History of Assistance League of the Chesapeake

  • September 2000

    • Jo Fontana, chair of the National Assistance League® Extension Committee, contacted Dee Campbell to discuss the possibility of starting an Assistance League chapter in Maryland. Dee had moved to Maryland from California where she was an active member of Assistance League Capistrano Valley. The President of that chapter, Kathy Ganz, recommended Dee to the Extension Committee.
    • At the same time, Susan Baker, former president of the San Fernando Valley chapter, also moved to Maryland. A former member of several National Assistance League committees, she discussed the possibility of establishing a chapter in Maryland with her National Assistance League contacts.

  • October 2000

    • Members of the Extension Committee presented information about Assistance League at an organizational meeting attended by 20 women. The possibility of starting a Chapter of Assistance League was discussed, and a Steering Committee was organized for planning purposes.

  • November 2000

    • The Steering Committee of ten, chaired by Dee Campbell, met to plan an invitational event.

  • February 2001

    • An invitational meeting was held at the United Methodist Church in Severna Park with 44 women in attendance. With enough interest shown, the committee agreed to request Guild status from National Assistance League. Three organizational meetings were required before the request for Guild status could be granted.

  • March/April/May 2001

    Three organizational meetings were held to accomplish the following goals:

    1. Select a name — Assistance League of the Chesapeake, Inc.
    2. Develop Charter Membership — 44 Charter members
    3. Elect Officers — a Nominating Committee was formed, a slate of officers was presented and elected by the membership on May 10, 2001. Dee Campbell was elected President.
    4. Organization — By-laws were written and Philanthropic and Fundraising Committees were formed

  • June 2001

    • The Extension Committee agreed to submit Assistance League of the Chesapeake’s request for Guild status to National.

  • Fiscal Year 2001-2002

    • July 2001 — AL Chesapeake was granted Guild status with 44 charter members. As a guild, AL Chesapeake needed approval from National for all philanthropic programs, fundraising events, public relations, brochures, etc. A Guild Counselor provided Leadership training and support to the guild.
    • The Philanthropic Committee adopted two programs: Operation School Bell®, and Senior Multi-Interest Lifetime Enrichment (S.M.I.L.E.).
    • October 2001 — The Guild held its first fundraiser, a tag sale.
    • November 2001-March 2002 — Articles of Incorporation, Indemnification Clause, By-laws and Standing Rules were approved by National. AL Chesapeake was incorporated on December 3, 2001 in the State of Maryland with the pro-bono legal assistance of Dennis Sysko, Esquire.
    • March and April 2002 — AL Chesapeake held two fundraisers: an art auction and a yard sale.
    • Two social events for members and spouses were also held.

  • Fiscal Year 2002-2003

    Philanthropic programs were initiated:

    • The first Sing-Along was held at Sunrise Assisted Living in Severna Park.
    • The first Kids on the Block™ performance was held at Woodside Elementary School in Glen Burnie using puppets on loan from Junior League® of Annapolis (long term loan). In March, AL Chesapeake members voted to purchase 2 new puppets for KOTB program.
    • Operation School Bell started a Guest Reader program at Woodside Elementary School in Glen Burnie. We later added a second school in Annapolis, Georgetown East Elementary.
    • November and December 2002 — The first annual Books and Brunch fundraiser was held, as well as the first Holiday Gift Wrapping fundraiser at Borders Bookstore in Annapolis Mall.
    • Several successful socials were also held during this year.

  • Fiscal Year 2003-2004

    • Sue Oster elected as president.
    • Fundraising held its second Books and Brunch event in November and Gift Wrapping fundraiser at Borders Bookstore in December.
    • Several successful social events were held at members’ homes, and members participated in Severna Park’s July 4th parade.
    • The Philanthropic Committee added the Kids in Need (KIN) clothing program under Operation School Bell in addition to the reading and tutoring program, Project Literacy.

  • Fiscal Year 2004-2005

    • Sue Oster served a second term as president.
    • Operation School Bell KIN provided emergency clothing to Woodside Elementary School and Georgetown East Elementary School.
    • Lands End donated over 250 back packs to AL Chesapeake through the Operation School Bell program. These back packs were distributed through the Center for Family Services, DRU Family Support Center, and Sarah’s House as a special aspect of the KIN program.
    • AL Chesapeake partnered with Partners In Care, Inc. in Severna Park, Maryland and added the Emergency Kits Program for home-bound seniors and disabled individuals.
    • Several members attended the Assistance League convention in Denver and continued to work on requirements for becoming a Chapter.
    • Fundraising efforts included the third annual Books and Brunch in November 2004, Gift wrapping at Borders Bookstore in December, and a Silver & Wine event at Blanca Flor in May 2005.

