The Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $6.4 million to Talbot County. Guidelines state that one-half of these funds are to be spent on health-related expenditures related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the other half to be used for non-health related purposes such as expenditures of County departments and municipalities for COVID-19 work including the cost of running the Emergency Operations Center, providing sheltering for children of essential workers, enhanced food distribution, as well as assisting small businesses and individuals impacted by COVID-19. Talbot County is designating $1 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds through the CARES Act to assist individuals.
The County has announced that Talbot County residents can now apply for the County’s CARES Individual Assistance Program, which provides emergency assistance for individuals who are out of work or whose income has been reduced because of the COVID-19 public health emergency. CARES assistance can help with rent, mortgage, or other housing costs, utilities, and other emergency needs, and payments are made directly to the landlord, mortgage company, utility company, or other vendors. Talbot County residents who are unable to meet an expense between March 16, 2020, and December 30, 2020, because of the current COVID-19 public health emergency, may apply for CARES Individual Assistance.
Corey Pack, President of the Talbot County Council, comments, “The CARES Act was passed by Congress to provide economic assistance for workers, families, and small businesses, and preserve jobs. Some of these funds were distributed to the States and then to local governments. We have set up a CARES Individual Assistance Program to address the needs of individuals affected by COVID-19. Information will be forthcoming for how small businesses may get assistance from these funds to preserve jobs.”
Angela Lane, Talbot County Director of Finance, has been working with Linda Webb, Director of the Talbot County Department of Social Services, the agency which will process the applications for Talbot County to develop a streamlined process for individuals to apply for funds through a simple one-page application. Although the Talbot County Department of Social Services is still closed to the public to slow the spread of COVID-19, applications can be obtained by calling 410-820-4347 and leaving a message including a phone number. Phone calls will be returned by the next business day and applications can be mailed, faxed, or emailed to applicants. Applications are also available at the Neighborhood Service Center at 126 Port Street in Easton, (410-822-5015) and St. Vincent de Paul Society at 29533 Canvasback Drive in Easton (410-770-4505).
“By having the Department of Social Services case managers process the applications for the CARES Individual Assistance Program, they can also suggest support programs for which the individual or family may be eligible as additional wraparound services. The requirements for the CARES Act assistance are less stringent than most other Department of Social Services assistance programs. The CARES funds will be important support that will help families impacted by the pandemic meet their obligations,” states Webb.
Once completed, applications can be mailed to, or placed in the drop box at, the Talbot County Department of Social Services, 301 Bay Street, Unit 5, Easton, MD 21601 or faxed to 410-820-7117 or emailed to email@example.com.
For more information on the CARES Individual Assistance Program, individuals should call 410-820-4347 and leave a message, including a phone number. Phone calls will be returned by the next business day.
“The support of our Board of Directors has been instrumental in our ability to pivot our resources and operations to continue serving the most vulnerable residents of the Eastern Shore,” said Sandy Brown Mid-Shore Pro Bono Executive Director. “Civil legal issues don’t disappear just because the courts are closed. COVID-19 has and will continue to increase the need for our services, especially in areas of economic stability.”
To provide continuity of leadership during the pandemic, the Board’s Executive Committee consisting of Heather Price, President, Jennifer Moore, Vice President, Robert Miller, Treasurer and Judge Stephen Rideout, Secretary, will continue their terms through September.
Mid-Shore Pro Bono (MSPB) also welcomed new Board members, Tim Abeska and Raymond Veatch at the May board meeting. Both gentlemen are retired attorneys who have volunteered with MSPB and worked directly with clients through legal clinics and individual cases.
“We are thrilled to welcome Tim and Ray to our Board of Directors,” said Brown. “As volunteer attorneys they have a complete understanding of the critical needs in our community and the clients we serve. Their first-hand experience and knowledge are an asset to our leadership team especially now as we prepare for a sharp increase in the demand for our services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Tim Abeska, permanently relocated to Kent County in 2017, following a 35-year legal practice in South Bend, Indiana focusing on business and construction litigation, creditors’ rights and transportation law. He has been a volunteer attorney with MSPB since March 2018 and staffs Elder Law and Civil Law clinics in Chestertown.
