Wednesday, August 13, 2014

We need You! Dentist or not, we’re going to need a lot of volunteers to provide $1,000,000 in pro bono dental care September 4 and 5!

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Guest Post by Allysha Sneed

It’s a Tuesday afternoon and Dr. Tris Kruger, a dentist and two-time volunteer for the Mid-MD Mission of Mercy, is picking up his phone for the tenth time today, reaching out to colleagues for assistance in a mission he loves dearly.

“Hello and good afternoon. I am calling to find out if you would be willing to help with a free dental clinic we are hosting on September 5 and 6 at the Comcast Center in College Park, MD,” said Dr. Kruger. “I, along with a host of my colleagues, will be serving patients who are uninsured or are otherwise unable to afford dental services and we would love your help.” 
Volunteers and staff held a phone-a-thon to recruit local dentists to
volunteer at the upcoming free dental clinic.
One by one dental professionals throughout Maryland responded by saying yes to volunteering at this year’s Mid-MD Mission of Mercy (MOM) free dental clinic. Mid-MD MOM is a free two-day dental clinic periodically provided by volunteer dental professionals on a mission to enhance the oral health of adults in need.  The MOM service model first began in Virginia in 2000 and has since spread around the county affecting the lives of patients and dentists alike. 

In order to meet this year’s goal of providing over a million dollars of free dental care, over 800 volunteers are needed. Hundreds of professional and non-professional volunteers will be providing adult patients with services such as cleanings, fillings, root canals, and extractions, using 188 chairs spread across the Comcast Center.  Volunteers are asked to serve during one of two twelve hour shifts from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. September 4-6.

“Without volunteers this event wouldn’t even be possible. For me volunteering is all about giving back to the community, especially for those of us that are able to give back using our professions- it’s so easy and so worth it,” said Dr. Kruger. “There is no better feeling than helping a patient and afterwards having them crying with appreciation because they were taken care of. Honestly, I get more out of it than the patients do.”
Catholic Charities’ Parish and School Program Manager Deacon James Nalls, is in charge of organizing and running the event. 

“Dental care is under supported in our culture and as a result the vast amounts of adults ages 18 to 65 are neglecting their teeth,” said Nalls. “This is why this event is so important. It’s a step toward increasing the overall health of adults throughout Maryland.”

For more information on how you can become one of the 800 volunteers needed to help make the Mid-MD MOM on September 4-6 a success (whether or not you are a dentist) or to donate supplies such as food, beverages, paper products, or printing supplies for the event, please contact volunteer coordinator Maggie O’Neill at / (202) 772-1234. 

The following volunteers are needed:
·       Dentists (students welcome)
·       Hygienists (students welcome)
·       General volunteers (patient and volunteer check in/out, hospitality)
·       Set up and break down (Thursday and Saturday evening)
·       IT support
·       Translators 

If interested in becoming a corporate partner of Mid-MD MOM, please contact Deacon James Nalls at

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pictures of Hope: Children express dreams through a camera lens

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When 10-year-old Kamia's parents separated this past year, she founding herself spending many nights in local shelters along with her mother, sister and brother. With all the uncertainty and changes this past year, Kamia wasn't sure things were ever going to look bright again.

This past Tuesday, however, Kamia and nine other children enrolled in the Tenants Empowerment Network (TEN), had the chance to articulate their hopes and dreams through photography, thanks to the Linda Solomon's and Chevrolet's Pictures of Hope Initiative. 

The Tenant Empowerment Network (TEN)  helps families like Kamia's get back on their feet. A program that includes wraparound services including case management, employment assistance and child care, helps families work towards self-sufficiency.

Linda Solomon, who’s red carpet portfolio includes the likes of Beyoncé Knowles, Justin Bieber and Robert Redford, created Pictures of Hope to teach low-income children that their dreams matter, and how to illustrate them through a camera lens.

The day was a lesson in photography for the youth, but also an exercise in creativity and inspiration.

