Becky Snell and Girls on the Run

If we are blessed, a wake-up call comes in time to make a difference in our lives.  My wake-up call came when I turned 49 and I realized that if my health were to follow the health patterns of my father's family, I could be dead in 12 years. Unless I did something to change that path I was looking at potential diabetes and a total lack of heart health.  I took a good look at what I was eating and my activity levels, and decided it was time to make a change.  

I joined a gym.  Yeah, I know.  A lot of people do that and it lasts maybe 3-6 months.  But I was on a mission, and I got a trainer because I had no idea what to do with all the equipment.  I started logging my calories in an app, and parking farther from the entry to the grocery.  I walked and walked, but what I wanted to do was run again.

I had run some during my twenties before running was cool and Nike and Addidas were just starting their marketing efforts.  I wasn't a natural athlete, but I enjoyed it, and I wanted to get back to that.  It took awhile.  After all, a girl who has made her living at a computer keyboard for 25 years has to learn how to exercise unused muscles!  I made a lot of rookie mistakes - the wrong shoes and form and starting out too hard and too fast led to stress fractures.  But once I was past that, and got some help I set my sights on a half marathon.  My husband was very supportive and took up cycling again - at first to accompany me on long training runs.  Eventually my daughter started running as well, and we went on running vacations together for some mother-daughter time.  Since that first half marathon six years ago there a lot a runs and medals under the bridge.  I am not fast, I am slow and steady, but I get it done.

Joe and his dog Yeti sucked me in!

I meet a lot of people running and have joined various groups - often we run races together.  One of these running friends, a retired Navy officer, suggested I might be interested in volunteering for an organization that focused on empowering young women using running and teamwork as a vehicle.  Joe is a coach for the local Girls on the Run chapter and thought I might like to coach as well.  I went to a local 5K (3.1 miles) where over 900 local girls were doing their 5K celebration run - to wrap up their semester of training - and he introduced me to the local director.

Shortly after that I applied to volunteer, possibly coach, for Girls on the Run.  This is a national non-profit organization that has self supported chapters all over the country.  A background check and personal reference were required.  If I couldn't coach, I wanted to volunteer in any other way I could.  Once the local director contacted me, I realized that the coaching commitment was something I couldn't do based on my work schedule. Since I have some social media experience, they thought it would be a great contribution if I could help them with their YouTube efforts.  While I am far from an expert, they had recently lost some marketing volunteers and this is where I could do the most good. I started putting together simple slideshows and videos using material they had stashed away.

I had spent years in Girl Scouts, both as a girl myself, and then with my daughter's troops.  GOTR is in some ways like Girl Scouts in trying to help girls and young women develop self confidence and respect for others.  GOTR members meet after school regularly and their coaches combine running with fun activities and community service projects to teach these skills.  Each semester of participation results in a 5K where the local teams run together and family and friends cheer them on.  

While I am not coaching currently due to work commitments, I am very glad I can help this organization in some way.  There is a video I did on YouTube for the Fall 2017 GOTR 5K which explains a lot about the program and the event.  You can click here to watch it.  I hope that at some point I can coach, but in the meantime I will spread the word about the organization and contribute in any way I can. 

- Becky Snell, Director of IT & Marketing

Adrienne Castle and The Church at Severn Run

The Church at Severn Run is all about reaching people for Jesus. Our motto is to “Love Well, Live Jesus, and Believe Big”. We want to be a church that emulates the church in Acts, that steps up and sees the needs and the brokenness around us and does something about it (like the parable of the Good Samaritan). We want to exist in such a way that if our doors closed tomorrow, the community would notice and our presence would be missed. In order to accomplish this, we have prayed a lot, and implemented a foundational principal of “Integral Missions”, where we do life outside the walls of the church building in a way that focuses on relationships, and loving people the way God calls us to.

We have several initiatives that we are working on for 2018 including launching a recovery center for the massive Opioid/Addiction problems facing our area. (Anne Arundel County is 4th in the nation right now with overdoses and deaths.) We also are starting ministries geared toward hungry and homeless children and families through backpack programs in the schools and by visiting and forming relationships with people in the many homeless camps in our area. (There are a lot of camps - and many of them have children, especially teens.  Social services often takes the children from the parents.)

Other ministries we run through our campus are things like the Kairos prison ministry, CAP -Christian Assistance Program, Celebrate Recovery, God's Heart, and Operation Christmas Child (OCC). We are not only a regional OCC drop off center, but each year we have several hundred people sign up to go to the processing center hub in Columbia and help them get the boxes packed, inspected, and shipped. (Adrienne and her son Gavin took Cindy French's son Tyler to volunteer recently for OCC, pictured left.) 

We also currently partner with a few amazing local ministries including the Transformation Center, The Well, and The Broken Wall that are also living out Integral Missions.  Currently, the Transformation Center in Brooklyn, MD has a weekly clothing and food distribution program for over 100 people and it is growing. We partner with them weekly through resources, food, and volunteers to make it happen. But it doesn’t stop there.  In fact, this is only a stepping stone in the vision they have for the future of the community that includes a scholarship based school, job program, GED program, etc. You can find more information at:

The Transformation Center (click here.)

And their Facebook page (click here.)

The Well runs mentorship programs, especially for at risk women and children in the Curtis Bay area. They want to empower people to change, so it's not a hand out, it’s a help up. We just partnered with them for their Christmas toy store where over 1200 toys were available at the cost of $2 per toy, so that parents could have Christmas presents for their children. Their vision and information can also be found by clicking on these links for their website and Facebook pages:

The Well (click here.)

And their Facebook page (click here.)

