30th Anniversary of The Great Bicycle Tour raises $86k for kids and families

Full story from Herald Mail Media available here: Great Bicycle Tour Raises 86k for San Mar

Great Bicycle Tour raises $86K for San Mar

San Mar Family and Community Services’ Great Bicycle Tour of the C&O Canal last month raised $86,792 to support the agency’s programs. July 13–16.

The 184.5-mile tour began July 13 in Cumberland, Md., and followed the C&O Canal Tow Path for four days, ending at mile marker 0 in Washington, D.C., on July 16.

More than 100 riders joined this year’s fundraiser to support children, families and communities in the region served by San Mar’s programs including Treatment Foster Care, The Bester Community of Hope and The Jack E. Barr Center for Well-Being.

The riders are supported with meals, lodging, and transportation included.

Local sponsors that helped make the ride possible through donations to cover expenses include lead sponsor The Nora Roberts Foundation; gold sponsors Bitner-Henry Insurance Group Inc. and the Loats Foundation; and a variety of local organizations including Hagerstown Ford; Wheel Base; Sign Here, Inc.; Aircon; First United Bank and Trust; Racine Multisports; PepsiCo; Smith Elliott Kerns, Inc.; Keller Stonebraker Insurance; Weiss Bros., Inc.; and Lions Club chapters from Boonsboro, Hancock, Hagerstown and Cumberland.

A few weeks remain to collect additional donations through rider giving pages, where donors can support their favorite rider at www.SanMar-TGBT.org.

The event has raised well over $1 million for San Mar programs over the past 30 years.

Next year’s Great Bicycle Tour of the C&O Canal will be held July 11 through 14, 2020. Registration will open Nov. 1 at www.SanMar-TGBT.org.

Villa Maria Mental Health Team Joins San Mar

Full Herald Mail story by Julie Greene available here: Villa Maria Mental Health Team Joins San Mar

San Mar brings some of Villa Maria’s Therapists under it’s umbrella

San Mar Family & Community Services hired four therapists from the recently closed Villa Maria of Washington County facility, helping to narrow the gap in mental-health services left with Villa Maria’s closing.

The therapists started with San Mar on Aug. 1, a day after Villa Maria closed, San Mar officials said. San Mar also hired a longtime administrative assistant from Villa Maria.

Since then, San Mar’s Jack E. Barr Center for Well-Being has already experienced substantial growth in the number of clients it’s serving, said Jerica Washington, the well-being center’s director.

The therapists’ clients had the option of continuing with their therapist at San Mar, Washington said.

The well-being center was averaging 80 to 100 clients before taking on the former Villa Maria therapists, Washington said. Since then, San Mar is averaging 150 active clients and that could expand to 200 or 250, she said.

Catholic Charities of Baltimore closed Villa Maria of Washington County, its local outpatient mental-health center at the end of July. The office off East Antietam Street was closed primarily for financial reasons, according to Kevin Keegan, director for the Family Services Division of Catholic Charities of Baltimore.

Villa Maria’s local office served between 100 and 200 clients at any given time, Keegan said.

“We are struggling financially in a very significant way in Hagerstown and just can’t sustain (it),” Keegan said in June.

San Mar CEO Keith Fanjoy said Melissa Phillips, Villa Maria’s local program director, contacted San Mar to see if the nonprofit was interested in taking over part of the Villa Maria team.

“Many people need mental-health services,” Fanjoy said.

San Mar’s Center for Well-Being, an outpatient mental-health clinic, provides individual and family therapy, Washington said. The center opened on San Mar’s 8504 Mapleville Road grounds, north of Boonsboro, in October 2016.

The expectation is the new therapists joining San Mar are serving a reasonable amount of families, which will help San Mar offset the additional staff costs, Fanjoy said.

Many of the clinicians affected by Villa Maria’s closing have found other employment opportunities, Fanjoy said.

In taking on the former Villa Maria workers, Fanjoy said, San Mar officials talked with the nonprofit’s local team and identified San Mar’s own needs. San Mar did not take over all of Villa Maria’s staff and services.

