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Director seeks to expand parent, child programs

March 23, 1998|By TERRY TALBERT

by Joe Crocetta / staff photographer

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Millie LowmanDirector seeks to expand parent, child programs

Millie Lowman, the new executive director of the Parent-Child Center in Washington County, wants to expand and enhance the center's programs.

The purpose of the nonprofit center, organized in 1983, is to prevent child abuse through education and intervention programs.

"Child abuse is a cycle," Lowman said. "We want to break that cycle."

Lowman, who was hired by the board of directors in late January, fills a six-month void during which the center was operating without a director.

The center staff of five - three program directors, Lowman and an administrative assistant - and a corps of volunteers run programs for children, teens and parents at risk.

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The center works with the local courts and social service agencies, and helps several hundred local families annually, Lowman said. It is funded by the Hagerstown Exchange Club, the United Way, grants and an annual telethon, which will air from 6 to 9 p.m. April 19 on WHAG-TV.

Lowman sees her job as making sure the center's programs operate smoothly, and raising funds to expand current programs, start new ones and hire more program directors. Last year, the center's budget was $250,000, she said. Almost half came from the telethon.

"We need to find new money," Lowman said. "... Our growth is limited by our funding ... There are times we can't take cases referred to us from the court because we can't afford it."

Lowman has two other dreams for the center, which is on the second floor of a building at 115 W. Washington St. in Hagerstown. She would like it to move into larger, more accessible quarters. And she would like to attract more volunteers.

To raise money for the center, Lowman is writing grants and doing public relations work. She said she is making presentations to local businesses in hopes of getting corporate donations.

She admits raising money can be tough, but she's no stranger to challenge.

Her daughter Melanee, for example, was born with a serious heart condition.

"We were told she wouldn't live to be 5," Lowman said.

She said she and her husband Ned prayed and saw their daughter through several surgeries. Melanee beat the odds. She'll be married in July.

During the long days she stayed in Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C., with her daughter, Lowman said she learned the value of volunteers.

She became a volunteer at the hospital, and later with several other organizations, including the American Cancer Society, Goodwill Industries and the March of Dimes. She's a member of the Hagerstown Exchange Club and is involved with the youth in her church.

Lowman said she feels she was destined to come to the Parent-Child Center.

"I think God had a lot to do with it," she said. "With this job I could give as much as I receive."

Lowman said her brother's sudden death less than a year ago became for her a driving force for good.

"I was devastated. I realized how fragile life is," she said. "Today is tomorrow. We need to live each day."

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