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Tidler leaving Children's Village

March 29, 1999

Marsha TidlerBy MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




Marsha Tidler used to drive by Children's Village of Washington County and wonder what went on there.

Looking into it further, Tidler was so impressed with the spirit of cooperation that drove the unique operation, she got involved.

In 1995, she answered an ad in the newspaper and became the first director of Children's Village.

Now four years later, Tidler, 43, is leaving to pursue other interests. But she said she will never forget the people she's worked with so closely over the years.

Her last day was March 26.

"It's really hard to leave but I need new challenges," said the Cleveland, Ohio, native who grew up in Prince George's County and was educated in business/accounting at the University of Maryland.

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Tidler said Children's Village has come a long way since its inception in 1991.

Actually the beginnings go back even further - to 1985 when a C&P Telephone Co. executive brought the idea to Washington County about a village where children could learn about safety and the dangers of drugs.

Taking that idea and running with it, a number of police officers, firefighters and community leaders organized to make Children's Village of Washington County a reality.

A classroom building now sits on the 5-acre site on Mount Aetna Road east of Hagerstown. Adjacent to that building is the brick-enclosed "burn house" that can be toured to see what fire can really do.

Out back, there are miniature buildings and streets comprising a scaled-down city used to teach children all kinds of safety lessons.

All second grade students from county and private schools are bused to the site for two consecutive days of supervised safety education.

Over the years, dozens of Washington County children have survived fires, accidents and medical emergencies because they remembered what they learned at Children's Village.

And Tidler predicts only greater things for Children's Village in the coming years.

"We now have a strategic plan ... Marsha was instrumental and worked very hard on that plan," said Children's Village board Chairman Duane May.

But while the programs will continue to be provided to the public, May said he seriously doubts that a new director will be hired, at least for now.

"Our needs are different now," May said, optimistic about the future. "Due to Marsha's efforts, we are in good shape."

The current auditorium is being remodeled into expanded classrooms for police instruction and additional office space. The funds for that renovation are coming from $31,900 recently given to Children's Village by the Washington County Gaming Commission.

Except for a $20,000 annual donation from the Washington County Commissioners, Children's Village only gets money from fund-raisers and donations, Tidler said.

"We are building a new fire station building out back and much-needed new bathrooms," she said. A new police substation also must be completed.

When both are done, major curriculum improvements will be possible, Tidler said. But donations of money and supplies really need to keep coming in, she said.

Her first year as director, a benefit golf tournament brought in $700, Tidler said. Last year, $19,000 was raised and more is hoped for this year at the Sept. 10 tournament at Beaver Creek Country Club.

"We raised $8,900 last year at Kids Alive Fest, just with the Dunk-A-Cop booth," Tidler said.

This year, Kids Alive Fest will be in June.

For more information on Children's Village call 301-733-4443.

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