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Grassroots Cold Weather Shelter program Is Underway

The 14th season of the Grassroots cold weather shelter program is underway and will run through April 2. The cold weather shelter program, housed in Howard County’s faith communities, is provided for people who are unable to find emergency shelter when Grassroots is full.

Last year, 85 people participated in the Cold Weather Shelter program, including eight children. Shelter participants receive additional services during their stay, including assistance with food stamps, medical assistance, case management referrals, preparing résumés and tax returns, and getting a Social Security card.

This year, 17 local faith communities are hosting the shelter for one or two weeks. Their volunteers provide meals, transportation, clothes, medicine and laundry services, and Grassroots provides on-site staff, management and coordination.

This year’s participating congregations are Atholton Seventh Day Adventist Church, Bethany United Methodist Church, Bridgeway Community Church, Christ Memorial Presbyterian Church, Columbia Community Church, The Church at Covenant Park, First Presbyterian Church of Howard County, Glen Mar United Methodist Church, Grace Community Church, Kittamaqundi Community Church, Linden-Linthicum United Methodist Church, New Hope Lutheran Church, Owen Brown Interfaith Center, St. John Baptist Church, St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. Paul’s Catholic Church and Temple Isaiah.

Grassroots is located on Freetown Road, Columbia. For information, call 410-531-6006 or visit www.grassrootscrisis.org.

AAWDC Announces $4.3M Grant for Soldiers Transitioning to Civilian Work

The Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corp. (AAWDC) has awarded a $4.3 million National Dislocated Worker Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor targeted toward re-employment programs for about 730 military service members, veterans and spouses as they transition from the military to the civilian workforce.

The Maryland Corps Career Connect (C3) has been established to coordinate the effort. According to a job vacancy listing for the program director on the AAWDC web site, the successful candidate will “use a demand-driven approach to create an effective employment and training delivery system that starts with the employer — identifying what their specific skill and educational needs are for potential hires.”

“Today, we are helping bridge those gaps by establishing the [C3],” said Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh, “an initiative to help connect our veterans and their families with jobs as they transition out of military life. This initiative targets transitioning service members and recently separated veterans to help ensure that they never stay unemployed for long and never fall into the category of long-term unemployed.”

Fort Meade Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard commented that the grant goes “far beyond the Fort Meade fenceline,” as it also will benefit soldiers transitioning from Aberdeen Proving Ground, Joint Base Andrews and Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

Kittleman Announces #OneHoward Initiative, Community Forum

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has announced #OneHoward, an initiative designed to promote community dialogue and reinforce the county’s shared goals of diversity and inclusiveness.

The goal of #OneHoward, a series of community conversations and educational events, is to advance the shared values of county residents while addressing concerns of racism, intolerance and bigotry that have surfaced recently, particularly on social media. “In the past several weeks, I have learned of instances of bigotry, racism and intolerance, and this isn’t who we are in Howard County,” said Kittleman. “I’ve heard of students who are afraid to go to school and of residents who feel we aren’t living in a civil society. We are better than this.”

#OneHoward will launch with a conversation with the community and will also include representatives from government agencies, such as county police, the sheriff’s office and schools. Leaders from various county and state organizations, religious groups and minority communities also will participate.

Kittleman, the son of a civil rights leader, said the first conversation will begin with brief messages from community leaders followed by an opportunity for residents to ask questions, raise concerns and offer suggestions for making the ongoing #OneHoward initiative a success. For more information, go to www.howardcountymd.gov/News/ArticleID/709/News112116b.

HCAC Seeks Artists for Juried Silent Art Auction

The Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) is seeking artists to participate in the annual Juried Silent Art Auction Exhibit as part of its annual fundraising gala, Celebration of the Arts in Howard County. The auction shines a spotlight on Howard County’s diverse and talented visual arts community.

All 2-D, 3-D and fine craft artists, 18 years or older, residing, working or studying in Howard County; HCAC members; and artists who have exhibited in Howard County in the last year are eligible to submit. Deadline for submissions is Jan. 23.