Raymond Veatch is an Air Force Veteran and attorney with 40 years of experience working in the private, government and commercial sectors. An Air Force Academy Graduate, he served in the Air Force and later the Air Force Reserve where he retired at the rank of Colonel. Veatch began volunteering with MSPB in November 2018 and assists with the Elder Law Project and mentors and advises the organization’s student interns.
Since March 13, MSPB has continued to provide civil legal services with staff and volunteers working remotely with clients. The organization is identifying creative ways to reach those in need who are increasingly isolated during this pandemic and encourage them to seek help, even while the courts are closed to the public. MSPB is also planning for a major increase in requests for assistance with landlord/tenant issues, foreclosures, bankruptcies, employment and consumer debt issues arising from the economic devastation of COVID-19.
MSPB is always looking for dynamic and dedicated individuals with a passion for their community to serve on their Board of Directors and Advisory Board. Interesting individuals should contact Sandy Brown, Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Mid-Shore Pro Bono
Mid-Shore Pro Bono connects low-income individuals and families who need civil legal services with volunteer attorneys and community resources across the Eastern Shore. Founded in 2005, Mid-Shore Pro Bono is a Maryland501(c)(3) non-profit organization and answers more than 3,000 calls for help each year. Dedicated staff and volunteers work to eliminate barriers and provide access to justice for all Eastern Shore residents. For more information or to make a donation, call Mid-Shore Pro Bono at 410-690-8128 or visit www.midshoreprobono.org.
Local, Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet Sue Ellen Thompson’s interview with “Library Guy” Bill Peak will be available Monday, June 1, on The Talbot Spy. Thompson is the author of five books of poetry, including her most recent work, They, which tells the story—through poems and the found poetry of postcards—of the poet’s sometimes troubled relationship with her transgender child, and the connection they find through the author’s father. She also edited The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry.
Garrison Keillor has read more than ten of Thompson’s poems on his Writer’s Almanac radio show. In 2010, Thompson received the Maryland Author Award, which is given once every four years to a Maryland poet in honor of his or her body of work. Thompson lives in Oxford, Maryland.
Peak’s interview with Thompson is made possible through a partnership between the Talbot County Free Library and The Talbot Spy. Future interviews with local literary figures are planned. A link to Peak’s interview with Thompson will be made available on the library’s website: www.tcfl.org.
Each May, University of Maryland Shore Regional Health recognizes excellence in nursing at a formal awards ceremony held at the Todd Performing Arts at Chesapeake College. This year, due to COVID-19, the six awards were presented via an online event celebrating the 32 nominees for the individual awards, three nominees for the unit awards, and the six winners.
Ken Kozel, UM SRH president and CEO, expressed his appreciation for the outstanding dedication of the 600-plus nurses serving patients in inpatient and outpatient care programs throughout the five county region. “I am grateful for the sacrifices made by nurses and their families, especially during these unprecedented times in health care.”
Debora Evans, who served as Transplant and Vascular Access Coordinator until her retirement this past April, is this year’s recipient of the Caring for Others Award. Evans’ colleagues nominated her for her positive attitude in helping patients navigate the challenging process of qualifying for transplant, and also for attending to all the follow-up tasks involved in pre- and post-transplant care.
Recognized this year in the award category of Leadership is Tyler Gogoll, team lead for Neurosurgery in the Surgical Services Department. Gogoll is credited with providing effective orientation strategies for new nurses circulating in neurosurgery, and with ensuring that all team members are well-trained and equipped to rise to any unforeseen events that may occur during surgery.
Renee Edsall, interim nurse manager for the Easton Emergency Department, won this year’s award for Mentorship and Advocacy. In addition to being an exceptional nurse educator, as interim ED manager, Edsall takes charge nurse shifts whenever needed and is always there to fill in with tasks outside her own job description. Taking a personal as well a professional interest in each ED team member, Edsall is known for providing guidance, support and a word of encouragement whenever it is needed.
Christina “Nina” Weisenborn, clinical research coordinator at the Cancer Center at UM Shore Regional Health received the award for Professional Nursing. Weisenborn’s role is to update staff on the newest oncology research offered by University of Maryland Medical System and provide training on grading adverse reactions using the latest evidence based practice from clinical research. This year, she made recommendations that updated the workflow of the interdisciplinary care team, increasing participation and streamlining information to help patients benefit from the resources of the Cancer Program. Weisenborn also succeeded in helping patients obtain certain chemotherapeutic medications at no cost.