BCOH showcased in documentary video

Casey Family Programs recognized the work of the Bester Community of Hope, a San Mar Initiative, with a video highlighting our comprehensive efforts, as well as a story in it’s signature annual report, as a part of our 2019 Jim Casey national award. Read more of that report here: https://www.casey.org/hope

Watch the 10 minute documentary film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWITkQkKIv8

BCOH hosts Recovery Coach Academy community training in Hagerstown

From WDVM Hagerstown: https://www.localdvm.com/news/maryland/new-hampshire-man-shares-experience-of-substance-use-disorder

New Hampshire man shares experience of substance use disorder

After suffering from a 40ft. fall off a ladder, a New Hampshire man uses his story of addiction to help others wanting to guide victims of substance abuse.

Darryl Lennon has substance use disorder after he says he was over-prescribed drugs. In 2009, Lennon fell 40 feet from a house which resulted in him using drugs to suppress the pain.

“From there I was over-prescribed pain meds which ended up becoming addiction in my life, which ended up (making) me become homeless and losing everything,” Lennon said.

Fast forward 10 years later, him along with his wife teach are certified recovery support workers that teach Recovery Coach Academy.

“Recovery Coach Academy is training for people who are either allies to recovery like myself or people that are in recovery themselves who really want to reach back for the next person but seek education to do that,” Michelle said.

About 40 people attended the 5-day training which was sponsored by Bester Community of Hope, Washington County Department of Human Services and Casey Family Programs.

A Bester Community of Hope representative believes that a brighter path is in store for the Hagerstown community.

“Hope is alive, recovery is possible,” Jen Younker said

Spring brings opportunity for foster youth to start anew

Children connected with San Mar Treatment Foster Care came together today for exciting opportunities and a holiday celebration on this Good Friday. A teenage girl in our program, who we’ll call Sarah, had a vision for providing connections and fun for other kids and worked with our case manager Colleen Carter to pull off a fun day centered on the Easter holiday.

In the morning, Sarah facilitated hair, nails and make-up for other young women enrolled in the program, she not only wanted to provide this service for her peers, but also recruited other volunteers to make for a special day. “Kids look good without make-up, but I guess I can appreciate that at times when you might be having one of those days, that doing something like this makes you feel even better,” she explained. Her case manager, Colleen Carter, explained that this is a part of a larger effort the department has had over the past year to build connections between foster youth placed in their care. “A goal for our program is to have more activities so kids can get to know each other and have a support system with each other and give parents a moment to have some respite. Teens in particular can struggle at times with confidence and this was just a great way to bring them together for a fun day out.”

Young women participated in several stations aside from the makeover station, such as before and after makeover photographs, vision boards to set the stage for future goals, and teen boys in the program joined in for other activities including a golden egg Easter hunt with gift cards for a fun night out at movies or local restaurants.

Later in the day, younger children connected to our program went through a series of holiday activities including coloring, painting and hunting for candy placed around the Boonsboro campus. There was even a special appearance by the one and only Easter bunny, who was a big hit! Even those that took a while to warm up to the giant bunny eventually couldn’t avoid the warm embrace. Treatment Foster Director Ellen Savoy explained, “Being around kids makes you feel good and brings the child out of all of us, like spring brings new life.”

Interested in learning more about Treatment Foster Care and opportunities to make a difference in the lives of children in need? Contact us at family@sanmarhope.org or 301-733-9067 x236.

“Unconditional Care” sparks dialogue on personal impact of serving others, best practices


A diverse group of 450 community stakeholders came together to learn from national speakers at “Unconditional Care” on the campus of Hagerstown Community College at the Kepler Theater. Hosted by Bester Community of Hope, a San Mar Initiative, this event was the sixth installment in a series of trainings focused on beliefs and strategies for social progress, and this event placed a particular emphasis on self-care and understanding the impact of caring for others. Bester Community of Hope Director Jen Younker, LCSW-C explained,”Those who work taking care of others often disregard the need for self-care until signs of distress arise. Even then, we still may not recognize the signs as maladaptive or troublesome. If we take a preventative approach by taking care of our nervous system, we can mitigate the effects and keep our A game strong.”

