Board President Mark Halsey announced the successful onboarding of the two newest members to the San Mar Family & Community Services Board of Managers, Ashley Tauler and Kalyani Loganathan. Halsey shared, “We couldn’t be more pleased with the talent and quality of our newest members Ashley and Kalyani. They both bring important perspectives to the board, and I look forward to seeing them deepen their involvement in this critical work.” Both members will participate in their first official board meeting this Friday, December 8th.
The organization also recognized the significant and lengthy contributions of outgoing board members David Lidz, founder of both Streetwell and Ladders to Leaders, as well as senior executive recruiter and past foster parent Teri Cholewicki.
San Mar Chief Executive Officer Keith Fanjoy offered, “The difficult work we pursue takes a community to accomplish, and it is so important to have diverse and complimentary expertise. We need passionate individuals to make us stronger, and these two new powerful leaders are going to make an impact in the work we do!”
Ashley is employed with the Maryland Coalition of Families as a Policy and Advocacy Associate and Family Peer Support Specialist. Her experience as a youth in the foster care system helps drive her passion to help families and individuals experiencing similar challenges. She has an associate degree in human services from Hagerstown Community College and is a Certified Advocate through NACP. She is currently a BASW student at Salisbury University and is working towards becoming a licensed social worker.
“As someone who has cared for loved ones with mental health and substance use disorder, I know on a personal level some of the struggles families face day to day. Also, my experience as a youth in the foster care system and survivor of domestic violence helps drive my passion to help and support families experiencing similar challenges. I know firsthand the positive impact of support.”
Kalyani has extensive experience in the Information Technology field including over a decade of implementing modern software technology and supporting senior executives and business stakeholders in using data and technology to improve outcomes for various organizations including P&G, Honeywell, Fidelis Cybersecurity, Department of Veteran Affairs, National Investment Center for Senior Housing, Save the Children and SHRM.
“I’m passionate for causes that reduce poverty, hunger, shelter and education for children, young adults, and the most vulnerable people. Through my husband’s work at Cardinality.ai, we got introduced to the work of San Mar. I’m very grateful for this heartfelt opportunity to join hands with San Mar in their incredible work and support the lives of children and families to overcome trauma and early challenges in life.”
Are you interested in finding ways to get more involved with San Mar? Contact us today at [email protected] or 301-733-9067x 250.
By Tamela Baker, The Herald Mail
For 140 years, San Mar Family and Community Services has been helping children, families and communities in Western Maryland.
And to mark its milestone anniversary this week, the Boonsboro-based organization announced a new initiative designed to help young women make the transition from youth care to thriving adulthood.
San Mar has long been known for its foster care program, which serves youth in need of assistance because of a history of abuse or neglect.
Now San Mar is embarking on a nearly $6 million project to renovate its original orphanage and group home, which has been used for office space, to a 15-unit apartment building for young women. San Mar also would provide on-site services for them as they move from foster or group care to independence, including case management and life-skills counseling.
“The ripple effect of the housing crisis and the related escalating costs means that all young adults are struggling to find an affordable place to take their next steps toward adulthood,” San Mar CEO Keith Fanjoy said. “Imagine what it must feel like leaving systems like foster care in these circumstances. We see it firsthand with many youth we serve, and ultimately feel that we have a moral obligation to respond to the need with our time, facilities and talents.”
The idea, he told The Herald-Mail, “is to find the sweet spot to autonomy, in your own space where you have independence, but there are also some shared community amenities.”
San Mar has asked Gov. Wes Moore to include the project in next year’s capital budget. Most of the estimated $5.9 million cost will be used to redesign the original orphanage and group home facility for the apartments. The rest, about $1 million of the total, will be used to convert former residential facilities into offices for support services personnel.
San Mar officials presented the project to Washington County’s state legislators Monday. Deputy Executive Director Jerica Washington told the lawmakers that the plan is to provide support for women aged 18 to 24 who are making the transition from foster or group care to independence. They’ll be connected to services ranging from employment and education help to transportation and mental health support.
They’ll also have opportunities to share meals together and explore permanent housing options when they’re ready to move on, she said.
The idea, Fanjoy told The Herald-Mail, is to give them a little help in achieving their independence despite a tight housing market.