This year’s event will be held at the Horowitz Visual & Performing Arts Center at Howard Community College on Saturday, March 25, 2017, from 6–10 p.m. The Silent Auction exhibit will be presented in the Rouse Company Foundation Gallery. The final bid for each artwork sold will be divided equally between the artist and the Arts Council. Last year’s Silent Auction resulted in $11,375 in sales, with 81 pieces sold.

For more information or to submit an entry, visit hocoarts.org; to have a prospectus delivered via postal mail or email, call 410-313-ARTS (2787).

Astrophotography by Local Astronomy Enthusiast on Display at Robinson Nature Center

Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks’ Robinson Nature Center, in partnership with the Howard Astronomical League (HAL), will open a limited-time astrophotography exhibit at the Nature Center that will run until Dec. 31. The exhibit will feature images of galaxies, nebulae, moon craters, planets and more taken by high-powered telescopes.

HAL’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting will follow the reception in the Nature Center’s auditorium. A number of the photographers featured in the exhibit will offer their photos for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting programs at the Nature Center. For more information, visit www.howardastro.org.

Vendors Sought for Howard County’s 9th Annual WomenFest

Howard County’s Department of Community Resources and Services invites businesses that offer products or services that promote women’s health, wellness, technology, fashion and beauty to register for exhibit space at the 2017 WomenFest. Back for its ninth year, the event will be held on Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Gary J. Arthur Community Center at Glenwood, located at 2400 Route 97 in Cooksville. Admission and parking are free.

Coordinated by the Department’s Office on Aging and Independence, last year’s WomenFest attracted more than 600 participants and 100 vendors and exhibitors. Vendor and exhibitor applications, sponsorship opportunities and full event details are available at www.howardcountymd.gov/WomenFest. Applications may be faxed to 410-313-5950 or mailed to WomenFest 2017, c/o Donna Tugwell, Howard County Office on Aging and Independence, 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, Suite 211, Columbia, MD 21046.

For more information, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/WomenFest, follow the Department’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/HoCoCommunity) or contact Courtney Barkley at 410-313-5957 or cbarkley@howardcountymd.gov.

Partners In Care Needs Volunteer Drivers

The Ride Partners transportation program at Partners In Care (PIC), a nonprofit based in Pasadena, is searching for volunteer drivers to keep up with an increasing demand of ride requests among its growing membership of older adults who live in Anne Arundel County. Ride Partners is PIC’s signature program and provides adults age 50 and above with no-cost, arm-in-arm transportation to locations throughout the community.

Volunteer drivers can work as many or as few hours per week as they can contribute. Interested individuals will attend a brief orientation and training session, and information regarding insurance that PIC maintains on its volunteer drivers and their vehicles is discussed. For more information, call 410-544-4800 or visit www.partnersincare.org.

Kittleman Seeks Member With Disability for Howard Commission

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman is seeking applicants with a disability who are interested in serving on the Commission on Disability Issues. The commission is composed of 15 voting members who serve five-year terms each and includes people with disabilities, service providers, family members of people with disabilities and the community-at-large.

The commission advises Howard County Government on issues affecting people with disabilities and also provides guidance and recommendations on Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. To be eligible for consideration, candidates must be Howard County residents, 18 years of age or older, have an interest in disability issues and be able to attend the commission’s meetings, which are held on the fourth Monday every other month (beginning in February), from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Gateway Building, 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, Room 303, Columbia.

Applicants should send a résumé and brief letter to David Lee, by email, to dklee@howardcountymd.gov; or by mail to Howard County Government, Office of the County Executive, Attn: David Lee, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21043. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 5 p.m. For more information, contact Michelle Henry at 410-313-6431 (voice/relay) or email mhenry@howardcountymd.gov.

Laurel Branch Library Reopens

After three years of delays and unexpected setbacks, the Laurel Branch Library reopened on Nov. 28, welcoming patrons back to a bright, expansive space featuring an interactive learning destination for children and a drive-through window to pick up or return books.

