Women & Girls Fund honors Judge Jensen;
gives $40,000 in grants to 17 non-profits
The Women & Girls Fund of the Mid-Shore handed out nearly $40,000 in grants to 17 non-profits at its annual luncheon on April 30th, and the group also gave Circuit Court Judge Karen Murphy Jensen its highest honor, The Women & Girls Fund Award, in recognition of her work to ensure that everyone—rich or poor—should have access to justice.

Judge Jensen serves as the Administrative Judge for Caroline County and also Associate Judge of Maryland’s 2nd Circuit, which includes Caroline, Talbot, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Cecil Counties. She serves as the Presiding Judge of both the Adult and Juvenile Drug Courts in Caroline County, a part of the court system she helped develop.

“You know,” Judge Jensen said, “you toil in the vineyards day in and day out, and you’re hoping that you’re giving people the tools they need to make their situations better, but you don’t really know if you’re making an impact. So getting affirmation like this from the people who know me and the community I work with is a huge encouragement. It makes me say I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing.”
While the audience at The Tidewater Inn gave Judge Jensen their attention and applause, the judge’s praise was for the Women and Girls Fund and for the quality of the programs that received grants at the luncheon.

“I love people who take initiative, and I think the Fund allows groups that want to make a difference to step out and make it happen,” she said. “My husband and I left so inspired by what the Fund has done over the last ten years—by this group of women who have found a way to make a huge impact in an equitable way.”

The 2012 grants bring the Women & Girls Fund’s cumulative grant total to more than $340,000. With the help of this year’s dollars, non-profits in each of the Mid-Shore counties, will be able to achieve particular goals.

Elementary students will learn to play musical instruments; low-income kids will learn to swim; latchkey girls will attend a well-regarded after-school program; youngsters will learn about nutrition and healthy life-styles; and small town teenage girls will learn about opportunities beyond their rural communities.
Grants will sponsor internships for girls and young women, in hopes they will pursue careers in science; support training for minority women who want to start businesses; improve living conditions in transitional housing for mothers and their children; and pay for professional development courses for day care center staff members.

One grant will provide support services for low-income senior women so they can continue to live in their own homes; another will ensure that homes owned by low-income women will be made weatherproof and safer; and yet another grant will expand free civil legal services to low-income clients, most of them women.

The organizations receiving 2012 grants are: Chesapeake Chamber Music, Critchlow Adkins Children’s Centers, Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center, Echo Hill Outdoor School, HomePorts, Horizons at Radcliffe Creek, Kingdom Church-Ladies of Destiny, Mid-Shore Pro Bono, New Beginnings Youth and Family Services, Partnering for Youth After School, Phillips Wharf Environmental Center, Pickering Creek Audubon Center, Rebuilding Together/Caroline County, St. Martin’s Ministries, St. Michael’s Community Center, Talbot and Caroline 4-H Clubs, and The You Food Project.
especially successful because of the mix of people it attracts.
“Putting the donors and grant recipients together makes the grant-making process come to life,” Spurry said. “The donors see that their dollars are going to real people who are doing great things for women, girls and families throughout the Midshore.”
For Alice Ryan, the founder of the Fund, this year’s tenth anniversary luncheon marked an especially poignant milestone.
“Just walking in the room and seeing the people who were there—I cried,” Ryan said. “Ten years later, who would have thought we could come so far? It really is about the power of pooled resources—resources of the donors, past board members, and all of those people who make the programs happen.
“Half of the groups we give grants to are run completely by volunteers,” Ryan continued. “When I think of the commitment that everyone’s been willing to make, it speaks to the fact that we are absolutely making a difference in people’s lives.”