“It’s hard to be a young adult in today’s society, and we believe that this program will help many young adults have a safety net in the short-term while striving towards greater independence and key life skills in a supportive environment to use in the long-term,” he said in a statement. “Over the next decade we’re hoping to change the outcomes for hundreds of kids who might otherwise end up homeless or in dire straits. They deserve the very best environment and support our community has to offer.”
San Mar reached a milestone Wednesday
On the evening of Nov. 8, 1883, Eddie and Edith were the first two young children admitted to the original orphanage program at 355 S. Potomac St. in Hagerstown in their time of need. That’s when San Mar’s 140-year mission began.
San Mar moved to its present Boonsboro campus in 1927 and has provided residential and foster care supports to thousands of youth, including care for teenage girls from 1985-2016 before moving away from the group home strategy.
Over the past decade, in addition to Treatment Foster Care services with local families, the focus has been on prevention, according to San Mar officials. To that end, San Mar operates the Jack E. Barr Center for Well-Being, an outpatient mental health clinic; and the Bester Community of Hope, a service to families in the south end of Hagerstown. These programs serve more than 1,000 individuals per year.
“Over the years we have explored how to best position our organization to respond to current community needs in a sustainable way,” Washington said. “Our vision partners housing with support services so that it’s not only a place to live but a place to grow. We will foster a firm foundation in the young adults we support, with the ultimate goal of achieving permanent housing in our community.”
San Mar is hosting a small gathering of local leaders Thursday at Cool Ridge Winery to mark the anniversary and discuss needs for the new project.
Original article available at Herald Mail Media: https://www.heraldmailmedia.com/story/news/local/2023/11/09/at-140-san-mar-proposes-new-housing-program-for-young-women/71489455007/
Jerica Washington LCSW-C has been appointed Deputy Executive Director of San Mar Family & Community Services as of July 1, 2023. A staff member of San Mar since 2014, Jerica has held a variety of key positions within the agency including Special Projects Coordinator, Therapist, and most recently Director of the Jack E. Barr Center for Well-Being Outpatient Mental Health Clinic at San Mar over the last five years.
Washington, who received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Maryland, completed the Georgetown University School of Public Policy Non-Profit Management Executive Certificate this past June. Her focus in the role will be to continue to lead the outpatient mental health work at San Mar but diversify her efforts to add campus program development initiatives and facilities planning, board of managers operations and other key growth needs.
San Mar CEO Keith Fanjoy explained, “Jerica is a tremendous partner to her peers, with her consistent leadership presence and style, proven success in managing complicated challenges and systems with a smile, and heart for humbly serving others. When I think of moving the Boonsboro campus forward, she has my full trust and belief and I look forward to partnering with her and other key leadership staff to continue to support San Mar as we move into a season of growth.”
Entering into it’s 140th year of operations, San Mar has begun a process in 2023 to identify key gaps and community needs and respond with legacy buildings and assets on the Boonsboro flagship campus to meet the needs of local families.
Washington shared, “I am elated to step into this position. I respect the history of the organization, and the lives that have been impacted. My commitment will be to continue our efforts in the spaces we hold for others while thinking big about what is to come. I could not be more honored to help continue the mission and work of San Mar”.
San Mar Family and Community Services held the 36th edition of its largest annual fundraiser, The Great Bicycle Tour (TGBT) of the C&O Canal July 8-11, 2023. The 184.5-mile tour begins in Cumberland, Maryland and follows the C&O Canal Tow Path for four days, ending at mile marker 0 in Washington, D.C. Nearly 140 riders joined this event and so far have raised over $132,000, the most ever, to support children, families and communities in the region served through San Mar’s key programs including Treatment Foster Care, the Bester Community of Hope initiative, and the Jack E. Barr Center for Well-Being outpatient mental health center. In addition, corporate and local sponsorship underwriting has reached close to $40,000 which helped catalyze rider donations and ensure they went directly to programming.