  • Fiscal Year 2005-2006

    • Darla Burchell was elected president.
    • At leadership training in June 2005, Guild counselor Sue White recommended that AL Chesapeake complete the necessary requirements to become a Chapter.
    • The financial review was completed pro bono by David Sparks, CPA.
    • IRS applications were completed.
    • All Board and Regular meeting minutes, all necessary paperwork for Philanthropic programs and Fundraising events were submitted to National Assistance League for review.
    • A Chartering agreement was submitted to National. Kakey Smith also submitted a request to the Governor’s office for a proclamation acknowledging Chapter status. In January, the application for Chapter status was approved.
    • March 2006: A pre-chartering meeting, hosted by Grier Smokovich, was held for National AL representatives, AL Chesapeake Board members and Committee Chairs.
    • Joan and Bruce Hechler hosted a cocktail party for members and spouses. The party was underwritten by Dee and Ric Campbell.
    • The Chartering Ceremony and luncheon was held on March 30, 2006 at Chartwell Country Club. Cathy Vitale, Vice-Chair of the County Council in Severna Park, was the keynote speaker. National Assistance League President, Judy Mullin, and Guild Counselor Sue White conducted the ceremony. Assistance League of the Chesapeake was formally welcomed as the 114th chapter of Assistance League and the first chapter in the State of Maryland.
    • A donation was made to the Assistance League Circle Fund as a thank you for all the help, patience and support received by the advisors through the chaptering process. This was a major accomplishment for the AL Chesapeake Board and membership.
    • The Fundraising Committee held its fourth annual Books and Brunch event in November and a Gift Wrapping fundraiser at Borders Bookstore in December.
    • The Philanthropic Committee focused on strengthening and increasing all programs.
    • Membership activities strengthened and increased.

  • Fiscal Year 2006-2007

    • Dee Campbell was elected president.
    • All philanthropic programs strengthened and increased.
    • Membership activities strengthened and increased.
    • Fundraising held its Books and Brunch event in the spring and the Gift Wrapping fundraiser at Borders Bookstore in December.

  • Fiscal Year 2007-2008

    • Pam Meyers was elected president.
    • Membership approved a Community Outreach Program. AL Chesapeake donated unused items from the Emergency Kits program to a local food bank, and held a baby shower at the annual holiday meeting to benefit the Stork’s Nest Project run by Baltimore-Washington Medical Center.
    • AL Chesapeake received grants from Verizon Check Into Literacy and Coldwell Banker Cares Foundation.
    • Fundraising efforts included a Spring event: “Magic Moments” magic and mentalism performance and auction and a Gift Wrapping fundraiser at Borders Bookstore in December.

  • Fiscal Year 2008-2009

    • Pam Meyers was elected to a second term as president.
    • All philanthropic programs strengthened and increased.
    • Membership activities strengthened and increased.
    • Fundraising held an Extravaganza fashion show and luncheon in the fall, a Gift Wrapping fundraiser in December, and a Jimmy Buffet theme party with silent auction in the spring.
    • AL Chesapeake received grants from the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, the Chartwell Foundation, and the Severna Park Bridge Club.
    • Chapter Services made their post-chartering visit in February 2009.
    • In June, the board awarded the first annual Outstanding Volunteer Award to Maureen Smith in recognition of her accomplishments with Operation School Bell Project Literacy at Georgetown East Elementary and her participation in all programs.

  • Fiscal Year 2009-2010

    • Marie Bossie was elected president.
    • Chapter received a grant from Target for books under Project Literacy.
    • Operation School Bell Project Literacy was expanded to include a west county school, Meade Heights Elementary in Ft. Meade, MD. The first Guest Reader week was held in October.
    • Island Paradise fundraiser was held at the Phillip Merrill Center in Annapolis. The event featured a silent auction, catering by The Saucy Salamander and roving magic by Dick Steiner.
    • The Outstanding Volunteer Award was given to Paula Sparks in recognition of her services as PR Chair, Treasurer, Sing-Along accompanist, School Liaison, Website Administrator and print materials

