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Chesapeake Charities holds awards luncheon

Bay Times - 12/6/2017

STEVENSVILLE - Chesapeake Charities hosted its second annual awards luncheon at the Chesapeake Beach Club in Stevensville on Thursday, Nov. 16. Luncheon Chairman Audrey Scott, served as mistress of ceremonies.

Chesapeake Charities is a community foundation that supports a wide range of charitable causes including arts, education, health and human services, animal welfar and the environment. All of its 85 component funds have a common cause - a passion for making a difference in their communities. It serves communities in eight counties: Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Charles, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne's and Talbot. Since 2005, Chesapeake Charities has invested more than $9 million in the Chesapeake region.

This year's luncheon honored three people and one non-profit organization that are making a difference.

First, Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford presented the Gov. Larry Hogan$2,500 Scholarship to St. Mary's College of Maryland 2013 graduate Josh Olexa, who is now receiving medical training in cancer research at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

Rutherford then honored the first of two men recognized for their impacts on fighting the opiate and heroin epidemics across the state. Bernie Fowler Jr., lifelong resident of Calvert County, was honored as "Philanthropist of the Year" for founding Farming 4 Hunger in 2012 helping families struggling to put food on the table. In 2013, he extended the farm to establish "2nd Chances" to reduce recidivism among inmates offering life skills and job training. Thus far, 94 inmates have completed the program.

When the opioid epidemic struck home involving his daughter, Fowler added prevention and recovery activities for students in the local school system and youth tempted by the lure of the drug culture.

The second person, recognized as "Volunteer of the Year," was Talbot County Sheriff Joe Gamble. The award was presented by Clay Stamp of the Opioid Operational Command Center.

Stamp said, "Joe is empathic with people. He meets people where they're at. He understands that prevention is the key to the opiate-hero-in crisis." Gamble has with a detailed list of experience in law enforcement, especially in undercover narcotics. He lead the large-scale youth drug prevention initiative, "Talbot Goes Purple." He became known as a man on a mission to educate and inform the people in his community about the heroin and opioid crisis, which he calls "the deadliest drug epidemic in our history."

The final award was presented by Chesapeake Charities Executive Director Linda Kohler, recognizing the "Nonprofit of the Year" - Samaritan House of Annapolis. Receiving the award was Samaritan House Executive Director Michael Goldfaden, who was once a recovering individual receiving services at Samaritan House.

Founded in 1971 by recovering addicts who saw a need for residential care, Samaritan House became the first State-certified halfway house for men in the Annapolis area providing intensive individual and group counseling, relapse prevention and training for approximately 75 clients per year.

Lisa Hillman, wife of former Annapolis Mayor Richard Hillman, was the keynote speaker to end the luncheon program. Hillman spoke about how she dealt with her son's addiction, sharing her experiences from her book: "Secret No More: A True Story of Hope for Parents with an Addicted Child." Her message was moving and inspirational.

 
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