San Mar’s Director of Development and TGBT event manager, Elisa Mabina, shared, “This event is an amazing fundraiser for San Mar, and so much more! Hosting 130-150 riders for four days, who usually range in age from 5-80+, is such a special, bonding experience. I think we all leave with a sense of accomplishment and commitment to advancing San Mar’s powerful mission. We make friends for life and together we support families in need of hope. To me, it’s always the best four days of the summer!” This year’s top fundraiser David Brinkley has raised close to $16,000 in memory of his late son Ross and mental health needs in our local communities. He shared, “This was my first TGBT! I gained financial support by saying it would be a GREAT ADVENTURE, and it certainly was! The camaraderie, support of the San Mar team, the beauty of the canal, and the ride through history is extraordinary! It’s great to have fun AND financially support the great work in the community San Mar has provided for 140 years!”
Underwriting was received from presenting sponsor The Nora Roberts Foundation, lead sponsors Coca-Cola Consolidated, The Loats Foundation, Middletown Valley Bank, Staples Mid-Atlantic Distribution Center, and partnering sponsors SEK CPAs & Advisors, Blue Ridge Risk Partners, Fulton Bank, Younger Toyota, Meritus Health, AC&T, Lamb Insurance Services, M&T Bank, Baltimore Life Companies and Patriot Federal Credit Union. Additional support was received from Hagerstown Ford, Penske Truck Rental and a variety of local organizations including Willow Brook Church, Hancock Rotary, Boonsboro Ruritan Club and Boonsboro and Hagerstown Lions Clubs.
San Mar CEO Keith Fanjoy shared, “This event is about collective impact; so many riders, partners and volunteers step up and come together with a shared vision for kids, families and communities. I think of our bicycle mechanics from Wheel Base Bikes, and so many of our volunteers this year like Joseph Woodburn, Gary Serrao, Jason Cole, Alan Siefert and Robin Boucher to name a select few. We have so many pure volunteers that tirelessly give during the event, but I think of those who get their hands dirty and donate their time because they believe in what we do. Those are just a few examples of unsung heroes that are essential to the success of the event. It really takes a team, and we’re so fortunate for each member of the community who joins our dedicated staff in making this happen.”
In the 36 years of hosting this bicycle tour, San Mar is approaching close to two million dollars in support of its programs serving children and families. Donations are still gratefully accepted at www.sanmartgbt.org through August 31st . Registration for next summer’s bicycle tour will open November 1, 2023 and TGBT XXXVII will take place July 13-16, 2024.
Cardinality.ai leader Thiag Loganathan and his wife Kalyani welcomed friends, partners and colleagues to their home in Potomac, Maryland for a celebration and fundraiser for San Mar Family & Community Services. The evening offered the opportunity to share the work occurring every day with children in treatment foster care, outpatient mental health, as well as community based family services through the Bester Community of Hope initiative. Over sixty donors and many corporate partners joined together to raise $30,000 as a result of the dinner.
Special thanks to corporate sponsors Cardinality.ai, DMI and Macy’s for supporting the effort with both significant financial and in-kind gifts. Thanks to all the individuals and businesses who were able to use the occasion to invest in children and families. If you’d like to learn more about partnership opportunities with San Mar, please contact Elisa Mabina at 301-733-9067 x250.
This past Friday, the leadership of the Jack E. Barr Center for Well-Being outpatient mental health clinic hosted a dialogue regarding mental health services and systems with Congressman David Trone and President of the Washington County Commissioners, John Barr. Also in attendance were other organizational staff and Nan Sheridan-Mann, Western Maryland Regional Director for Senator Chris Van Hollen.
As a part of the visit staff reviewed key mental health needs and community stressors heard from clients, as well as provider challenges on the front lines experienced by clinicians and administration interacting within a fragmented system of care.
Jerica Washington LCSW-C, Director of the Center for Well-Being, shared, “The state of mental health is always at the forefront with our ever-changing world. The Center is fortunate to be backed by a non-profit umbrella to decrease barriers to care such as denials and parity issues with insurance companies, and to be able to provide a wraparound model to provide unreimbursed services to support our aim to provide quality services. Collaboration with systems, businesses and others throughout our area and state is key to continuing our work.”
San Mar Family & Community Services CEO Keith Fanjoy LCSW-C, explored how to best respond to a variety of community needs, with a focus on sustainability and service integrity “After an extended period of relative stability as an agency we are entering a season of growth to consider providing additional services, and as we explore how to meet community needs within our mission and expertise, we look forward to collaborating with community members, partners and elected officials such as Congressman Trone and Commissioner Barr.” Late next month, San Mar will convene key stakeholders and begin the journey to consider how to best position two legacy facilities on the Boonsboro campus.