  • Fiscal Year 2010-2011

    • Marie Bossie elected to second term as president
    • Membership marked another record of 64 members
    • Initiated the “Pat On the Back” program to recognize member contributions
    • 5th anniversary celebration chartering was held at Chartwell Country Club
    • Received grants from Target and Bay Ridge Wine and Spirits for Operation School Bell
    • Grants committee formed, much research done, three additional applications submitted with one approved from Anne Arundel County for Emergency Kits program
    • Initiated agreement with Consignment shop and raised almost $1,000
    • Held two successful fundraisers: Opportunity Drawing and Island Paradise
    • Had extensive coverage in local papers
    • Purchased equipment for Speakers’ Bureau
    • Developed new brochures
    • A new tri-fold display board was built by Rose Houghton
    • Initiated agreement with Anne Arundel County Public Schools
    • Expanded the Operations School Bell Literacy programs at Georgetown East and Meade Heights
    • Expanded the Kids In Need program to provide uniforms for four schools: Georgetown, Meade, Tyler and Van Bokkelen
    • KOTB extended performances to 17 schools and began training a 2nd puppet troupe to begin next year
    • Community Outreach provided over $1,300 in baby items to Storks Nest and assisted with Anne Arundel County Homeless Resource Day
    • A three-year strategic plan was developed and approved
    • Bylaws were updated, a new policy for record retention and destruction was written, and Standing Rules were revised and brought in compliance with National requirements
    • Six members attended National Conference in New Orleans
    • Obtained storage facility for six months free
    • Membership provided over 8,000 hours of community service
    • Presented the annual Volunteer of the Year Award to Lyn Hopkins for her contributions to the success of Island Paradise auction, her weekly distribution of the Monday Minutes and playing the piano for Sing-Alongs at Sunrise.

  • Fiscal Year 2011-2012

    • Rose Houghton was elected as president.
    • The chapter held its first Mail-out fundraiser for the Operation School Bell KIN program. Cards designed by Rose Houghton were mailed and donations were accepted on line for the first time. The fundraiser generated more than $8,000 to purchase uniforms for children in four Title I schools
    • Membership voted to move the primary fundraiser, Island Paradise, from spring to fall.
    • The secondary fundraiser, an opportunity drawing to win a cruise to Bermuda held in the spring generated donations of $8,700.
    • Operation School Bell Project Literacy reached nearly 4,000 children.
    • More than 400 children received new school clothing through the KIN program.
    • 80 homebound citizens were provided with emergency kits.
    • Nearly 400 senior citizens enjoyed sing-along visits.
    • The Kids on the Block puppet program was presented to 1,374 children.
    • Both the Stork’s Nest program and Homeless Resource Day increased last year’s numbers in members of the community served.
    • Grier Smokovich received the chapter’s annual Outstanding Volunteer Award, and Sue Valentine received the chapter’s first Outstanding New Member award.

  • Fiscal Year 2012-2013

    • Bonnie Sysko was elected president.
    • Mary Bartley from national came to do board training.
    • Kicked off our second annual Kids in Need drive.
    • Connected with the Greater Severna Park Council to share who we are and what we do.
    • Began a partnership with Old Navy to purchase uniforms.
    • Six members attended National conference in Houston.
    • Held our primary fundraiser, Island Paradise in October at Chartwell Golf and Country Club.
    • Collected and distributed over 1,000 books from a community book drive as part of Make a Difference Day.
    • Donated over $1,300 of baby items to Stork’s Nest at our annual baby shower.
    • Held our annual holiday party.
    • Held an opportunity drawing.
    • Expanded the Kids in Need program to include a fifth school.
    • Held our second annual recruitment meeting and tea
    • Michele Kelly hosted a luncheon for all who joined Circle Fund during the year.
    • Marie Bossie received the award for Volunteer of the Year.
    • Ended the year with 65 members.
    • Received grants from Target, Annapolis Rotary, and Parole Rotary.

  • Fiscal Year 2013-2014

    • Bonnie Sysko was elected to second term as President.
    • In September, Circle Fund Chair Michele Kelly was informed at National Conference that our Chapter had the highest percentage of members to join Circle for a chapter with 100 members or less. The Chapter was awarded a free Board Training Session for the summer of 2014.
    • In October, 12 members attended the “Comcast Hall of Fame” Awards Dinner where Chesapeake Chapter received a “Community Outreach” award for our Operation School Bell programs. The Anne Arundel County Board of Education submitted the nomination to the Chamber of Commerce.
    • County Executive Laura Neuman spoke at our November meeting.
    • We collected over 2,000 books for Make a Difference Day. These were distributed to Boys and Girls clubs, as well as homeless shelters in the County. We also gave over 200 books to children attending Homeless Resource Day with their parents.
    • Through our Stork’s Nest program, the Chapter donated over $5000 worth of baby clothes and equipment/items to BWMC’s Stork’s nest.
    • All our Operation School Bell Programs continue to expand and run smoothly. We provided over 1,000 uniforms to 5 schools.
    • Fundraisers: Our primary fundraiser, “Let’s Make Magic,” was held on March 30th at Crofton Country Club. 135 guests enjoyed dinner, live and silent auctions and entertainment by Mentalist, Dick Steiner. Our net profit for this event was $18,816.
    • The secondary fundraiser was a raffle for a three-day weekend at the Queen Victoria Bed and Breakfast in Cape May, New Jersey. The grand prize included a $1,000 gift certificate to the Inn and $1,000 cash. The Inn donated $500 toward the gift certificate which went toward our net profit of $4942. A wine and cheese basket was the second place prize.
    • The Chapter received a $7,500 grant from the Old Navy/Gap Foundation’s Fischer Award program for its community partnership with the Chapter’s Kids In Need Program, as well as a $1,000 grant from the Severn Town Club for the Kids on the Block program.

