We are SO excited to announce our May grant recipient: The Juneteenth Festival in Carroll County!
On June 18, this AWESOME event will bring the community together in downtown Westminster to raise awareness of African heritage throughout our county. Activities will include gospel music, food, vendors, a financial awareness workshop, and a panel discussion: “An Honest Talk About Being Black in Carroll County.” We’re thrilled to support this first-of-its-kind event in Westminster. Admission is FREE.
Congratulations to Audrey Cimino and Thomas Gruel, and their effort to restore the Ellsworth Cemetery, the #HeyWestminster! grant recipient for April 2022.
The Ellsworth Cemetery was founded by six Civil War veterans from Westminster and serves as the final resting place of twenty-six soldiers who served during the war, according to Cimino and Gruel. After learning that many of the headstones in the cemetery had been damaged or destroyed, Cimino and Gruel made it their mission to replace them. “It broke my heart that these people were being forgotten,” said Gruel, who has worked to maintain the cemetery for the last twelve years.
The cemetery is significant to Carroll County because Westminster’s African American residents were primarily buried here during segregation. “This cemetery in Westminster is a treasure and a source of pride,” said Cimino.
One hundred eighty-two unmarked graves have been located in the cemetery. Cimino and Ellsworth hope to provide and repair grave stones for individuals buried in Ellsworth Cemetery. Anyone who would like to contribute to this work can give to the Carroll Community Foundation.
Congratulations, and thank you, to Audrey Cimino and Thomas Gruel, and their effort to restore the Ellsworth Cemetery. They are the #HeyWestminster! grant recipient for April 2022. Thanks for making Westminster awesome!
Congratulations to Gia Koutsokostas and the Charles Street Tot Lot Little Free Library, the #HeyWestminster! grant recipient for March 2022.
Gia Koutsokostas, a McDaniel College student, feels a strong connection to our community, viewing it as her second home. And she wanted to help make it an even better place. “Something that I really wanted to do while I was at McDaniel was make an impact on the community,” says Koutsokostas. That’s an awesome goal, the kind of thing Hey Westminster! can get behind!
To make her mark on Westminster, Koutsokostas had the idea of making reading more accessible to young people. “I was an avid reader growing up, and I love reading to this day,” she says. “So I wanted to make sure the kids and parents in the area were able to have access to reading the way I did when I was growing up.”
Congratulations to Gia Koutsokostas and the Charles Street Tot Lot Little Free Library. Thanks for making Westminster awesome!
Congratulations to Adam Stultz and Around Town Carroll County, the #HeyWestminster! grant recipient for February 2022.
Around Town Carroll County is a podcast and vlog that highlights businesses in our community. “I wanted to take what I knew in video and translate that into a show that really celebrated Carroll County and the awesome business owners that exist within its limits,” says Stultz. We think that’s awesome!
You may have noticed that Around Town Carroll County and Hey, Westminster! do some of the same things — we love to share about the great things going on in our community. Stultz put it well when he said “We want to celebrate where we live and work and highlight the cool individuals that are doing great things in our cummunity. Stultz adds that his goal is to use media to “spread positivity and encouragement.”
You can learn more about Around Town Carroll County by visiting their website. You can also find them on social media. All episodes are available on YouTube.
Congratulations to Around Town Carroll County. Thanks for making Westminster awesome!
Congratulations to The Infinite Love Project! Their “Be Kind” signs initiative is the #HeyWestminster! grant recipient for January 2022.
If you live in Westminster, or the surrounding area, you’ve probably seen signs encouraging you to “Be Kind.” We have these affirmations thanks to Tina Thomas and Eric Hyde Miller of The Infinite Love Project. The pair have created over 4,000 signs and hung over 1,800 signs, according to Hyde Miller.
“Everything functions a little bit better when you’re around kind, empathetic people, and sometimes you just need a reminder — to see a sign,” say Thomas and Hyde Miller. A custom woodworker, Hyde Miller creates the “Be Kind” signs, attempting to use reclaimed and environmentally-friendly materials whenever possible.