Pictured: GM CEO Mary Barra mentors Donavan
Here’s how Pictures of Hope worked: 

1. Each child received a mentor to help them throughout the day to help them articulate their dreams. Among the mentors was General Motors CEO Mary Barra (thanks to Chevrolet). Gracious and kind, she took several hours away from her high-powered position and worked with young Donovan.

2. The children then had the assignment of writing down their hopes for the future. Mentors walked them through their hopes as they each wrote down their list. Barra believes that we can transform the world one person--one child--at a time. By spending time with the youth at TEN, jotting down Donovan's dreams as he dictated them to her, was a testament to that.

 3.  Now, the fun part. As a surprise, each received a new digital camera (courtesy of Sport Chevrolet) of his or her very own. Let the snapping begin! Mentors helped with operating the camera, focusing the lens, and suggesting photo opps. 

4. here is where the creative juices flow. Each child was tasked with expressing one dream he or she had written down earlier through a photo. With the help of a mentor, they explored the sights and determined what photo frame would best capture their vision.

 A sampling: 

  • To Grace, an image of vibrant flowers means beauty.
  • To Keonte, an artistic shot of tree leaves signifies health.
  • To Kamia, a snapshot of a book symbolizes education.  

Pictured: Sr. Mary Louise Wessell, Linda Solomon and Grace

This fall, photos and dream statements of the TEN program children will be transformed into greeting cards and then be unveiled at a Meet the Young Artist Reception at Sport Chevrolet. Each card will symbolize the hopes of one child of the TEN program, and how he or she is looking forward to a better tomorrow. Stay tuned for updates!

Check out the media coverage below:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Request to help restock our food pantry shelves

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Guest Post by Tiffany Tan, Program Manager for our McCarrick Family Center
The McCarrick Family Center of Catholic Charities in Silver Spring, MD seeks your assistance in restocking our food pantry shelves. Approximately one year ago, we revised our food pantry system from giving clients pre-packaged bags of food to allowing clients to shop in the pantry and pick out their own food items.

As consumers, we have the choice of what to purchase at the grocery store, and we wanted to give our clients the same right and dignity. The outcome a year later has been a success as we’ve been able to serve a larger number of individuals and families, connect low-income residents with our services and additional services in the community, and our clients have appreciated the opportunity to shop for their food. 

Each new client who comes for food first meets with a case worker to assess his/her situation to see if we can address needs around housing, medical/mental, social, family, legal, and/or financial. Having a choice food pantry has become a great anchor program to attract new clients. 

However, the number of clients continues to grow and, particularly during the summer months, the food donations decrease. You can see in the chart to the right we experienced an increase in the number of households who have come for services (blue line) and the number of visits to the food pantry (red line). In June 2014, we had 181 clients shop in the pantry. While we receive food from the Capital Area Food Bank and are committed to picking up fresh produce from them once a week, many of our staple items are gone. Some shelves are bare. We are now even out the basics such as pasta, spaghetti sauce, and cereal. 

We ask for your help if you are able to give food or a monetary donation for us to shop at the Capital Area Food Bank (at $.19/lb.) one-time, monthly, quarterly, or annually. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. You can donate in-person or via our secure webpage.

Our staple items most in need include:

  • Beans (canned & dry)
  • Canned fruit
  • Canned potatoes
  • Cereal & oatmeal
  • Chef Boyardee
  • Instant cups of soup
  • Jelly
  • Mac & cheese
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Muffin/cake mix
  • Pasta
  • Pasta & rice side dishes
  • Rice (white and brown)
  • Snacks (crackers, kid’s snacks, puddings)
  • Spaghetti/pasta sauce

We can pick up donations from you or food can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm and until 8pm on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month. We are located at 12247 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20902. Please contact me with any questions at 301-942-1790 ext. 131. Thank you in advance for your donation.

God Bless,

Tiffany Tan
Program Manager