See full story at www.besterhope.org/unconditional-care-sparks-dialogue-on-personal-impact-of-serving-others-best-practices/ 

San Mar Family & Community Services receives major grants for Bester, Hicks

San Mar Family & Community Services CEO Keith Fanjoy announced two significant grant awards to expand existing efforts at Bester Elementary School and provide future programming at E. Russell Hicks Middle School. Bester Community of Hope (BCOH), a San Mar Initiative supported by the Washington County Department of Social Services, Fletcher Foundation and Casey Family Programs, focuses on addressing the comprehensive needs of children and families in the south side of the City of Hagerstown. While the broader BCOH efforts have an emphasis on child welfare outcomes, these new grants will focus more specifically on components related to health, education and afterschool resources.  Fanjoy explained, “Over the past several years, San Mar Family & Community Services has worked tirelessly in the south side of Hagerstown to improve the lives and outcomes of children and families. Our notification of these grants is validation to all of our staff members and partners who dedicate their lives to humbly serving others. It’s also an early measure of success on the long-term journey we’ve committed to through the Bester Community of Hope initiative.”


Access to quality educational opportunities

In late 2018, the Maryland State Department of Education sent notification to San Mar that the Bester Community of Hope Initiative’s grant application for “South End 21st Century Community Learning Centers” won a significant annual award of $400,000.These funds are designated to support expansion of free afterschool programming and school based supports at Bester Elementary School and catalyze the creation of new afterschool opportunities at E. Russell Hicks Middle School in 2019. The grant process, which was led by Kerry Fair of San Mar includes the hiring of eleven employees, including a Director of 21st Century Community Learning Centers, a site coordinator at Bester Elementary and Hicks Middle, and eight part-time afterschool support staff members. San Mar has begun recruitment for key positions with targeted hire dates in the next month. “We are very thankful for our partnership with Bester Community of Hope,” says Dr. Kristen English, Principal at Bester Elementary School. “Our students are having enriching and productive afterschool experiences, which contribute to academic successes and positive social interactions.” Dr. Jana Palmer, Executive Director of Elementary Instruction added, “The 21st Century grant has the potential to provide a safe place for our students to go after school with a focus on extending learning opportunities.”


Bester Community of Hope began demonstrating the work by providing various free afterschool clubs at Bester Elementary starting in the Fall of 2016 and prior to this award was averaging over 100 students in Fall and Spring seasons to participate in varied academic and enrichment offerings under the title of BOOST, or Bester Out of School Time.


Improving Health Outcomes for South Side children

In 2018, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) also notified San Mar of a grant award, totaling $250,000 over five years, to expand and sustain existing efforts to provide free acute health care services to families with the students attending Bester Elementary and to create a new school based health center at E. Russell Hicks in the Fall of 2019. As a part of the process, key partners including Meritus Health, The Community Free Clinic of Washington County and Washington County Public Schools, worked with San Mar to increase standards to become a certified school based health center under the Maryland State Department of Education umbrella. The updated Memorandum of Understanding was finalized in January of 2019, and free acute health services will begin once again at Bester Elementary in the coming weeks. The grant represents a multi-year effort, written and led by Jerica Washington LCSW-C of San Mar, to sustain and expand the ongoing health needs in south side neighborhoods.  Washington stated, “We are excited to continue promoting child health in this innovative program that helps with early intervention. Our aim is that children are in school ready to learn and their wellbeing is supported by the community.”


The Bester Health Center was created in the Fall of 2016, and initially was an unfunded commitment from the Community Free Clinic in collaboration with Bester Community of Hope to provide free acute health care services to any child attending Bester Elementary when a parent completed a basic consent form for treatment, no insurance required. Over the past two years as the program developed, over 50% of school students were registered, and a variety of acute health services were offered including but not limited to writing prescriptions for illnesses and providing concrete resources such as lice shampoo, over the counter medications and nebulizer treatments. The intent is to improve access and convenience for families, ultimately reducing stress for families juggling many responsibilities and targeting attendance as a key outcome by expediting treatment. In addition to direct clinic services, Bester Community of Hope uses the grant to promote and create activities and resources that increase opportunities around health education. Nicole Houser, Executive Director of the Community Free Clinic shared, “The Community Free Clinic is happy to be part of this collaboration. As the healthcare provider at Bester Elementary we can quickly meet the students’ needs and help in reducing absenteeism. We look forward to creating the same partnership with E. Russell Hicks students and their families.”



