$10,000 community service award has local Junior League beaming

July 29, 2002|By Sue du Pont | Sue du Pont,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

LUANNE Kerrigan, Brenda Collins and Dory Mondor are just three of 285 Anne Arundel County women with reason to smile.

That's because two community service projects they coordinate as members of the Junior League of Annapolis will benefit from the $10,000 that comes with the first-ever Association of Junior Leagues International/Crest Whitestrips Community Smile Award.

The Junior League of Annapolis received the award in recognition of its year-old Teen Empowerment and Mentoring Project (TEAM), conducted in partnership with the Women's and Children's Division of the Anne Arundel Medical Center.

TEAM, which is led by Arnold resident Collins and by Mondor, who lives in Annapolis, matches pregnant teen-agers with trained adult volunteers from the League's membership.

Helping teen mothers

In the program's first year, between 15 and 20 League volunteers served on the TEAM committee. They lent support and provided the teens with access to resources to help the young mothers to reach their full potential. The 33 teen-agers who signed up for the program last year benefited from the support of their "resource moms" before delivery and through the baby's first year.

During their pregnancies, the teens received copies of the book What to Expect When You're Expecting. After delivery, a mentor gave each a basket of supplies and items to help them and their infants thrive.

"Anne Arundel Medical Center is delighted to be partners with the Junior League on their signature project," said registered nurse Karen Peddicord, the hospital's clinical director for women's and children's services. "The first year has gone extremely well. This summer, we will conduct another training session for the next group of Junior League mentors, who will carry on the work of the original participants."

At least a half-dozen of the members are returning to participate in the program again, joining about a dozen new volunteers for this week's training program. During the training, one of the teen-agers from last year's program will be coming back to discuss how the program helped her.

Coming `full circle'

"The program really has come full circle," said Collins. "That young woman became a mentor of sorts to her resource mom when she became pregnant. These women have become so close."

League volunteers are looking for ways to expand the program, including an already planned first-birthday party for the babies as a way to maintain relationships with the young mothers and to celebrate their accomplishments. They also are looking into scholarships, camps and other enrichment programs.

"These girls are very accomplished, bright young women," said Collins. "We do everything we can to reach out to them and help them reach their full potential."

Supplies for students

In addition to supporting TEAM, the Junior League will use the $10,000 award to enhance other projects, programs and services, including the 9- year-old Back-to-School Book Bag Project. The project, led by Kerrigan and funded by a $5,000 grant from the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Baltimore, gives needy children in Anne Arundel County the school supplies they need at the start of the year.

Public relations committee chairwoman Carrie Hilliard said that each year different schools throughout the county are selected for the project, based on the number of children in the free-lunch program. Last year, 922 students at four schools received book bags.

This year, 875 pupils from Van Bokkelen and Hilltop elementary schools and Marley and Annapolis middle schools will receive book bags with school supplies.

A portion of the award money will allow the program to be expanded to include residents of Sarah's House in Fort Meade and Allen Apartments in Annapolis.

Project volunteers are in the midst of collecting school supplies, scanning sales to purchase them as inexpensively as possible.

They are also planning two daylong supply drives at retail outlets. Volunteers will prepare lists of supplies needed to give shoppers as they enter stores and ask them to consider purchasing and the donating items.

Look for Junior League members at the supply drives from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Staples and the Safeway stores on Housely Road in Annapolis, and on Aug. 10 at the WalMart store in Glen Burnie and the Giant Food store on Riva Road in Annapolis.

Junior League of Annapolis events include an open house for potential members from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 22 at Quiet Waters Park's Blue Heron Room.

Planning also is under way for the group's biggest fund-raiser, "Chefs by the Bay" to be held Oct. 6 at the Radisson Hotel Annapolis, with gourmet food tasting and live and silent auctions.

The Junior League of Annapolis is a volunteer organization for women who are interested in having a positive impact on their community. The group, which donated more than 10,000 hours of service last year, is committed to volunteerism, improving communities, and developing the potential of women as leaders.

Information about the Junior League of Annapolis: 410-224- 8984 or www.jlannapolis.org.

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