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Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism Now Accepting Nominations for 2020 Black History Month Leadership & Service Awards
Awards Recognize Exceptional Volunteer Service

Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (November 25, 2019)—The Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism today announced the opening of the nomination period for the 2nd Annual Black History Month Leadership & Service Awards. Introduced in 2018, this awards ceremony recognizes Maryland-based, African American-founded organizations that provide exceptional volunteer service to improve Maryland communities for all. Recipients will be announced during an awards ceremony in February 2020.

“Each year, the month of February offers an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the countless contributions of African Americans throughout our history, and the lasting impact of that heritage today,” said Governor Hogan. “I encourage all Marylanders to take time to reflect on the invaluable influence of African American leaders and citizens on our state and our nation.”

Over 100 nominations were received for the 2nd Annual Black History Month Community Leaders Awards, and ten organizations were selected as recipients of the accolade during an awards ceremony held at the Banneker-Douglass Museum last February.

“Our award recipients represent the meaningful dedication of our African American communities to serve others, leaving a better world for future generations,” said Lt. Governor Rutherford. “From mentoring boys and girls and providing opportunities for these youth to thrive, to providing skills training and workforce development for low-income or formerly-incarcerated men and women, these organizations are to be commended for investing their time and resources into our communities.”

The deadline to submit a nomination is Friday, January 3, 2020. Eligible organizations must be Maryland-based, African American-founded, and must have been operational for at least two years. Selection for the awards are based on nominations received which describe the highest degree of meaningful volunteer commitment and service, making a transformative impact in the community. Recipients of the awards will be notified and honored in a February 2020 ceremony in Annapolis. For more information and to nominate an organization, visit and complete this nomination form.




Local High School and College Students Join Forces With The Breya M. Browner Performing Arts Company to Cheer Up Patients at Children’s National Hospital For The Holidays
The Breya M. Browner Performing Arts Company to showcase, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.

The Breya M. Browner Performing Arts Company

Prince Georges County, Md. (November 25, 2019)—On Friday, December 13, The Breya M. Browner Performing Arts Company will host their first annual charity performance to promote community service; arts in education and destigmatizing the negative narrative surrounding the performing arts. This interactive event features a showcase of local students, actors, singers, artists and dancers and will be free and open to the visitors and patients of Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. The Breya M. Browner Performing Arts Company’s performance will highlight local examples of the pertinence in saving arts culture, developing students through arts in education, expressing the importance of youth development and social responsibility. This charitable event will be one of over dozens taking place right here in our community, of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area as a part of the international “Save The Arts” campaign coordinated by DoSomething.Org, a digital platform powering offline action. More information available at

“At The Breya M. Browner Arts Foundation, we believe in making dreams come true. The BMB Arts Foundation is the leading nonprofit committed to strengthening the Prince George’s County community through arts in education, youth development, social responsibility and the visual and performing arts. Since 2019, we have donated to a number of great causes and have helped a number of individuals fulfill their dreams with our contributions.”

In Prince George’s County, The Breya M. Browner Performing Arts Company’s participants are on their way to effectively evoke change within our county, country and within the world. They have taken the proper steps to take the non-profit locality by storm. They will begin to improve the lives of millions of our most talented citizens by providing high class recreational education to children and adults in the Prince George’s County area, issuing funds to students to continue their education throughout college, creating a center (which will serve as a safe haven and after school care for residents) and expanding our community’s efforts to create change in different causes through the visual and performing arts.

“The Breya M. Browner Performing Arts Company’s volunteers serve our community with an immense amount of dedication and passion,” said Breya Browner. “Without their assistance, we wouldn’t be able to provide these wonderful performances for our community. They are everything to me.”


The Breya M. Browner Performing Arts Company is all about evoking changes in social injustices through arts in education. Together we can build better citizens through arts integration, youth development and social responsibility for America. For more information, visit


Hundreds of Doctor Bears Light Up at Children’s National and Across the Region to Bring Hope and Healing
Light up Dr. Bears Deliver Holiday Magic to Hospitalized Kids

Children’s National Hospital

WASHINGTON (BUSINESS WIRE) (November 20, 2019)—This holiday season, hundreds of children will spend the holidays at Children’s National Hospital. The hospital’s mascot, Dr. Bear—a symbol of hope and healing that delights kids—is lighting up everywhere to brighten the holidays for patients and their families. Every time someone makes a gift to Children’s National, more than 300 light-up four-foot bears shine simultaneously in the hospital, at outpatient centers and at select locations across the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region. Gifts to this campaign support exceptional care for every child and groundbreaking pediatric research that leads to new treatments and cures.