San Mar has appointed Jennifer Lewis as the new Director of Treatment of Foster Care and she began providing program oversight as of March. San Mar Family & Community Services CEO Keith Fanjoy shared, “When I met Jenn I observed her insights into the therapeutic needs of the children and families, coupled with her passion for social services and helping others in need. Those traits, along with her work ethic are the right combination for our organization and I’m excited to see her craft her own vision for the department and integrate into our culture of unconditional care.”
Prior to San Mar, Jennifer worked as the director of a tech based interpersonal violence reduction program for adults in West Virginia and a suicide prevention program for transition aged youth in Maryland. She is responsible for overseeing all Treatment Foster Care operations to include foster parent recruitment and retention, treatment planning, cross-agency collaboration, and community engagements.
Lewis, a certified clinical social worker, graduated from Hood College with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, and completed her Master’s in Social Work at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, PA. She has experience with community-based case management, child protective services, suicide prevention, substance exposed newborns, as well as clinical experience with outpatient mental health as both a therapist and director. “I am so excited to begin working with our foster youth, families, and staff. I want to continue building a culture around advocacy, collaboration and empathy in the communities we serve”.
To learn more about San Mar Treatment Foster Care, and opportunities to get involved, go to www.sanmarhope.org
San Mar Family & Community Services has released it’s annual report for FY22, highlighting key efforts across the organization at Bester Community of Hope, Treatment Foster Care and the Jack E. Barr Center for Well-Being, along with efforts in Development, Finance and beyond.
Look inside to learn more about San Mar’s core programs and the essential work happening everyday, building bridges to move children, families and communities from surviving to thriving! Click here: San Mar Family & Community Services FY22 Annual Report
The Herald-Mail USA TODAY NETWORK
There are a lot of hurting youths and families in every community. And there are various agencies designed to help. But how do you get them on the same page and pool their limited resources to provide the right help for the right family circumstance?
Bester Community of Hope is sponsoring a training event in Hagerstown next week called “Surviving to Thriving,” featuring nationally known speakers who’ve been there — and have developed sound practices for building healthier families and communities. It’s aimed at helping the helpers find common solutions to their shared challenges.
This is the seventh yearly community training conference for the Community of Hope, which is a program of San Mar Family and Community Services. It’s scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. March 29 at the Maryland Theatre in downtown Hagerstown. Speakers include:
The Rev. Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles
Philonise Floyd, founder of the Philonise and Keeta Floyd Institute for Social Change
Corey Best, founder of Mining for Gold
Kevin John Fong, founder of the Kahakulei Institute
Author and speaker Josh Shipp
San Mar CEO Keith Fanjoy said a similar event he had attended about 10 years ago had “really transformed a lot of my thinking, and ultimately, our practices. And eventually, that day or two of work has transformed our organization. “And so that’s just one small example of the power of a training to bring ideas and practices to a community, and how that can have a big impact,” he said. Bester Community of Hope began sponsoring these sessions for two reasons, he said. “The first thing we wanted to do was translate our values and practices to the community as we changed our organization, and do it in a way that could be heard with speakers that were aligned with our core ideas. “And the second thing was trying to build some collective impact around those shared ideas, because usually a training of this type inspires action. … It kind of generates these feelings about, ‘what can I do in my organization?’ And we can do a lot more together if we’re on the same page.”
The idea is to then partner with other organizations to “address the needs of the community in a shared way,” he said. “It started really with this idea that a training can be the catalyst for people to change their perspective and ultimately their organization.”
And the training has been popular — nearly 600 people had registered for it last week, Fanjoy said, and there’s room for more.
“People are craving fresh and innovative ideas and opportunities to connect with people from different sectors,” he said. “I think a really cool thing about our training is it’s not just for social workers. It’s for educators and people in health care. It’s really for all people that have an interest and a desire to see progress and improvement in the helping field, which is a very broad field.”