San Mar receives national award in Seattle


Members of the Bester Community of Hope team were recognized in Seattle, Washington on January 15th as winners of the Jim Casey Building Communities of Hope award.

Pictured above from left to right are: Casey Family Programs Board President, David C. Mills; San Mar Family & Community Services CEO, Keith Fanjoy; Director of the Washington County Department of Social Services, D. Michael Piercy Jr.; Executive Director of the Fletcher Foundation, William P. Young Jr.; Director of the Bester Community of Hope, Jen Younker; Principal of Bester Elementary School, Dr. Kristen English; Executive Director of the Maryland Social Services Administration, Rebecca Jones-Gaston and Casey Family Programs CEO, Dr. William C. Bell.

Full press release provided by Casey Family Programs can be found here: https://www.casey.org/ceca-2019

San Mar Family & Community Services announces leadership appointments

This past Thursday, November the 8th, marked the 135th anniversary of San Mar Family & Community Services opening its doors for the first time and Chief Executive Officer Keith Fanjoy used the occasion to announce a series of recent leadership appointments and new additions to the senior leadership team. San Mar is comprised of three core programs: treatment foster care services, the Bester Community of Hope initiative and outpatient mental health services at the Jack E. Barr Center for Well-Being. With a mission of cultivating hope and well-being for children, families and communities, San Mar continues to be an innovative leader with a long standing history in the best approaches to address social issues for families.

Jerica Washington has been promoted to the Director of the Jack E. Barr Center for Well-Being at San Mar. An employee of San Mar for three years, she was a part of a core team that helped to create the program in October of 2016 and today she is responsible for overseeing all center operations and providing public outreach on mental health services the center provides.

Washington, 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 from University of Maryland School of Social Work in Baltimore, with a specialization in maternal and child health. She has experience with school based case management and community connections efforts, as well as clinical experience with health providers in hospitals and community clinics in Maryland and Tennessee. “I’m excited for this new role in the outpatient mental health clinic and the unique opportunity to work for an agency that provides unconditional care by bringing care coordination and mental health together.”

Jennifer Younker has been promoted to the Director of the Bester Community of Hope, San Mar’s community initiative to support families and neighborhoods.  A certified clinical social worker and an employee of San Mar for the past seven years, Jen previously held role of Director of Residential Services until 2016, and most recently the Director of Community Triage Services at Bester Community of Hope. Jen graduated from Frostburg State University with her Bachelor’s degree, followed by her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland.  “Our strong shift to a family-driven approach, operating within the context of the community, has encouraged us to think outside the box and welcome barriers as opportunities. We are in an exciting position to truly act in the best interest of families. It has been an honor to be welcomed into family’s homes, the community and the school, working alongside people with a mutual goal of safety and well-being for children. And the momentum continues to grow!”

Ellen Savoy has been an integral part of the success at San Mar for over 30 years predominantly in a leadership role in Treatment Foster Care and most recently as the Deputy Director of San Mar. After recently considering retirement, she has committed to return to her passion of supporting Treatment Foster Care as its Director. Ellen holds a Bachelor’s degree from Bowie State and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Maryland. She will continue leading the staff and families through the process of foster care placements and treatment planning, for the ultimate success of the children entrusted to the agency. “Being an adoptive parent, I am very excited to continue this work. Any child who can’t be home should be in the next best place, a place where she or she feels safe and loved. That’s what San Mar strives to do for the children we serve.”