The Infinite Love Project intends to use their Hey, Westminster! grant to provide opportunities for local students to paint “Be Kind” signs. These signs would then be displayed around the Westminster community, serving as “a community connector,” says Thomas.
You can learn more about The Infinite Love Project by visiting their website.
Congratulations to The Infinite Love Project. Thanks for making Westminster awesome!
It’s a very deep privilege for Hey Westminster to close out this year with an incredibly special project—the Soni Sunshine Snow 5-0 Sugarplum Spectacular Community Christmas Celebration! Created by our friend (and former HW trustee) Casey Davis, to honor and celebrate his wife Sonia Davis, we joined hundreds of their friends and neighbors on December 4th to revel in the season and to help sponsor a special scholarship for folks fighting cancer.
The joy and poignancy of the wintry event rang all the truer when Sonia said goodbye to her family just a few days later. At her celebration of life remembrance ceremony it was clear that her impact on our community and the testimony of her life was remarkable. We’re honored to have participated in acknowledging her Spectacular Sunshine in a small way.
In a year that has had equal parts joy and loss for so many, we’re grateful for each and every person in our community this holiday season. We join in celebrating Casey, Sonia, and their sustaining love for all, appreciating everyone we’ve had the chance to partner with this year to do awesome things. We’re grateful for the opportunity to continue to herald work all around us that truly matters–stories that are saturated with love and care, that speak hope in the midst of the bleakest of seasons.
Congratulations to Find Your Purpose, the #HeyWestminster! grant recipient for October 2021.
Find Your Purpose is a nonprofit that aspires to elevate and empower individuals of all ages through mentorship, experiential learning, and entrepreneurship. The organization helps people identify and learn about their passions through music and other creative outlets, says Founder Billy Lyve. According to Lyve, with Find Your Purpose individuals can learn music production, videography, photography, and more.
You can learn more about Find Your Purpose by visiting their website, or by checking them out on Facebook and Instagram. You can also keep up with Find Your Purpose by following Billy Lyve on Instragram.
Congratulations to Find Your Purpose. Thanks for making Westminster awesome!
Congratulations to Barrier Free, the #HeyWestminster! grant recipient for October 2021.
Barrier Free, according to creative director, Britt Burr, “is a nonprofit organization that works with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism.” As a Westminster local, Britt Burr saw a need in the community “for more inclusive theater programming, and more inclusive programming in general.” “I wanted to give back to the community,” continues Burr.
Barrier Free performs theatre shows at McDaniel College. Their upcoming shows are scheduled for March 12th and 13th, 2022.
Congratulations to Fiddlers’ Green Farm, the #HeyWestminster! grant recipient for September 2021.
Fiddlers’ Green is an organic certified, regenerative agriculture farm. According to managing partner Ben Batten, “regenerative agriculture is the idea of rebuilding soil health as you’re farming.” Under this model, “food grows nutritiously and abundantly,” adds product manager and director of formulation, Brynn Seaton.
From their farm, located near Taneytown, Maryland, Seaton and Batten grow hemp that is in turn used to create CBD products that are sold at local farmers’ markets and on their website.
Congratulations to Rudolph Girls Independent Bookstore, the #HeyWestminster! grant recipient for August 2021.
Carroll County book lovers have have much to celebrate as the Rudolph Girls Independent Bookstore is set to open Friday, August 13th.
In addition to being bibliophiles, Rudolph Girls founders, Alison King and Nikki Rhodes, are both educators who enjoy working with children. These twin passions have led King and Rhodes to partner with the Boys & Girls Club of Westminster to create a children’s book club. King explains that their $1,000 grant from Hey Westminster! will “allow us to provide…books to the kids at no cost to them.”
Join Rudolph Girls for their grand opening celebration this weekend. The bookstore opens Friday, August 13th at 10:00 AM, with a ribbon-cutting scheduled for 11:00 AM, and special events planned through Sunday, August 15th. Rudolph Girls Independent Bookstore is located in the Winchester Exchange on East Main Street in Westminster.