Singer Avril Lavigne to perform for San Mar cycling fundraiser

By Julie Greene – Herald Mail Media

San Mar Family and Community Services has revamped its biggest annual fundraiser in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual four-day Great Bicycle Tour along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal has been shortened to one day with a virtual program on a second day with the events occurring July 11-12.

The virtual program features “special performances,” including one by singer Avril Lavigne, said Keith Fanjoy, CEO of the Boonsboro-area nonprofit.

San Mar officials reached out to Lavigne’s management and are fortunate she is supporting the cause and donating her time, Fanjoy said in a phone interview.

Last year’s bike ride raised over $86,000 for San Mar’s programs.

“It’s our hope the community rallies around us during these difficult times and we can generate some significant fundraising,” Fanjoy said.

Money raised benefits San Mar’s three core programs: The Bester Community of Hope, the Jack E. Barr Center for Well-Being outpatient mental-health clinic, and treatment foster care. The nonprofit organization licenses and trains certified foster care parents who care for children with significant mental health or behavioral needs as well as supports those youths throughout their stay in the program, Fanjoy said.

Donations can be made through or by donating to support a rider or providing donations during the live-stream event, Fanjoy said. Information about the ride, including how to sponsor a rider, is available at

The fundraiser features a shorter bike ride around the C&O Canal in the Williamsport area on July 11 or participants can do a full day of riding in their community with the support of a digital application that is provided, according to the nonprofit’s website.

Over 100 cyclists had signed up by Monday to participate, Fanjoy said.

The livestreaming program on July 12 includes a recap of details about the bike ride, information about San Mar’s programs, and performances, he said. That program can be watched at, through the Facebook page for the Great Bicycle Tour or through Antietam Broadband’s WCL-TV on-the-go app, Fanjoy said. The livestream also will be aired from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Antietam’s WCL-TV, channels 6 and 806.

Lead sponsors for the 33rd ride are The Nora Roberts Foundation, Antietam Broadband, SEK, Bitner Henry, Keller Stonebraker and Staples.


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Jack E. Barr Center for Well-Being releases FY19 annual report

We’re happy today to release the Jack E. Barr Center for Well-Being Annual Report for FY19. This report reflects many of the important developmental steps under the leadership of clinic director Jerica Washington and her amazing team. As our newest program, the JEB Center is in the midst of another phenomenal year of growth, we are all excited to see the continued evolution of an outpatient mental health clinic that puts the people we serve first!
Go Team JEB!


See more here:  Jack E. Barr Center for Well-Being Annual Report FY19


BCOH releases FY19 annual report

Bester Community of Hope, a San Mar Initiative, has released the FY19 annual report, a beautiful snapshot of the important work occurring everyday in the heart of Hagerstown’s south end to support children, strengthen families and build strong neighborhoods. Follow the link to learn more about all the tangible activities, and the continued journey forward: FY 19 BCOH Annual Report


Treatment Foster Care FY19 Annual Report released!

San Mar Family & Community Services is proud to highlight the important work occurring at Treatment Foster Care with the release of the Fy19 Annual report! Follow the link here to see the full report: SanMarAnnualReport_FY2019-compressed

“Just Call” Film Premiere

Bester Community of Hope releases “Just Call”, an important video to educate the general public to see the signs of child abuse & neglect, and a call to action for families to get the supportive services they need to prevent child abuse. Originally intended to premiere at the now postponed April 9th event “Breaking the Cycle” due to COVID-19, the short film and supplemental video is now available on the Bester Community of Hope website and their corresponding YouTube channel. Developed with HighRock and Authentic Community Theatre, as well as other important stakeholders and funders, is released during the month of April in concert with Child Abuse Prevention Month. Learn more about this effort and our work at


BCOH Highlighted in “At Home Places” magazine

Bester Community of Hope was recently highlighted with an extensive story in the holiday edition of “At Home Places”!

Check out the full story here:  AHP Holiday 2019 Bester Article


BCOH promotes health and assets on Walking Loop


Getting exercise outside in Hagerstown just got a little easier.

The new South End walking loop officially was finished in early October and is ready for walkers.

“It’s so great to have a path laid out for you,” said Kerry Fair, neighborhood partnership coordinator for Bester Community of Hope. “It’s easy to navigate, and gives the community a fun way to exercise.”

The 3-mile loop was created by Bester Community of Hope with a grant from the Washington County Health Department in support of the group’s walking school bus initiative.

Fair said it was created in an attempt to find a way to connect bus stops in the South End and make them more accessible.

“When we looked at the number of stops and how to connect them, we discovered that it came out to be almost a 5K,” Fair said. “We thought it would be great to just make it a walking loop to help promote and encourage exercise.”

To help bring information to the community in one place, the project includes four boards where local updates will be posted.

The boards will include fliers for upcoming events, a calendar of activities, and useful tips and information for members of the community. They will be maintained by Bester Community of Hope and the Neighborhoods 1st groups of Hagerstown.

“We thought that the boards would be a great way to connect with the community, including those who may not have access to the internet or a smartphone,” Fair said.

During their journey on the South End loop, walkers will pass historic local sites, including City Park and Rose Hill Cemetery, as well as a mural on West Memorial Boulevard and the Mural of Unusual Size on the Hagerstown Cultural Trail.