“The Light Up Dr. Bear campaign provides a bit of holiday magic for our children and their families in a truly meaningful way,” says DeAnn Marshall, MHA, president of Children’s National Hospital Foundation. “You can see the delight on the children’s faces every time a bear lights up or when they hug a bear in the hospital. The experience brightens everyone’s day.”

The Light Up Dr. Bear campaign is Children’s National’s second annual winter holiday effort to illuminate the community with the spirit of giving. The non-profit institution is Washington, D.C.’s only hospital that specializes in kids. It also advances children’s health globally. Philanthropy supports the mission of Children’s National to deliver world-class care to every child, regardless of illness, injury or ability to pay.

Campaign giving funds care for the whole child and family, equipment designed just for kids, specialized care teams that nurture children’s emotional needs and unique spaces and programs for play, including art, music and pet therapy. It ensures that these special services are available for all patients—for children like Noah—a music-loving 2½-year-old diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. This holiday season, Noah rang the victory bell to mark the end of his treatment and celebrate that he is cancer-free.

“Noah is an easy-going kid, but even for him the hospital isn’t an easy place to be,” says Farissa Elvis Russell, Noah’s mom. “We are so thankful for his amazing team at Children’s National and for everything they do. Music therapy has been especially comforting for Noah. Even more incredible is how these types of programs are funded through philanthropy, which is why campaigns like Light Up Dr. Bear are so important for our children and our community.”

The Light Up Dr. Bear campaign runs through Dec. 31 to brighten the stay of children and families who can’t be home for the holidays. Bear locations also include CityCenter, The Wharf in DC, Bethesda Row, Pike & Rose in Rockville, Reston Town Center and Pentagon Row in Virginia. For more information about the campaign, visit

Light Up Dr. Bear corporate sponsors include Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Interstate Moving and Storage. AWS generously supports bear installation and maintenance. Interstate provides in-kind logistical support for bear delivery and pickup at more than fifty locations throughout the region.

Give at to light up Dr. Bear. Use #LightUpDrBear to light up social media and tag Children’s National. Give today. Show them you care. Light up Dr. Bear.



Maryland Department of Health Releases First Statewide Diabetes Action Plan with Intervention Strategies to Engage Partners 

The Maryland Department of Health

Baltimore, Md. (November 21, 2019)—In conjunction with National Diabetes Month, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today released its first Diabetes Action Plan, which includes intervention strategies for health care providers, stakeholders and individuals to help reduce the burden of diabetes in Maryland.

“Our administration remains committed to ensuring that all Marylanders have the resources they need to lead healthy lives,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “This innovative plan promotes greater coordination to enhance quality of life for Marylanders living with diabetes and ultimately to decrease the prevalence of this disease in our state.” 

MDH officials announced the plan during the day-long Diabetes is Primary education conference for 200 physicians and health care professionals organized by the Maryland Chapter of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) at the Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor in Baltimore.

“Nearly 45 percent of the adult population in Maryland has diabetes or prediabetes, and this disease is the sixth leading cause of death in our state,” said MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall. “But the good news is diabetes is generally preventable, and for those with the disease, it can be managed. Our vision is to engage partners across Maryland to coordinate efforts and get the numbers trending downward.”

Neall said the goal of the action plan is to spur increased collaboration with partners throughout the state, employing detailed strategies and educating the public about the disease. MDH will involve local health departments and providers from both public and private sectors.

Deputy Secretary of Public Health Fran Phillips highlighted aspects of the 65-page plan, developed from mid-June through mid-September by a 40-member work group. The plan includes a resource guide, comprehensive data about risk factors and specific intervention strategies. The draft plan was available for public comment from Oct. 7 to Nov. 7.

“This plan is a roadmap for both preventing and managing diabetes. It includes specifics for state agencies, hospitals, physicians, schools, local governments, community-based organizations and individuals. We won’t reverse the tide unless everyone plays a role,” she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes. In Maryland, 10.5 percent of adults have diabetes (nearly 500,000) and 34 percent have prediabetes (approximately 1.6 million). Maryland is consistently one of the 25 states with the highest diabetes prevalence rates.

Diabetes is a chronic disease occurring when a person’s blood glucose level is too high due to the body’s inability to properly absorb glucose. Prediabetes refers to the condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diabetes. Diabetes often leads to other diseases and serious disabilities. About 95 percent of diabetes in the United States is type 2, which is preventable. Being overweight or obese is the most significant contributing factor in developing the disease.

