During 44 combined years of teaching, Leo and Diane Zerhusen had seen so many children coming to school without adequate clothes, school supplies or food to eat that they felt they had to do something to help.
Lisa Hurka Covington was shattered when her lovely, talented sister shot herself at the age of 28.
Lucinda Merry-Browne was driven by a lifelong desire to help theatrical students perform professional-quality theatre.
Fred Kelly got fed up after decades of watching toxic runoff from the Annapolis Mall kill marine life in the Severn River.
Their stories couldn’t be more different, but these remarkable people all share one common element – their passion has led them to create nonprofit organizations that are adding immeasurably to the quality of life in Anne Arundel County.
The nonprofit world is filled with organizations created by deeply-concerned individuals to meet a need or right a wrong. Few undertake the difficult work of creating or building an organization with any thought of personal benefit. Nonprofit leaders tend to work long hours for very low (or no) pay because they are driven by the need to help a struggling segment of our population or to make their community a better place.
The Zerhusen’s HOPE For All organization provides over $150,000 worth of clothing, household supplies, food, furniture and school supplies to Anne Arundel County residents every year. Lisa Hurka Covington’s SPEAK works to prevent youth suicide, including having emergency phones installed on the Bay Bridge and successfully lobbying for bullying prevention legislation. Lucinda Merry-Browne’s Compass Rose Theater has been performing four critically-acclaimed theatrical productions a year since 2011. And without any governmental assistance, Fred Kelly’s Severn Riverkeeper Program is constructing stormwater projects costing one million dollars that are cleaning up the Severn River by stopping toxic runoff.
While caring individuals create a nonprofit to solve a problem or fill a need, most nonprofit leaders end up having to spend a large portion of their time raising funds for their organization’s work. This has become even harder in recent years as Anne Arundel County has cut funding for local nonprofits by 80% at the same time that the number of county residents living in poverty increased by 46%.
To help the organizations caught in this squeeze, I created Anne Arundel Cares to raise money for the local nonprofits which add so much to our quality of life. Please visit www.AACares.org to learn more about the wide variety of ways in which our 58 nonprofit partners are making Anne Arundel County a great place to live. And then please take a moment to make at least a small donation to the nonprofit whose work speaks most deeply to your heart.
Even a relatively-small donation can have a dramatic impact. For example, your gift of $8.33 would allow We Care & Friends to fill a typical prescription for a struggling county resident; the Center of Help could use your $12.19 to purchase an English language book for an Hispanic student in their Homework Help & Leadership program, and $33.33 covers the cost of providing a day of refuge at YWCA’s Arden House for a victim of domestic violence and her children.
Plus, if you make your online donation between now and September 12th, you will help your favorite nonprofit win one of three $2,500 challenge grants being awarded during Anne Arundel Cares Week courtesy of Capital One Bank, myself and an anonymous donor. So please go to www.AACares.org now and help the extraordinary people running local nonprofits make an even bigger difference in Anne Arundel County.
Author: Joanna Conti