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Funding drive initiated for girls' shelter

April 16, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - Armed with a need, a vision and a fresh $432,000 pledge from the State of Maryland, the board and friends of San Mar Children's Home Friday officially launched a $1.2 million capital drive for a new shelter home for adolescent girls.

A reception to announce the campaign was hosted by the San Mar board at the home of Don and Jone Bowman in Williamsport.

"This new shelter will provide 10 beds for girls whose home life has become untenable," said Bruce Anderson, San Mar's chief executive officer. On site, San Mar currently houses 31 girls in a variety of settings, with another 19 in foster homes in Frederick and Washington counties, he said.

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When the Department of Juvenile Services approached San Mar a year ago about opening a shelter home, there was some initial hesitation.

"We were a little leery, but our board realized that we had the expertise, so we chose to act," Anderson said.

After initially being cut from the state budget, the pledge from the state was reinstated in the General Assembly session that ended Monday, according to state Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

Munson said Friday that San Mar's reputation as a respected and well-run facility was the key factor.

Anderson said that amount must be matched, but he added he isn't worried. Already, the San Mar board members - 14 individuals - have pledged more than $120,000 to the effort.

"We are outrageously blessed to have this board," he said.

"Kids need to be served in their region and right now, there are no shelters in this part of the state," Anderson said.

Bob Weaver, acting area director of the Department of Juvenile Services from Montgomery to Garrett counties, said his agency is one of the largest customers of San Mar.

"The need for shelter care - which is more like home with a caring staff - is paramount," Weaver said. "It's what the system lacks."

He said his staff kept track of the time spent transporting girls to shelters in other parts of the state and in one month, more than 135 staff hours were used in those efforts.

Established in 1883, the Washington County Orphan's Home quickly was adapted to care for girls in all kinds of situations as it evolved into the current San Mar Children's Home. It has been at the current Boonsboro-area site since 1927.

The next step in that evolution got under way Friday evening.

"My job is to sell a vision," Anderson said. "Then, the San Mar board catches the vision and the community catches the vision."

For more information on the San Mar capital drive, call 301-733-9067.

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