Samantha “Sam” Cherbonnier, staff nurse on the Neurology Unit at Shore Medical Center at Easton, is honored as this year’s Promising Professional. Eager to advance her knowledge and value, she is now pursuing her MSN with a focus on leadership. In addition to teaching stroke patients in the hospital, Cherbonnier attends Stroke Support group meetings to provide more education. Committed to learning and growing, Cherbonnier reads and shares evidence-based research with her colleagues. She is a member of the UMMS Professional Practice Council, providing a bedside nurse’s perspective.
Winning the Unit Award for Empirical Outcomes this year was the Birthing Center. This year’s award recognizes the Birthing Center’s establishment of a volunteer-based “Cuddlers Program” that supports newborns experiencing withdrawal, as well as the unit’s continued success in meeting benchmark requirements for exclusive breastfeeding. In accordance with the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics, and Neonatal Nursing guidelines, the Birthing Center collaborates on staffing with the Women’s and Children’s Unit, and all are cross-trained to areas of patient care on the Birthing Center. The Center also is committed to increasing Group Beta Strep compliance and reducing primary C-sections and the incidence of neonates requiring transport to higher levels of care.
“This awards program was established by and for our nurses as a way to recognize those who go above and beyond to always deliver exceptional care. My sincerest congratulations to this year’s winners and my gratitude to the Nurse Excellence Awards Committee – Kathy Elliott, Jacki Crawford, Kathy Cvach, Laura Jackson, Jean Folz, Susan Henry, Majorie Shaffer, Diane Baxter and Gladys Peeples –for their hard work in gathering the nominations and working through the selection process,” said Jenny Bowie, vice president, Patient Care Services and chief nursing officer for UM SRH.
The Academy Art Museum has introduced a regular series called a Virtual Studio Visit on Friday nights at 6 p.m. To date, these events have alternated between live interviews and pre-recorded interviews with selected artists and gallerists with connections to the Eastern Shore.
The Museum’s first live Zoom Virtual Studio Visit was with the Museum’s first Artist-in-Residence Emily Lombardo (2018) who lives and works in the Bronx, NY. During the event, staff revisits Lombardo’s 2017-18 exhibition pairing Francisco Goya’s Los Caprichos with her own complete set The Caprichos inspired by Goya. Participants got to hear about the direction of Lombardo’s work following her Artist Residency and the course of her most recent work, as well as a glimpse into a work-in-progress, as well as a virtual studio, followed by Q&A facilitated by Museum Curator Mehves Lelic.
The Museum continues its Virtual Studio Visits on Friday, May 29 at 6 p.m. with a conversation with Baltimore-based artist Antonio McAfee, its current Artist-in-Residence for 2020 and the subject of the Museum’s upcoming exhibition “Antonio McAfee: Legacy,” his solo show scheduled to open now in August. McAfee won the $1,000 Best in Show Prize in the 2018 AAM “New Photography: National Juried Exhibition.”
According to Lelic, “Antonio will talk about the historical basis of his work and give us a tour of his studio in Baltimore. He is an emerging artist and we will discuss how is he coping with the quarantine and what current projects he is working on. We are hoping this event will introduce him to the community and generate interest for his upcoming digital negative workshops at the Museum.”
Virtual Studio Visits scheduled for the future include one with Philadelphia-based artist Amze Emmons, the Museum’s second Artist-in-Residence (2019), and a pre-recorded visit with artist Greg Mort.
Lelic adds, “To have an event at a set date feels like a communal experience to me. We are trying to do these virtual events regularly on Friday nights to allow the community to meet some of the artists we are featuring. The Question and Answer format of the Virtual Studio Visits afford intimate conversations with the artists. To participate in the Virtual Studio Visits, visit the Museum’s website academyartmuseum.org or Facebook page. The event is free, but pre-registration is required.
For over 50 years, the Neighborhood Service Center (NSC), Inc., Talbot County’s designated Community Action Agency, has worked to improve the quality of life both socially and economically for low-income residents in Talbot County by equipping them with the tools and potential for becoming self-sufficient.
Talbot County Councilman Frank Divilio, who is the Council representative on the Board of NSC, wanted to recognize the organization’s achievements on behalf of the County Council because the official celebration for the event had to be postponed due to COVID-19. He comments, “The things this organization does to help individuals in need in Talbot County is selfless. Over Easter weekend, I saw a woman who was homeless and called Marilyn on the weekend to see what assistance she could offer. Marilyn helped the woman find housing that day. It used to be easier to see the persons in need, but they are more invisible now with all the challenges we are facing.”