The training is about clarifying vision and beliefs, he said. “What follows is really what looks more like what implementation might look like in a particular organization, which is very different depending on the needs where the service is provided from that organization.”
Community organizations here have recognized they need to work together “with limited resources, and big community needs,” Fanjoy said. But he’s seen more common ideas developing between them. “That’s been a theme that I think has definitely emerged over the years,” Fanjoy said. “And I think for our organization specifically, this was a tool for us to not only share our core values but it also helped us to shift away from our past model of residential service to more family and community-driven care as a new strategy.” Fanjoy said the speakers for each year’s training sessions are chosen because they can address “ways to be creative and innovative within a somewhat rigid system.”
The Rev. Boyle has addressed the training before, and is being brought back by popular demand, Fanjoy said. “Ever since he came, I’m not kidding you, I regularly have heard, ‘when are you bringing him back?” he said. “Everybody loved Father Boyle.” But all the speakers bring a unique perspective, he said.
The Washington County Department of Human Services and the Alice Virginia and David Fletcher Foundation are sponsors for the event, and there’s still time to register. Go to besterhope.org to sign up. The cost is $39.
Referenced from The Herald Mail Newspaper – 3/20/23
San Mar Family and Community Services held the 35th edition of its largest annual fundraiser, The Great Bicycle Tour (TGBT) of the C&O Canal July 9-12, 2022. The 184.5-mile tour began in Cumberland, MD and followed the C&O Canal Tow Path for four days, ending at mile marker 0 in Washington, D.C. Nearly 160 riders joined this fundraiser to support children, families and communities in the region served through San Mar’s key programs including Treatment Foster Care, the Bester Community of Hope initiative, and the Jack E. Barr Center for Well-Being.
“TGBT is a special event where cyclists get the opportunity to create lifetime memories with friends new and old. Our development team puts energy into every detail to ensure a one-of-a-kind adventure to help raise critical funds, and it is our hope that each rider gets a first-hand experience through our acts of service and hospitality, the same intentions that we approach children, families, and communities with each day. We believe it is those efforts that bring riders and sponsors back year after year to support our cause, and we are so grateful for their partnership,” shared CEO Keith Fanjoy.
Rider fundraising has reached close to $120,000 so far, and additional donations through rider giving pages will remain open through August 31st. Sponsorship underwriting which helped make the ride possible, was received from presenting sponsor The Nora Roberts Foundation, lead sponsors The Loats Foundation, Middletown Valley Bank, Bitner Henry Insurance Group, Meritus Health, Staples Mid-Atlantic Distribution Center, and partnering sponsors SEK CPAs & Advisors, Blue Ridge Risk Partners, Younger Toyota and Patriot Federal Credit Union. Additional support was received from AC&T, Penske and a variety of local organizations including Hagerstown Ford and Lions Club chapters from Boonsboro and Hagerstown.
In the 30+ years of hosting this bicycle tour, San Mar has raised well over one and a half million dollars in support of its programs serving children and families. Donations are still gratefully accepted at www.sanmartgbt.org . Registration for next summer’s bicycle tour will open November 1, 2022 and TGBT XXXVI will take place July 8-11, 2023.
San Mar Family and Community Services, whose mission is “Cultivating Hope and Well-Being in Children, Families and Communities” has been serving the Washington County, Maryland area since 1883. Services are provided through San Mar Treatment Foster Care, the Jack E. Barr Center for Well-Being outpatient mental health services, and Bester Community of Hope prevention programs.
Over the past several months, the Bester Community of Hope initiative has collaborated with the Health Resources and Services Administration Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program to facilitate a unique opportunity for Bester Elementary school through the installation of a state-of-the-art Lu interactive playground to promote health and well-being. Bester Elementary School joins William Paca Elementary in Baltimore City as the first two schools in Maryland to install the Lu Technology.
As described on the company’s website, “Lü transforms any space into an active and immersive educational environment where kids are engaged physically, intellectually and socially-emotionally.” Based in Canada, the Lu devices are, “state of the art audiovisual systems powered by a wide range of educational applications. Aside from obvious pedagogical uses, our systems can be used for a variety of purposes, from cinema-quality movie nights to dance parties and professional presentations. Each Lü system includes a high-definition laser projector, a movement detection camera, a powerful sound system and a fully automated multi-colored lighting system to create immersive magical environments.”