The Broken Wall is in Catonsville and they seek to reach as many people in their area as possible, especially by working through the local school, North Bend Elementary School. They have been welcomed with open arms into the community and the school in order to bring about lasting change for the better.  They do a lot with the youth in the area and are able to reach them through activities especially sports.  You can find their information by clicking on these links:

The Broken Wall (click here.)

And their Facebook page (click here.)

For more information about The Church at Severn Run you can click here.

Adrienne Castle is one of Dankmeyer's Patient Services Coordinators.  Many of the projects she lists above are independent of the church.  She notes that many school programs require community service to graduate and some of the links she provides above might be helpful to those looking for ideas to complete their service hours.  Prison and addiction programs are limited to those 18 and over.



Nancy Lee and Operation Welcome Home Maryland

I don't know where the patriotic gene comes from, but I sure do have it, because I love supporting the men and women of our military.   I was ecstatic when Chad and I stumbled upon the group Operation Welcome Home MarylandThrough their organization we found a way to show support for our military that doesn't cost a dime - while making our hearts feel full.  We often feel guilty knowing that we participate, not just for those who serve, but for ourselves.  And it's not just Chad and I who feel that way.  It shows on the faces of all the volunteers, even the school aged students who come to get signed off on their community service credit. 

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is one of about six airports where the military return to American soil from overseas.  Two times a week, sometimes more, staff from Operation Welcome Home Maryland meet other volunteers like myself at the International terminal to welcome soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and Coast Guard service members who are returning from overseas.  Along with the hearty welcome, troops receive goodie bags of snacks and water, and assistance, if needed, to the next gate to board a connecting flight. 

Some volunteers show up dressed in red, white and blue, others wave flags or display homemade signs.  Some arrive early to take part in decorating the lobby or to hand out "goodie bags".  One thing is certain, when the International Arrival terminal door opens and the troops start pouring through, everyone finds themselves cheering, clapping and shouting "welcome home!"  On realizing that the crowd is waiting for all of them, soldiers may appear surprised at first, but you can see the appreciation and gratitude in their eyes. 

The first time Chad and I participated, we were immediately swept into handing out goodie bags, giving us an opportunity to be up front, shaking the hand of every soldier.  We were hooked!  Since then, we have witnessed some truly memorable moments:  a soldier kissing the ground, thankful he's back on American soil after a long deployment; a father seeing his newborn son for the first time; the proud parents of a young soldier, tears streaming down their faces, thankful that their boy has made it back home; a young lady proudly holding her sign, waiting anxiously for her fiance to return home.  As you can imagine, it can be pretty emotional, and yes, I've cried a time or two. 

Chad and I encourage everyone to check out  If you can't get to the airport, there are other ways to support the troops.  Operation Welcome Home Maryland accepts donations of cash, store bought pre-packaged single serving snacks such as cookies, crackers, granola bars, candy, and bottled water.  You can even donate your airline miles!  The website also offers many links to other groups who provide support to the military. 

If you're planning a trip to the airport, be sure to call the hotline at 410-630-1555 for a recorded message on the day you'd like to attend.  Some flights get delayed or cancelled, and others could pop up unexpectedly.  The hotline has updated information, will tell you the best time to arrive and provides parking information.

Meet us at the airport and help give these heroes the welcome home they deserve!


Abi Ostrander and Virtual Environments

I have always played video games and even majored in game design in college. I also enjoy creating 3D and 2D art, so when my professor was looking for volunteers to help launch his game lab I was more than happy to help. 

It started as an independent study over the summer where we worked with local residents near a cultural site in Nepal, which had been destroyed by the 2015 earthquake, to recreate buildings that had stood for hundreds of years. My professor then put our work into a virtual reality system called C.A.V.E, computer assisted virtual environment. This allowed users to move through the recreation of this cultural site and interact with different structures to learn about the history of the area. The goal of the project was to try and preserve the history and importance of these structures that are now lost.

After completing this project, our attention switched to preserving historic sites closer to home. We started with the Inner Harbor and the historic buildings surrounding it, such as the Domino Sugar Factory. As the project progressed we began to include Maryland’s rich history of ships and ship building, with the intention of providing this application for K-12 student education. As a game lab assistant I worked hard to promote the importance of digital preservation and education; I even presented our work at key events such as the Experimental Learning Showcase at the University of Baltimore.

Abi Ostrander, Patient Services Representative

NOTE: Abi's group efforts were featured in an article this summer in The Baltimore Sun.  You can click here to read it.

Toni Robinson and the Life and Breath Foundation

Toni and husband Scott.

As a Practice Liaison with Dankmeyer, Toni Robinson enjoys helping others live the fullest lives they can through using the right prosthetics and orthotics.  And, through her work with the Life and Breath Foundation, she helps many others who live with sarcoidosis, a complex inflammatory disease that commonly affects the lungs and lymph nodes, but can also attack the brain, eyes, kidneys and more. 

Toni was diagnosed with sarcoidosis early in the 2000s, and while her sarcoid symptoms have been in remission since 2007, she still works diligently to educate others about the disease, and offer ways to find the right treatment.  For example, Toni recently appeared on the cover of Baltimore Style magazine, and informed its readers about Life and Breath’s Flip Flop Festivus, an annual gala happening at the Four Seasons in Baltimore on Friday, September 15th.

Through her dedication to Life and Breath, Toni continues to help others live their best lives, as well as living hers.  To learn more about Life and breath, and to purchase tickets to Flip Flop Festivus, click here.

Through her dedication to Life and Breath, Toni continues to help others live their best lives, as well as living hers.  To learn more about Life and breath, and to purchase tickets to Flip Flop Festivus, click here.