Features of the new $14 million library include roof-mounted solar panels that provide a portion of the building’s electrical needs, a living plant wall in the Whisper (quiet study) Room, two meeting rooms, two conference rooms and five study rooms.

Occupying 31,000 square feet, the new library’s collection numbers more than 50,000 items (books, DVDs, audiobooks and magazines), with a future capacity of 80,000 items; additionally, 53 computers are available for patron use. A training lab contains 15 laptops for public instruction, and a publishing center offers a public fax, scanner/digitizer and color printer.

Jan. 5 Drop Off Date Set for HoCo Open

HoCo Open 2017 is a non-juried exhibit held biennially at the Howard County Center for the Arts (HCCA), 8510 High Ridge Road, Ellicott City. Adults aged 18 years and older who live, work or study in Howard County are invited to bring one piece of original artwork completed in the past two years. Artwork drop-off is 4:30–6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 5, at HCCA. Artwork will be accepted for the exhibit on a first-come basis, one piece per artist, until the gallery is full.

All artwork submitted must be original — commercially-printed or computer-generated reproductions of paintings or non-digital work will not be accepted. All work must be delivered ready for installation. The Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) retains a 20% commission on all sales.

HoCo Open will be on display from Jan. 13 through Feb. 24. To obtain the guidelines and entry form, or for more information, call 410-313-ARTS (2787) or visit hocoarts.org.

CF HoCo Awards Grants Supporting Ellicott City Flood Relief

The Community Foundation of Howard County — which assists donors in reaching their philanthropic goals and raises, manages and distributes funds to support Howard County nonprofits — awarded four grants supporting Ellicott City flood relief.

  • The Community Action Council of Howard County received a $60,000 grant supporting food donations and distribution to those affected by the flood.
  • Preservation Maryland received a $5,000 grant supporting its Ellicott City Preservation Resource Center designed to help the community rebuild its infrastructure.
  • Friends of Patapsco Valley State Park received a $4,000 grant supporting cleanup of Patapsco Valley State Park’s Orange Grove and Avalon areas, which were devastated by the flood.
  • Ellicott City Partnership received a $9,600 grant supporting the administration and distribution of raised funds directly to merchants and residents of Ellicott City.

“Now’s the time to remember our neighbors in Ellicott City,” said Beverly White-Seals, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “Although months have passed since the flood, Ellicott City residents, business owners and employees need our help more than ever to rebuild Main Street.” To learn more or to make a donation, visit cfhoco.org.

New Howard County Food Bank Opens

The Community Action Council (CAC) of Howard County has announced that the new Howard County Food Bank opened its doors for clients on Nov. 28. The 8,000-square-foot facility, located at 9385 Gerwig Lane, Columbia, will allow CAC to reach more clients in need of basic food services.

The expanded space, larger refrigerator/freezer space and bigger warehouse capacity will allow the food bank to offer a wider variety of items, mainly frozen meats, fresh produce and other nutritional options. Additionally, the new building will give CAC the ability to engage food bank clients in all the other programs CAC offers, including homelessness prevention, energy assistance and the Head Start program.

The food bank serves more than 27,000 county residents and distributes close to 687,000 pounds of food annually. According to data collected by CAC, 7.1% of Howard County residents experience food insecurity. Additionally, 100% of the individuals who are served at the facility have incomes which are at, or below, 150% of the Federal Poverty Level.

HCPSS, CA Partner to Promote Global Competence

The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) partnered with the Columbia Association (CA) International Exchange and Multicultural Programs Office to foster international understanding and develop global competence among students and staff. The partnership was formalized with an official signing on Nov. 30 at the Sheraton Columbia Waterside Restaurant.

Under the terms of the partnership agreement, CA will invite HCPSS staff and students to participate in the International Exchange program with Columbia’s Sister Cities, the World Languages Café, the International Book Club and various cultural festivals. CA also will invite students to join the Multicultural Youth Council of Howard County and will include HCPSS staff members on the International and Multicultural Advisory Committee.