  • Fiscal Year 2014-2015

    • Our bylaws were amended to allow our president, Bonnie Sysko, to serve a third  term as President.
    • Our new Board received “Board Development Training” by leader, Judy Mullin, who came to Annapolis, Maryland, from the National organization. This was provided to us as a result of the Circle Fund award our chapter received at the 2013 national conference.
    • The Chapter’s Informational Tea was moved from spring to fall to allow potential members to join and become immediately involved in AL programs.
    • Three of our members attended the National Conference in Orlando, Florida.
    • We once again participated in Make A Difference Day in October, collecting over 1500 books, which we donated to the local Boys & Girls Clubs, local shelters and schools.
    • All of our fundraising events (primary fundraiser at Homestead Gardens/Davidsonville, raffle for a trip to New York City, and Kids in Need cards drive) were successful.  This year the Chapter applied and was approved to participate in Anne Arundel County’s Community Foundation’s “Great Give”—a 24-hour online event where members of the community donate to non-profit organizations. With a very minimal fee for processing, the Chapter raised $2,400 in this our first year of participation. We also added a new fundraiser in which local restaurants donate to AL a percentage of the cost of a meal purchased by diners on specified dates.
    • We applied for a grant from the Anne Arundel County Local Development Council for $16,000 and learned at the end of the fiscal year that we were successful in winning the grant. The funds will be used for the next fiscal year for books and uniforms for children at Meade Heights and Van Bokkelen Elementary Schools.
    • Our programs continue to grow as well. Operation School Bell’s “Pen Pal” program for fifth graders at one of our elementary schools was able to correspond with students in schools in California and Nepal. Our “Kids In Need” uniform program continues to expand. A new special needs school was added this year at special request from the Board of Education. We provided 1,500 uniforms to children at six schools.
    • The Chapter donated over $3,800 worth of baby items and supplies to Baltimore Washington Medical Center’s “Stork’s Nest,” which serves at-risk Moms, newborns and toddlers. We delivered 50 emergency kits to homebound residents, and close to 400 residents enjoyed participating in our sing-along program. Our Kids on the Block puppeteers performed skits on bullying and learning disabilities for over 1,800 children.
    • We finished our year with 72 members.
    • Marie Bossie was named our Volunteer of the Year for her outstanding work with the Kids In Need program.

  • Fiscal Year 2015-2016

    • Valerie Rees was elected President for two consecutive one-year terms in 2015 and 2016.
    • Our Kids In Need program provided uniforms to 1,320 students this year and 7,000 children were reached through our Literacy Program.
    • Kids on The Block performed for over 900 students, and our Sing-Along programs provided entertainment and enjoyment to almost 400 seniors in assisted living facilities.
    • We increased the number of students served by 30%.
    • We provided emergency kits to 22 at-risk seniors; however, Partners in Care disbanded this program.
    • We again participated in Make a Difference Day, collecting 1,400 books, Homeless Resource Day and our annual Stork’s Nest Shower on behalf of Baltimore Washington Medical Center. These activities represented over 8,000 volunteer hours.
    • We received several grants this year: Anne Arundel County Local Development Center – $16,000; Parole Rotary – $3,000; Gap/Old Navy – $450; Severn Town Club – $500. Our primary fundraiser raised $28,000, our most financially successful to date, and our secondary fundraiser raffle raised $6,000. We had several smaller and successful fundraisers throughout the year.
    • We achieved Gold Star status on Guide Star USA, Inc.
    • A feasibility study committee was formed to undertake researching parameters for a possible thrift shop.
    • The process of forming an advisory council was begun.
    • We improved our social media presence and began the process of designing a new website in conjunction with the new national website and have improved our Facebook page.
    • We designed a new and updated brochure for our chapter.
    • We purchased donor base software this year and will begin to enter data to use it for future direct mailings/thank you letters/acknowledgements.
    • We are exploring options for taking donations by credit card.

