Champion for seniors inspired by King


January 15, 2001|By Douglas Lamborne | Douglas Lamborne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

"IALWAYS HAD a picture of Martin Luther King in my office," said Judith V. Branham. "I think he was one of the greatest Americans who ever lived. He worked for all people, not just for people of one race. I have a great deal of respect for him."

Branham, an Annapolis resident, was raised in Prince George's County and went to the University of Maryland in the days of King's assassination and the riots that followed. In her own quiet way she has become an embodiment of the King legacy, working for as many people as possible.

Her recent accomplishments are considerable: She is secretary of the Annapolis Commission on Aging. She serves on an advisory council for the Anne Arundel County Department of Aging. She is president of the Annapolis chapter of the Maryland Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs.

There's more: She is president of the Women's Club at Mount Moriah AME Church. And last year she became active with the Anne Arundel County coalition of End Hunger and Homelessness.

At College Park, she earned a bachelor's degree in human ecology and, in 1970, a master's in social work.

"Human ecology was a fancy name back then for home economics," she said. "I thought I would go into fashion and design, but then I decided that that wasn't really meaningful. So, I turned from something that was not too deep to something that was - social work. I've never been sorry I went in that direction."

Her work ranged from adoption to geriatrics, including 22 years in public health with Anne Arundel County.

"I ended it all in 1998," she said, describing her change into a volunteer. "I didn't retire, you understand. I just moved to a status of no salary, no pension."

Her volunteer efforts are not that far removed from her professional concern - seniors.

"I think the biggest problem right now is how seniors are going to pay for their drugs. For many, it's become a choice between the food they eat and their medications," she said.

She has another concern: "We need better oversight of assisted-living homes for the elderly, especially the frailest of the frail. These facilities need to be properly monitored with proper funding for those who do the monitoring."

Branham is the sort of person who will work the phones and go to meetings to see that these problems are addressed. She recently has pressed these matters home in meetings with elected officials from the city, county and state. And when she isn't doing this sort of lobbying, she finds time for church outreach programs, working with neighborhood youngsters. A doer, not a talker.

A gift of `Sailboats'

Retired yachtsman and author Carleton Mitchell has donated a Winslow Homer sketch to St. John's College and its Mitchell Gallery, named after Elizabeth Myers Mitchell, his late wife.

The sketch will be part of an exhibition, "American Landscapes from the Paine Art Center and Gardens," and includes works by James McNeill Whistler, George Inness and Grant Wood. The Paine Art Center in Oshkosh, Wis., organized the exhibit.

The show will continue through Feb. 23. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday.

The gallery is in the midst of a million-dollar fund-raising campaign.

"This gift from Carleton Mitchell comes at a very good moment in the progress of the endowment campaign and provides a breakthrough that brings us very close to the finish," said John B. Moore, chairman of the Mitchell Gallery Committee. Gallery officials hope to use the donation, valued at $75,000, to attract a matching grant.

Mitchell, prominent as a yacht racer and writer in Annapolis several decades ago, lives in Key Biscayne, Fla. His gift is titled, appropriately enough, "Sailboats."

That old house

Historic Annapolis Foundation will stage a "Researching Your Old House Workshop" from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the William Paca House, 186 Prince George St.

Jean Russo, the foundation's research director, will guide participants through the process that starts with a title search and could lead to resources such as the foundation's archives, State Archives or the tax office. The workshop also will address potential pitfalls.

"You can never predict the direction your journey will take," Russo said. "There are twists and turns along the way, and that's where we can help."

The cost of the workshop is $15.

Reservations, which are due by Wednesday, are required and can be made by calling 410-267-7619.

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