An effort to bring Taneytown together Woman hired to foster a sense of community

March 27, 1997|By Jennifer Vick | Jennifer Vick,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Her job is to improve Taneytown's sense of community, and to that end Michelle Schaffer meets with city and business officials to plan events and -- in some cases, such as an Easter egg hunt -- offer hands-on help.

Schaffer, working with two Taneytown Girl Scout troops, helped fill 2,000 plastic eggs with candy this week for an Easter egg hunt to be held Saturday. The egg hunt is one of many activities being planned to bolster a sense of community in the growing town of 4,500 residents.

Schaffer's role stems, in part, from growing concerns about problems among teen-agers -- including alcohol and drug use and delinquency -- in Taneytown, which is in one of the poorest regions of the county.

Schaffer, 32, a resident of Hanover, Pa., was hired by the Carroll County Department of Citizen Services and began work in mid-January. Her four-year position is funded by $150,000 in state and federal grants.

Residents can expect to see "more programs and activities for the youth" and to "know more about the community and its events," said Schaffer, who previously was a coordinator for Carroll County's Mental Health Bureau.

"I'm out and about a lot in Taneytown," she said.

She meets monthly with the Family and Community Council of Taneytown, a panel of volunteer residents that is working to meet community needs.

"I bring ideas to the table, and they help me figure out if they're workable," Schaffer said.

She has met with advisers at Northwest Middle School and Francis Scott Key High School, and with church representatives. She also introduced herself at the Taneytown Senior Center.

Similar community programs have been organized in other Maryland counties, and Schaffer has met with their coordinators to help her in her job. Carroll County officials have said they might expand the Taneytown program to other communities if it is successful.

Among the community events Schaffer will help organize are mother-and-daughter and father-and-son banquets, and the annual Celebrate Taneytown festival in August. There are also plans for after-school programs, youth dances and neighborhood associations.

The effort began in 1995, when Madeline Morey of the Citizen Services Department worked with a consulting firm to determine community needs.

Schaffer has been promoting the egg hunt, which will be held at the old Taneytown High School field off Roberts Mill Road at 11: 30 a.m.

Children will have a chance to win prizes. A drawing will be held for parents who complete a short survey about the event. Prizes will include an Easter basket, a fruit basket and a $25 gift certificate from Jubilee Foods.

Pub Date: 3/27/97

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