STEVENSVILLE — “We make charity happen”, is the slogan of Chesapeake Charities, and this year they hosted their sixth annual Celebration of Service honoring those who serve veterans.

On Nov. 9, as guests arrived at the Chesapeake Beach Club, a prominent line of large American flags were posted, waving in the breeze to greet especially the veterans and those who serve them. Also, through the efforts of Kent Island Cruisers, members, Dr. Paul Placek and Mike Francis, there were a number of distinguished antique cars in the parking lot, with Placek and others waving American flags.

Inside, event Chesapeake Charities Board Chair Audrey Scott welcomed a full-house of guests for the occasion. Scott wasted no time, after a prayer was offered to begin the program, a wonderful luncheon was provided by the Beach Club staff.

Chesapeake Charities mission statement explains the organization “provides innovative leadership and quality services that encourage charitable giving, build community resources, and enable donors to achieve their charitable purposes, making lasting investments in the Chesapeake Bay region.” In addition, CC has charitable projects in nine counties, Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Charles, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s St. Mary’s and Talbot. Their 135+ funds impact a range of charitable causes including; animal welfare, arts, community development, education, the environment, health and human services, historic preservation, and public safety. Together, CC has invested more than $28 million in the Chesapeake Bay region since 2005. Chesapeake Charities Executive Director Linda Kohler explained this at the beginning of the program, after the luncheon.

This year’s program was dedicated to veterans, as well as recognizing and honoring those who serve veterans. Before those recognitions were given, a special, annual award, The Governor Larry Hogan Scholarship, was presented by Dr. Michael Fisher (2019 Volunteer of the Year) to this year’s recipient, University of Maryland medical student Aidan Kennedy who will graduate with honors in May, 2022. The scholarship will help pay for Kennedy’s continuing medical education. The scholarship was established in 2016, and presented every year since then at the annual CC Celebration of Charity each year.

The first honorees for the Celebration was presented by Maryland Secretary of Veterans Affairs George W. Owings, III. Owings presented the Philanthropist of the Year award to John Parlett and Cruisin’ Southern Maryland for it’s decade of fundraising efforts for Charlotte Hall Veterans Home for much needed equipment and an outdoor pavilion that’s under construction at no cost to the government. Cruisin’ Southern Maryland antique car club has donated over $150,000 to Charlotte Hall, and is still thriving, thanks to Parlett’s success as a businessman and caring for veterans. When the antique cars return to Charlotte Hall each year for a show, volunteers watch the aging veterans transform into 20-somethings when they spot their favorite vehicle, and there’s lots of stories waiting to be told!

Nonprofit of the Year award was presented to Warfighters Advance by Delegate Brian M Crosby. Founded in 2003 by Dr. Mary Neal Vieten and other veterans, Warfighters Advance is committed to helping veterans transition safely back into civilian life from what is often high stress environments, that sadly, lead to an average 20 veterans each day committing suicide. To change that, Warfighters Advance provides a free seven-day training that changes post-deployment life to a positive results. After the training, monthly contacts are made with those who have received the training to make sure they’re continuing to progress.

Volunteers of the Year was presented to husband and wife, Mike Mattingly and Katie Dowd, who have served as a major force behind the transformation of Patriot Point, a 294-acre recreational facility in Dorchester County for wounded/injured veterans to have a safe quiet place to patriot poing recover with their families. Mattingly and Dowd both spend hours each week there, preparing meals, taking guests fishing, and participating in volunteer activities. They help in every aspect of the facility’s operations, but it is their warmth that transforms a beautiful setting into a place that feels like home. For that they were recognized this year.

Chesapeake Charities has hosted this Celebration the past six years, however last year’s recognitions could not be held in person, due to the pandemic. Those recipients were recognized within the printed program and acknowledged, who were personally able to be present at this year’s program. For 2020, they were: Philanthropists of the Year — Bryan and Fred Graul, Nonprofit of the Year — Anne Arundel County Food Bank and For All Seasons, and Volunteers of the Year — Lucy Kruse and Sandra Shearer Wignall.

Chesapeake Charities Director Kohler later added, “The annual Celebration is our only fundraiser. As a foundation, only 4% of all of our monies raised go to administrative overhead. We have a very small staff, and we are beyond what I would call frugal in how we handle our funds.”

For more information about Chesapeake Charities, go online at http://www.chesapeakecharites.org or call the office in Stevensville at 410-643-8413.

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