Weekly What’s Cooking with Melissa

Since I’ve committed myself to making more casseroles and sharing more recipes for them, I chose a breakfast casserole for this week. I hope you like this lighter version of French Toast Casserole.


French Toast Casserole (lighter)

1 whole loaf of bread (torn into 1 inch pieces)

1/4 cup raw sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

4 eggs

2 egg whites

1 1/2 cup skim milk or 2% milk

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Put bread pieces evenly in a greased 9×13 casserole dish. In a bowl mix together eggs, egg whites, raw sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, milk and vanilla.  Pour egg mixture over top of bread pieces. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown.

*I like to add a cup of blueberries when I place the bread pieces in the casserole dish.

Camp New Dawn Continues to Grow Into 2017

What began as a weekend retreat for children 22 years ago, has grown into a grief retreat that encompasses five different programs—for children, teens, young children, adults and families. This annual program of Compass Regional Hospice’s Hope and Healing Center, is a three-day, two-night retreat for grieving children, teens and families held each summer at Camp Pecometh in Centreville, serving children between the ages of four and 17 and their families.

In 2016, 101 campers, seven families, and 134 volunteers had fun, built friendships and were taught healthy ways to express their grief. “This was the largest group in Camp New Dawn’s 22-year history, which reflects the significant need for grief support in our community,” says Rhonda Knotts, Camp New Dawn Director. “Camp New Dawn provides individuals a place to normalize their feelings and meet others facing similar circumstances.”
At the start of the program, children and teen campers move through therapeutic workshops that are designed to give campers options that meet their interests and skills through music, art, and physical activities. “All of the workshops offer a lesson that the campers can take away from the experience,” says Knotts.

In between supervised activities such as swimming, fishing, arts and crafts, campers also attend age-specific support groups facilitated by adult group leaders who are trained to help express grief in a safe and natural environment. The support groups are designed to help campers process grief in healthy ways and to honor their loved one while building a toolbox of coping skills.

Camp New Dawn has grown into a grief program that meets the needs of all ages and stages of grief. Apart from the children and teen retreat on Monday the youngest of the campers, ages four to six, attend mini-camp. “Young children don’t necessarily have the tools to translate what they’re feeling and thinking into language, so the mini-camp provides these children with the opportunity to put words to their feelings while getting to know other children who are on a similar journey,” says Knotts.

Camp New Dawn also includes an adult and family retreat. Parents of campers arrive for an overnight session with other adults before they are joined by their children. While our campers are busy learning how to cope with their grief, the adult retreat helps restore participants to a place of wholeness as they learn to navigate their grief journey. At the end of the weekend the adults and children come together at family camp to learn skills that they can take home with them, which will help them rely on one another as they heal.

Without volunteers this grief retreat program would not be possible. The most visible volunteers are buddies, caring and compassionate adults who are paired up with campers to provide support. There are also support staff volunteers who tend to every detail of camp by helping plan, set up, and facilitate workshops and activities. Former campers, PALS and Campatiers, can be found helping in an assortment of ways around camp and sharing their own personal experiences with campers.

“We look for people who have a variety of life experiences to volunteer for Camp New Dawn. The most important criteria is having a desire to help,” says Courtney Williams, Manager of Volunteer and Professional Services. “All volunteers are screened and trained to work within the mission of Camp New Dawn.”

The cost to operate Camp New Dawn far exceeds the registration fee charged for each camper and family. The cost to attend is $30 per camper and $75 per family. No one is ever turned away due to inability to pay. Compass Regional Hospice relies on community donations to cover camp expenses so that anyone who needs to attend camp may participate.

In 2016 Camp New Dawn was supported by several community fundraisers, donors, and grants. Many members of the community also donated materials, art supplies, and snacks that were used throughout the weekend.
As a new year begins, Camp New Dawn organizers are already heavily involved in preparing for the upcoming camp. The planning and continual improvement that goes into Camp New Dawn ensures that the weekend retreat continues to grow to meet the needs of people of all ages and stages of grief. Each year Camp New Dawn introduces new elements to enhance the experience.

This year’s Camp New Dawn will be held at Camp Pecometh near the end of August. The retreat for children and teens ages seven through 17 will be held Saturday, August 19 through Monday, August 21. On Monday, August 21, children ages four through six are welcome to attend mini-camp. The adult retreat begins on Sunday, August 22 for the adults and continues through Tuesday, August 22 for family camp.

