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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Nonprofits make pitches in Berlin

(April 30, 2015) A week after Berlin officials released a budget draft showing a potential $15,000 increase in appropriations for nonprofits, the mayor and Town Council fielded pitches by three such groups during their Monday night meeting.
All told, the draft includes $35,000 set aside for appropriations to nonprofits.
“I have to say that we’re very selective,” Mayor Gee Williams said during the meeting. “The council tries to do our best to choose nonprofits that specifically … do things much more efficiently, much better, [and are] much more qualified to fill these needs than government.”
Cricket Center Program Manager Wendy Myers spoke first for the Berlin-based child advocacy foundation.
The center, which covers all of Worcester County, has served more than 600 area children since opening its doors in 2009.
“Child sexual abuse is a crime of secrecy,” Myers said. “Immediate psychological affects of child sexual abuse [include] isolation, fear, lack of trust [and] oftentimes spiral them into long-term problems, eating disorder, teen pregnancy, drug abuse.”
The center combines the efforts of several agencies in one location, including law enforcement, forensic interviewers and social services.
“It’s really important to have one interview so we’re not re-traumatizing the child by the system created to protect the child,” Myers said.
During the previous fiscal year the center provided services to 98 children, including over 460 hours of child trauma therapy hours. Cricket Center activity directly led to 13 arrests for child pornography, netting 149 years of jail time.  
All services at the center are provided free of charge.
Worcester County Developmental Center Executive Director Jack Ferry spoke next on behalf of the Newark facility.
Ferry called the clients of the center, “the best people in the world.”
“We provide employment opportunities, residential services, day habilitation training, and community-based individual support for adults who live with an intellectual disability,” Ferry said.
A 2014 grant from the town went towards equipment and supplies to help clients earn a paycheck through employment, either at the center or in the community, according to Ferry.
“The main thing that we’re doing at our center is employment,” Ferry said. “We believe that economic independence comes before social independence.”
In 2001, client payroll at the facility was less than $25,000, according to Ferry. That number grew to $72,000 in 2014, and is expected to top “six figures” in 2015.
Finally, Executive Director Steven Taylor and Volunteer Coordinator Maria Cusimano spoke on behalf of the Berlin Youth Club, a program of Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services.
The program presents a number of projects and activities throughout the community, including partnerships with several other area groups. It was designed to offer cultural and educational experiences that fill the gaps between public and private school offerings.
“Our goal is for the children to learn and appreciate what the communities have to offer,” Cusimano said. “Each child is encouraged to reach their full potential as a productive, responsible, caring person. We try to build their self-esteem and foster creativity and promote team work, and our community service projects try and teach them to give back to their community.”
The program served 85 children during the previous year, with demographics split between 50 percent African-Americans, 37 percent Caucasian and 13 percent Hispanic.
Taylor said many of the children in the program have “never been to Assateague, never been to Snow Hill, certainly not Pocomoke.”
“Exposing these kids to these different communities is introducing our culture, our history, who we are,” Taylor said. “Taking them to these places and exposing them to things that are interesting and educational is just as important as the Shorebirds or bowling or the movies. It’s a great program and it’s very successful.
“They do learn to become civic minded because of the things that we introduce to them, and also because they learn well from one another,” Taylor added.