“To me, that’s what makes Talbot County the most wonderful place to live – it’s the caring that happens here that makes it special,” he adds.
Megan Cook, Easton Town Council member, Treasurer of NSC, and a member of the NSC Board for 11 years, joined Divilio in congratulating Marilyn Neal, Executive Director of NSC on the organization’s achievement. She adds, “This is a significant milestone to celebrate. It has been a privilege to serve on the Board for many years and to see the organization’s growth.
Neal recognizes that community support is critical to NSC’s mission, as well as crucial to keeping family units together. She adds, “Many of the issues we serve are generational. By changing one family at a time, we can stop poverty from being generational. Through COVID, we have been able to get new donors and supporters, allowing us to fill in the new gaps in services we are experiencing.”
Divilio projects that as things get worse with the pandemic, the needs are going to increase, stating, “This is one of the organizations Talbot County needs to watch and assist as it can. It will keep people in their homes, help feed them, and help them get the services they need.”
Neal reflects, “The County has been so supportive of the low-income residents in our community. That has been such a comfort to me going through what we do every day.”
There are silver linings to the havoc that COVID 19 has wreaked on the business community on the Mid Shore. One local company, Spunkwear, a spandex apparel company based on Kent Island, decided to hit the challenge head-on by designing a new product just in time for the hot summer months when wearing masks could be challenging. Sheilah Ruppert, founder of Spunkwear, has designed a new line of masks that are lightweight, offering breathability and comfort, but which are also fun and stylish.
Ruppert comments, “Our masks are easy on the ears and don’t tend to fog up glasses – two big complaints about most masks available on the market today.”
Ruppert’s new business focus grew out of the challenge she found herself facing. She had designed printed fabrics for this season’s clothing line when production came to a halt after her Pennsylvania factory shut down. With retail businesses forced to close, her wholesale accounts began reducing and canceling their orders.
“We had such momentum after years of growth and success, any challenges along the way were nothing compared to COVID. I have been an entrepreneur my whole life and I knew it was time to switch gears and get creative,” she reflects.
“Along with every other quarantined sewer, I began making masks from my stash of quilt fabrics. I was also stitching buttons onto Spunkwear headbands and donating them to nurses whose ears were rubbed raw from the elastic on their masks. After daily requests from our customer base, I finally designed a comfortable mask using some leftover Spunkwear prints on board short fabric. With the help of a local stitcher, we would produce about 200 a day, which would sell out on our website within an hour.”
When the factory in Pennsylvania finally re-opened for “essential” goods only, Spunkwear’s mask production ramped up and the sales of Ruppert’s masks and neck gaiters took off.
Spunkwear’s popularity began after Ruppert designed a simple spandex dress with a sports bra top and an A-line skirt. She wore the dress to the weekend-long Maryland girls’ lacrosse tournaments, where she sold her goods from a tent. Moms’ requests to buy her “original” dress was the beginning of her women’s apparel line. With teams from around the country attending the huge Maryland summer lacrosse tournaments, the website sales spiked after the weekend when moms returned home and showed friends their Spunkwear dresses. Brand recognition came quickly and Spunkwear grew to include a dozen dress styles, skorts, tops, pants, tights, and accessories. The line is also sold under the wholesale label, Southwind Apparel.
“I am so appreciative of this opportunity and the response we’re getting to the masks. The feedback has been so positive. Over and over, we’re hearing that our masks are so breathable and less intrusive, especially in warm weather,” she remarks. “Our wide range of fun and pretty prints have helped lighten the mood around masks. We’re adding more prints each week and our customers are adding to their collections!”
Fabrics for both masks and neck gaiters include solids, whimsical and tropical prints, as well as Spunkwear’s signature crab and Maryland prints. Child size and larger men’s size masks have also been added to the line.
A portion of all mask sales goes to Haven Ministries, a local non-profit that provides shelter, clothing, food, and support to those in need in Queen Anne’s County. For more information about Spunkwear masks, contact Sheilah@spunkwear.com. You can see the available prints and solids by visiting Spunkwear.comand Southwindapparel.com.