Bester Elementary School Principal Tamsyn Wilson shared, “The Lü has been a great addition to Bester’s gymnasium. When students use the Lü, you can see they are actively learning, moving, and genuinely having a great time with big smiles on their faces. We are excited that all students will have the opportunity to engage in the Lü experience on our upcoming field day. We appreciate the continued partnership with Bester Community of Hope and want to take the opportunity to thank the organization for this generous donation.”
Now entering the fifth year of funding through parent organization San Mar Family & Community Services, the Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program (HTPCP) has funded a variety of health efforts to support children and families in the South End of the City of Hagerstown through the Bester Community of Hope initiative (BCOH). In the past two years funding received during the COVID-19 crisis has created an opportunity to meet specific health needs including healthy meal distribution, COVID-19 mitigation equipment, resources and hand sanitizer, concrete health supplies and over the counter medications, health promotion efforts and events, and now the Lu system.
San Mar Family & Community Services CEO Keith Fanjoy explained, “One of our core values is ‘Having Fun is Priority’, and what we know is true for both kids and adults, is the brain learns much easier when we’re enjoying ourselves with novel experiences. Our strategy with this investment is to give the amazing educators at Bester the best possible tools as their disposal to enable them to support improved health outcomes for kids.”
San Mar HTPCP project manager Jerica Washington LCSW-C also shared, “The HTPCP grant has supported us throughout the years to support intervention services through the school system with organizations right in our community. Now, we can provide an outlet to improve the health status of children in our community. It is great to see the connection between a screen and physical activity! The innate need for physical movement, and our media-based culture today combined, make for a perfect pair for student success”.
The school is planning an internal luau event for students and teachers prior to the end of the school year and is planning an event for local stakeholders to experience the technology in August before the beginning of the next school year.
BCOH is a community collaborative to support children and families in the South End of the City of Hagerstown, with lead financial support through the Washington County Department of Social Services and the Alice Virginia and David W. Fletcher Foundation.
Learn more about BCOH here: www.besterhope.org
Learn more about Lu Interactive Playgrounds here: www.play-lu.com
Learn more about the HTPCP here: https://mchb.hrsa.gov/training/healthy-tomorrows.asp
Over the past eight years San Mar Family & Community Services has taken transformative steps towards more family driven and community focused programming. As we shifted towards this strategy of serving children, we continued to accept a heavy volume of in-kind donations to support the needs of local families, coupled with long-held inventory from previous iterations of residential services. The more we pursued collective impact work with other organizations, the question ultimately became: Are we the best ones to be managing these types of in-kind donations?
As we explored how we deliver resources to families, and the existing organizations that already do significant and meaningful work in the community the answer was clear: We are ‘Better Together’. It’s one thing to have that as a core value for our organization, and it’s another to remove the barriers to partnership and give up your resources.
Here’s what we did over the past six months and what we hope to do moving forward:
We donated a small school library to the Community Book Warehouse, and eight large truckloads of clothing followed to Children in Need in Hagerstown. It’s not that we have no use for these items, it’s that we would never use the amount of goods we were receiving, nor could we justify asking for ongoing volunteer manpower to manage the inventory. Meanwhile, Children in Need has the expertise and focus to implement that type of ongoing service, so they installed two clothing donation boxes in front of the San Mar campus for convenient access to South County residents to help us funnel those donations; if we ever have a need for clothing or related items from Children in Need, which we often do, they’ll provide it to us. Why wouldn’t we direct our friends to them?
We partnered with Horizon Goodwill Industries to unload a significant amount of heavy furniture, much of it located up a 3rd floor winding stairwell in our filled attic at our foster care offices. They provided significant manpower and logistics support, and in turn we know the items won’t go to waste and will help support a good organization. We know in the future where we’ll direct furniture donations, and if we have a family in crisis that needs furniture, we know who will support us. Win – win!
But not all of the furniture was ready for the showroom floor for sale, another truckload or two needed some tender loving care but still had value. In turn, we partnered with the Habitat for Humanity Restore, who accepted all additional unneeded furniture donations.
