2018 Grants & Awards Luncheon


EASTON — The theme of the Women & Girls Fund is “the power of pooled resources,” and a banquet room filled with more than 200 individuals who gathered on a breezy Monday, April 30, were living symbols of the many who — together — can accomplish the monumental.

They gathered for the fund’s 16th annual Grants and Awards Luncheon at the Milestone in Easton to celebrate local individuals and organizations who are making a difference.

“This a very feel-good event,” Talli Oxnam said. She is president of the board of directors of the Easton-based Women & Girls Fund.

The local philanthropy awarded checks totaling $45,996 to 13 Mid-Shore organizations and honored two women whose personal or professional efforts help fulfill the mission of the Women & Girls Fund: to improve and advance the lives of local women and girls.

“The event brings together an extraordinary group of people and celebrates the importance of improving the lives of women and girls every day on the Mid-Shore,” said co-founder and former board member Meg van den Berg. “Every year, the fund highlights those organizations and community leaders that truly make a difference.”

According to the Women & Girls Fund website, the endowed fund was established in 2002 as a grassroots effort of a group of women who wanted to address significant local problems effectively. “The first donation was received that year and — after working with the United Fund and Mid-Shore Community Foundation to learn about the region’s needs — (the) first grants were given in April of 2003.”

Alice Ryan, Bettie Baer, Kirby Parker, Emilie Robinson, Carolyn Thornton and Meg van den Berg founded the Women & Girls Fund.

Oxnam extended a “heartfelt thank you to Meg van den Berg and Ginny Berliner. These two ladies are a true blessing to the Fund and to this event. Without their tireless efforts and positivity, we would not be sitting here today.”

At the luncheon, the fund honored two Mid-Shore women with the Women & Girls Fund and Sheryl V. Kerr Awards. The annual awards recognize community members whose personal or professional efforts improve and advance the lives of local women and girls.

Artist Sue Stockman of St. Michaels is the 2018 recipient of the Women & Girls Fund Award, which has been given since 2004. Robbin Hill of Easton is the 2018 recipient of the Sheryl V. Kerr Award. Given in memory of the late Sheryl V. Kerr by the Grayce B. Kerr Fund, the award first was given in 2016.

Women & Girls Fund co-founder and board member Alice Ryan introduced Stockman and Hill.

The Women & Girls Fund Award “goes to someone who consistently demonstrates her commitment to improving the lives and opportunities for women, girls and families,” Ryan said.

“An accomplished artist, Stockman is well known for her creative jewelry and mosaic murals, as well as for leading educational art classes and workshops for participants of all ages that bring a sense of curiosity and discovery to her students,” Ryan said.

“And quietly, she is alert to, and personally committed to, providing compassion and care to friends and strangers in need, whether sitting by a hospital bed with a friend or leading an art workshop for incarcerated women,” Ryan said.

“Her dedication, integrity, compassion and generosity of time and talent demonstrate her commitment to improving the lives and opportunities for women, girls and families, the hallmark of this annual award,” Ryan said. “Sue has graciously requested that the $500 donation that accompanies this award go to the Carpe Diem Arts Outreach Fund.”

“I’m filled with gratitude, especially as I look across the room and see the people that have inspired me and been amazing examples for me,” Stockman said.

“I’ve been thinking about weaving a lot,” Stockman said. “And this award feels a little like pulling a thread out of something that has been woven in recognizing the one thread when, actually, every single person that has shown up that has known me and — a ton that haven’t have — created a space where I can do the work that I love to do.”

Robbin Hill, the chief program and scholarship officer at the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, “has built a strong network throughout the non-profit community, where she is known for her enthusiasm and tireless advocacy for the Mid-Shore region,” Ryan said.

“Robbin and the fund have grown up together,” Ryan said. “It’s really quite amazing if you’ve ever worked with Robbin. She knows every nonprofit in the five counties. She knows whom to call. She’s an amazing person.”