  • Fiscal Year 2016-2017

    • Lyn Hopkins was elected President for two consecutive one-year terms – 2017 and 2018.
    • Lyn was invited to be a part of a panel at Maryland Live! Casino, to highlight the benefit of their $17,000 grant to us, in the lives of the children we serve. This gave us amazing exposure in the community, business and government leaders who attended. We were awarded a grant for the third year in a row, after which we had to stand down as recipients for one year.
    • During her presidency, she and the board worked with Maryann Gosnell to initiate our first crowdfunding campaign. We raised approximately $11,000 through this.
    • Later in the year, Lyn and Marie Bossie (who takes care of our Kids in Need uniform program) were interviewed for the Anne Arundel County Public Schools TV channel. They were able to describe the great work done by our chapter. This included details of the massive logistics needed in order to provide uniforms for 2,500 children. The discussion also touched on other services we provide to our community, like Sing-Alongs in several assisted-living facilities. Lyn is a pianist for some of the sing-alongs.
    • Lyn also joined other enthusiastic members in the Fourth of July parade in the City of Annapolis, which really served to promote our chapter and the work that we do, as members marched through the streets of our town.

  • Fiscal Year 2017-2018

    • October 2018: Lyn and Kim Hudyma attended the Leadership and Development Seminar for Nonprofit Board Members presented by the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County
    • October 2018: The Community Marketing committee was established. This is a group focused on promoting our chapter in a variety of creative ways.
    • November 2018: Zips dry cleaners agreed to display a large banner promoting the work our chapter does with children. This has been there for almost a year as of this entry.

  • Fiscal Year 2018-2019

    • March 2019: Lyn and Marie were invited back for another interview on Parent Connection, the Anne Arundel County Public Schools TV channel. This played continuously for a month. The link is https://youtu.be/yIXEM1Bt1bc
    • March 2019: “What’s Up Annapolis” had a great article profiling Marie Bossie and the work of Assistance League of the Chesapeake in providing school uniforms
    • March 26, 2019: Two National Board members paid a “Chapter visit” to us. Their meeting with the board (and incoming board members) was very productive and they were impressed with our work and our programs, while offering us some great ideas.
    • April 2019: Our chapter was nominated for the 2019 Excellence in Education Business Partner of the Year. We were one of 8 nominees in the “large business” category and were nominated by the division of the AACPS system that works with us, as we serve the schools with uniforms and literacy support. We have a wonderful wall plaque congratulating us as a nominee

  • Awards

    • September 19, 2002: Cathy Vitali, AA County councilwoman presented our guild with a County Citation.
    • March 30, 2006: Maryland House of Delegates — Offers its sincerest congratulations to AL of the Chesapeake in recognition of receiving chapter status after five years as a guild.
    • March 30, 2006: The State of Maryland — Governor’s Citation.
    • March 20, 2006: Official Citation from the State Senate — congratulations are offered to ALC in recognition of reaching chapter status.
    • October 2008: Assistance League of the Chesapeake received honorable mention from the Mentoring Group.
    • November 2008: Assistance League of the Chesapeake was inducted into the Volunteer Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Volunteer Center of AA County and the Coordinators of Volunteers of AA County. AL member Maureen Smith and Georgetown East Elementary School Principal Michele Batten accepted the award.
    • June 2008: Assistance League of the Chesapeake received an award from the AA School System: Annapolis and Southern Region Award for Exemplary Volunteer Program
    • April 2011: The Maryland General Assembly Citation in recognition of the chapter’s fifth anniversary and dedication to Operation School Bell and its programs.
    • April 2011: Governor of Maryland’s Citation for the fifth anniversary and the chapter’s positive and lasting difference in the lives of children and citizens of Anne Arundel County.
    • October 2013: The Community Outreach Award given by Anne Arundel County Public Schools in recognition of an organization which “has improved the quality of life for the students of Anne Arundel County Public Schools.” The award was presented by Teresa Tudor, senior manager of school and family partnerships at the annual Comcast Business Hall of Fame awards dinner in conjunction with the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce.
    • 2016: Georgetown East Elementary School recognized our chapter’s contributions with an award. The award is inscribed, “Making the Difference. Awarded to Assistance League of the Chesapeake for tor their many contributions over the years to our school community, both large and small.”
    • 2016: Members of our chapter gathered with County Executive Steve Schuh and Judge Cathy Vitale to honor and celebrate the organization’s 10th year as a chapter.
    • 2016: We received citations from Governor Hogan, County Executive Steve Schuh, the MD House, the Senate and General Assembly.
    • 2017: Baltimore Washington Hospital Center has honored Assistance League of the Chesapeake’s 10 years of support of their Stork’s Nest program by installing a plaque on the donor wall in their lobby.