomine is a licensed psychologist and board certified clinical neuropsychologist.  Dr. Slomine received her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Florida in 1995. Dr. Slomine’s primary research interests include measurement of outcome following brain injury as well as exploring factors that influence outcome following neurological injury. Specifically, Dr. Slomine has developed and validated innovative measurement tools, examined neuropsychological and neuropsychiatric outcomes following brain injury, and explored the efficacy of medical and psychological intervention for treatment of brain injury. She is currently a co-investigator for a multi-center clinical trial examining outcome in children who receive hypothermia treatment following cardiac arrest. She is also currently exploring measurement and outcomes in children with brain injury who are in a minimally conscious state.

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