Sheryl V. Kerr Award

Given in memory of Sheryl V. Kerr by the Grayce B. Kerr Fund, the Sheryl V. Kerr Award pays tribute to the impact Mrs. Kerr made across the country, and especially in Talbot County. A grant given to the Women & Girls Fund provides for an annual award recognizing individuals or programs of significance to women. The word that best sums up the Award’s intention is “empowerment”. As an individual, Mrs. Kerr spoke up for women and believed in encouraging them to make a difference to their families and communities through work and community volunteerism. As Chair of the Grayce B. Kerr Fund, she focused on larger scale programs and projects that provided women with the skills and capabilities to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. And, it is that same mission that the Women & Girls Fund strives to accomplish through our grants and activities. Therefore, it is our distinct honor to recognize two outstanding women in our community who are excelling both personally and professionally, creating strong lives for themselves and empowering the women they work with to do the same.

The Women & Girls Fund honors Maria D’Arcy and Estela Vianey Ramirez with the 2016 Sheryl V. Kerr Award

MARIA D’ARCY was born in Colombia, South America, in a beautiful mountainous area that produces coffee. As a child she grew up on a farm with a large and warm family. She was fortunate enough to go to school and eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and began working on her Masters degree while she was working at the Center of Economic Development Studies.

Maria is a person who likes to help others. In her early years in her home country of Colombia, she was involved with and had direct contact with communities in need. She emigrated from Colombia to the United States in 2001 with an asylum visa status. The most difficult and challenging episode in her life was learning the language here, having to do all the process of filing her immigration application to finally become a citizen in 2011, and settling in a new community with a different culture and way of life.

Maria came from Florida to Maryland in 2002. Since then she has been working with the Spanish community and has fourteen years of hands-on experience working in the Mid-Shore.

Before beginning her job at For All Seasons, she worked at the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center’s Afterschool Program helping children with their academic performance and The Women & Girls Fund honors Maria D’Arcy and Estela Vianey Ramirez with the 2016 Sheryl V. Kerr Award providing educational enrichment for parents. Maria is now an integral part of For All Seasons’ staff, working as a bilingual victim advocate for the Rape Crisis Center and developing and leading support groups for women, teens, and children. Her work with her clients is inspiring to all who know her.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Maria is a volunteer with Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center, Caroline County’s Afterschool programs, and UM Shore Regional Health Breast Center doing outreach to the Hispanic community and connecting women with high health insurance copays, or no insurance, to the Wellness for Women Program clinic. Her impact in the community is felt by women and girls of all ages. She is proud to be a partner in strengthening the cultural bonds in the growing multicultural community in the Mid-Shore.

ESTELA VIANEY RAMIREZ Ulloa is the Hispanic Outreach Coordinator of the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center (ChesMRC), whose mission is to empower people from different cultures to become successful and engaged members of the community. Through education, the ChesMRC strives to break down cultural barriers that arise from differences in language, appearance, or ethnic traditions.

Estela is bilingual in Spanish and English and has extensive hands-on experience with Central American culture, having been born and raised in Honduras until her 15th birthday, when Estela moved with her 2 brothers to Easton, Maryland to reunite with her mother who had been in the US establishing a life for her children. She enrolled at Easton High School as an English Language Learner (ELL). Driven to learn the culture and language, Estela immersed herself in various clubs and ELL classes and quickly climbed her way to the top of her class and achieved honor roll both her junior and senior year. In her four years at Easton High School, Estela completed over 1,000 hours of service learning hours volunteering for her community.

After high school, Estela relocated to Silver Spring where she worked as an administrative assistant for a construction firm. In 2006 and 2009, she welcomed 2 daughters, Daniela and Natalia, into the world. Shortly after Natalia’s birth, Estela realized she missed the Eastern Shore and moved back in 2009 where she started her own home cleaning business. In 2013 she began part-time with the ChesMRC assisting with ESL courses, parent literacy and the Girl Scout program. And, in September 2015, Estela became the fulltime Hispanic Outreach Coordinator.

As Hispanic Outreach Coordinator, Estela works with the Director and leadership team on implementing a wide range of informational and educational programs for both adults and children, including the Afterschool Program, health education, parent literacy, translation services and immigration legal assistance. In addition to being the Girl Scout Leader for Easton Troop 1536, Estela has certifications in CPR/First Aid, Community Health Work Core Training, Chronic Self Disease Management and Stress Management, and Empower Me Child Abuse Training. She is also a board member of the YMCA and a member of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum Friends Board.

A key focus of Estela’s work at ChesMRC has been to engage immigrant parents to become and stay involved with their children’s education and assisting them to overcome language barriers, learn new-life skills, and advance their own education. In partnership with For All Seasons, Estela helped create a women’s group that meets regularly in a safe, educational, and fun environment for over 40 Hispanic women focusing on women’s health, rights, and risks.

Estela works tirelessly helping those around her. Anyone who comes in contact with her is immediately greeted with kindness and warmth, and you can’t help but smile being in her presence. We will no doubt see great things happen in our community due to her efforts and are excited to watch her continue to succeed.