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Organizations

July 15, 2007

Beth Ann O'Neil Stouffer was honored by the Washington County Friends of Education Exchange Club with the Golden Deeds Award, which goes to someone in the community who has given of herself for a most worthy cause.

Stouffer, along with her friends and acquaintances, established a tradition of the collection and distribution of food to those in need in Hagerstown.

"The Food Bank at St. Mark's Lutheran Church opened in February 1972. It has not been easy at times. Starting small, she has worked through her organization becoming institutionalized by becoming a member of the Food Warehouse, linked to Social Services and the Community Action Council and having the food stores and records subjected to scrutiny. Some of these changes have helped to reduce her fund-raising efforts. She has rolled with the institutionalization but has retained the low-key church community outreach, free of judgment and intrusiveness on the lives of the recipients," according to a biography of Stouffer prepared by the Exchange Club.

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"In 1972, there were a total of 760 recipients. The program grew to 1,000 recipients per month. Now, with other food banks providing similar services, St. Mark's Food Bank serves approximately 600 families per month ...

"After 35 years as director, she continues to put her stamp of humanity on the entire process. Stouffer gives freely and graciously of her time and of that which has been gathered by the community to those who need it most. She does this all for the right reasons."

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) of Frederick County, a program of the Mental Health Association, has just been awarded a $28,000 grant from the National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association. This money will be used to expand advocacy for abused and neglected children in Frederick County.

CASA of Frederick County was started in 2001 as a collaborative project involving the Circuit Court, the Frederick County Department of Social Services and the Mental Health Association. The first volunteers began serving children in 2003, and 80 abused and neglected children have benefited from having volunteer advocates since that time. Volunteers are trained and supervised to gather information about one child's or sibling group's case at a time and report to the court with recommendations in each child's best interest. The program strives to assist the court in securing a safe and permanent home for each child.

Administrative Judge of the Circuit Court G. Edward Dwyer Jr. was instrumental in initiating a CASA program in Frederick County. "There are currently over 100 open Child In Need of Assistance cases in the Circuit Court," Dwyer said." The CASA volunteer recommendations are of tremendous assistance in making effective decisions concerning the permanency plans for these children. The court is extremely pleased with the CASA volunteers in Frederick County and that due to the grant of additional funds; the CASA program will be able to expand to meet the needs of additional children."

For more information on becoming a CASA volunteer, contact Jennifer Fuss at jfuss@fcmha.org or 301-663-0011.

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