Generosity is Always in Style

Article by Rhonda Stephens

Photography by Jessica Patterson Photography

Originally published in Frederick Lifestyle

Giving back has always been stylish in Frederick. How fortunate to be part of a community that values giving time and treasure to assist others, in both big and small ways. Of the many generous organizations here in the county, featuring only three was a daunting task. From construction to singing, to connecting, to funding, the organizations have a wide reach. Shining a light on all the good they do, we primped and pampered our friends for the day and, as you’ll see, these folks really shine in red carpet style!

Imagine a child from another country who, after arriving here in Frederick, is placed in the home of a relative whom he’s never met. Or imagine having a serious medical problem and never having been to a doctor. These, and much more, are issues that occur daily for the volunteers and staff of the Spanish Speaking Community of Maryland. The goal of the organization—which was founded by Executive Director Maria Herrera’s father—is to enable immigrants in Frederick and Montgomery counties to become self-sufficient and to assist with life change.

“There are so many challenges that these children face, and we work to help them survive. We want them to feel that they are going to have a better life," Maria says. “I remember what I endured, and these individuals have endured so much more. I want to be able to make a difference in someone’s life.”

“It’s stylish to give back because we would not be where we are today if someone else did not ‘give back’ to us," says Natalie Cioffi, program director and Maria's daughter. "And personally, I love giving back; it makes me feel empowered and beautiful inside and out! It’s a look we should all wear.”

Making a difference in people’s lives is a common thread to each of our “stylish” organizations. Focusing on the needs of the community for basic housing, the next star of the show is Habitat for Humanity, whose mission is to provide and maintain affordable housing in the community.

“As a largely volunteer organization,” Executive Director Ron Cramer says, “we cannot do this without our partners: our local builders, nonprofits, individuals and volunteers. Helping others is what God wants us to do. I do this because I care about the people here in Frederick County. I was born and raised here, and my heart is here. I want everyone to be able to enjoy all we have to offer. Having 39% of residents unable to afford to live here is unacceptable to me, and I’m doing my best to change that.”

Feeding, caring for and housing means meeting the most basic needs of our residents. There is another need the Frederick Children’s Chorus is filling. Lastly, on the Red Carpet, is Lee Fuhr, executive director of the Frederick Children’s Chorus, whose mission is to bring children together for the joyful exploration and celebration of singing. It is said that music soothes the soul, and studies confirm that music lowers levels of depression and can increase happiness.

“We are a practice in prevention, saving children’s lives before they need to be saved,” Lee says. “I’ve seen what music can do. We are preventing suicides before they need to be prevented, and we are creating stable, emotional people before depression can be a thing for them.”

Lee adds that she and the staff members do this for the love of the children and music.

While three of Frederick’s amazing nonprofit organizations have been given the spotlight, there are many more that are full of good people, who sacrificially give of their time and treasure and care for the Frederick community in diverse ways. Giving will always be stylish.

As Ron of Habitat for Humanity says, “Frederick is a mecca for volunteerism.”

And that’s one of the reasons it’s a wonderful place to call home.




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