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Bay Babies In Need: Understanding Poverty in Anne Arundel County

I wanted to share with everyone a great service project that has been created by a student at South River High School.  It is a much needed service and one that all of us could help out with.  Please support Siena and Food Link  by supplying essential items to struggling families with newborns through Food Link’s Emergency Baby Pantry program.   At the same time, increasing awareness of poverty in Anne Arundel County.   Siena says, “My hope is to change the face of poverty so that we may be more tolerant and understanding of those in need.” 

Check out Siena’s video:


Operation: BuddyPack

Operation: BuddyPack was a huge success! Thank you to every student and family who contributed for the backpacks to be filled with toiletries, school supplies, and games or toys to pass the time! Thousands of children in the New Jersey and New York area are without homes and all of the comforts that a home usually brings. Thanks to you, 10 additional children have been given a backpack full of practical supplies, and comfort. Mr. Joe and I cannot express the gratitude we have for all of you – the families at BLS – that helped put a smile on those children’s faces. We owe a very special ‘Thank you’ to Caroline S. and her family for bringing Operation: BuddyPack to the studio. And another special ‘Thank you’ to Max and Joey P.’s family for providing two completely filled packs to our collection!

It has been very heartwarming to see how quickly our students and parents were ready to sign-up to go out of their way to purchase and bring in brand-new supplies! I got so many replies, “Is that all?” from families that were so willing to donate more. Hurricane Sandy left behind a path of destruction, but in that wake, our Mid-Atlantic region has been able to witness the power of community connection!


Habitat for Humanity Build in Baltimore

Sunny and breezy, with beautiful mid-70 degree weather… this past Saturday was a terrific day to spend outside. Instead of hanging at the beach or lounging in a downtown coffee shop, I arrived bright and early at a build site in Baltimore City to partake in a house demolition and reconstruction job!
Volunteering for Habitat for Humanity has been a dream of mine, but taking off for a week to build a house abroad just never seemed feasible with work and school. Who knew that Habitat for Humanity has local chapters that allow you to volunteer for day jobs (about 7 hours) during the week and/or weekends? I didn’t!

That is, I didn’t know until I came across Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake during a routine internet exploration. Registration is a breeze, and the site offers information about lots of different volunteer opportunities. If you’re not interested in labor-intensive work, maybe volunteering in the office will suit you better! You can request to do gardening and landscaping, or offer up your muscles for power tool duties. Either way, as long as you’re 16 or older, there is a job available for you!

The local chapter, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, has about 6 different sites in Baltimore city that they are focusing on over the next few months. In addition to novice volunteers (like myself) at the sites on build days, there are Red Hats who are veteran volunteers that have gone through additional safety courses and commit to two build days each month, Americorps members who are on job assignments with Habitat for 11-month contracts, and site supervisors who are employed by Habitat for Humanity and provide volunteers with wisdom, friendliness, and tasks!

I had a WONDERFUL experience getting to know other volunteers and spending the day ripping out old windows and frames, and reconstructing the exterior walls! The experience was so wonderful that I have already gone online and  signed up for four more jobs over the next two months! If you, or anyone you know, have an interest in volunteering in your community, I highly recommend Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake.

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”

—Marjorie Moore




Connor S. takes part in Bello Machre “Every Step Counts” fundraiser

Connor S. is a student at Balanced Life Skills.  This Saturday on June the 9th he will be taking part in a fundraiser for Bello Machre, ” Every Step Counts”  with his team – Dust Off Your Dreams.  Why is this so special?  Here is a letter from his mom and a video of Connor speaking to nearly 200 Middle Schools Students at Severn School about autism.

For the last 40 years, Bello Machre, a locally based non-profit organization, has dedicated their energy to helping children and adults with developmental disabilities. The “Every Step Counts” fundraiser is their biggest of the year, and it accounts for a large portion of the money used to fund their services.  Bello Machre provides much needed support to families and group homes to hundreds of people of all ages with disabilities of all types.  For the last 9 years, Bello Machre has supported our efforts in bringing Connor out of his autistic shell by providing us with a yearly grant that we use to help defray the costs of his treatments. Half of every dollar we raise in “Every Step Counts” is added to Connor’s grant account to be used specifically for his treatments.

We have been blessed that all of the medicines, doctors appointments, therapy appointments, specialized medical tests, friends, family, aides and teachers have come together to bring Connor to a very high functioning level.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to dream of a future for Connor not totally dominated by the world of autism. Unfortunately, for every one like Connor, there are 10 others who haven’t been so lucky. We would love to have your support once again as we attempt to raise money for a very worthy organization.  Any donation, big or small, is greatly appreciated.  If you wish to donate, you can send a check to us made out to “Bello Machre/Every Step Counts” to our home address listed below.  If you would prefer to donate online, go  Our team name is “Dust Off Your Dreams,” and that name would need to be included on the online donation form in order for us to receive credit.

We thank you in advance for your support, and the hundreds of other individuals served by Bello Machre thank you as well.


Bob, Lori and Connor Skalitzky

2513 Windy Oak Court

Crofton, MD 21114

P.S.  If you would like to see Connor’s amazing speech given on World Autism Awareness Day (which also happens to be his birthday), check out this video:



Balanced Life Skills Students Support the Fight Against Childhood Cancer

Here are four of our students who have raised money for and shaved their heads in support of finding cures for childhood cancer.  We are very proud of them for finding ways to make a difference their community.