For more information about Camp New Dawn or becoming a volunteer, contact Rhonda Knotts, 443-262-4109, To learn more about Camp New Dawn, visit



Two Broadway talents are coming to Centreville. The Queen Anne’s County Centre for the Arts has announced that it will host Paul Mcllivaine and Annie Gill, two nationally recognized performers, on Saturday, January 21st beginning at 7:00 pm.

Paul Mcllivaine has performed in a wide variety of venues from Carnegie Hall and Shea Stadium, where he has sung the National Anthem for Mets games, to Santo Domingo where he won critical acclaim for his performance at Teatro National’s 25th anniversary. He was featured in contemporary roles as well including Once Upon a Mattress, A Christmas Carol, and the Chocolate Soldier. In addition to his appearances around the world, he has also appeared with the Delaware and Annapolis Symphony Orchestras and the Handel Choir in Baltimore.

On stage with Mr. Mcllivaine will be Annie Gill whose talents range from opera to musical theatre. Ms. Gill performed at Carnegie Hall in 2013 after winning numerous awards and vocal competitions. She has performed in venues across the country and has received national acclaim for her soprano voice in operas, operettas, and musical theatre. She has been praised for “astounding technical vocal ability, solid song interpretation and stage presence,” She is a rising star who continues to attract the attention of the critics.

The Broadway Nights event will begin at 7:00 and will be held at the Queen Anne’s County Centre for the Arts at 206 S. Commerce Street in Centreville. The cost is $50 per person and includes the show, beer and wine, and hors d’oeurves. Cash bar will be available.

For further information go to or call the arts council office at 410-758-2520.


Compass Regional Hospice Social Worker Wins Clinical Excellence Award

Compass Regional Hospice Social Worker Wins Clinical Excellence Award

Michelle Tuttle, MSW, is the 2016 winner of the Cynthia L. Nugent Clinical Excellence Award in Hospice and Palliative Care. The award is named in honor of the late Cynthia Nugent, a hospice nurse who dedicated eight years of her life to Hospice of Queen Anne’s, now Compass Regional Hospice.

After Cynthia Nugent died in 2009, her husband, Bob, wanted to honor her work as a hospice nurse and recognize the excellent care she received as a patient at the Hospice Center in Centreville. Bob Nugent proposed creating an annual award that would honor Cynthia’s memory by recognizing a staff member whose work meets high levels of excellence.

Tuttle, who lives in Queenstown, was nominated by her peers for this award, which recognizes a Compass Regional Hospice clinical care provider who has shown outstanding dedication and excellence in caring for terminally ill patients and assisting their families.

A hospice social worker experienced in caring for patients and their families, Tuttle has been a member of the Compass Regional Hospice clinical team for nine years. One of the award nominators wrote, “Michelle has touched many families lives including those of us who she works with. She cares about our organization and is true to our mission.”

Heather Guerieri, executive director, Compass Regional Hospice, says, “I had the honor to work alongside Cynthia at Hospice of Queen Anne’s for several years. She was one of the best hospice nurses’ I have ever worked with in my career. Cynthia would be proud that Michelle received the award in part because she exhibits the same passion that Cynthia did in caring for her patients.”

Guerieri adds, “I want to thank Bob Nugent for establishing this award, which includes a financial gift for the winner and recognizes the valuable work done by the Compass Regional Hospice nurses, hospice aides, social workers and grief counselors.”

Other Compass Regional Hospice staff who have earned the Cynthia L. Nugent Clinical Excellence Award in Hospice and Palliative Care include hospice nurse, Sarah Severs, nurse practitioner Lisa Adkins, social worker Sharon Loving, hospice aide Beverly Baynard, hospice nurse Melissa “Missy” Willis, bereavement counselor Rhonda Knotts, and hospice aide Melanie Glacken.

Photo #1: Pictured at the Compass Regional Hospice Cynthia L. Nugent Clinical Excellence Award in Hospice and Palliative Care awards ceremony are (left to right) Cynthia and Bob Nugent’s granddaughter Liz; Heather Guerieri, executive director; Cynthia and Bob Nugent’s daughter Rebecca Boglioli; award winner Michelle Tuttle, MSW; Michelle’s daughters Katharine and Annaliese Tuttle; and Michelle’s husband Lewis Tuttle.

Photo #2: Michelle Tuttle, MSW, (right) the 2016 winner of the Compass Regional Hospice Cynthia L. Nugent Clinical Excellence Award in Hospice and Palliative Care, was joined in her celebration by Heather Guerieri, executive director; and Cynthia and Bob Nugent’s daughter Rebecca Boglioli.

