With the recent vacancy on the five seat elected Board of Washington County Commissioners, Governor Larry Hogan recently confirmed that San Mar alumni Charles Burkett was the best choice to fill the position. This success story is less to do with the future, and much more a reflection of the journey to now.
“I came to San Mar Children’s Home in 1972 with my 3 siblings. I left San Mar in 1984 to return home with my father. Although circumstances dictate a person’s view of their past, my experience at San Mar was one of exceptional care during a period that my parents were unable to care for me.”
Although the service model of San Mar has changed significantly since Charlie’s childhood, the new strategies of family and community based services are still consistent with the continuing focus of unconditional care for children and families. Former long-time San Mar staff member Sallie Dorsey fondly remembers Charlie and explained, “He never gave up when things got tough, and his faith got him through those times. His appointment as Commissioner is so well deserving and I’m so proud of him.” Charlie’s experience with the work of San Mar had an impact, so much so that he decided he wanted to find a way to give back.
“People like Mr. & Mrs Giffin, Mr. & Mrs. Black, Ms. Sallie Dorsey, Ms. Darlene Pryor, Mr. Share, and many others, played an important role in making me into who I am today. With that said, I knew one day that I wanted to give back to San Mar, and so from 2005 to 2011, my wife Wendy and our four children stepped up to become foster parents and foster siblings,” Charlie explained.
San Mar Treatment Foster Care relies on the exceptional contributions of foster parents who commit their entire family to local children who are referred in need. The Burkett’s opened their home to make a difference in the lives of many children in Treatment Foster Care.
Current San Mar Chief Executive Officer Keith Fanjoy LCSW-C, remembers his time as a Case Manager for San Mar TFC and working with the Burkett family. “Like any parent, to be a foster parent is to give love to a child by making ongoing sacrifices in their best interest. There are many challenging times in doing this heroic work, and what I most remember most about the Burkett family is the shared commitment of Charlie & Wendy to every child who came into their home, as well as going the extra mile connecting with families from where kids were referred. Charlie’s personal experience helped inform his approach and make a big impact in the lives of not only children in need, but often their parents as well. The recent recognition he’s received is really just a validation of the man of integrity he has always been.”
Charlie explained, “Each child that came into our home had their own challenges especially under the circumstances, but our faith in God and our desire to give back, made the tough times a little easier. We are still in contact with and have continuing relationships with some of these children who called our house home and how we helped shape them.”
After completing his time with San Mar TFC, Charlie was the successful owner and operator of several businesses including ServTec and Burkett’s Deli, before selling them and focusing his efforts on local ministry.
Fanjoy shared, “For every child or family that has ever been a part of San Mar like Charlie, we think of you often, we continue to hope & dream for your future, and most importantly, we want you to know that you’re always part of the San Mar family. Victories of past clients like the story of Charlie is the fuel that keep us moving forward”
To learn more about the important work happening every day at San Mar Family & Community Services, through efforts such as Treatment Foster Care, outpatient mental health services at the Jack E. Barr Center for Well-Being or the Bester Community of Hope initiative, find us online at www.sanmarhope.org.