We’d be remiss if we did not provide a special thanks to local moving company Two Men and a Truck, who after much of the donation process ended, conducted a marathon day of grueling work to remove any excess furniture and equipment that was no longer usable. We promise that we will never use the 3rd floor attic for heavy storage again!
As we wrapped up Spring cleaning, the process of de-cluttering provides a greater clarity of where we are today, and creates opportunities to paint on a blank canvas our dreams for the future. As San Mar prepares for our upcoming board strategic planning sessions later this month, and looks ahead to the next three years and how we’ll position our facilities and resources for success, one thing remains clear: we don’t need to reinvent what is already there, and we can do a lot more if we do it together!
This past Saturday at Fountainhead Country Club San Mar Family & Community Services held the “Dream Gala”, highlighting efforts being accomplished across the organization to support children, families and communities. The sold-out family friendly event celebrated the core programs of Treatment Foster Care, the Jack E. Barr Center for Well-Being and the Bester Community of Hope initiative, and gave an opportunity to bring together staff, community partners, and local children and families for a one-of-a-kind evening.
The night kicked off with celebrity chef Father Leo Patalinghug, who took the stage to create his funky fusion fajitas that he once used to defeat Iron Chef Bobby Flay on a Food Network competition. As he prepared the meal which was displayed on large screens for the audience to follow he spoke to the power of the family meal as a proven way to reduce social problems. He explained, “I gotta be honest with you, the best way to heal people? Offer them hospitality. It’s the same root word as hospital, and food is the international language.” The audience laughed along with his brand of comedy and eagerly awaited his meal to be delivered, along with a special dessert graciously donated by Boonsboro bakery Stone Werks.
Following dinner San Mar Family & Community Services CEO Keith Fanjoy began the formal program by exploring the mission and vision of the organization and highlighted, “Dreams can be realized when we’re given an opportunity. We have to meet basic needs first, but we can’t stop there. My challenge to our staff is that we must help families move from surviving to thriving and help others see what is possible in their future.” After his presentation San Mar recognized several long-time staff, including immediate past CEO Bruce Anderson, who was met with a standing ovation, by creating the Bruce T. Anderson Legacy Award to reflect a lifetime of commitment to providing unconditional care to children and families.
Program Directors Jerica Washington, Jen Younker and Mercede Robinson shared the key work happening across the San Mar continuum of care and why the work we pursue remains vitally important as we slowly begin the return to a post-pandemic society. Jerica recognized staff member Ellen Savoy, with over 33 years of services in varied roles, by saying “Her legacy of compassion, nurturing personality and most importantly love of God shines through all that she does.” Mercede was joined on the San Mar stage by TFC Case manager Abby Giancola to recognize Charles and Roberta Butts who gave over twenty of years’ service, both as foster parents and with Roberta previously supporting the group homes. Abby explained, “The Butts have been crucial for a place to call home and for people to call family and offered unconditional love and support to the youth they serve. Roberta is kind, warm, loving and incredibly strong. Charles is a strong man, who loves fearlessly and passionately, and has been essential in teaching many life lessons and skills.”
Hagerstown City Council Member Tekesha Martinez shared a spoken word poem called “Mental Feedings”, but before beginning she shared, “I was in foster care, and had five children by the age of 25, and had my first child at St. Ann’s maternity home. Five years ago, I was facilitating an afterschool club for Bester Community of Hope. So, anything is possible!”
Mario Bonds provided an inspiring keynote performance and talk about his path to success. Born with a degenerative eye disease that has made him totally blind, and who in early childhood experienced homelessness, abuse, abandonment and other tragic losses, Mario was able to channel his challenges into passions and pursued music ultimately becoming a national speaker and musician. Mario eventually decided to give back in a unique way, as a blind man, becoming a foster and eventually adoptive parent. “The turmoil of my childhood gave me the nerve to tell them that their set back doesn’t have to be what defines them.” Mario performed his songs ‘Human’, ‘Steel’ and a cover from the movie “Soul” titled ‘It’s All Right’. The audience was captivated by his story of children he was caring for as a foster parent who had worked together to create a way for them to share in the rites of passage of playing catch in the back yard. “When I got outside these kids of their own volition had created a way that their blind father could play catch with me. And for that, life is alright, you can still succeed.”