Upcoming Programming at the Talbot Free Library

St. Michaels Book Discussion: “When Breath Becomes Air”

On Wednesday, January 18, at 3:30 p.m., in the St. Michaels branch of the Talbot County Free Library, the St. Michaels book group will discuss “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi. All library programs are free and open to the public. Patrons do not need to pre-register to attend this discussion. For more information, please call the library at 410-745-5877, or visit

Contact: Shauna Beulah, telephone: 410-745-5877

St. Michaels Library Presents: “Inside the Academy Awards”

On Saturday, January 21, at 2:00 p.m., in the Easton branch of the Talbot County Free Library, William Gordean—film editor, producer, and member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences—will about the history, process, and inner workings of the Oscars.

Gordean worked in Hollywood for 35 years, primarily as a film editor. His credits include: “Cannonball Run,” “Smokey and the Bandit II,” “Sharkey’s Machine,” “The Great Outdoors,” “Legal Eagles,” “Dragnet,” “Beethoven I & II,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I & III,” and “Rocket Man.” Upon retiring to Maryland in 1998, Gordean and his wife Carol founded the Talbot Cinema Society, which exhibits and discusses classic films at the Easton Premiere Cinema once a month.

All library programs are free and open to the public. Patrons are not required to pre-register to attend this lecture. For more information, please call the library at 410-745-5877, or visit

Contact: Shauna Beulah, telephone: 410-745-5877



Local author Ruth Rogers Clausen to speak on “Successful Gardening in Deer Country”

Local author Ruth Rogers Clausen to speak on “Successful Gardening in Deer Country”

The Talbot County Garden Club welcomes local author Ruth Rogers Clausen to speak at the Easton Library on January 24, 2017, at 1:00 p.m. Ruth will speak on “Successful Gardening in Deer Country”.   The event is free and open to the public.

Local author Ruth Rogers Clausen, 50 Beautiful Deer Resistant Plants, will share how choosing plants carefully can help ward off the hungry deer in your garden.   Although deer are known to be finicky eaters, a healthy adult buck or doe needs to consume 5-10 pounds of food (4,000-6,000 calories per day).  Although this may not sound like a lot, think of how many tender new shoots, twigs and leaves it takes to satisfy a deer daily and since deer often browse in groups of 2-7, that’s a lot of ornamental garden plants and shrubs! Nothing’s foolproof, but Ruth will share how choosing plants carefully can help ward off the hungry deer in your garden.

Ruth has been described by the author of the Womanswork blog as one of the most experienced horticulturalist she knows. Ruth grew up in Wales and studies horticulture at Studley College in England. She has made many notable contributions to her profession as an author, an editor of gardening magazines and a lecturer, advisor and judge for botanical gardens and flower shows across the country and around the world. Ruth writes for the Womanswork blog and newsletter ( and now gardens here in Easton where she grows an eclectic range of plants. Ruth has written many books, most recently Essential Perennials (co-authored with Thomas Christopher) and 50 Beautiful Deer Resistant Plants which will be available for purchase at the program.

About the Talbot County Garden Club

The Talbot County Garden Club was established in 1917 to enrich the natural beauty of the environment by sharing knowledge of gardening, fostering the art of flower arranging, maintaining civic projects, supporting projects that benefit Talbot County and encouraging the conservation of natural resources. Noteworthy projects include maintaining the grounds of the Talbot Historical Society, Talbot Courthouse, Talbot Library, the Children’s Garden and Fountain Garden at Idlewild Park and numerous other gardens and activities. There are currently a total of 101 active, associate and honorary members.

The Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center is excited to announce a new Adult Lecture Series this Winter 2017

The Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center is excited to announce a new Adult Lecture Series this Winter 2017. 

Critters and Cocktails is an entertaining and educational lecture series with talks on wildlife of the Chesapeake Bay Region paired with appetizers and beverages occurring the third Wednesday in January-April  from 6:30pm-7:45pm.  Appetizers and beverages will be served at 6:30 pm followed by the presentation from 7 to 7:45 pm in CBEC’s Education Building.

Cost: $8/session for CBEC members

$10/session for non-members.