In Maryland, diabetes disproportionately impacts specific populations based on income and education level, race and ethnicity, geographic location and access to healthcare. Other risk factors include poor nutrition, lack of physical activity and tobacco use.

Mark Luckner, Executive Director of the state’s Community Health Resources Commission, said the Commission will award grant funding to organizations that serve vulnerable populations and address the social determinants impacting diabetes.

“The Commission fully supports implementation of Maryland’s Diabetes Action Plan,” Luckner said. “Diabetes impacts far too many individuals and families in our state. We look forward to bringing access to much-needed services and programming in underserved and at-risk communities and addressing the health inequities that are associated with diabetes.” 

According to the American Diabetes Association, medical expenses for diabetes and its complications in Maryland exceed $4.9 billion a year, with another $2 billion in indirect costs from lost productivity.

“We are excited the Health Department chose our Diabetes is Primary conference to launch the Diabetes Action Plan and look forward to working collaboratively to help bend the curve of diabetes in Maryland in the months and years ahead,” said David McShea, Executive Director of ADA’s Maryland Chapter.

Reducing diabetes in the state will require a multi-faceted strategy including:

•Expanding nutrition and obesity prevention programs in every community

•Sharing data among health care providers, program providers and state agencies

•Supporting healthy eating in the workplace, in schools and through health systems

•Assessing the food supply chain to address food pricing and access to healthy foods

•Increasing opportunities for physical activity for students and workers

•Encouraging healthcare providers to refer overweight children and adults to evidence-based weight loss programs and lifestyle counseling

•Establishing referral mechanisms to health care specialists for obese children and adults

•Engaging partners to support state-of-the-art diabetes care including the use of telemedicine, case managers and community workers

To review MDH’s Diabetes Action Plan, go to

Maryland Department of Health Reports Lowest Number of New HIV Cases in More Than 30 Years

Baltimore, Md. (November 26, 2019)—In advance of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) announced the lowest number of new HIV cases reported in Maryland in more than 30 years. For the first time since 1986, Maryland reported less than 1,000 new HIV diagnoses, putting the state on track to support the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) goals for Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America.

“Though Maryland is one of the states hit hard by HIV, we have made substantial progress in reducing new infections over the past 10 years,” said MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall. “We still have a lot of work to do, but today’s numbers are an encouraging sign that Maryland’s prevention and treatment efforts are working to achieve our goals.”

According to HHS, Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America seeks to reduce the number of new HIV infections across the country by 75 percent within five years and by 90 percent by 2030, averting 250,000 new HIV infections. The initiative directs new funds to communities that are most impacted by HIV and leverages landmark biomedical and scientific research advances that have proven effective in HIV treatment and prevention, in addition to improving care for people living with HIV.

MDH data released in September reported 997 new HIV diagnoses in Maryland in 2018, the lowest since 947 new HIV diagnoses were reported in 1986. New HIV diagnoses in Maryland reached their highest number in 1991, with 2,612 cases reported.

MDH identified the first HIV case in Maryland in October 1981. Since then, more than 59,000 Marylanders have been infected with HIV, 41,000 of whom received an AIDS diagnosis. To date, there have been more than 23,000 AIDS-related deaths in Maryland.

HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is an infectious blood-borne pathogen that leads to severe immune system suppression, hospitalization and death when left untreated. When treated, HIV is a manageable chronic disease, and people who achieve HIV suppression can live healthy lives. 

HIV spreads through sexual activity, by sharing hypodermic needles (generally during injection drug use) and from mother to baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Common symptoms of acute infection include fever, fatigue, swollen lymph glands or tonsils, sore throat, joint and muscle aches, diarrhea and rash. The first symptoms may begin a few days after infection and may last for about 14 days. After the initial symptoms subside, a person may remain asymptomatic for years until they become immunosuppressed and susceptible to many infections.

“The best way to protect yourself and your community is to take an HIV test,” said Deputy Secretary for Public Health Frances B. Phillips. “If you test positive, there are safe and effective treatments that can keep you healthy. If you test negative, there are multiple prevention options to consider, including PrEP, a daily pill to prevent infection.”

HIV testing is recommended at least once for everyone ages 13 to 64, and for pregnant women, patients initiating treatment for tuberculosis and patients seeking treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Repeat testing, at least annually, is recommended for individuals who are at high risk for acquiring HIV including:

•Injection drug users and their sex partners

•Sex partners of HIV-infected people

•Men who have sex with men

•Heterosexual people who themselves or whose sex partners have had more than one sex partner since their most recent HIV test

Free and confidential HIV testing is available through local health departments.


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