FOR 85 YEARS, the volunteers and members of the Maryland Conference of Social Concern (MCSC), a private, non-profit organization, have been advocates for the improvement of the quality of life for the disadvantaged people of Maryland.
The group translates needs into action for the aging, for child welfare, for education and more.
At its inception in 1904, MCSC was known as the Maryland State Conference of Charities and Corrections and had 20 members. Today, more than 750 members statewide are active in programs and projects on behalf of the economically dependent.
Volunteers and new members are welcome. Membership is $30 per year, $10 for seniors and students. ''We have about 50 to 60 active members and volunteers. A person does not have to be a member of the conference to become a volunteer,'' says Ellen Katz, executive director of the conference.
The president is Sally Millemann, and development director is Sheryl Dorman. The offices are at 2516 N. Charles St. 21218. The phone number is 889-8828.
Conference workshops and programs, often held with other advocacy organizations, have been successful in preparing foster-care teens for a self-sufficient life, for parenting such groups as the Over 60 Employment and Counseling Service, Nursing Home Advocacy Project and Welfare Advocates. ''Our Education Now coalition will continue to work for adequate and equitable school funding for all Maryland school children,'' says Katz.
A three-day Parents Involvement Project for parents of inner-city children was held in September at the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School. Parents met with educators, heard speakers, attended workshops and shared their own ideas. The project was designed to help them become involved in their children's education, discipline and self-esteem.
Volunteer and member Marianne Leedy, who is associate dean of students at Goucher College, assisted with this project. She began volunteering to the conference this year and is on its Development Committee, organizing and handling fund-raisers and meetings. ''She is interested in our growth and development, she is great with people and has a flair for organizing special events and projects,'' says Katz.
Leedy volunteers, she says, because she feels the need to give ''something beyond my work involvement. In the conference's Parents Involvement Project, I believe I got more from it than I gave. We weren't sure how many parents would come on any of the three days, and we were overwhelmed that more than 100 attended each morning. It would have been worth it if only two or three had been helped.
''We must touch people where we can,'' she reflects.
Richard Stammer has volunteered to the conference since 1987 and is on its board of directors. As senior staff assistant recruiter for the Maryland State Foster Care Review Board, he, like Leedy, says, ''I needed to give back.''
He and volunteer Debbie Linsenmeyer co-chair the Child Welfare Committee, which addresses issues such as abuse, neglect and foster care. ''We see ourselves as advocates for the child, building a coalition among other advocates to look at and improve existing programs and to develop new ones,'' he says.
Last July 25, Stammer organized and ''we hosted, along with other advocacy organizations, a forum called Project Independence, which was initiated to help families with dependent children get jobs and get off welfare. Some 500 people attended, and out of it we have an ongoing work with the participants of this forum,'' he says.
Also, he notes, ''we held a legislative day in Annapolis, bringing together many organizations to present their goals and services. It was a successful way to bring together all of the advocates for children with interests in different areas.''
For those who would like to volunteer or become members to the Maryland Conference of Social Concern, call Ellen Katz at 889-8828.