Online registration is encouraged:


Picturing the Chesapeake

Speaker: Mark Hendricks

Mark Hendricks, a naturalist by trade and

an award-winning wildlife conservation

photographer, will take us on a visual

journey through the rich biodiversity of

the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Through

the lens of his camera, Mark will focus on

the natural histories of the flora and fauna

that make the Bay a unique resource. His

images and articles have been featured in

Nature Photographer, The Maryland

Natural Resource, National Parks Traveler,

Africa Geographic, and his photographs

grace the walls of the famed G2 Gallery of

Venice, California. He is currently working

on his first book to be released in 2017.

This lecture is paired and sponsored with local appetizers from Fishermans Inn, wine from Boordy Vineyards and Vinicola Salton, and beer from Itaipava


Wet-N-Wild Turkeys

Speaker: Judy Wink

Did you know that Ben Franklin wanted

the turkey to be our national symbol?

Join our very own acclaimed ornithologist,

CBEC Executive Director Judy Wink, for a

wild discussion on a fascinating yet over

looked bird… the turkey. Who knew

turkeys had such interesting sex lives?

Be prepared to have fun and even

participate in a turkey calling contest

at the end of the lecture. What you

learn at this session will make your next

Thanksgiving dinner conversation a

memorable one!

This lecture is paired and sponsored with appetizers from Bridges Restaurant and selected wine and beer from The Winery.


Crabs, Old Bay& Beer

Speaker: Dr. Anson “Tuck” Hines

Dr. Anson “Tuck” Hines, Director of the

Smithsonian Environmental Research

Center on the Rhode River, is a world renowned

expert on Chesapeake Blue

Crabs. We all love to feast on them, and

have probably caught them, but what else

do we know about this iconic Bay critter?

Come to this presentation and learn about

the fascinating life history of our

“Jimmies” and “Sooks.”

This lecture is paired and sponsored with appetizers from The Narrows Restaurant and beer from The Winery.


Honey Bee-haviour

Speaker: Mike Embrey

Join Mike Embrey, Eastern Shore

honeybee expert, for a talk on bees, their

importance as pollinators, and the joys of

bee-keeping. Mike recently retired from

the University of Maryland College of

Agriculture and Natural Resources, where

he was program manager for 20 years of

the Eastern Shore Apiculture Program.

He teaches bee-keeping courses

throughout the region, and has traveled

around the world consulting on the

raising and maintaining honeybees and

other agricultural pollinators.

This lecture is paired and sponsored with appetizers from Knoxie’s Table and spirits from Blackwater Distillery.

Riverkeepers Launch Stewards for Streams Faith Initiative

Riverkeepers Launch Stewards for Streams Faith Initiative

On December 1, 2016, representatives from faith communities in the Midshore region gathered in partnership with Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake to launch a new community initiative, Stewards for Streams: Faith-Based Conservation. Outreach so far has included congregants from Christ Church, Grace Lutheran Church, Greater New Hope Church & Ministries, Islamic Society of Easton, Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Parish, Smith Island United Methodist Church, Temple B’nai Israel, and Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, to name a few. The mission of Stewards for Streams is to engage congregations of every denomination in environmental stewardship. Environmental stewardship is the responsible use of natural resources and protection of the environment.

The message of environmental stewardship has origins in the teachings of major religions including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism. In recent years, there has been renewed focus on the growing connection between faith communities and environmental action. In 2015, Pope Francis drew global attention to the cause when he called for an “ecological conversion” in his encyclical address and stated “as stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family.”

At the December 1st kick-off event, MRC facilitated an evening of open conversation about community needs and local environmental issues. Pastor Rick Edmunds spoke of his experience as a religious leader on Smith Island, a community threatened by rising tides in the Chesapeake Bay. A short documentary, Faith Against Fracking, highlighted the powerful impact our collective voices can have in environmental policy. Interfaith Partners led discussions about congregation needs, challenges, and solutions through community partnerships. As a result of this gathering, congregations signed up for activities to engage and educate their communities. These free activities are provided by MRC and include adult and youth environmental retreats, environmental film series, and volunteer opportunities. Congregations also signed up for restoration projects, such as rain gardens or rain barrels, to reduce runoff from their property.

Following this kickoff event, MRC received a $75,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to continue working with faith organizations to develop and install pollution-reducing practices on their campuses.

Stewards for Streams is funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust and Delaplaine Foundation of Maryland. MRC encourages all interested congregations to join the initiative. To become involved or learn more, contact Suzanne Sullivan at or 443-385-0511.