HCPSS staff will invite CA representatives to participate in HCPSS professional development days and advisory committees to help prepare students to become globally competent and participate in a multilingual environment that values other cultures. This partnership supports Vision 2018 strategies to ensure students have access to culturally proficient staff members who support them and help them solve problems.

2017 Children on Board Preschool/Child Care Information Fair

The 2017 Preschool/Child Care Information Fair, Children On Board, will be presented on Sunday, Jan. 29, from 1–4 p.m., at Ten Oaks Ballroom, Clarksville. The event will provide parents, guardians, grandparents and child care personnel with one-stop shopping for information on child care, pre-school and summer programs, as well as the opportunity for personal contact with teachers and program directors.

Representatives from community service organizations that offer programs and services to Howard County’s young children will also be on hand to provide information to interested parents. Admission is free; however, attendees are asked to bring a nonperishable food item or unopened diapers to donate to the Howard County Food/Diaper Bank.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to attend free informational sessions on “How to Choose an Early Childhood Program,” which will be offered each hour.

The new 2017 Parent’s Guide to Howard County will be distributed at the event free of charge. For more information, contact the Howard County Office of Children and Families at 410-313-1940 or via children@howardcountymd.gov.

Kittleman’s First Fiscal ’18 Citizens’ Budget Hearing: Dec. 14

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman will hold his first Citizens’ Budget Hearing for the fiscal 2018 budget cycle on Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m., in the Banneker Room of the George Howard Building, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City.

Residents are able to sign up online to speak at the hearing by going to www.howardcountymd.gov/budgettestimony. From the same link, residents will also have the option to provide online budget testimony; however, residents are reminded that Internet testimony is considered public information and, as such, is subject to the Maryland Public Information Act.

Residents who do not wish to sign up online will still be able to sign up in person on the night of the public hearing, beginning at 6 p.m. Speakers must sign up individually, and one person may not sign up for several testifiers. For more information, contact the Budget Office at 410-313-2077.

Celebrate Columbia’s 50th With a Personalized Brick at the Lakefront

Columbia Association (CA) is offering its Buy-a-Brick program for the first time in five years, this time with special bricks in honor of Columbia’s 50th Birthday celebration taking place in 2017.

A section of the plaza at the Downtown Columbia Lakefront will be reserved for bricks placed around a large paver reading “Columbia Maryland 50.” There is also an option to purchase bricks for placement in other areas of the plaza. The opportunity to purchase a brick will continue through Feb. 24. Bricks are $100 for placement in the 50th Birthday section and $75 for placement in other areas of the plaza.

Bricks can have up to three lines of text, with 15 characters per line; spaces between words count as a character. CA cannot guarantee that those purchasing multiple bricks will have them placed next to each other. They may be purchased online at ColumbiaAssociation.org/bricks or by downloading the form and bringing it with payment to CA’s Customer and Member Service Center, 6310 Hillside Court, located off Stevens Forest Road (near the Howard County vehicle emissions inspection station). The form and payment may also be mailed to Columbia Association, C&M Brick Program, 6310 Hillside Court, Columbia, MD, 21046.

Certificates are available to download and present as a gift to others. For more information, contact Christina Pierre at 410-423-4102 or Christina.Pierre@ColumbiaAssociation.org.

December Art Exhibit at Annapolis City Hall

The December Art Exhibit at City Hall will showcase creative paintings of the Annapolis Conservancy Preserved Properties, painted by the Washington Society of Landscape Painters. The society is a 102-year-old art society and one of the oldest organizations of landscape artists in the country.

An artist reception will take place on Monday, Dec. 12, from 5 to 7 p.m. at City Hall, located at 160 Duke of Gloucester Street, Annapolis. The exhibit and reception are open to the public. The artwork is in City Hall through Jan. 27 and available to view, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The exhibit is sponsored by the City of Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay String of Pearls Project, a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to honor organizations that preserve land in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The Annapolis Conservancy Board is the first public land trust in Maryland.