At the 26th annual meeting of the Kentlands Community Foundation, held June 27 at the Kentlands Mansion, Foundation Chair Rob Garretson said, “I couldn’t be prouder to lead this tremendous community organization.”
He thanked volunteers, government partners, sponsors and donors for their work, without which “this would not be the organization that the City of Gaithersburg awarded this spring a citizenship award for Organization of the Year.”
Executive Director Elisabeth Monaco said, “This has been a powerful year.” In addition to the city award, the Foundation received four grants—one just last week for $18,000 in operating funds from the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County.
The Foundation supports 16 programs, some long running and others new. “They range from ones that meet every single week, to ones that are once a year and pack a punch, to ones that just change people’s lives in very meaningful ways,” Monaco said.
“I think we really meet the three legs of our motto: We do endorse volunteerism, we support people, we build community and we are also here to explain new urbanism to the rest of the world.”
She extolled recent Foundation events Musica Viva and Kentlands Under the Lights. “It was packed,” she said of the 600-person turnout on the Kentlands Mansion lawn for Musica Viva. “It really is a testament to Simeone and Alessandra who give up their time every single year to put this on for us and give their tremendous talent. We’re so lucky to have them as Kentlands residents.”
The fifth annual Kentlands Under the Lights “was another fantastic night. We had so many more people, so many more businesses, fantastic bands, we had an expanded children’s area. … It was just such a popular, positive evening. We couldn’t have asked for a better turnout.”
She cited long-running programs like the Kentlands Film Society that has screened 65 films in 13 years, as well as newer programs like Artists on Market, the Kentlands Community Foundation Lecture Series, the Kentlands Community Players, the Wine Club, One Main Street Initiative and the Village at Kentlands & Lakelands.
She spoke of how the Kentlands Acoustic Jam, through performances, represents Kentlands in the wider community; the good works done by KidServe and Go GREEN, working to care for the more vulnerable and the environment; and Cub Scout Pack 221 that changes boys’—and now girls’—lives for the better.
She asked those assembled to get the runners out for this year’s Kentlands/Lakelands 5K on Aug. 31. “We need a thousand runners this year to hold onto our largest race in Montgomery County (designation).”
Following Monaco’s “Year in Review,” the Foundation recognized volunteers who went above and beyond to support the Foundation and the community in an awards presentation. Volunteer of the Year Awards were given to Jaree Donnelly, Erin Cristy, Matt Baker and Linda Natale.
KCF Board member Sharon Cantrell cited Donnelly’s leadership of 5K packet pickup for the 2018 race and her creation of Artists on Market. “Her leadership style is just … get it done without any drama or fanfare, and we’re very grateful for all that you’ve done and, of course, leading the Artists on Market initiative, which has been your dream for so many years. And we’re just so grateful that you made that dream become a reality for all of us because it’s been a beautiful space for all of us … and I want to recognize you as one of the Volunteers of the Year,” she said.
Cantrell spoke of Erin Cristy’s work as volunteer coordinator for the 25th anniversary 5K race, finding, organizing and supporting 250 volunteers. “She graciously informed volunteers of their roles and responsibilities to make sure that the race was safe and well run that day,” she said. Presenting the Volunteer of the Year Award to Cristy, Cantrell thanked her for continuing with the volunteer coordinator role for this year’s 5K.
Of Matt Baker’s volunteer work as facilities manager for Artists on Market, she said, “He is thoughtful, talented and giving. The amount of time he’s volunteered for the program has gone above and beyond. We would not be what we are without his service.”
Cantrell said that Linda Natale, chair of the events programs committee of the Village at Kentlands & Lakelands, led the Village’s new charge for social connectedness this year in a most impressive way. “In 2018 alone, she was responsible for overseeing and organizing 34 events and programs for the Village with approximately 650 attendees,” Cantrell said.
Arts Support Awards were given to Simeone Tartaglione and Peter Plant.
Foundation Board member Jaree Donnelly expressed joy in the growth of Musica Viva Kentlands “that I think is really unprecedented, so we’re so delighted to have you (Simeone Tartaglione) and Reynaldo and Pili who have started this, and it is growing into such a wonderful program.”
She thanked Peter Plant, the chairperson of the Gaithersburg Artists Collective that runs Artists on Market, for being “exceptional. … He honestly has run the organization with such grace and is so wonderful, the membership love him, and we would not be what we are without his attention to detail.”
A Special Recognition Award was given to Andy Meyrowitz, owner of The Wine Harvest that closed in Kentlands in early July. “This is a Special Recognition Award for somebody who really has worked tirelessly to make the most important things happen,” Garretson said. “We had alcohol at our events—it’s not just that though … in recent years we’ve been getting a substantial monetary contribution through the concessions that Andy helps us with. … We couldn’t let him leave without giving him this special recognition.” Meyrowitz was given a standing ovation when he received his award.
Friends of the Foundation Awards were given to Beth Brittingham and Karen Norris.
Foundation Board member Ailene Renzi explained that Friends of the Foundation Awards are usually given to Board members “as they leave our governance and go on to talk about and promote the foundation within the community.” But this year, the Foundation wanted to express its appreciation for someone not on the Board—Beth Brittingham, who was Kentlands general manager for four years until her promotion this spring to division director for Community Management Corporation’s Maryland portfolio. This “very special person … was so actively involved and critical to everything that we did in a supporting role that as she transitions away from the community, we couldn’t let the time go by without recognizing Beth Brittingham,” Renzi said. “Beth has been a constant supporter of our activities and for that we will be eternally grateful as she goes on to her next role.”
Karen Norris received the Friends of the Foundation Award because “she has always been willing to help and her overall commitment to the Kentlands is apparent and contagious,” Renzi said. She cited Norris’ articles for The Town Crier, “her true home in the Kentlands Acoustic Jam,” and her work on the KCF Board “to help focus on the Foundation’s finances. She kept us on track and on our toes and emphasized consistency in reporting,” Renzi said.
Last but definitely not least, the John Schlichting Award for Exemplary Volunteerism was given to Foundation Vice Chair Ruthzaly Weich. “It is my honor to give Ruthzaly the recognition she deserves,” Renzi said. “This award, while well earned, does not nearly go far enough to recognize all that Ruthzaly has done.” As vice chair, she was the “driver behind comprehensive strategic planning process … started the lecture series, and (has been) absolutely instrumental in the One Main Street Initiative,” Renzi noted. “Ruthzaly is absolutely tireless. She has put her heart and soul into the Foundation.”
Look for more Foundation outreach on social media and a revamped website in the second half of 2019 and beyond.