Fanjoy explained, “The commitment of employees like Ellen, Jen and Jerica are a reflection of their tremendous character and love of serving others and I am proud to work alongside them as partners. Often times in the non-profit world there are long hours and great challenges, and San Mar can thrive today because of these dedicated leaders. We are so fortunate to have each one of them on our team and to be able to promote from within; I am excited to see where they will take us in the future. ” In addition to the leadership appointments of staff that were already a part of the organization, San Mar also created two new positions, a Director of Finance and a Director of Marketing & Development, which were hired from the community.

Niccole Rolls has joined as the Director of Development and Marketing and she will be primarily responsible for directing fundraising and development activities as well as some communication efforts for the organization. Niccole graduated from the University of Maryland University College with a degree in management. Prior to joining San Mar, she served as the Director of Donor Relations and stewardship at Shepherd University and prior to that worked on the Daring to Lead campaign at Mercersburg Academy. Niccole brings experience and a proven track record of success in the fundraising and donor engagement. Rolls said, “I’m so fortunate to have the opportunity to do this work that makes a difference in the lives of children. I’m excited to work with the San Mar team and hope my contribution adds to the amazing outcomes they achieve!”

Tim Harrison, CPA, has joined the team as the Director of Finance, a part-time position managing the finances for San Mar’s core programs. Tim is a graduate of Loyola University, and started his working career on the audit staff of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Baltimore. Afterwards, he held significant financial management positions with two Fortune 500 manufacturing companies – American Standard and General Instrument Corporation, followed by a role as Budget Director for the Johns Hopkins Hospital. After an extended career supporting the financial management at top private schools in Baltimore and Washington D.C., Tim has been in Hagerstown for the past six years as the President & CEO of Tele Medico.  Harrison said, “I’m thrilled to be one of the newest members of the San Mar management team, a team committed to being good stewards of the financial resources received from a multitude of grantors and donors.  It pleases me to be part of an organization with a long history of providing excellent services to youth in our community.”

Fanjoy explained, “The Board of Managers at San Mar have made sustainability and fiscal clarity a top priority for the organization as we move forward. I believe Niccole and Tim bring the important skills that will help us operate from a strong foundation and position us for long-term growth. They have caught the San Mar vision and have already hit the ground running. It’s an exciting time of forward motion for the organization. ” Are you interested in learning more about San Mar Family & Community Services and finding ways to become involved? Contact Niccole Rolls at nrolls@SanMarHome.org or at 301-733-9067 x250.

Bester Community of Hope puts focus on babies

By Mike Lewis, Herald Mail Media

Booths about babies were the focus Saturday as Bester Community of Hope hosted its third Babypalooza.

“Babypalooza is a fun event for caregivers. We’re celebrating families and bringing resources to moms and dads who are either expecting or (who have a child) up to the age of 5,” said Jen Younker, director of Bester Community of Hope. “It’s my favorite event.”

Bester Community of Hope is an outreach of San Mar Family and Community Services. It develops and offers strategies for positive outcomes for the children and families of the Bester Elementary School neighborhood. Among other things, it sponsors Babypalooza and the annual South Side Community Block Party.

On Saturday, vendors at the third annual Babypalooza with information on health care, safety and other services set up exhibits at Bester Elementary School in Hagerstown and talked with children, their parents and other caregivers. Some booths handed out treats, such as candy or small bags of pretzels, and others offered activities for children, such as face painting or using rubber stamps.

Within the first 30 minutes, more than 300 people had filed through the doors, organizers said.

Younker said she was pleased not only with the turnout, but also with the community-building aspect of the event.

“This is truly a depiction of what it looks like when the community comes together,” she said, referring to about 30 “community partners” who helped make the event possible.

She said individuals also come together at Babypalooza.

“Every year, we have people who make friends here,” she said.

Jessica Lerch of Hagerstown was among the hundreds who were looking for information. She’s due to deliver in January, she said. She spent a few minutes talking with Dr. Mutsa Nyakabau, a pediatrician with Family Healthcare of Hagerstown.

“I’m just learning a lot that I need to know to take care of a baby,” she said. “There’s a lot of information, that’s for sure.”

Source article: https://www.heraldmailmedia.com/news/local/bester-community-of-hope-puts-focus-on-babies/article_cc2e4df7-0670-5c2e-aae6-038f8210e14c.html