Ryan said Hill’s efforts exemplify the mission of the fund. “With vision and an understanding of the needs of the community — along with a kind and caring approach to helping others — she excels at developing grants that meet people where they are to do the most to improve their lives,” Ryan said.

“It’s a true privilege to do this work, and it’s a real honor,” Hill said as her eyes filled with tears.

State Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore, and Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37B-Talbot, presented greetings and congratulatory citations from their fellow legislators to Stockman and Hill.

“It’s always fun to recognize those folks who have been behind the scenes making it all happen for so many years, so God bless you,” Eckardt said.

This year’s grants were awarded to two new applicants and 11 nonprofits that have been awarded Women & Girls Fund grants at least once before. New grantees were the Kent County Department of Social Services Child Advocacy Center and Mid-Shore Restoring HOPE in Women.

Repeat recipients were Compass Regional Hospice, Destined to Rise, Echo Hill Outdoor School, For All Seasons, Horizons Kent and Queen Anne’s, Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence, Pickering Creek Audubon Center, Rising Above Disease (RAD), St. Martin’s Ministries, Talbot Mentors and Tilghman Area Youth Association.

“Our grants do more than just fund unmet needs in the community. We love to support innovation and collaboration from the agencies who are on the ground making sure those needs are met,” said Board Treasurer Beth Spurry, who is the grants committee co-chairman, along with Emily Sparks and Susan Wilford.

“More than ever, we are thrilled to see our grantees thinking of new and more effective ways to improve the lives of women and girls on the Mid-Shore,” Spurry said.

The 2018 awards bring the fund’s overall grant total to $553,018, with 212 grants given to 84 organizations whose programs benefit women and girls in one or more of the five Mid-Shore counties of Talbot, Caroline, Dorchester, Kent and Queen Anne’s.

“The grants will have a far-reaching impact going to programs focused on a variety of ages and needs, including support for women in addiction recovery, grief counseling for children and families, summer camp experiences and after school and summer enrichment programs,” van den Berg said.

“We are thrilled to showcase those organizations and community leaders that truly make a difference in our community,” Oxnam said.

The following organizations and programs received grants from the fund:

• Compass Regional Hospice Hope and Healing Center, $5,000

• Destined to Rise Coalition “Stepping Up Our Game” Summit for Mid-Shore girls, $5,500

• Echo Hill Outdoor School, Summer Leadership Program, $3,600

• For All Seasons, CARESS professional workshop, $3,000

• Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s, part-time school psychologist, $1,200

• Kent County Department of Social Services Child Advocacy Center, National Children’s Alliance Leadership Conference, $2,800

• Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence, Education & Empowerment Support Groups, $2,000

• Mid-Shore Restoring HOPE in Women, Fed-Up Rally in Caroline County, $2,000

• Pickering Creek Audubon Center, “Camp Like a Girl” program, $3,000

• Rising Above Disease, Capt. Joe Kettinger Scholarship Fund, $3,000

• St. Martin’s Ministries, Equine Therapy Program, $4,870

• Talbot Mentors, “Send Our Girls to Summer Camp,” $2,500

• Tilghman Area Youth Association TASK afterschool program staff, $4,376

Also awarded were grants from the Daisy Fund, which provides “a way to guide a new generation into a life-long practice of caring for their community,” according to the Women & Girls Fund website.

“We strongly believe in educating our youth and the next generation about philanthropy,” Oxnam said. “The Daisy Fund is doing just that.”

With a pledge of $10,000 or more, a named fund can be established to honor a child. So far, 13 daisy funds have been opened with funds named for children aged 6 months up to 29 years old. This year, the “Daisies” were able to direct $3,150 to four grantees: Compass Regional Hospice, Destined to Rise Coalition, Imagination Library of Talbot County and Pickering Creek Audubon Center.

For more information about the Women & Girls Fund, call 410-770-8347, email info@womenandgirlsfund.org or visit www.womenandgirlsfund.org.