The night closed with the silent auction winner, youth door prize winners and the long-awaited drawing of winners for the Dream Raffle that has been running for several months for big prizes including an RV adventure, cruise, VIP sports tickets and much more. The Dream Raffle prize winners, supervised by auditors Smith, Elliott and Kearns, announced in the order of pull to choose their prize were: Carla Hook, Donna Steben, Teri Cholewicki, Sara Nuckolls, Vickie McLaughlin, Delmar Barrett, and Catherine Beliveau. Several of the prizes were made possible by local organizations and donors including Martin Marrieta Aggregates, Mr. Timothy Hott, Lowes Home Improvement, Holsingers Meat Market and Warehouse Cinemas.
The Dream Gala event was made possible by significant support from a great deal of community partners in a variety of ways large and small. Lead financial gifts included Gold sponsorships from the Jone L. Bowman Foundation and Noel’s Fire Protection, as well as a Silver gift from RBC Wealth Management and Bronze gifts from Meritus Health, Doing Better Business and Fulton Bank.
To learn more about the important work of San Mar Family & Community Services go to www.sanmarhope.org.
Select photography courtesy of Nelson Robinson and Jim Savoy
San Mar Family & Community Services released it’s FY21 Annual Report today at our Spring quarterly organizational staff meeting. The signature report highlights the transformational work occurring across the Jack E. Barr Center for Well-Being outpatient mental health center, Treatment Foster Care and the Bester Community of Hope Initiative, along with key organizational efforts, financials and philanthropy partners.
San Mar CEO Keith Fanjoy LCSW-C shared, “San Mar remained open every day of the pandemic, serving countless families. We’ve always known that San Mar was special because of the shared values and commitments of our team, but crisis has had a way of reminding each of us what is important. The only way our organization has been able to continue to make an impact in children, families and the communities we serve, is the selfless service to others by our staff and foster parents. As you scan through these pages, and you see all of the times we made a commitment to do whatever it takes for families, remember that without the helpers, none of these pages would have been written.”
Explore the full document here: SanMarAnnualReport-FY21-web
San Mar Family & Community Services has achieved national accreditation through the New York-based Council on Accreditation (COA). San Mar was evaluated on their three primary services lines, Treatment Foster Care, Outpatient Mental Health and Community Change Initiatives. San Mar first became nationally accredited in 2001, the process to maintain that status is a daily effort across the organization in services, documentation, policies and practices. The commitment to achieve accreditation is above and beyond the expectations of state, licensing and regulatory requirements in Maryland. COA evaluated all aspects of San Mar including programs, services, management, and administration. For the second consecutive accreditation cycle, San Mar received no areas of opportunities listed, an unprecedented high level of competence in the history of the organization.
To achieve COA accreditation, San Mar first provided written evidence of compliance with the COA standards. Thereafter, a group of specially trained volunteer Peer Reviewers confirmed adherence to these standards during a series of on-site interviews with trustees, staff, foster parents, clients and community partners. After two days of extensive meetings, peer reviewer Michael Angstadt from Georgia explained during the closing session for staff, “The mission of this agency is clear in everything you do. How do you instill passion? We noticed it everywhere you went. It’s not us versus them. It a continuum of clients and staff; it is a caring family.”
COA accreditation is an objective, independent, and reliable validation of an agency’s performance and involves a detailed review and analysis of an organization’s administration, management, and service delivery functions against international standards of best practice. The standards driving accreditation ensure that services are well-coordinated, culturally competent, evidence-based, outcomes-oriented, and provided by a skilled and supported workforce.
COA accreditation demonstrates accountability in the management of resources, sets standardized best practice thresholds for service and administration, and increases organizational capacity and accountability by creating a framework for ongoing quality improvement. San Mar CEO Keith Fanjoy explained, “Receiving accreditation from COA is a reflection of dedicated efforts from our staff who excel amidst great challenges. This has never been more true than the last two years during the COVID-19 crisis, where we remained open every day, providing unconditional care at great personal sacrifice. But it’s important to also reflect, that the COA process is truly successful because of the superior work of our Director of Continuous Quality Improvement, Gina Figel. For over twenty years she has made all the difference in always helping us to stay one step ahead. Her gifts make San Mar a better place for others.”