Character Counts! Partners with the Empowerment Group at Family Support of QAC

By Ashley Winterstein

Family Support of Queen Anne’s County, located in Sudlersville, Maryland, is open to all families with children ages 3 and under and offers their services completely free of charge. They provide activities and education for both adults and children in hopes of creating stronger family and community networks, preparing children for school success, and assisting parents in earning degrees and finding desirable places in the workforce.

With the Character Counts! Program already in full swing in many schools and businesses across the county, Jacki Carter, Positive Youth Development Coordinator, saw a perfect opportunity to integrate the Character Counts! message into yet another venue.

The Empowerment Group was created at Family Support as a way for participants to help each other work through issues or concerns on Monday mornings at 9:00. Character Counts! was asked to guide one session a month basing the meeting on the fundamental Six Pillars of Character – Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship.

Many women have participated in the Empowerment Group discussing dressing for success, leadership skills, positive decision- making and even practiced public speaking. They have also written a proclamation for the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners proclaiming the Character Counts! Pillar of the Month for June to be Fairness.

Members of the Empowerment Group have also participated in the popular “What’s Your Spark?” discussion that has been a hot topic of conversation across the county in the past few months. A spark is an interest, talent, skill, asset, or dream that excites a person and helps them discover their true passions. This discussion has become extremely important as many members of the Empowerment Group are in the midst of earning degrees and deciding on their future career paths. Reflecting on their own skills and interests has helped them focus on their true goals, as parents, community members, and professionals.

Many members of the Empowerment Group also participate in other activities within Family Support. While the parents are working on their resumes, taking computer classes, or having candid discussions about character, their children are in the next room learning English and/or Spanish, working on their numbers and colors, getting dental screenings, and occasionally going on field trips to learn outside the classroom.

Carter reflected on her experiences at Family Support thus far and stated, “My nicest surprise was how easy the conversation flowed once we got going, spilling off into many different parts of our lives. We would giggle, be serious, and laugh out laugh discussing the vagaries of life. Everyone was intent on helping each other with the different challenges in their lives. All participants were very willing to discuss how Family Support has changed their attitudes and views of themselves and others. It is a caring community at Family Support, a perfect place for character discussions.”

If you have any questions about the Character Counts! Program in Queen Anne’s County or are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact Jacki Carter at 410-758-6677 or For more information about Family Support, please contact Dorothy Carpenter at 410-827-4629 ext. 111.

Character Counts! is a part of the Queen Anne’s County Community Partnerships for Children and Families, our local management board.