Photo: Members of Waugh Chapel United Methodist Church in Cambridge, along with Elizabeth Brown (center) and Suzanne Sullivan (seated with dogs) from MRC staff, celebrate the completion of their new rain garden, a completed project under MRC’s Stewards for Streams initiative.

Trena Williamson, regional director of Communications and Marketing, is among the most recent graduates of Shore Leadership, a program of the Chesapeake Leadership Foundation.

Trena Williamson, regional director of Communications and Marketing, is among the most recent graduates of Shore Leadership, a program of the Chesapeake Leadership Foundation.

The premier leadership program develops quality, relevant leadership skills within individuals and deepens their understanding of the issues and challenges facing the Eastern Shore region.  Shore Leadership honored Williamson, a Kent County resident, and the entire graduating class of 2016 at its 19th annual graduation ceremony on December 2, held at the Talbot County Country Club in Easton, Maryland.

Williamson was one of 26 applicants chosen to complete Shore Leadership’s nine-month program focusing on the important regional issues facing the Eastern Shore counties of Maryland and Virginia.  The Class of 2016 is a representation of Maryland’s Eastern Shore counties that includes a diverse group of non-profit and for-profit professionals.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I congratulate the Class of 2016 for joining our alumni cohort,” comments Shore Leadership Board President, Gerri McGuire, senior manager, TGM Group LLC.  “One of the most important lessons you learn in Shore Leadership is that people are the greatest asset of our counties – this year’s class is no exception.”

“We are honored to welcome the Class of 2016 to our alumni family,” says Debra Rich, vice president, Shore Leadership’s Board of Directors and vice-president /chief marketing and project officer with Shore Bancshares, Inc. “Each individual class member dedicated more than 100 hours over the past nine months to learn about the important issues, places and people that make up Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  As leaders, we challenge our graduates to use their new skills to initiate a positive change personally and professionally in their communities.”

A Chestertown resident, Williamson has served in her current role with UM Shore Regional Health since 2013. Her career in marketing, web design, graphics, social media and advertising has spanned more than 25 years and has included serving as community relations director for Easter Seals Camp Fairlee Manor, account executive with Mullin/Ashley Associates in Chestertown, and creative services manager for the former Chester River Health and UM Shore Regional Health. Her work in these positions has garnered several professional awards for outstanding accomplishments in the field of health care marketing.

“University of Maryland Shore Regional Health has been a sponsor and supporter of Shore Leadership since its inception, says Patti Willis, senior vice president, Strategy and Communications, UM Shore Regional Health. “We are especially proud to have Trena Williamson, one of our organization’s key leaders, complete this important leadership program and take her spot among the many UMSRH alumni of Shore Leadership.”

Shore Leadership is open to executives, managers and leaders on Maryland’s Eastern Shore who want to further develop their leadership skills and deepen their understanding of the key issues facing Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  Ideal Shore Leadership members have a personal commitment to be a positive force for change in their organizations, communities, and counties. For more information about Shore Leadership, please visit, or email

Rommel’s Ace stores hold campaign for Disabled American Veterans over Veterans Day Weekend

Rommel’s Ace stores hold campaign for Disabled American Veterans over Veterans Day Weekend.

Rommel’s Ace dedicated the past Veterans Day weekend to raise funds for the Disabled American Veterans organization. The fundraiser took place Nov.11th through the 13th and they were able to raise $5,441 for the DAV. Rommel’s Ace mailed the check into the mid-Atlantic regions headquarters where it will be distributed and sent to local DAV groups in all of the areas that our stores are located; Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia. We chose the DAV because 97% of our donation is given to the programs for disabled veterans, and we would be able to directly help veterans in all of our local store locations.

The promotion featured American Flag engraved YETI cups in which $5 from each purchase would be donated to the DAV, and the customer would receive 20% off their transaction. Also, customers were able to donate $5 and receive 20% off their entire transaction without the purchase of a cup as well. We received great feedback from our customers and many knew of someone or were members of the DAV themselves. We thank all the customers that came to support this event and fundraiser to help this great organization and the members that have given so much.

“We have many employees and customers who have been a part of the service and who have been affected by their time in the service whether it’s physically or mentally. We would like to give our time and resources back to an organization that can provide the support they need to help them and their families get back to a positive lifestyle,” stated Bob Weber, Vice President of Rommel’s Ace.

Rommel’s Ace Home Centers, with 11 stores in MD, VA, and DE, are locally owned.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Susan Skirta at 410-749-3600 x 110, or email at