Fair and Bester Community of Hope have created a bi-weekly walking group for those looking for some company to try out the new loop and get some regular exercise.

The group is open to everyone and begins walking every Tuesday and Friday morning at 9 a.m., starting at Rose Hill Cemetery in Hagerstown. The walk will go around the entire loop, which takes about 45 minutes to walk.

“We hold each other accountable, and it’s a great way to get our steps in,” Fair said.

But those looking to lose some weight have one obstacle along the loop.

“If you’re walking the trail in the evening, it does take you past Krumpe’s Do-Nuts, which can be tempting,” Fair said.


“South End walking loop organizers look to promote community health with new path” – By Valerie Bonk here: Herald Mail Article

San Mar Accepts Human Rights Award

Church Women United of Washington County held its fall fellowship, human rights celebration and annual meeting Sept. 23 at Zion Baptist Church with 46 people in attendance.

Keith Fanjoy, CEO of San Mar Family and Community Services, addressed the group and accepted the Human Rights Award for the agency and a donation of $278.23.

Church Women United is a racially, culturally and theologically inclusive Christian women’s movement to celebrate unity in diversity and work for peace in the world.

As seen in the local paper “San Mar CEO addresses Church Women United meeting”: Herald Mail Story

San Mar welcomes Lowe’s Heroes crew to revitalize campus for kids

WDVM news story by Kelsey Jones available here: Lowes store extends a helping hand to a foster home

Lowe’s store extends a helping hand to a foster home

“This is just more proof of what we’ve done as our Lowes family comes out to our community and we build and bond with another family”

BOONSBORO, Md. (WDVM) — The San Mar foster home received the Lowe’s Hero award, giving it a new and improved basketball court, swing set, and playground.

“San Mar is family,” Lowe’s store manager Doug Thomas said. Thomas and other Lowe’s employees choose what organization they want to partner with every year to receive this award.

Thomas adds, “It really makes us feel good for what I do every day. To get out here and actually, you know, pull together my team, and how we can achieve anything.”


BCOH South Side Community Block Party a hit for families

Full article from Mike Lewis of Herald Mail Media available here: South Side Community Block Party, Fall Fest fill City Park

Block Party, Fall Fest fill Hagerstown City Park Saturday

Near one end of Hagerstown’s City Park on Saturday, people took in a bit of history at the Jonathan Hager House, which dates to about 1740.

Meanwhile, near the other end of the park, others used high-tech toys to play laser tag.

In the middle was a little bit of everything, from arts and crafts to paddle boat rides, from health information to games, and from country tunes to R&B/soul music.

The park hosted the annual City Park Fall Fest from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and the fourth annual South Side Block Party, organized by Bester Community of Hope, from noon until 3 p.m.

“This is the first year we’ve partnered with the city and did (the party) at the same time as Fall Fest and Porchfest,” said Jen Younker, director of Bester Community of Hope.

Bester Community of Hope is an initiative of San Mar, which focuses on positive outcomes for children and families in the Bester Elementary School neighborhood.

Younker said the idea behind the block party is to provide family-oriented fun as well as access to information and resources people might need. The party is a way to build relationships not just among neighborhood residents, she said, but also between residents and those resources.

About three dozen booths were set up by a range of organizations and services, from the Washington County Health Department to the Washington County Free Library.

At the band shell, two musical groups performed.

Kerry Fair, neighborhood partnership coordinator for Bester Community of Hope, said she met people from New York and Ohio during the event.

“They’ve come from far and wide to see The Swon Brothers,” she said.

A country music act from Oklahoma, The Swon Brothers are known from the TV show “The Voice.”

The opening act, the Washington, D.C.-based R&B/soul group The Chuck Brown Band, also attracted a crowd.

Judy Harris of Washington, D.C., said she came to hear the group. And Audrey Gaines-Terrell of Hagerstown was at the park with her husband, Tony Terrell, and 4-year-old Amaya Terrell. Audrey said her husband is from D.C. and is “a longtime fan.”

Ayesha King of Hagerstown stopped by a booth set up by Family Healthcare of Hagerstown near one of the park’s playgrounds. She said she came to the park with her children, Ayma-jee Calhoun, 9, and Ayziah Wells, 5.

“I brought the kids,” she said. “They’re going to play and enjoy themselves.”

Ten-year-old Nathan Wayner enjoyed a game of laser tag. His team won its contest.

His mother, Jennifer Webber, said the family lives in Chambersburg, Pa., but makes the trip to Hagerstown often.

“We come to City Park usually every other weekend,” she said.

The annual City Park Fall Fest traditionally offers a fusion of arts, entertainment and history.

To that end, various family-friendly activities took place at the Jonathan Hager House, the City Park Train Hub, the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts and the Mansion House Art Museum.

At the museum of fine arts, 8-year-old Shaelynn Farrow of St. Thomas, Pa., tried her hand at spinning wool.

“She loves art,” said her mother, Shonda Farrow.

In addition to the City Park Fall Fest and the South Side Block Party, Saturday’s events included the annual Porchfest in the 100 block of South Prospect Street. For part of Saturday afternoon, a shuttle was available to take people from one event to another.

Porchfest was scheduled for 2-6 p.m. It featured a variety of musicians playing on porches of historic homes, as well as food trucks and a kids’ porch.